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AFRICAN LITERATURE


Hassiba Ben Bouali University

2010/2011 3rd Year English Ebook Written by: Djarloul Miloud


PROGRAMME

First EMD

Second EMD


NEGRITUDE According to Edward culture is that complex hole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, customs and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society Philosophers never agree about the true meaning of culture because its concept depends on the space were we live. Eg: from the Oxford definition of culture, it's taken as a technological concept, this means that people who doesn't have technology are excluded from the concept of culture. Also when we define culture as tradition, we exclude societies which doesn't have such kind of culture. Note: Culture from African point of view:

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In a negritude movement there is a strong belief of going back to the roots bringing wealth to there land.

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The negritude: it's a movement created by African philosophers living outside Africa especially in France. To show that there is no shapes of being black.

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Principals of the negritude movement: 1. Culture as tradition: there is an emphasis on the past(tradition)

2. The glorification of the past: it speaks about the past before the coming of colonialism as being glorified. And that Africa was very civilised, organised and was a place of culture which was destroyed by the colonialism. 3. Theme of return: a desire from Africans outside the continent to turn back to their mother land. 4. Mythical home land and ancestors: land is very important for Africans, it's their identity which is related to their spirit because their fathers and ancestors are buried there(their spirit still there).


THE IMPACT OF COLONIALISM IN AFRICA The relationship between colonialism and Africa Culture and imperialism: The coming of the white men didn't start with militaries, it starts with missionaries and they brought the bible to Africa. The bible was an aspect of culture, because religion is the most powerful aspect of culture (you can change anything but you can't change religion). By bringing the bible, Africans failed to gave up their traditions and to be Christians. And they created a mixture between Christianity and African traditions. According to Edward Saiid, imperialism killed the idea of pure culture. Orientalism: (The way the orient was produced by culture) The orient was given a negative image from novels and books that is written by Americans and Europeans, this is what happened to Africa, it's given an image that all people of Africa are black, they eat flesh of human beings, magic ... The colonial encounter and the project of cultural globalisation: •

The colonial encounter: a colonial meeting.

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Cultural Globalisation: to make the world one people speaking the same language and worshiping the same God.


THE IMPACT OF THE ANTHROPOLOGICAL IMAGINATION IN PRODUCING THE IMAGE OF AFRICA As an example for the anthropological imagination, we have the dancing which is referee to African people. Sometimes dancing is an ritual act of worshiping God, but somebody who doesn't belong to this culture he won't understand this, so if he writes about it he will give a negative image about Africa. Culture clash in the post-colonial theory: After Africa got independence, philosophers started to write about the African culture during the colonisation and after it. That African culture was a mimicry after the colonising period, because it was a blind imitation of the white people (coloniser). People were like an ape, they ape whites without understanding.


Notes: •

Edward saiid is a great philosopher, artist, cretic . He is from Palestine. When he was young his father took him to America. He wrote two important books; Culture and imperialism, Orientalism.

The book "Black Skins White Masks" shows the impact of imperialism on the African tradition and culture.

Anthropology: is a science of studying the culture of human beings.

Bhabha is an Indian writer who wrote the book of The location of culture in which he speaks about the mixture of cultures and culture mimicry (imitation).

African were victims of anthropological reports

The third space: a mixture of two cultures

The difference between clash of civilisation and clash of culture:

Each community has a culture and it can clash with any other culture, but when we speak about the clash of civilisation, we speak about the old civilisations like Persia (Iran), and Turkey. This mean that only when there is a clash between great civilisations we speak about the clash of civilisation.


INTRODUCTION TO AFRICAN ORAL TRADITION Pre-colonial period: 1. Epic of sundiata Mali 2. Animal trickers include anansi, a spider in the folklore of the Ashanti people of Ghana 3. Proverbs 4. Myths of creation The function of orality within African society


.The civilising mission and the collapse of the traditional religion: Before the coming of European to Africa, they sent civilising mission which were groups of scientist, religious people... To civilise African and convert them to Christianity. A woman was the second person who accepted Christianity in Africa, because she gave birth of twins, but they were killed due to they belief which assume that twins are evil. So she converted to Christianity because this fact doesn't exist. And also the assume that those people are slaves by nature, as a contrast, Christianity said that all people are the same. People who accepted Christianity were those who suffered from the traditional system. . Masculinity and the problem of gender in "Things fall apart": Many women attacked Achebe and they said that he is a sexist, and women were not equal with men in the ibou society, but at the same time, they gave them a slight importance since they worship a goddess, and also when a husband wins a title he gives it to his wife as a sign of pride. Women has also a function in educational institutions, there were no schools in the Ibou society, so the mother was teaching her children Culture, traditions ... Through Oral Tradition. .Class system in the Ibou society:
 In the Ibou society, classes are titles. They are four, ranging from the first title to the fourth which belongs to the king and grand fathers(wise men) .Race and representation of the other:
 This means how does a white see a black and how does a black see a white. According to blacks, white people were considered as someone peeled from is skin, and they also considered the bicycle as an iron horse, so they didn't have bad ideas about white men, otherwise they don't give them


