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The first English Book by an African Author


Ever wondered which is the first literature book to be published in English in Africa. The book is called the palm wine drinkard.". The author was from West Africa, specifically Nigeria and was called Amos Tutuola. Faber and Faber limited from Britain published it in 1952.

The story borrows a lot from the Yoruba culture. Critiques who by then were the English referred to the story as devilish, grotesque, quaint and exotic. Amos Tutuola was a school dropout and this is evident in his grammar. That explains the spelling of the word drunkard in the title, which is spelled drinkard. The text is written in broken English, but he was referred to as a genius in story telling. The book was published with the aim of proving that Africans are incapable of learning to write or talk English correctly. It is for this reason that the publishers never edited the manuscript.

The book is no longer in publication but it is worth reading it. There are very few copies found in Kenya. I could not put it down once I started reading it. I am not sure if it was because the story was intriguing or it was because of the history behind the book. The story is about the challenges a palm wine drunkard faces in his journey in search of his tapster. His best tapster had died and now lived in the land of the dead. So he decided get him back from the land of the dead. The story is about his journey and experiences. A typical African story!

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