Nigerian travel writing in Yoruba and English

I am presently writing a monograph on the history of Nigerian travel writing, in Yoruba and English. This book is the first history of Nigerian-authored travel writing. It explores the ways that Nigerians have represented Nigeria to themselves and others, from 1914-2014, and it approaches ‘travel writing’ across genres, from newspaper serials to blogs, novels to historical writing. This book will be published by James Currey.

Tour of Duty book cover

I am fascinated by the way that Nigerians have represented their encounters with difference within Nigeria, through travel writing. As African travel writers are becoming increasingly visible and are seeking to represent the continent through their own voices, my research documents the rise of the travel writing genre in Nigeria. But my research shows how Nigerian writers have in fact been publishing travel writing for over a century, in both Yoruba and English. Through reading their travel writing we gain an important insight into how Nigerians have represented Nigeria to itself and to the world, and also into how literary and print genres emerge and develop. My research also revises the well-worn narrative that travel writing is necessarily always the West representing the rest of the world to itself. 

In 2016 I organised the ‘African Travel Writing Encounters’ conference here in the Department of African Studies and Anthropology, supported by the Knowing Each Other project. This conference brought together scholars from Africa and Europe, along with travel writers from Nigeria, Zambia and Sweden, to discuss the past, present and futures of African-authored travel writing.

Dr Rebecca Jones

[Book cover used with permission of author]