a piece of land to build the church. Unlike white people who were read about every detail of blacks. .Communalism verses individualism: 
 The market place is a symbol of communication in the Ibou society . Social justice and egalitarian society:
 In the Ibou society, land was not owned by anyone, if you work it, it's yours. They were part of the egalitarian society because people were not distinguished by money, but by achievement. Notes:
 .This novel "Things Fall Apart" is a writhing back to answer some myths about African said from the colonialism that Africans are savages, lazy natives ... So this novel come to show that this is wrong. And that Africa is not a long dark night of savagery.

CLASSICAL TRAGEDY What is the theory of classical tragedy?

This novel is written under the theory of Greek Classical Tragedy which contains elements that should have been found in the plot. Those elements are:
 The tragic hero: tragedy is related to morality, so the tragic hero is the one who sacrifices himself for others. 
 The tragic flaw: the tragic hero should have a tragic flaw, it means that there is a problem in his identity and this problem pushes him to commit a mistake, this mistake will lead to his dead at the end. Eg: The flaw of Hamlet when he wanted to take revenge of his uncle, one day his uncle was praying and he said: "God forgive me for I kill my brother". Hamlet saw him, so now he is sure that his uncle killed his father. Hamlet started thinking to kill his uncle, but he said: "No, if I kill him and he is praying I will send him to heave, this is not a punishment". During the time when he was thinking, his uncle takes notice of his present behind him... At the end everyone was dead because of Hamlet. 
 But if Hamlet killed his uncle the time when he was praying, he might save the life of his mother and the



others who were killed because of him.
 Here we saw that Hamlet has a tragic flaw because of procrastination and thinking a lot. Hamlet was a good man even if he made such mistakes, because he sacrifices himself for others. And the tragic flaw in "Things Fall Apart" is the killing of the son without thinking, and this is the opposite of Hamlet. 
 The reversal of the fortune: there is a reversal of fortune in the novel which means that the state of events is going to change (reversed). Okonkou loose everything even his house was burned
 Sudden awareness: It appears when someone do a mistake then he becomes aware of his mistake. We don't have this in "Things Fall Apart" because Okonkow was a man of action and not a man of thought. 
 Irony: Whenever we have a reverse of fortune, we have also irony. Eg: While you try to be rich, you become poor. Notes: 
 . "Things Fall Apart" is a novel and not a drama because it is more narrative than dialogic.
 . The narrator is using anthropological descriptions (anthropological realism) because he belongs to this society. If not he won't succeed to describe rituals and traditions of that society. 
 . The bible is also present in shaping the plot.
 . The grand father of Achebe was among the firsts who accept Christianity. . The novel begins with a retrospective that is to say dealing with things happened in the past (build the present depending on the past). . Okonkow's father is a miner character but important in the sense that he influences him in behaving the way he behaves. . Nowi is a feminine child and Okonkow resembles as a father to him. Okonkow was always afraid that people will consider him as a feminine too. When Nowi was taken to be sacrificed, he suddenly realised that he is going to be killed (sadden awareness). Okonkow was there at that time, and when Nowi passed by him, Okonkow killed him to show his masculinity (Tragic flaw of Okonkow). This is the most important tragic flaw, because it changes his relationship with Nowi (his son) who was among the first to be converted to Christianity. . Achebe used the word "Agbanjy" in his novel which is an African word, because this word doesn't exit in English (Evil Boy). Therefor, Achebe will keep its meaning. . Feminist is very important in the Igbo society, even though it is denied by Okonkow.


