Taiye Selasi: Stop Saying South Africa Isn't 'African' Enough

The Ghanaian author is in town, and loving it.
Taiye Selasi.
Taiye Selasi.
Supplied / Nirox Foundation

Africans should stop saying South Africa isn't as "African" as the rest of the continent, superstar author Taiye Selasi said while in the country this week. Selasi, widely acknowledged as the creator of the "Afropolitan" philosophy, is visiting South Africa for the first time, for the Nirox Words Festival, and spoke to HuffPost SA about her first 48 hours in the country.

"In order to say that South Africa doesn't feel like Africa, you would have to first believe in a huge fallacy, which is that Africa is one thing," Selasi says.

"What is Africa supposed to feel like? I can be in Accra and drive 45 minutes away and already experience something completely different, so I wouldn't know what that 'Africa' was -- that monolithic, one-note, single-story Africa that South Africa is supposedly meant to be more like.

"You see, I flew into Johannesburg, but I know that this is different to Durban, which is different again from Cape Town, which is why I think the idea of 'locality' is so important. To be a local of Cape Town is not the same as to be a local in Jozi. To be a local in Lagos is not the same as to be a local of Accra. So, I think if we can honour those nuances, and celebrate those complexities, then we are so much closer to genuinely celebrating what makes this place unique," she said.

Selasi has been speaking across the globe at events and festivals about her beliefs around the idea of "locality", asking to rather consider the idea of "multilocal" people.

"An Afropolitan experience is one that attends to the nuances and complexities of living in and off of Africa, with African parents, in the 21st century," Selasi said.

While she's in town she will be shopping, she said, because "some of the best designers in the world come from South Africa". And although reluctant to name who, Selasi mentioned that she would be tracking down items by Maxhosa and Thula Sindi, among others.

A new novel is in the works and, she revealed, a telenovella that will be "full of drama".


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