Nigerian travel writing in Yoruba and English

This book is the first history of Nigerian-authored travel writing. It was shortlisted for the 2020 ASAUK Fage and Oliver Prize and it received an ‘honorable mention’ for the 2021 ALA’s First Book Award. ‘At the Crossroads’ challenges the well-worn narrative that travel writing is necessarily the West representing the rest of the world to itself.

Book cover of At the Crossroads

Instead, it explores the ways that Nigerian writers 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.

In the twenty-first century, African travel writers are becoming increasingly visible and are seeking to represent the continent through their own voices. The research for this book revealed how Nigerian authors have in fact been writing about travel and publishing travel writing for over a century, in the Yoruba language and in English. Through reading their texts, we can gain an important insight into how Nigerians have encountered difference within Nigeria, and how they have represented Nigeria to itself and to the world. We can also see how literary and print genres emerge and develop.

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