Ernest Hemingway and the Country He Called Africa

Not too long ago (in January), I joined a few African writers in expression our dissatisfaction with a publisher’s reference to Africa as a country in the “Foreword” of an anthology of stories by African authors. The publisher (Author-Me.com) and the editor (Winona Rasheed) apologized for the error and promised to reissue the books with corrections. Still, both Author-Me and Rasheed, in their correspondence, managed to throw in the word “nation” in reference to all of Africa, and we left it at that; at least two publications were going to be corrected.

Since then, I have somehow been carrying out these internal debates, thinking about the history of Africa, thinking that perhaps Winona Rasheed does not (deep down) care so much about the imperialistic demarcations that led to the Africa map as we know it today; that somewhere in the discourse on Africa, does an argument by an Africa author defending the state of Africa as a continent end up self-defeating when one considers the made-up, often divisive and conflict-infested boundaries imposed by outsiders on Africa? Anyway, that Authorme-Rasheed incident left me thinking and searching for clues as to how this argument may be made to make sense; I usually seek clues in literature first.

And Ernest Hemingway, a writer I have always not had time to read, is no help.  Listen to him in “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”:

“I love it. I’ve loved Africa… I’ve loved the country.”

“I love it too.”

Do I hear someone saying: So?

Well, “All these years I’ve thought Hemingway was not Rider Haggard.” I can’t bring in Joseph Conrad yet; I’m still entranced by that well-crafted nightmare  “Heart of Darkness.”  

But wait until I speed through Green Hills of Africa!

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