African Literature as Political Activism

African literature has gained ground in the 1950s[1] which has served as a revolutionary means to decolonize European writing about Africa and Africans.  Western literary works about Africa were often stereotyped projections that portrayed the African continent as a place of darkness, where humans lived as savages at a period when Europeans had advanced technologically. Joseph Conrad, a Polish-British novelist—who also acted as a spokesperson of British colonialism[2] —with his short story Heart of Darkness prominently contributed to the stereotypization of Africa. It is telling that Chinua Achebe (1930–2013), a foremost figure from the first generation of anticolonial African writers in the 20th century described him as “a thoroughgoing racist.”[3] Conrad, in his depiction of the African continent, goes as far as doubting the humanity of the Africans:


It was unearthly, and the men were—No, they were not inhuman. Well, you know, that was the worst of it—this suspicion of their not being inhuman. It would come slowly to one. They howled and leaped, and spun, and made horrid faces, but what thrilled you was just the thought of their humanity—like yours—the thought of your remote kinship with this wild and passionate uproar.[4]

G.D. Killam, another prominent figure in African anti-colonial literature tells us that these fictions are of a mark in formulating the view of Africa, nourished by and reproducing prejudices. As Killam puts it, these authors wrote with a clear set of goals, to a clearly determined public: to the non-African world overseas, where the aim was to sustain the prejudiced image of Africa that these readers were familiar with.[5]

As Killam claims, most literary works on Africa that are written from the Western perspective are to “justify the presence of the white man” in Africa.[6]  A good instance for this is Rudyard Kipling’s pro-imperialist poem about the Philippine-American War (1899-1902) The White Man’s Burden (1899), centered around incitement for the colonization of the Philippines.[7] In order to justify this message, there needed to be a distorted, inferiorized image about those to be colonized and a glorified, divine depiction about the white race, who are destined to civilize. As Achebe observed, colonialism did not only occur with political and economic exploitation. There was also a need to, through storytelling, justify the plundering done to the colonized regions. He notes that:


[Y]ou do not walk in, seize the land, the person, the history of another, and then sit back and compose hymns of praise in his honor. To do that would amount to calling yourself a bandit, and nobody wants to do that.

The Influence of the Colonial Discourse on Africans and African Literature as a Fight-Back

This distortion of the African image that came with colonialism was of crucial concern to the first generation of African writers, because they grappled with self-identity, as they were exposed to a colonial narrative from a tender age. Ziauddin Sardar, a British-Pakistani scholar highlights the “dynamic of inferiority” that refers to the determinative role of colonial relations in how black people perceive themselves. As Sardar puts it, black people’s mind is evaded by the experience of being inferior in relation to the white world. Their identity is centered around the desire to “become like him, and thus hope to be accepted as a man”.[9] Achebe’s experience corresponds with Sardar’s conviction: I went to a school modeled on British public schools. I read lots of English books… I did not see myself as African in those books. I took side with the white men against the savages. In other words, I went through my first level of schooling thinking I was part of the white man…[10]

Relying on the contribution of the first and second generation of African writers, this article argues that African literature has become a weapon against this internalized inferiority. It contributed to redefining the African image distorted by the colonial narrative.

The internalization of colonial relations is a recurring theme in the work of some African literary writers. While Achebe was lucky to be freed from the chains of colonial education, Ocol in Okot p’Bitek’s poem, Song of Lawino was not.[11]  Okot p’Bitek, Ugandan poet (1931-1982), wrote the poem in the Acholi dialect of Southern Luo and translated it himself to English, and published it in 1966. Lawino in the poem is a wife of an African university-educated man, Ocol. The poem displays her bewail for Ocol, who, through acquiring Western education has abandoned his African roots and his wife, in favor of Western ways of life:


Ocol has lost his head
In the forest of books.
[…]
My husband has read much,
He has read extensively and deeply
He was read among white men
And he is clever like white men
And the reading
Has killed my man
In the ways of his people
He has become
A stump. [12]

It is clear that beyond Europeans adhering to the notion of the inferiorization of Africa, even Africans were taught to devalue their own people and their Africanity. African writers thus employed their writing as a form of write-back to educate the Europeans (and the audience at home), and to foster a shift from Africans’ mental slavery to understand that “their past—with all its imperfections—was not one long night of savagery from which the first Europeans acting on God’s behalf delivered them..”[13]

