By Evan Maina Mwangi
Explores the metafictional ideas of latest African novels instead of characterizing them essentially as a reaction to colonialism.
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Extra resources for Africa Writes Back to Self: Metafiction, Gender, Sexuality
This is a novel that mocks the very notion of the nation, although it is set in a particular African nation and reproduces dates that serve as milestones in the construction of the Ugandan nation. Thus we might agree with Jean Franco who, in a study of South American literature, argues that the self-referential literature parodies and pillories the nation; for Franco, in a situation where modernity and repression are mutually enhancing, as in some of the nations governed by autocrats, the nation disappears as the “inevitable framework for either political or cultural projects” (1997, 130).
Both Olaniyan and Richards usefully emphasize the importance of gender in post-Afrocentric analyses of black art. I complicate post-Afrocentric discourse further by incorporating in my discussion nonblack writers as part of African literature while retaining a gendered critique of Africanness. In situating myself within post-Afrocentricity, I am following Edward Said, who argues that while there is a need to shift the academy away from Eurocentrism, it is invalid to replace Eurocentrism with essentialist and parochial positions.
3 In Eastern Africa, Ngu˜gı˜ wa Thiong’o, Taban lo Liyong, and Henry Owuor-Anyumba’s initiative in the late 1960s to decolonize the canon at the University of Nairobi rapidly spread across the continent, with the literature departments offering more African-centered curricula. These theorists insist that their interest was not adversarial to Western culture; they sought to diversify the syllabus from a concentration of literary texts from a single cultural tradition. In an October 24, 1968, memo to the university authorities, entitled “On the Abolition of the English Department” and published as an appendix to Ngu˜gı˜’s Homecoming (1972), Ngu˜gı˜ and colleagues explain that the intention of the drive was to change the “basic assumption that the English tradition and the emergence of the modern West is the central root of our consciousness and cultural heritage” (Ngu˜gı˜ 1972, 146).