others who were killed because of him.
 Here we saw that Hamlet has a tragic flaw because of procrastination and thinking a lot. Hamlet was a good man even if he made such mistakes, because he sacrifices himself for others. And the tragic flaw in "Things Fall Apart" is the killing of the son without thinking, and this is the opposite of Hamlet. 
 The reversal of the fortune: there is a reversal of fortune in the novel which means that the state of events is going to change (reversed). Okonkou loose everything even his house was burned
 Sudden awareness: It appears when someone do a mistake then he becomes aware of his mistake. We don't have this in "Things Fall Apart" because Okonkow was a man of action and not a man of thought. 
 Irony: Whenever we have a reverse of fortune, we have also irony. Eg: While you try to be rich, you become poor. Notes: 
 . "Things Fall Apart" is a novel and not a drama because it is more narrative than dialogic.
 . The narrator is using anthropological descriptions (anthropological realism) because he belongs to this society. If not he won't succeed to describe rituals and traditions of that society. 
 . The bible is also present in shaping the plot.
 . The grand father of Achebe was among the firsts who accept Christianity. Setting in Things Fall Apart Time: The events of the novel are related to the period before the coming of the coloniser. Place: Umufia was the place where the story took place. Note: . Joseph Conrad exaggerated in writing Heart of Darkness, he considered Africa as a place of savages which belongs to the very beginning of life. For this reason Chinua Achiebi wrote this novel to correct the image of Africa given by Conrad. Chinua Achiebi wanted to convey a message that the environment or the place is a symbol that shows if the society is developed or not, and that architecture does meaning development, because it is shaped according to the identity of that society. If not, we cannot distinguish any civilisation from the other. If we say that the highest buildings mean civilisation, so this idea comes from Africa, not long time ago, The Pyramids were considered as the highest buildings in the world.


Language and Style Language in literature is the sophisticated use of language. It communicates a very high meanings. Style has to do with appearance, that is to say; everything opened to judgement, for instance a student has a style (Clothing, walking...), a city has a style (architecture...).

Note: . Each time we find a special use of a literary technic/ Device, so it is part of the style. Chinua Achiebi is among the first African writers who was able to incorporate oral expressions/ language/ traditions into the written language. This is an act of mixing oral language with written language is a special kind of style, to show that the fritter is not writing, but saying. . Creating the elusion of orality by manipulating grammar: It mean the disrespect of grammar rules while writing. . The prosody of oral language is maintained through the use of coordination conjunctions at the beginning of the sentence: For instance the use of "and" simultaneously. . High frequency of idiomatic language in proverbs to show the authenticity of the act of communication: When we find a language full of idiomatic expression, it means that's very old, and people who produced these expressions have a very deep history, and wisdom. . Orature and the communal function of language in the novel: The idea here is about the introduction of orality, in other words, Why does Chinua Achiebi introduced orality in his novel? Achiebi didn't want to communicate a scientific idea, but culture of people who are going to receive the idea. . The use of untranslated words due to the impossibility of translation shows aspects of the Igbou culture: The question to ask here is: Why did Achiebi use untranslated words? Some critics said that Achiebi failed to find the right translation for those word, because it has no meanings in the English language. For instance the word Agbala. It has two meaning; courage and sometimes cowardice, which is not available in English.


A GRAIN OF WHEAT Themes in A Grain of Wheat

. Ngugi has chosen the title A Grain of Wheat which is from the bible to convey a message that the minority shall die for the survival of the majority during the revolution. For instance, if we plant a grain of wheat, it will grow then it falls down, that is to say; it dies. The next season this dead grain gives life to many other. (The few shall die so that the many shall leave). . The second reason of choosing this title is to emphasise on the agrarian way of life of Africa. . The third idea is irony. Ngugi hates Christianity but at the same time he is inspired by Christianity. Note: . Christianity is the Trojan Horse that destroyed Africa because it opens the door for colonisation and its appearance shows other things than its claimed beauty. . Colonialism as an aspect of class struggle: Ngugi is considered as a Marxist and all Marxists believe on class struggle. Therefore the relationship between colonised and coloniser is defined as a class struggle; the coloniser used the owners of the land to work for their benefit and to steal raw materials. . The theme of betrayer: The mistake done during the revolution led African to suffer after independence. Mugo who was considered as a second hero confessed himself at the end and said that he denounced Kihika to the coloniser, so they killed him. The second betrayer is between husband and wife. Gikonyo was betrayed by his wife Mumbi (the sister of Kihika) when he was in the detention camp (Place surrounded by a siege; like a prison). There is also another betrayer between white characters; Mrs Thompson. Note: . This idea is not Ngugi's, it was borrowed from the novel Under Western Eyes by Joseph Conrad. . Theme of sacrifice: . Heroism and political leadership Christ and Anti-Christ: The idea of sacrifice is very strong in the novel because Kihika received a Christian education that he used against the British coloniser. That is to say; the hero is the one who sacrifices himself for the other (Self-Sacrifice). But, heroism is a very complex idea, because there is the true hero, such as Kihika, and the anti-hero (Mugo).