Achebe clearly expressed in his essay “The Novelist as a Teacher” that “the writer cannot expect to be excused from the task of re-education and regeneration that must be done. In fact, he should march right in front. For he is, after all—as Ezekiel Mphahlele says in his famous book The African Image (1962)—the sensitive point of his community.”[14]

This call for function by Achebe is not peculiar to him alone, several African writers, as noted by Ignatius Chukwumah in his essay, “The African Literary Artist and the Question of Function”[15] believed that the African literary field plays a role in emancipatory struggles. His claim for African literature is that the European audience has learned of non-European people through colonial writers’ literary works. It is through this colonial literary production that non-European people are accepted as “uncivilized” “as a part of the stereotypical imperial binarism of the self and the other”. This literary production needs to be counteracted by African writers.[16]


Hopes and Impediment. Selected Essays by Chinua Achebe.
Source: www.cobo.com

Hence, this literary production needed to be counteracted by African writers: African writers are engaged in employing literature for the purpose of redressing the injustice done to the image of Africa. Christopher Okigbo (1932-1967), Nigerian poet and freedom fighter, in employing literature as a tool for activism, in his poem claim for a comeback for the prodigal Africans to their roots; symbolized through the effigy, Mother Itodo. In his poem, The Passage (1962) Okigbo asserts that


Before you, mother Idoto
naked I stand
before your watery presence
a prodigal.[17]

Idoto, who is a river goddess in the poet’s hometown, symbolizes, for him, a passage into the authentic African personality.

The second generation of African writers appearing in the post-WW2 era adduced nationalist activism like the first generation, but they have moved away from addressing colonialism. Having mostly written in the 1960s for newspapers and magazines, they started publishing full-length books by the 1970s. They grew up to witness the transition to independence and the disillusionment with being ruled by local tyrants who made life worse than colonizers. For them, the political problem was no longer an issue of race, but of class: there was a new class of wealthy Africans, who were living on the expense of the poor. The definitional trait for these writers like Niyi Osundare, Jack Mapanje, Femi Osofisan, Tanure Ojaide, Koffi Anyodoho, etc. was a radical Marxist bend, which they employed to rise against the military regime and oppression.[18]

The Formation of the Negritude Movement

It would be a mistake to neglect the prominence of the Negritude movement in the field of anticolonial literature, which was formed among francophone intellectuals. “The Scramble for Africa” (reference to the book The Scramble for Africa: The White Man’s Conquest of the Dark Continent from 1876 to 1912 by Thomas Pakenham, published in 1991), also called the Partition of Africa during the Berlin Conference of 1884–1885 divided the continent among different powers of Europe. Hence, the classification of Africa was by the European language they acquired: Anglophone (English), Francophone (French), and Lusophone (Portuguese). The colonial experiences of these individual African units were distinguished by the colonialists’ political approach. While the British, for instance, applied the system of indirect rule, the French colonial system used the policy of assimilation. Alexander Onwumere and Florence Egbulono describe the policy of assimilation as  “… stiff, dehumanizing, and cultural and religious disorienting policy.  The policy was aimed at turning Africans into ‘Frenchmen’ through the process of education. The French educational policy in Africa was thus meant to make the Africans culturally French.”[19]

This total delineation of Francophone Africans from their spiritual, cultural, and political history set French-speaking African and Caribbean intellectuals in a radical emotional state that has defined their identity. This experience stamps the Negritude movement that had emerged among African and Caribbean writers living in Paris and had been prominent throughout the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. The three most important figures of the movement was Léopold Sédar Senghor (1906-2001), Aimé Césaire (1913-2008), and Léon-Gontran Damas (1912-1978). The movement was seen “first as a psychological response to the social and cultural conditions of the ‘colonial situation’ and secondly as a fervent quest for a new and original orientation.”[20]

Francophone poets were vocal about returning to the African cultural heritage. They openly showed their firm belief in the superiority of the African race. They believed that a return would uplift them from the burden of inferiority that they acquired in their contact with Europe. As the French colonies “were deeply Frenchified”, they had to “revolt against what they had been led to accept as ‘real’ civilization and a rejection of what they now come to think of as the mechanistic, materialist culture of Europe.” This awareness “led to a poetry of protest, a poetry that expressed a rejection of Europe and a new glorification of Africa and blackness.”[21]

