Obi Nwakanma:

In addition to Dr. Ogbu Kalu's very incisive contribution, let me also add that there are other ways to establish this important dialogue with African American and other diasporic Africans. One of the areas of pervasive silence remains with the writers and artists. No significant African American writers, painters, photographers, Film makers, music composers etc, have been invited to the continent as a guest of any of the universities or governments; none honoured, none prodded to a talk, and we have universities that can be made to do this. Again, let me give the example with Nigeria: the Kenneth Dike Library at Ibadan or the Nnamdi Azikiwe Library at Nsukka or any of the universities in Nigeria, Ghana, south Africa, etc, could host reading series that might attempt to bring in the Toni Morrisons, the Derek Walcotts, the Kamau Braithwaites, Yousouf Komouyankas, Amiri Barakas, Rita Doves, etc, as they should writers and artists and other scholars of the African diapsora regularly to these places as honoured guests. These exchanges are key because they carry memory and narrative. If one Blyden spoke in 19th century Lagos, a hundred more should be able to come and speak in the 21st century, with wider contact and newer forms of communication. That we do not do this means that we have taken each other too much for granted, and the basis of our mutual needs have declined and the meaning of kinship has become increasingly more slippery. To rekindle it, we must invite our diasporic kinsmen and women home to share with us; it would provoke greater questions, greater answers, and greater affinity. Frankly at the roots of what we sense to be a conflict is that question which Countee Cullen asked only a while go: "what is Africa to me?" We have not given them answers.