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History and Literature of Africa
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African Lit

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African Lit

  1. 1. African Literature Exploring Life Through
  2. 2. Literary Background of the African Literature The most notable literary selections are those that capture the life and struggle of the African people. There have been significant struggles that could have been left untouched, but writers choose to face courageous task of answering the call of pen, and begin the process of social healing through literature. Perhaps, it is this brilliant characteristic of African literature that enables it to shine and fulfill one universal function of literature.
  3. 3. Literary Background of the African Literature The literary tradition of Africa became richer than ever as it gained artistic and sophisticated expression in different languages. Traditional languages became vehicles of cultural thoughts. Poetry, drama, novel, and short story flourished as the literary genres. The people’s struggle to cope with – or oppose – the changing atmosphere of their homelands was dramatically recorder in what is known as African literature.
  4. 4. Literary Background of the African Literature Literature represents the breadth and depth of universal experiences of man. The texts for the study of African literature shed light on controversial issues such as racial discrimination, apartheid, political conflicts, civil wars, feminism and gender sensitivity, and human rights issues. These have given the selections the flavor of relevance and universality, which are outstanding themes of a meaningful literary study.
  5. 5. NEGRITUDE  “A sudden grasp of racial identity and of cultural values and an awareness of the wide discrepancies which existed between the promise of the French system of assimilation and the reality.”
  6. 6. NEGRITUDE Although Africans had been writing in Portuguese as early as 1850 and a few volumes of African writing in English and French had been published, an explosion of African writing in European languages occurred in the mid-twentieth century. In the 1930s, black intellectuals from French colonies living in Paris initiated a literary movement called Negritude. Negritude emerged out of "a sudden grasp of racial identity and of cultural values and an awareness "of the wide discrepancies which existed between the promise of the French system of assimilation and the reality."
  7. 7. NEGRITUDE The movement's founders looked to Africa to rediscover and rehabilitate the African values that had been erased by French cultural superiority. Negritude writers wrote poetry in French in which they presented African traditions and cultures as antithetical, but equal, to European culture. Out of this philosophical/literary movement came the creation of Presence Africaine by Alioune Diop in 1947. The journal, according to its founder, was an endeavor "to help define African originality and to hasten its introduction into the modern world.” Other Negritude authors include Leopold Senghor, Aime Cesaire, and Leon Damas.
  8. 8. :Literary Forms
  9. 9. ORAL LITERATURE  Oral literature, also called as “orature,” have flourished in Africa for many centuries and take a variety of forms including folk tales, myths, epics, funeral dirges, praise poems, and proverbs.
  10. 10. 1. MYTHS  Myths usually explain the interrelationships of all things that exist, and provide for the group and its members a necessary sense of their place in relation to their environment and the forces that order events on earth.
  11. 11. 2. EPICS  Epics are elaborate literary forms, usually performed only by experts on special occasions. They often recount the heroic exploits of ancestors.
  12. 12. 3. FUNERAL DIRGES  Dirges, chanted during funeral ceremonies, lament the departed, praise his/her memory, and ask for his/her protection.
  13. 13. 4. PRAISE POEMS  Praise poems are epithets called out in reference to an object (a person, a town, an animal, a disease, and so on) in celebration of its outstanding qualities and achievements.
  14. 14. PRAISE POEMS Praise poems have a variety of applications and functions. Professional groups often create poems exclusive to them. Prominent chiefs might appoint a professional performer to compile their praise poems and perform them on special occasions. Professional performers of praise poems might also travel from place to place and perform for families or individuals for alms or a small fee.
  15. 15. 5. PROVERBS  Proverbs are short, witty or ironic statements, metaphorical in its formulation which aim to communicate a response to a particular situation, to offer advice, or to be persuasive.
  16. 16. PROVERBS The proverb is often employed as a rhetorical device, presenting its speaker as the holder of cultural knowledge or authority. Yet, as much as the proverb looks back to an African culture as its origin and source of authority, it creates that African culture each time it is spoken and used to make sense of immediate problems and occasions.
  17. 17. WRITTEN LITERATURE  Written literature includes novels, plays, poems, hymns, and tales.
  18. 18. WRITTEN LITERATURE A discussion of written African literatures raises a number of complicated and complex problems and questions that only can be briefly sketched out here. The first problem concerns the small readership for African literatures in Africa. Over 50% of Africa's population is illiterate, and hence many Africans cannot access written literatures. The scarcity of books available, the cost of those books, and the scarcity of publishing houses in Africa exacerbate this already critical situation. Despite this, publishing houses do exist in Africa, and in countries such as Ghana and Zimbabwe, African publishers have produced and sold many impressive works by African authors, many of which are written in African languages.
