Speak No Evil Navigates the Crossroads of Sexuality and Blackness

Sandra Aka
Seldom written about in African literature novels, homosexuality and blackness come at crossroads with culture in this two part story.

Written by Uzodinma Iweala

Published by Harper Perennial on March 05, 2019

Genres: Literary, African American, LGBT

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Outwardly, 18 year old Niru lives an uncomplicated life. He is the child of affluent parents, lives in a posh suburban neighborhood in Washington DC and will be attending Harvard in the fall. The heart of this novel, however, lies in what is beneath the surface: Niru is a gay black man who has to shoulder the weight of navigating both America and the world of his conservative Nigerian parents.

Seldom written about in African literature novels, homosexuality and blackness come at crossroads with culture in this two part story. In part one, Niru is sent to Nigeria to receive spiritual counseling and deliverance when his gay identity is revealed, while in part two, his encounter with the DC police changes the course of his life forever. What happens to the soul of a black African man when his sexuality is packaged as ‘un-African’ and the color of his skin as ‘un-American’ ? Is Niru’s father right ? Is his own house the safest place to be ? Together these two parts shape meaningful messages about race, sexuality, class and immigration.

Despite the heaviness of the book, it is refreshing to read about an African immigration experience that diverges away from the classic model:

families leaving Africa for America believing that all their problems will be solved once they achieve the American dream only to realize that the dream will never be attainable to them. Instead, Uzodinma Iweala shares the story of a Nigerian family living the dream and yet, is faced with no shortages of troubles. Welcome to America.



Sandra Aka is a 23 year old Dartmouth College graduate living on the lower east side of Manhattan. She describes her upbringing as the love child of multiple parent worlds; born in Cameroon and raised between Belgium, The Gambia and the United States. She was first inaugurated into the world of African literary masterpieces by way of ‘The Magic Calabash’ by Nana Grey Johnson and ‘Sizwe Bansi ‘is dead by Athol Fugard. Sandra aspires to become an established playwright and screenwriter and turn both original works and beloved books into cinematographic interpretations.

You can follow her on Instagram as @akasandraa.

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