When Loss Evolves
Loss marks a significant aspect of human reality. It morphs itself into varying forms in our lives, manifesting to some as a marker of freedom, and for others a totem of grief. Africa, one of the biggest, richest and most culturally diverse on earth, has long grappled with the reality of its colonial exchange and the attendant loss that came with it. With the cramps of American, British and European colonialism in many African countries, there came the aftermath of a cultural, economic, ideological and political exchange. Since then — Liberia in 1847, Egypt in 1953, Ghana in 1957, Senegal in 1958, and Nigeria in 1960, — Africa witnessed a Faustian exchange of its heritage, or parts of it. With the receipt of Western ideals, we allowed a melding of values that were sometimes corrupting. Today, we still suffer and benefit from this exchange.
Our literature has evolved and keeps evolving everyday. In these literatures, writers reminisce, the older on the loss of a perhaps monochromatic past, the younger on a somewhat more recent, coloured reality. Humanity grapples with different phases of its realities. The stories that are coming out from the spaces in Africa and consequently from the authors in this issue chronicle the loss of freedom, the separation from innocence, and a cutting away from the grasp of ignorance.
Loss documents itself in the works of this issue. Here, the writers are drawn from Western, Southern, and Eastern Africa, and we feel not just a single strand of experience from these writers but a delicious PanAfricanist repertoire that would leave you satiated.
The white female protagonist in Soji Cole’s flash fiction experiences grief in the loss of her African husband. In Zanta Nkumane’s queer short story, the narrator comes into knowledge of love elsewhere, and therefore cauterises his belief in the plurality of affection. Eric Rugara’s futuristic short fiction explores not only the extinction of the human race from a deadly epidemic but the dynamics of religion, of rebirth, and of the ability of the seed of love to thrive in unlikely places. While Tinashe Chipenyu’s short fiction details the new lease of life the imprisonment and death of a father brings to a family, Festus Obehi Destiny’s essay, reminiscent of the tragedy of the Nigerian Lekki tollgate massacre, paints the picture of Nigeria and Africa’s loss of freedom in the face of a quasi-dictatorial democracy. Chiwenite Onyekwelu’s poems toe the line of Destiny’s essay in his portrayal of the demise of true leadership in Nigeria and the violence of the subtly-referenced unpopular SARS security force. In the same way, we explore varying facets of loss in the other works in this issue.
We are honoured to, once again, bring to you a potpourri of stories that burst from a place only art can exhume. It is our profound hope that the fictions, poems and essay in this 33rd issue interpret to you in many more dimensions than we perceived them. We are hopeful that from this lens of loss, you come into an understanding of far deeper ideals than exist on the surface of the pieces. Only in the place of loss do we find gain, and oftentimes, we would notice, our profit transcends the borders of our deprivation.