  19. 19. WRITTEN LITERATURE Scholars have identified three waves of literacy in Africa. The first occurred in 1.Ethiopia where written works have been discovered that appeared before the earliest literatures in the Celtic and Germanic languages of Western Europe. The second wave of literacy moved across 2.Africa with the spread of Islam. Soon after the emergence of Islam in the seventh century, its believers established themselves in North Africa through a series of jihads, or holy wars. In the eleventh and twelfth centuries, Islam was carried into the kingdom of Ghana. The religion continued to move eastward through the nineteenth century.
  20. 20. WRITTEN LITERATURE The encounter with 3.Europe through trade relationships, missionary activities, and colonialism propelled the third wave of literacy in Africa. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, literary activity in the British colonies was conducted almost entirely in vernacular languages. Missionaries found it more useful to translate the Bible into local languages than to teach English to large numbers of Africans. This resulted in the production of hymns, morality tales, and other literatures in African languages concerned with propagating Christian values and morals. The first of these "Christian-inspired African writings" emerged in South Africa
  21. 21. WRITTEN LITERATURE The written literatures, novels, plays, and poems in the 1950s and 60s have been described as literatures of testimony. The African authors who produced literatures in European languages have been described as literatures of revolt. These texts move away from the project of recuperating and reconstructing an African past and focus on responding to, and revolting against, colonialism and corruption. These literatures are more concerned with the present realities of African life, and often represent the past negatively.
  23. 23. POETRY  Paris in the Snow swings between assimilation of French, European culture or negritude; intensified by the poet’s catholic piety.  Totem by Leopold Senghor shows the eternal linkage of the living with the dead.  Letters to Martha by Dennis Brutus is the poet’s most famous collection that speaks of the humiliation, the despondency, the indignity of prison life.  Train Journey by Dennis Brutus reflects the poet’s social commitment as he reacts to poverty around him amidst material progress especially and acutely felt by the innocent victims, the children.
  24. 24. POETRY  Telephone Conversation by Wole Soyinka is the poet’s most anthologized poem that reflects Negritude. The poetic dialogue reveals the landlady’s deep-rooted prejudice the colored people as the caller plays up on it.  Africa by David Diop is a poem that achieves its impact by a series of climactic sentences and rhetorical questions.  Song of Lawino by Okot P’Bitek is a sequence of poem about the clash between African and Western values and is regarded as the first important poem in “English to emerge from Eastern Africa.” Lawino’s song is a pleas for the Ugandans to look back to traditional village life and African values.
  25. 25. NOVELS The Houseboy by Ferdinand Oyono points out the dillusionmentt of Toundi, a boy who leaves his parents maltreatment to enlist his services as an acolyte to a missionary. After the priest’s death, he becomes a helper a white plantation owner, discovers the liaison of his master’s wife, and gets murdered later in the woods as catch up with him. Toundi symbolizes the and the coming of age, and utters despondency of the Camerooninans over the corruption and immortality of whites. The novel is developed in the form of a recit, the French style of a diary-like confessional work.
  26. 26. NOVELS  Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe depicts a vivid picture of Africa before the colonization by the British people. The novel laments over the disintegration of Nigerian society, represented in the story by Ok-wonko, once a respected chieftain who loses his leadership and falls from grace after the coming of the whites. Cultural values are woven around the plot to mark its authenticity: polygamy since the is Muslim; tribal law is held supreme by the gwugwu, respected elders in the community; a man’s social status is determined by the people’s esteem and by possession of fields of yams and physical prowess; community life is in drinking sprees, funeral wakes, and sports festivals.
  27. 27. NOVELS No Longer at Ease by Chinua Achebe is a sequel to Things Fall Apart. A returning hero fails to cope with disgrace and social pressure. Okwonko’s son has to up to the expectations of the Umuofians, after a scholarship in London, where he reads literature, law as expected of him, he has to dress up, he must have a car, he has to maintain his social standing, he should not marry an Ozu, an outcast. In the end, tragic hero succumbs to temptation, he, too receives bribes, and therefore is “no longer at ease.’
  28. 28. NOVELS  The Poor Christ of Bombay by Mongot Beti begins en medias res and exposes the inhumanity of colonialism. The novel tells Fr. Drumont’s disillusionment after the discovery the degradation of the native women, bethrothed, but to work like slaves in the sixa. The government steps into picture as syphilis spreads out in the priest’s compound. It turns out that the native whose weakness are wine, and song has been made overseer of the sixa when the Belgian priest goes out to attend to his other mission work. Developed through recite or diary entries, the novel is a on the failure of religion to integrate to national without first understanding the native’s culture.
  29. 29. NOVELS  The River Between by James Ngugi shows the clash of traditional values and contemporary ethics and mores. The Honia River is symbolically taken as metaphor of tribal and Christian unity – the Makuyu tribe conducts Christian rites while the Kamenos hold circumcision rituals. Muthoni, the heroine, although a new-born Christian, desires the pagan ritual. She dies in the end but Waiyaki, the teacher, does teach vengeance against Joshua, the leader of the but unity with them. Ngugi poses co-existence of religion people’s lifestyle at the same time stressing the influence of education to enlighten people about their socio-political responsibilities.