People consider those anti-heroes as real heroes, but instead, they are traitors. . Representing the history of the Mau Mau revolution: A Grain of Wheat is a historical novel because the Mau Mau revolution is the centre of the novel. Ngugi glorified the Mau Mau revolution. Before the publish of the novel, no one heard about it until A Grain of Wheat was brought to the fore. . Gender issues (Women an the truth): Women are given a very important aspect in the novel. Mumbi, they were compared to biblical women. . Regeneration through violence: Ngugi takes the Mau Mau revolution as a necessity of violence which should be taken positively to regenerate Kenya. In other words, violence is not going to destroy Kenya, but makes it stronger, this is the same as sacrifice, it is considered to be good since it gives life to people.

Setting in A Grain of Wheat The village Thabai is the main setting of the story, in which there are two diversions; old Thabai (before the coloniser), and the new Thabai which is full of Indian stores. Why Indian stores? As it is known, India was also colonised by the British whom their main purpose was to mix cultures, and make other culture corresponds to the British one. . The Police Stations and The Rail-Ways as a symbol of the British power: According to any Marxist, institutions have been produced to keep people under supervision. In other words, it is a system of enslavement which changed the aspects of the old Thabai. The Train-ways also played a very important role in showing the strategy adopted by the coloniser. It was used to steal raw materials from Africa. People were always waiting for the coming and departure of the train, because they were amazed from its beauty, which was in reality an evil's face seems to be fascinating. . The Church as a place of hypocritical preaching: The coloniser depends on church to get their needs an steal money and lands of Africans. For instance, the church delivered a new, it was said that is better to keep money in heaven than in life; by mean the church. Instead, that was a trick to steal money. . The forest as a strong haul of resistance and a place of romantic communion: In the forest, we have a very strong resistance against the coloniser. It is a place were freedom fighters organise themselves. As well, it is a symbol of colonial violence because it is under colonial destruction.


The forest is also a symbol of romanticism in the novel, because it is the place where Gikonyo met Mumbi for the first time, and declared his love to her. . Typology and Setting: Setting is a very problematic issue in the novel, because there is a reference to Anachronic issues. That is to say the changes introduced by the coloniser and the nature of Thabai are not in the same timeline. It is like a displacement of something from the past to the present day without introducing the necessary changes. Note: . What is the difference between Anachronism and Historical parallel? . The difference between them is that Anachronism has its past events present, but the historical parallel is just some events from the past which go alike with the one in the present.


Characters in A Grain of Wheat . Gikonyo /gikÉ’nju:/: A carpenter, arrested and detained for his political involvement for five years. He stands for capitalism. During this five years Mumbi betrayed him through a sexual relation with Karanja, and she gave birth to a child. After he got out of the prison he was shocked to hear the news, and he couldn't forgive his wife until his mother asked him to do so. . Mumbi: Gikonyo's wife, who remains in the village and tries to keep the family together during the years of his detention. She is often compared to the biblical Esther /eĘƒtÉ™/ for her courage and beauty. . Kihika: The political activist and theoretician, a freedom fighter who leads the resistance movement from the forest; also Mumbi's older brother. He is a legendary character typologically compared to Jesus Christ in term of sacrifice, his blood irrigates all the grains of wheats after the independence. His spirit dominates the story, everyone remembers him since he is died. . Mugo: The loner, the man without family, who spends much of the novel in a state of panic. Generally trying to stay neutral, he is arrested during Mau Mau when he tries to save a pregnant woman from a soldier's beating. He is an anti hero who takes himself to be a Moses. His jealousy from Kihika kept him alienated from society since boyhood. He takes the position of Kihika since he is considered as a saviour, but in reality he is not, because he was not courageous enough, and he refused to join the liberal movement. . karanja: He is a loyalist to the colonial authority. A loyalist to the coloniser (appointed chief of Thabai during Mau Mau) who now has a job at the British forestry research station in Githima. Representation of the other (White Characters): John Thompson: A British civil servant, who has been a district office and was in charge of several detention camps during Mau Mau and is now head of the Githima Research Station. He is often compared by critics to Kurtz because of the report he wrote about Africans. Margery Thompson: John Thompson's wife, who can't get her husband's attention and becomes involved with other men Note: . Esther is a biblical character, married to a king of Persia. She is considered as a saviour woman because she saved the juse from extermination by Haman. . What led to the failure of independence in Africa is the problem of forgiveness. People were unable to forgive each other (Traitors ...) and they wanted to take revenge from them.



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