Senghor, one of the most vocal of the Negritude poets, would later become the first president of independent Senegal. In most of his poems, there is always a sense of return to his native Senegal and his infancy, which he calls “the Kingdom of Childhood”, when his rural life had been yet untouched by civilizational acts and African traditions and folklore had a place in the community.[22]

In the poem, Black Woman, published in 1945 Senghor glorifies blackness, which at the time meant features to be ashamed of, as Ziauddin Sardar notes that: ” Blackness represents the diametrical opposite: in the collective unconsciousness, it stands for ugliness, sin, darkness, immorality. Even the dictionary definition of white means clean and pure. We can find, in Roget’s Thesaurus, over 134 synonyms for whiteness, most with positive connotations. In contrast, Roget’s Thesaurus tells us black means dirty, prohibited, and funereal. It provides 120 synonyms for black and blackness, none with a positive connotation. This is why a white lie is excusable, and a black lie is all that is wicked and evil. Evolution moves from black to white.”[23] For Senghor and the Negritude poets, this sort of image is what they intend to reverse by celebrating their blackness. Senghor reverts the meaning of blackness:


Naked woman, black woman
Clothed with your color which is life, with your form which is a beauty! [24]

Senghor believes that blackness is life. It stands for the essence of his existence, and blackness in this context is so beautiful that it “strikes me to the heart like the flash of an eagle”. The fête of blackness is the return of the African to his origin that slavery and colonialism displaced him from. Considering that depiction of African history as that of savages and barbarians ruined their sense of self-esteem, there needed to be a retelling of that history, so Senghor proposes the superiority of the Africans by looking into the antiquity of “the Princes of Mali” and Africa’s glorious past.

Most of Senghor’s poems address a woman, which spawns the feminization of the African aesthetic in most African poems. He creates the presence of a black woman and proceeds to praise her; also using her as a symbolic representation for his native Senegal.


When shall I see again, my country, the pure horizon of your face?
When shall I sit down once more at the dark table of your breast?[25]

While the first line links him to his land, the second asks when he will be in the arms of his love. In summary, as “he sees [his childhood as] the source of inspiration for prophecy about the future,” he envisages a return to a land and a woman that will never leave his head:


I shall see other skies and other eyes
I shall drink at the spring of other mouths cooler than lemons
I shall sleep under the roof of other heads of hair in shelter from storms.
But every year, when the rum of springtime sets my memory ablaze
I shall be full of regret for my homeland and the rain from your eyes on the thirsty savannahs.

Because of the hypocritical pose of the French administration, which is disguised to show that Africans can become equal with the French if they attain the status, Ferdinand Oyono (1929-2010), an anticolonial novelist in the Negritude movement from Cameroon sets out to show the colonial power’s true nature in his novel published in French in 1956, The Old Man and the Medal.[26] Meka deserves a medal for his commitment “to forward the work of France”. Key among these commitments is that he gave his land for the missionaries to build their church and allowed his two sons to find “glorious death” on the French side in the Second World War. The hypocrisy of the French begins to stir Meka’s consciousness when at the venue of the medal he finds himself standing in excruciating heat from direct sunlight, while the French people sit comfortably under a shade. More obvious is that the European recipient of the medal receives an embrace and a quality medal, while the chief of the whites, Gullet only offers Meka a handshake and an inferior medal. Meka’s humiliation by Gullet proves the level of the colonialists’ hypocrisy: as blacks, no matter their commitment to the French, they are not considered equal.

Ferdinand Oyono: Houseboy.
Book cover Published in French in 1956, English translation in 1966 
Photo credit: Winstonsdad’s Blog

Houseboy,[27] his other novel published in the same year, also speaks of the real face of the French colonial administration through the eyes of the protagonist Toundi Ondoua. Toundi holds the white man in high esteem until the death of his benefactor Father Gilbert. Working for the commandant, he sees firsthand the kind of treatment meant for Africans. As he says,


There are some things it is better never to see. Once you have seen them, you can never stop living through them over and over again.[28]

Toundi’s alertness is at its apex when he sees the way African prisoners were treated:


Who can go on believing the stuff we are served in churches when things happen like I saw today…[29]

This shows that even the religious lesson of love that the white priests preach in churches is part of colonial hypocrisy.

