Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 5,000 African literature enthusiasts!
Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our "Guide to African Novels."

IMG_2880

Dear Ms. Paper: I recently graduated from University of Lagos with a first-class degree in History. I completed my National Youth Service two months ago and landed a sweet consulting job right after. Just when I thought life couldn’t get any better, my boyfriend proposed to me. I was in pure heaven until it came out in a casual conversation that Deji, who has lived all his life in Nigeria and is not illiterate, does not know who Achebe is. I reacted strongly, telling him it was, to put it mildly, bizarre that he’d never heard of Achebe. He said I was being an unreasonable snob, that he was a lab technician and not a literature professor. I’m half ashamed to say that I’ve been giving him the silent treatment for the past two days. I’m actually surprised that it bothers me this much. Am I totally crazy to feel this way? Would it be completely insane if I considered breaking up with him? 

This is the moment where, for the sake of not breaking up a happy home, I’m supposed to tell you to be understanding. If you think there are gaps in his education, don’t panic. Stuff him full of information. I’m also supposed to tell you that it’s normal to be disappointed when you find out that your significant other is not the dazzling genius you imagined him to be.

But seeing I’m not your best friend, I’m under no obligation to lie to you. So, my dear, here is the truth.

The only grounds on which it is justifiable for a schooled Nigerian man not to know of Achebe is if he’s an alien from another planet. So unless you know for sure that Deji hails from planet Jupiter or some place like that, he’s a write-off.

What else has he not heard of? Bruce Lee, Moon landing, Mt Kilimanjaro? You should be thanking your stars that he revealed himself during a private conversation. What if he he’d showed his hand in respectable company? How would you have handled such a colossal embarrassment?

Look, except Deji has lived his entire life in my father’s village tucked away in an obscure part of Edo state where there’s still neither electricity nor mobile phones nor NIPOST and where girls go about half naked like they did in 19th century Umuofia, there is no excuse for not knowing who Chinua Achebe is.

You’re not being snobbish for asking that a grown man who claims to be educated know his A-B-Cs.

So I say run!

********************************

#DearMsPaper is a fictional agony-aunt series that parodies readers, critics, and writers in the African literary scene.  

Previously on #DearMsPaper

Dear Ms. Paper: Save Me From This Boring African Novel

Tags: , , , ,

Ainehi Edoro is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she teaches African literature. She received her doctorate at Duke University. She is the founder and editor of Brittle Paper and series editor of Ohio University Press’s Modern African Writer’s imprint.

10 Responses to “Dear Ms. Paper: Can I Dump Him For Not Knowing Who Achebe Is?” Subscribe

  1. Catherine Onyemelukwe September 12, 2014 at 8:44 am #

    I loved this! Your post gave me a wonderfully refreshing morning laugh. You’re right on. (But check your spelling of write-off!)

  2. henry September 12, 2014 at 1:45 pm #

    sack him

  3. P September 12, 2014 at 3:14 pm #

    Hahahaha!

  4. Fisayo September 12, 2014 at 4:01 pm #

    Yes I Agree with your reply Ainehi.
    That you know who Chinua Achebe is, is akin to
    questioning your sense of social and educational alertness.
    That said, the babe in question, her first class in history not withstanding, I can bet that she doesn’t know half of the entire history of West Africa.
    Except, of she can clear my doubts anyway.
    I won’t say she should sack him, I’d rather have her buy him all the books of Chinua Achebe and start a long process of necessary lecture.
    As for the Guy in question, he deserves to be flogged publicly. There is no excuse for not knowing somebody as legendary and famous as the great bard.
    Google is your friend na

  5. Manny September 12, 2014 at 5:57 pm #

    Perhaps the dude was joking? Wasn’t Things Fall Apart compulsory reading for JSSCE back in the 80s and 90s? My copy has my name, my school and JSS3 written on it so it must have been bought for JSSCE. How old is the dude, that might explain things a bit.
    I wouldn’t dump him just for that but to begin with, I doubt I would be in a relationship with someone who does not know Chinua Achebe.

  6. Yangie September 13, 2014 at 5:41 am #

    not anyone can know any person… We have different worlds we live in

  7. Hope Nwosur September 13, 2014 at 5:48 am #

    Quite a hilarious parody for all the ‘educated illiterates and half-baked graduates from Nigerian universities.

  8. Mikkel Bull September 14, 2014 at 5:07 am #

    That’s a deal breaker. Poor chap, however in the end he will also benefit from finding another partner.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Dear Ms. Paper: Help! I’m In Love with an African Novelist | Brittle Paper - January 18, 2015

    […] Dear Ms. Paper: Can I Dump Him For Not Knowing Who Achebe Is? […]

  2. Dear Ms. Paper: I Want to Kill My (Tribalist) Editor! | Brittle Paper - February 25, 2015

    […] Dear Ms. Paper: Can I Dump Him For Not Knowing Who Achebe Is? […]

Leave a Reply to henry

Welcome to Brittle Paper, your go-to site for African writing and literary culture. We bring you all the latest news and juicy updates on publications, authors, events, prizes, and lifestyle. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@brittlepaper) and sign up for our "I love African Literature" newsletter.

Monthly Newsletter!

Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our
"Guide to African Novels."

Archives

The Dissolving Center of Achebe’s Things Fall Apart? — Watch Episode 4 of Prof. Ato Quayson’s Vlog

Episode 4 of Prof. Ato Quayson's Vlog

The fourth episode of Professor Ato Quayson’s vlog Critic.Reading.Writing is up! In this week’s episode, the Professor dives into the […]

Namwali Serpell to Join Harvard English Department as Full Professor

Namwali serpell harvard university

  Namwali Serpell announced on Twitter this week that she will be joining the Harvard English Department as Full Professor […]

Check Out Mona Eltahawy’s Major New Look!

mona eltahawy new hair (1)

American-Egyptian journalist, activist, and feminist Mona Eltahawy has a brand new look. Earlier this year, the author of Seven Necessary […]

Scholarship and Mentorship Opportunity with Ellah P. Wakatama OBE (Open to Black British Writers)

Scholarship and Mentorship Opportunity with Ellah P. Wakatama (1)

The Literary Consultancy (TLC) has launched a new scholarship aimed at providing “writers on low-income and/or from communities currently under-represented […]

Watch Joseph Adesunloye’s Documentary Film on The AKO Caine Prize

Caine Prize documentary film (2)

A few weeks ago, the AKO Caine Prize organizers announced that the award dinner held at the British Library will […]

Two African Writers Featured in Beyoncé’s Black Is King Visual Album

Yrsa Daley-Ward and Warsan Shire's Poetry Featured in Beyoncé's Black Is King Visual Album (1)

Beyoncé’s new visual album Black Is King is making waves, but the exciting part is that there are two African […]

Thanks for signing up!

Never miss out on new posts. Subscribe to a digest, too:

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.