A celebrated novelist had his memoirs published a few years before he passed away. The book created ructions in the community that he emerged from, because he chose to assign attributes to people of various ethnicities, claiming that those who spoke the same language as him were better equipped to deal with competition and progress, because they didn’t have entrenched ruling class traditions, unlike some of the other ethnic groups.

Debates raged back and forth about whether he should have expressed those ideas, when he was aware of the sensitive group dynamics of the situation. He probably felt he was in his last days and was past caring. He simply wanted to have his own say about various injustices that happened in the history of his people.

His parting literary shot was a catalyst in the heating up of mistrustfulness and antagonism within the community in question. The ensuing disagreements have brought into being an atmosphere of groups seeking to accentuate their differences, as opposed to finding ways to build bridges.

There are many wise and intelligent people that went through similar experiences. At this juncture, it is odd that no one seems to have found a way to create a counterweight to the disruptive stimulus that this writer produced.

Is this a fitting example of the excessive deference and reverence given to age in African societies? Is it possible to vent feelings of frustration and pain as a means of catharsis, thus avoiding the spreading of even more invidious attitudes than there were before?