While Senghor was more emphatic toward Europe and expresses his hopes for it and envisage a peaceful future without violence and hatred, next generation Senegalese poet David Diop (1927-1966) was more radical about the political liberation of Africa. Writer and literary historian Oladele Taiwo notes that “More than any African poet of his time, he [David Diop] was committed to the cause of Africa and it is for this reason that he is sometimes referred to as a poet of the African revolution.”[30] It is visible through his writing that “he was bitterly opposed to Europe and all it stood for.” While Senghor wrote in Prayer for Peace IIIthat:


Lord God, forgive white Europe
[…] Kill it Lord, for I must follow my way, and I would pray especially for France […]

Diop will not be found to take such a pacifist pose, like Senghor praying to God to kill the hatred in his heart so that he can “especially pray for France.” In the poem The Vultures all the images of Europe’s contact with Africa depict violence:


In those days
When civilisation kicked us in the face
When holy water slapped our cringing brows
The vultures built in the shadows of their talons
The blood stained monuments of tutelage

Diop depicts the relationship with Europe as nothing but a toxic and traumatic experience. Even religion, which may seem, on some grounds, to be a neutral means of spreading the gospel in Africa, is not spared. He says the holy water “slapped” instead of landing softly on their faces. His selection of verbs is jagged to show the toxicity of the encounter with Europe. In the same voice, in the poem Africa, he writes about the horrific experience of slavery that Europeans imposed on Africans:


The blood of your sweat
The sweat of your toil
The toil of slavery
The slavery of your children

In one of his most satirical poems The Renegade, he expresses his disgust with the Africans who try to be Europeans. He addresses them as


My brother with gold-rimmed glasses
You give your master a blue-eyed faithful look
My poor brother in immaculate evening dress.

Diop shows the hypocrisy of the Africans who dress like the white man and go as far as wearing “gold-rimmed glasses”. These Africans are so servile that they give their “master a blue-eyed faithful look.” He further shows how these types of Africans have been so alienated from their roots that the mention of their grandmother’s hut


brings blushes to [their] face that is bleached

by years of humiliation and bad conscience.

African Women in Literature: A Form of Activism

The most radical phase of activism in African literature is, perhaps, the ushering in of female writers in the 1970s.[31] With African narratives predominated by male authors, the depiction of women in writings was biased and degrading. This distorted portrayal by men propelled female writers into speaking up for themselves, because “male authors understandably neglect to point out the positive side of womanhood.”[32] This is even more predominant in the works of male Nigerian authors who “have all in their earlier works played down the powerful role of women.”[33] One of the earliest women writers from Africa Flora Nwapa (1931-1993) observes the “negative” portrayal of women and the subordination” to men in her essay “The African Woman Writer”. As Nwapa exemplifies, many famous African male authors depict African women in a sexualized, subordinated role where they are passive, objectified, and only appear in relation to men: “Ekwensi’s Jagua Nana is a prostitute; Wole Soyinka’s Amope is a ceaselessly nagging woman who makes life intolerable for her husband. Achebe’s Miss Mark does not hesitate to put her sex appeal to work in order to attain desired objectives. J. P. Clark’s Ebiere entices her husband’s younger brother into a sexual relationship. The focus has always been on the physical, prurient, negative nature of women. “[34]

Mary E. Modupe Kolawole, a professor of English and Women’s Studies affirms that there is a “shifting from the trend where African women were represented as tangential to the major actions or as tragic victims and femmes fatales, women writers are representing women as strong molders of their societies.”[35] African literature is not inexperienced in radical women’s activism. Great women have been drawing attention on  the relevance of womanhood for “their societies from as early as the 15th century,”[36] drawing from “women like Queen Hatshepsut of Egypt, Cadace of Meroe (Ethiopia), Nzinga of Angola, Mmanthatisi of the Sotho, Yaa Asantewa of Asante and Queen Amina of Zaria.”[37] Despite this historical reality, because most of the earlier African writers were predominantly male, they completely downplayed and neglected the dignity of the African woman—either as if she did not even exist, or where she appears, she is docile and passive. What emanates from this treatment by male authors is that, as Modupe affirms the “self-conscious attempt to use literature as a political weapon for consciousness-raising and empowerment.”[38]

