Et Cetera Et Cetera Pt. 1
I was never one for the limitations of boundaries, geographical boundaries.1 When I left Sierra Leone in the ’60s, I came to the United States, I went directly to Oregon.2 I took a Greyhound bus from New York all the way to Eugene, Oregon.3 It took me five days. And there I was thrown into a completely different cultural dynamic.4 I had come from the world in which the majority of people were Africans. I went to a world in which the majority of people were Anglo-Americans, okay.5 In most of my classes, I was — in 99.99% of my classes, I was the only “person of color.” But there were also a handful of Asians there, Caribbean people, et cetera, et cetera.
And I somehow believe that that exposure to a different world and my own deep, deep instinct to want to learn, to want to know about people from other parts of the world, not based on how they looked or how they sounded, but I wanted to read their literature, I wanted to understand their cultures.6 I think that was so important in my development as a global writer. I did not set out saying I’m going to learn about them. But it was always in me, it was an intrinsic value that helped me to understand people.7 I was made that way, because this has helped me tremendously, to be a much better human being, and secondly, a writer.