  30. 30. NOVELS  Heirs to the Past by Driss Chraili is an allegorical, parable- like novel. After 16 years of absence, the anti-hero Driss returnd to Morocco for his father’s funeral. The Signeur his legacy via a tape recorder in which he tells the family members his last will and testament. Each chapter in the reveals his relationship with them, and at the same time bare the psychology of these people. His older brother, was ‘born once and had died several times’ because of his childishness and irresponsibility. His idiotic brother, Nagib, become a total burden to the family. His mother as she for her freedom. Driss flies back to Europe completely alienated from his people, religion, and civilization.
  31. 31. NOVELS A Few Days and Few Nights by Mbella Sonne Dipoko deals with racial prejudice. In the novel originally written French, a Cameroonian scholar studying in France is torn between the love of Swedish girl and a Parisian whose father owns a business establishment in Africa. The father rules out the possibility of marriage. Therese, their commits suicide and Doumbe, the Cammerronian, thinks only of the future of the Bibi, the Swedish who is his child. Doumbe’s remark that the African is like a which carries it home wherever it goes implies the racial pride and love for the native grounds.
  32. 32. NOVELS The Interpreters by Wole Soyinka is about a group of young intellectuals who function as asrtists in their with one another as they try to place themselves in context of the world about them.
  34. 34. Leopold Sedar Senghor  He is a poet and statesman who was a co-founder of the Negritude movement in African Art and Literature. He went to Paris on a scholarship and later taught in the French school system. During these years, Senghor discovered the unmistakable imprint of African art on modern painting sculpture, and music, which confirmed his belief in Africa’s contribution to modern culture. Drafted during World War II, he was captured and spent two years in Nazi concentration camp where he wrote some of his finest poems. He became president of Senegal in 1960. His works include: Songs of Shadows, Black Offerings, Major Elegies, and Poetical Work. He became Negritude’s foremost spokesman and edited an anthology of French language by black African that became a seminal text of the Negritude movement. (1906)
  35. 35. Okot P’Bitek He was born in Ugand during the British domination and was embodied in contrast of cultues. He attended English-speaking school, but never lost touch with traditional African values and used his wide array of talents to pursue his interests in both African and Western cultures. Among his works are: Song of Lawino, Song of Ocol, African Religions and Western Scholarship, Religion of the Central Luo, Horn of My Love. (1930 – 1982)
  36. 36. Wole Soyinka He is a Nigerian playwright, poet, novelist, and critic who was the first black African to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986. He wrote of modern West Africa in a satirical style and with tragic sense of the obstacles to human progress. He taught literature and drama and headed theater groups at various Nigerian universities. Among his works are: plays – A Dance of the Forests, The Lion and the Jewel, The Trials of Brother Jero; novels – The Interpreters, Season of Anomy; poems – Idanre and Other Poems, Poems from Prison, A Shuttle in the Crypt, Mandela’s Earth and Other Poems. (1934)
  37. 37. Chinua Achebe He is a prominent Igbo novelist acclaimed for his unsentimental depictions of the social and psychological disorientation accompanying the imposition of Western customs and values upon traditional African society. His particular concern was with the emergent Africa at its movement of crisis. His works include: Things Fall Apart, Arrow of God, No Longer at Ease, A Man of the People, Anthills of Savanah. (1930)
  38. 38. Barbara Kimenye She wrote twelve books on children’s stories known as the Moses Series, which are now a standard reading fare for African school children. She also worked for many years for His Highness the Kabaka of Uganda, in the Ministry of Education and later served as Kabaka’s librarian. She was a journalist of the Uganda Nation and later a columnist for A Nairobi newspaper. Among her works are: Kalasanda Revisited, The Smugglers, The Money Game. (1940)
  39. 39. Bessie Head She described the contradictions and shortcomings of pre- and post-colonial African society in morally didactic novels and stories. She suffered rejection and alienation from an early age being born of an illegal union between her white mother and black father. Among her works are: When Rain Clouds Gather, A Question of Power, The Collector of Treasures, Serowe. (1937 – 1986)
  40. 40. Ousmane Sembene He is a writer and filmmaker from Senegal. His works reveal an intense commitment to political and social change. Sembene tells his stories from out of Africa’s past and relates their relevance and meaning for contemporary society. His works include: O My Country, My Beautiful People, God’s Bits of Wood, The Storm. (1923)
  41. 41. Nadine Gordimer She is a South African novelist and short story writer whose major themes was exile and alienation. She received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991. Gordimer was writing by age 9 and published her first story in magazine at 15. Her works exhibit a clear, controlled, and unsentimental technique that became her hallmark. She examines how public events affect individual lives, how the dreams of one’s youth are corrupted, and how innocence is lost. Amore her works are: The Soft Voice of the Serpent, Burger’s Daughter, July’s People, A Sport of Nature, My Son’s Story, The Ultimate Safari. (1923)
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