Flora Nwapa and the cover of ther book Efuru
Source: https://talkafricana.com/

Flora Nwapa (1931-1993) in her book Efuru (1966), does what can be termed as role reversal. Instead of the patriarchal portrayal of the woman occupying murky characterization, she rather places men in that position. “In my novels, I explored the theme of moral laxity, but this is treated in response to earlier novels written by men where prostitution is always associated with women. Some of the most notable prostitutes are Jagua Nana of Ekwensi’s Jagua Nana; Simi of Soyinka’s The Interpreter; and Wanja of Ngugi’s Petals of Blood. But in my novels, there is a reversal of roles—men are the prostitutes.”[39]

One of the most radical writers of feminism who gives voice to the character of the African woman is Buchi Emecheta (1944-2017), who was a British author, born in Nigeria. In her essay “Feminism wita Small ‘f’!”[40] she pronounces that the African woman’s perspective is what she want to reveal in her work, thus not merely and primarily a feminist perspective—as she puts it, “I did not know that by doing so I was going to be called a feminist. But if I am now a feminist then I am an African feminist with a small f.” However, she prefers to be an ordinary writer “…that is what I want to be. An ordinary writer.”

It is crucial to note that African writers and intellectuals advocate for the importance of indigenous perspective in several issues that the West speaks of a universal approach. Hence, in politics, instead of calling themselves socialist and aligning with socialist countries in the West, they prefer to advance the theory of “Ujamma”, or what in other terms is called “African Socialism.” The distinction of African feminism from Western feminism—or, as some African women prefer to call it “Womanism,”—is hinged on the idea that their experience is different from that of white women from Western regions.

Buchi Emecheta: Second Class Citizen
Book cover 1972 edition
Source: Wikipedia

Despite Emecheta’s refuted the feminist label, she has done more justice to the portrayal and empowerment of the African woman than the younger generation of African feminists presumed radical. In her novel Second Class Citizen (1974), the roles of Adah and Francis show a striking difference in terms of critical-mindedness, resilience, and the attitudes of a reasonable person. Francis is an effeminate man, who lives on the hard work of Adah. In this exploitative relationship, she learns that “Francis could never tolerate an intelligent woman.”[41]  With the lifepath of Adah, Emecheta shows the travail of a girl in an African society. In a patriarchal society, where women do not get recognized, “it was decided that the money in the family, a hundred pounds or two, would be spent on Boy’s [Adah’s brother] education.” This shows that the preference for a male child is socially normalized.[42] Adah’s future is not considered in the light of what she might become, but only as a prospective source of income.

Due to the challenges overshadowing her life—majorly homelessness, Adah marries Francis to the detriment of her education plans. Her marriage to Francis provides further insight for the reader into the fact that subordination to men imposes rock-hard barriers to the choices and desires and roles of African women. Her environment expects Adah to meet traditional female role expectations: she is to primarily serve the livelihoods of her family, and the career of her husband. Francis is not willing to accept that these female role expectations might be violated because of Adah’s career aspirations as a writer.   

These patriarchal barriers are manifested through the character of Francis: his will is to hinder his wife from succeeding:


You keep forgetting that you are a woman and that you are black. The white man can barely tolerate us, men, to say nothing of brainless females like you who could think of nothing except how to breast-feed her baby. 

Through the character of Adah Emecheta gives voice to and shows the power of women: Adah does not flinch from what she wants to achieve despite the oppression of women appearing both in an institutionalized and domestic setting. Second Class Citizen is an autobiographical novel, which gives the work even more weight: the life events of Francis are depicted in a realist way, inspired by the personal experiences of Emecheta of what it means to be a woman in an African patriarchal society. However, it is important to note that even in a completely fictitious work like The Joys of Motherhood (1979), Emecheta projects women in a manner that debunks the passiveness of how male authors projected women in their stories.

Conclusion

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o (1938 –), a Kenyan writer, arguably one of the most politically conscious authors in contemporary African literature, in his novel Devil on the Cross (written in 1980 in Gĩkũyũ language and published in English in 1982), believes that “literature is a nation’s treasure, literature is the honey of a nation’s soul, preserved for her children to taste forever, a little at a time! [..] A nation that has cast away its literature is a nation that has sold its soul and has been left a mere shell.”[43] For African writers, literature is the written resource of their identity and history, and as such, a significant platform for political activism and anticolonial discourse. 

In contemporary times, writers like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (1977–), Helon Habila (1967–), Lola Shoneyin (1974–), and Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (1968–) also use literature as a tool for activism. Although, this generation does not take on the core radicalism, which the first and second generations of African writers explored. They have tiled down prominently contributed to the anticolonial discourse that has been essential to reveal how deeply colonial relations are woven into the tissues of society.

