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Uzodinma (Uzo) Iweala is the author of Beasts of No Nation. The novel, his debut, came out of his undergraduate thesis work at Harvard and was conducted under the supervision[…]

Iweala would rather see as many parties as possible come to the table to look at Africa’s problems.

Question: Should we just leave Africa alone?

Uzodinma Iweala: I’ve never said that. I mean everything I’ve . . . everything I have said suggests that it’s not about isolation and that way of looking at society as discreet and discreet packages that are not . . . you know that rub up against each other but are not interconnected. That doesn’t work anymore. So this idea of “leave this set of people alone”, or “leave that set of people alone” is not . . . like that’s as far from my mentality as one could get. I think the idea is . . . I mean if anything what I’m saying is bring more people in. Let’s bring as many people as we can into the discussion that we’re having so that we hear all those voices, and so that we develop new ways of interacting with each other and not just the same frames that we’ve been putting forth over and over again; but like . . . you know that’s . . . let’s . . . let’s see who has something to say, and let’s . . . You know if their . . . if their opinion or if their idea isn’t valid, then it will be discredited. But the bottom line is it needs to be put out there. But if their idea or opinion is valid and no one ever gets to hear it because they’re not at the table; or because you say that, like, this society shouldn’t interact with that society for whatever reason, that’s a problem. That’s a really big problem. And you know if anything what I wanna do with my life, and what I hope that I’ve started doing is saying, “Let’s get these stories. Let’s get these ideas, and let’s put them together, and let’s see how we can bring people closer rather than saying, “You guys don’t know anything about this. Just stay to your side.” Or, “You guys just stay in your corner.” I think that’s . . . I think that’s the least productive way of addressing any issue that we have to deal with today.

Recorded on: 10/7/07