Charles Umerie was bracing for a backlash when he published his allegorical novel, Kingdom Tales, in Nigeria a few years ago. Kingdom Tales was based on politics and human behavior in general, and some people would easily say it wouldn’t be categorized under African literature, and that brings us to the question; how do we know what’s African literature?
African literature refers to literature of and/or from Africa. In one of Charles Umerie’s interview, he made it known that language and content shouldn’t be used together to judge what is and isn’t African literature. Language is only a tool for communication, and what makes an African literature is more than content.
According to Charles Umerie, for any work to be categorized under African literature, it should at least pass any of these tests: language, be from or of Africa. Language test is when an African writer uses native language to write a book, and as Charles said, “No matter the content, native language alone is enough to make that book fall under African literature.” Even if an author chose to use English, a foreign language, but the content is from Africa or of Africa; that too can make a work be categorized as African literature.
In as much as Charles Umerie thought his book would be seen as not being African literature, African readers related to it quite well, and on his upcoming book, Charles said he would do something ‘of Africa’ that would inform and entertain.