The current generation, termed the third generation, writes from a position of transnational dialectics. Also, they can be termed the exiled generation, who mostly lived through the military despotism in most African countries, were traumatized, and are currently living in Europe and America. Their global turn is the most distinguishing factor about them: they turned away from the cultural nationalism that had determined the ages before them.

Every generation of African writers uses literature as a tool against the many forms of social oppression. As poet and literary critic Niyi Osundare (1947–) said, “real writers have no alternative to being in constant conflict with oppression.”[44] In line with this, African writers are committed to understanding literary writing as political activism.  


About the author

Oko Owoicho is a poet and a writer. He is a graduate of English and Literary Studies from Benue State University where he researched on Metacriticism for his Long Essay. A 2nd Prize Winner for Korea Nigeria Poetry Prize, 2018. He has been published in Black Communion: Poems of 100 New African Poets, ANA Review 2017, and Tuck Magazine among others. He is researching on suicide among contemporary Nigerian writers and has a forthcoming poetry collection, We Will Sing Water.


Bibliography

Achebe, Chinua. Hopes and Impediments: Selected Essays. 1st ed. New York: Anchor Books, 1990.

—— The Education of a British Protected Child. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009.

Bitek, p’ Okot. Song of Lawino and Song of Ocol. Ibadan: Heinemann, 1984.

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness and the Secret Sharer. New York: New American Library, 1950.

Emecheta, Buchi. “Feminism with a Small ‘f’!” In African Literature: An Anthology of Criticism and Theory, eds. Tejumola Olaniyan and Ato Quayson, Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2007. 551–557.

——Second Class Citizen. Glasgow: William Collins Sons & Co., 1974.

Fanon, Franz. Black Skin, White Mask. London: Pluto Press, 2008.

Hevešiová, Simona. “The Crisis of Representation: Joseph Conrad and Ngugi Wa Thiong’o in Dialogue.” Theory and Practice in English Studies Vol. 7, no. 1 (2014): 43–61.

Killam, G. D. Africa in English Fiction 1874–1939. Ibadan: University Press, 1968.

Kolawole, Modupe, E. Mary. “Self-Representation and the Dynamics of Culture and Power in African Women’s Writing.” Journal of Cultural Studies 1, no. 1 (1999): 1–10.

Nwapa, Flora. “Women and Creative Writing in Africa.” In African Literature: An Anthology of Criticism and Theory, eds. Tejumola Olaniyan and Ato Quayson, Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2007. 526–532

Nwoga, Donatus, ed. West African Verse: An Anthology. London: Longman Group, 1967.

Onwumere, A. Alexander, and Florence Egbulonu. “The Influence of Negritude Movement on “Modern African Literature and Writers: A Study of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and Elechi Amadi’s The Concubine,” Okiki: An African Journal of New Writing, no. 15 (July 2014): 148–167.

Osundare, Niyi. The Writer as Righter. Ibadan: Hope Publication, 2007.

Oyono, Ferdinand. House Boy. Translated by John Reed. Essex: Heinemann, 1966.

Taiwo, Oladele. An Introduction to West African Literature. Nairobi: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1967.

Thiong’o, Wa Ngũgĩ. Devil on the Cross. London: Heinemann, 1982.


[1] There had been African writing before the 1950s – the Francophone Africans had contributed to the African literature. Aimé Césaire had published Cahier d’un retour au pays natal (Notebook of a Return to My Native Land) in 1939. Léopold Sédar Senghor had already published an anthology of African writers in the 1940s. However, African literature only received international acclaim in the 1950s, with the publication of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.

[2] Some critics have argued that Joseph Conrad wrote against colonialism in Heart of Darkness. For such claims, see Joseph Conrad: A Biography by Jeffrey Meyers.

[3] Chinua Achebe, Hopes and Impediments: Selected Essays, 1st ed. (New York: Anchor Books, 1990), 19.

[4] Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness and The Secret Sharer (New York: New American Library, 1950), 105.

[5] G. D. Killam, Africa in English Fiction 1874–1939 (Ibadan: University Press, 1968), x.

[6] Kiliam, xi.

[7] This is a line from Rudyard Kiplings’s poem, “White Man’s Burden.”

[8] Chinua Achebe, The Education of a British Protected Child (New York: Alfred A.Knopf, 2009), 112.

