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The 3-year feud between Chimamanda Adichie and Elnathan John opened a new chapter with Elnathan strongly suggesting that Adichie’s camp tried to sabotage his career by blacklisting him in global literary circles.

These accusations come right after what looks like an open confrontation between Binyavanga Wainaina—one of Adichie’s BFFs—and Elnathan at a literary event in Berlin.

It is no secret that Adichie and Elnathan are not on friendly terms. For a detailed account of the 3-year old saga, click here. Every one dates their feud to July 2013 when Elnathan clapped back at Adichie for calling him “my boy,” a term that he felt was demeaning. But in an interview with Olisa TV, Adichie traces things as far back as her encounters with Elnathan during a Farafina workshop. Again, for those interested in the long history of the quarrel, click here.

Elnathan as has been generally silent about the feud. Even after Adichie’s tell-all interview, he did not make any public response, at least, none that we know of. The run-in with Binyavanga may have prompted him to open up. In a series of tweets posted earlier today, he claims that attempts were made to ruin his writing career.

“They put a literary hit on me,” he tweets, “and it failed. Woefully. And he [Binyavanga] even admitted it.” It appears that during the confrontation in Berlin, Elnathan says to Binyavanga: “You people thought you could block my work.” And Binyavanga responds: “I blocked you, not your work,” @BinyavangaW. Elnathan presents this exchange as proof that there were attempts to “blacklist” him in the global literary circuit.

“What makes @BinyavangaW think he runs African literature?,” Elnathan asks, “That if he tells white people don’t do anything with Elnathan they will all listen.

Binyavanga did have his say in a series of tweets in which he compares Elnathan to Donald Trump and accuses him of trying to profit from “[bringing] Adichie down.”

We are really hoping that both parties can sort out their differences. The African literary community is far too small for this kind of drama. We should be working together not unleashing hurtful remarks that could permanently damage relationships. Nothing good can come out of us clawing at each other. It is unfortunate that Elnathan feels targeted and threatened by Adichie’s supporters. But then is Elnathan’s suggestion that Binyavanga and Adichie are running some kind of literary mafia not taking things too far?

Guys, please let’s bury the hatchet and move on to greater things.


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Binyavanga’s Tweets: Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 8.05.51 AMScreen Shot 2016-08-12 at 8.05.56 AM

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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 “Binyavanga and Elnathan, Can We Put an End to This Feuding?” Subscribe

  1. Mike August 12, 2016 at 10:06 am #

    “Put an end to this feuding”, what kind of homily is that? Why should there be peace if there aint no justice? Abeg, bring it on.

  2. Ijeoma August 12, 2016 at 1:06 pm #

    Bury which hatchet! Huh! Bring it on!! I love Elnathan any time but I will swing knives for Adichie! She has an unspoken ego with the grace to carry it! And yes, if you participated in her workshop, I think she can call you ‘my boin.

  3. Nedoux August 12, 2016 at 3:55 pm #

    Such drama in literary circles? Who’d have thought?!

    I had no idea…

  4. pearl August 12, 2016 at 5:43 pm #

    Yawn. Lame y’all.

  5. Hannah August 12, 2016 at 8:37 pm #

    Well, I won’t lie. It’s entertaining, although it’s also sad that African writers can’t all just hold hands and sing kumbaya ’round the literary fire. Although, a small correction, Elnathan wasn’t quite silent after Chimamanda’s comment which he found so offensive. He was just creative with writing an article about his feelings on the matter.

    I hunted down the link here at ynaija as Elnathan seems to have taken it down from his own blog. It’s titled “The Consequences of Loving Ngozi”… Mm. I hope my posting it here doesn’t mean I’m fueling the feud.

  6. Nj August 13, 2016 at 6:17 am #

    Hannah, what Elnathan was silent about was Chimamnda’s rejoinder/expose on OliseTV. That’s the one he never responded to, not being called my boy.

    • Hannah August 13, 2016 at 7:46 pm #

      Oh, ok! My mistake, then. The saga continues…

  7. Fatima August 14, 2016 at 2:40 am #

    Funny enough I think the “feud” is a “good” thing. Binya threw the first punch with his first tweet.

    This “feud” will make both writers write better.

    Personally as much as I adore Chimamanda, after reading “The consequences of loving Ngozi”, I had to take a step back in my worship for a second to asses his point of view and take off my rose-tinted spectacles after I put her on a pedestal. (By the way Elnathan’s writing there was excellent and deserves a gold star).

    Binya’s assertion that he (Elnathan) could have brought the whole workshop down with his diatribe was a tad melodramatic – Elnathan had an opinion and he made it known. Even I learnt a few things from it…(who knew that you could test how well cooked a piece of cocoyam was by pinching the skin)

    I’m positive being in the workshop helped Elnathan learn a few things even if it was only that he knew what kind of workshops he would attend in future and how he also did (not) require validation from certain quarters.

    The literary sky is big enough for everyone to soar in even if they do not agree with one another.

    Keep writing folks, we are reading!

  8. ABDUL BAFFAH August 15, 2016 at 4:32 am #

    I felt forlorn deep down in my heart, by reading a bad news regarding African writers feud. How could such a thing, become pronounced in the last three years. Please I am pleading them, to end this unethical act.

  9. Steve Alexandre-Adams August 16, 2016 at 4:37 am #

    Africans have problems handling the spotlight of literary fame….

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