Abdellah Taia & Self Actualisation – Gay, Moroccan, an Arab, a Muslim, an African

Saturday, October 13, 2012 - 17:28, by Sokari Ekine

Moroccan writer Abdellah Taia speaks about  coming out in Morocco, gay responsibilities and the importance of books and writing

Also, aside from their intellectual importance, I believe that books help us to live. When you read a book or a poem it connects you to something new inside of you or it confirms some premonition you’ve had. Using my books as a cultural instrument in the fight for freedom, for individuality, is something I’m very happy to do. Since I come from a world where individuality doesn’t exist, where homosexuality is still considered a crime, where you don’t completely own your body, and where you can’t speak freely, it’s the least I can do. The past ten years in Morocco have brought some change, but politically, socially, and traditionally the individual cannot be as free as they want. They are not protected by the law.

Asked whether he categorises his work as fiction or memoir, Taia’s questions the traditional definition of fiction which states the story is made up and has nothing to do with the writer.  His argument makes sense.  Even if a story is made up, its still me, my imagination, my fantasy.  He asks how is it possible to write fiction – a story which has nothing to do with the writer?  This makes perfect sense to me.

 I write novels, texts. They are not expressions of my social self, they are expressions of something else. I don’t know what label we should put on them. Though the experiences and scenes are coming from my life, when I start to write there are so many things that come out and put themselves into the text. I have no idea about those things five minutes before I start writing. The fictionalized always comes out and puts itself into my writing. But I don’t agree with the definition of fiction. Is it something that has nothing to do with us, that is made up? I don’t believe in that. As human beings, in order to make our lives acceptable and not too sad, we imagine things. We do it all the time. How would you label that? Fiction? Not for me. What I invent, what I imagine, is part of something.

Read the full interview here on Samsonia Way

Profile

Sokari Ekine

Sokari Ekine is an independent writer, editor, researcher and feminist activist from Nigeria. (Read on!)She's the founder [2004] and principle author of Black Looks and a regular contributor to Pambazuka News.  She recently edited the books 'SMS Uprising: Mobile Phone Activism in Africa' and co-edited 'African Awakening' with Firoze Manji. She is currently working on co-editing a "Queer African Reader" to be published by Pambazuka Press in 2012. She likes to blog about queer issues, gender and militarisation, literature and the Niger Delta.

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