[9] Ziauddin Sardar, “Forward to the 2008 Edition,” in Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Mask (London: Pluto Press, 2008), xiii. The foreword to the first edition, published in 1986, was written by Homi K. Bhabha.

[10] Achebe, The Education, 118.

[11] Okot p’Bitek, Ugandan poet 1931-1982, he wrote the poem in Acholi dialect of Southern Luo and translated it himself to English and published it 1966.

[12] Okot p’Bitek, Song of Lawino and Song of Ocol (Ibadan: Heinemann Educational Books, 1984), 113.

[13] Achebe, Hopes and Impediments, 46.

[14] Achebe, Hopes and Impediments, 46.

[15] Ignatius Chukwumah, “The African Literary Artist and the Question of Function,”Ufahamu: A Journal of African Studies 38, no. 2 (2015): 129–152. https://escholarship.org/uc/item/8pk6p38z

[16] Simona Hevešiová, “The Crisis of Representation: Joseph Conrad and Ngugi Wa Thiong’o in Dialogue” in Theory and Practice in English Studies 7, no. 1 (2014): 45. http://hdl.handle.net/11222.digilib/134177

[17] Christopher Okigbo, Labyrinth with Path of Thunder (Ipaja: Apex Books, 2019), 1.

[18] Ojaide T. “Contemporary Africa and the Politics in Literature” In: Indigeneity, Globalization, and African Literature. (Palgrave Macmillan, New York,2015). https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137560032_2

[19] Alexander A. Onwumere and Florence Egbulonu, “The Influence of Negritude Movement on Modern African Literature and Writers: A Study of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and Elechi Amadi’s The Concubine,” Okiki: An African Journal of New Writing, no. 15 (July 2014): 150.

[20] Nwoga, “Poets of French Expression,” 225.

[21] Donatus Nwoga, “Poets of French Expression,” in West African Verse: An Anthology, ed. Donatus Nwoga (London: Longman Group, 1967), 216–217.

[22] Nwoga, “Poets of French Expression,” 225.

[23] Sardar, “Foreword,” xiii.

[24] All the poems referenced in this paper are from the anthology, West African Verse by Donatus Nwoga.

[25] West African Verse, 102

[26] Ferdinand Oyono, Old Man and the Medal.trans. John Reed (London: Heinemann, 1989), first published in French in 1956, in English translation in 1969.

[27] Ferdinand Oyono, House Boy, trans. John Reed (Essex: Heinemann, 1966), published in French in 1956.

[28] Oyono, 77

[29] Oyono, 76

[30] Oladele Taiwo, An Introduction to West African Literature (Nairobi: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1967), 90.

[31] Although Flora Nwapa, also a woman author, started writing in the 1960s, with her novel Efuru published in 1966, women didn’t become popular because of the repressive system of patriarchy and Western sexism not allowing women to acquire education.

[32] Flora Nwapa, “Women and Creative Writing in Africa,” in African Literature: An Anthology of Criticism and Theory (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2007), 527.

[33] Nwapa, “Women and Creative Writing in Africa,” 528.

[34] Nwapa, “Women and Creative Writing in Africa,” 528.

[35] Mary E. Modupe Kolawole, “Self-Representation and the Dynamics of Culture and Power in African Women’s Writing,” Journal of Cultural Studies 1, no. 1 (1999): 1.

[36] Kolawole, “Self-Representation and the Dynamics of Culture and Power in African Women’s Writing,” 1.

[37]  Kolawole, “Self-Representation and the Dynamics of Culture and Power in African Women’s Writing,” 1.

[38]  Kolawole, “Self-Representation and the Dynamics of Culture and Power in African Women’s Writing,” 1.

[39] Nwapa, “Women and Creative Writing in Africa,” 531.

[40] Buchi Emecheta, “Feminism with a Small ‘f’!” in African Literature: An Anthology of Criticism and Theory (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2007). The complete essay validates her point as to why she prefers not to be called a feminist.

[41] Buchi Emecheta, Second Class Citizen, (Glasgow: William Collins Sons & Co., 1974), 184.

[42] Emecheta, Second Class Citizen, 18.

[43] Ngũgĩ  Wa Thiong’o, Devil on the Cross (London: Heinemann, 1982), 62.

[44] Niyi Osundare, The Writer as Righter (Ibadan: Hope Publication, 2007), 7.

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