Nigerian author Okey Ndibe is a master storyteller, as evidenced in all his critically acclaimed novels and nonfiction collections. Readers love his work for the humor and charm he brings to his writing. In a delightful new essay, titled “To the Bringer of English,” Ndibe shares an unusual back story about the role his grandfather played in influencing Ndibe’s life as a writer.

Enjoy the short excerpt below and follow the link below to read the full piece.

Nearly twenty years ago, I encountered an elderly retired teacher in Amawbia, my hometown in southeastern Nigeria. Eyes gleaming, he asked how I—whom he’d known as an often unfocused child—became an author.

It was a familiar question, and I had a ready-made answer. My mother was a retired schoolteacher who offered two options for penance when I misbehaved: a caning or a book. Gradually, as the story goes, I’d come to prefer the latter, becoming an absorbed reader, then a writer.

He patiently heard me out, then said in a knowing air: “Let me tell you how you became a writer. You became a writer because your grandfather was the first person to bring English to our town.”

“How so?” I said.

“Go and ask.”

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