Africa, the heartbeat of rhythmic narrative voices, the home of authentic root information, is on a mission to reshape its distorted, desecrated image. Words spark off like distant echoes healing scars inflicted by the wraths of colonialism.
From rhythmic poetry to reciting kings, the pulsating echo from the motherland of Africa in streams of African literature is rooted in oral tradition, moral values, cultural systems and laws that were passed on from wood fires in the villages spreading voices to be heard, passing through the rivers and mountains.
The Diverse Literature of Africa
Writers from the continent in the contemporary era bring a diverse perspective of the multifaceted and complex continent of Africa.
Wole Soyinka from Nigeria spread the wings of Africa literature awareness and development after claiming the Nobel prize in 1986. Magical extraordinaire from Africa followed with Ben Okri and ‘The Famished Road’. The enchanting tale from Africa in a magical tone of realism and claimed the poetic prose Booker prize in 1991.
Somalian novelist, Nuruddin Farah received the 1998 Neustadt Prize prize. Nigerian author emerged with ‘Measuring time’ and Mozambican Mia Couto’s lyrically delicious read “The Last Flight of the Flamingo” took off in a magic realism masterpiece of note.
Sembene, Achebe, Hampâté Bâ, Kourouma, Marechera and Armah dominated the literary scene, then came the flowing voices of women in Africa with Mariama Ba and Bessie Head who pioneered African feminism.
The Literary Voice of Women from Africa
The last two and a half decades women writers came to the fore. From the classic ‘Nervous conditions” by Zimbabwean Tsitsi Dangaremba to Cameroon’s Calixthe Beyal, showcased women from Africa that excel in literature.
Female writers came to the forefront like Fatou Diome, the acclaimed ‘The Belly of the Atlantic’ author.
The autobiographic ‘The Devil that Danced on the Water’ announced Aminatta Forna another great writer from the land of Sierra Leone, home of Syl Cheney-Coker, an acclaimed poet.
A young girl from Nigeria, ‘Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’ made her debut on the literary scene taking the world by storm with ‘Purple Hibiscus’. ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ followed, an epic of the Nigerian civil war.
Amma Darko, a tax collector expanded her creativity in Africa’s expression in the linguistic field. She published (Der VerkaufteTraum) Beyond The Horizon
Monica Arac de Nyeako from Uganda claimed the 2007 Caine Prize.
The past ten years have seen the emergence of publishing houses and broadened our understanding of the savannah. The diverse narrative from Africa continues globe trotting.
The internet has widened pathways for authors to circumnavigate the traditional publishing house methods, earn revenue and create online fans. EC Osunde proved this after winning the 2009 Caine Prize for initially published on Guernicamag.com.
The Caine Prize has provided a recognition for African writing in an annual platform to ensure the development of writing on the continent.
Binyavanga Wainaina, after winning the Caine Prize in 2002 initialises, Kwani, a literary review in Africa. The infrastructure of African writing continues to develop with new publishing houses and the information exchange online of databases and African studies as well as social networks like twitter transcend all publishing barriers giving a Voice to Africa.
The Colonial Linguistic barriers dividing Africa – reinforced
The question of language was always debated regarding the logic of English in literature writing in indigenous languages grew
Ngugi Wa Thiong’ wrote his novels ‘Devil on the Cross’ and ‘Matigari’ in Kikuyu and abandoned English, the language of colonizers. ‘Devil on the Cross’ was successful in sales and emerged with 50,000 sold copies.The landmark of indigenous language in African literature.
Linguistic barriers perpetuate the divisions rooted in colonialism preventing literature from Africa to become cohesive in a movement of Pan Africanism.The Uk celebrates English writers from Africa, France endorsed authors in Francophone brackets from Mali Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire.
Translations do exist, but it is common for intellectuals to get sponsored by ex-colonies. Further investment in translation in the core for Pan Africa readership and appreciation. Established pan African faculties may be the key to resolving the challengeThe challenge of building local markets and readership remains. The selection of a book in the country’s national curriculum can guarantee sales. Sales need buying power and literature is not prioritized as many live in poverty.
The selection of a book in the country’s national curriculum can guarantee sales. Sales need buying power and literature is not prioritized as many live in poverty. Writings contrast the picture of Africa as a continent of darkness and delusion with narrative posing the eclectic and fruitful real Africa.
The call for Africa to rephrase history had arrived in 1986 when Wole Soyinka took center stage as the dramatist in poetic overtones. Exposing corruption and political injustice was no smooth flowing route, -yet the mission to fade away the myth of Africa being incapable contributes to the need for Africa writing.
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