By Evan Maina Mwangi
Explores the metafictional concepts of latest African novels instead of characterizing them basically as a reaction to colonialism.
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Additional resources for Africa Writes Back to Self: Metafiction, Gender, Sexuality
Powerful works in this category include Achebe’s Things Fall Apart (1958) and Ngu˜gı˜’s The River Between (1965), which portray in a realist mode the weaknesses and strengths of precolonial Africa. In Achebe’s words, the African writer was attempting to educate the newly independent people about “where the rain began to beat us” (Achebe 1975, 44). Achebe insists that the writer should be at the forefront in helping the community regain its dignity: African people did not hear of culture for the first time from Europeans; that their societies were not mindless but frequently had a philosophy of great depth and value and beauty; that they had poetry and above all, they had dignity.
He sees this kind of criticism as suppressing “forms of literature, or other art forms that may represent reality outside the glossy brochure of the state” (Soyinka 1993, 221). Without necessarily endorsing postmodernist experimentation, both Ngu˜gı˜ and Achebe have expressed admiration for the experimental work of Ben Okri. They have also written metafictional novels since the 1980s, even if they have not endorsed postmodernism. In the texts produced in the 1950s and 1960s, colonialism is seen as having destroyed the integrated precolonial societies and caused alienation and anguish in the colonial subject.
17 Wilson-Tagoe suggests that the fundamentals of the gynocritical approach formulated by Elaine Showalter are applicable to African literatures of the 1980s, especially because Showalter deemphasizes the feminine (emulation of dominant male forms by women writers) and feminist (reactive marginality based on negation of male writing) to focus on the female (women’s expression of self). Without attaching as much importance to essence as Showalter did in her politics of representation, and without seeing the feminist as fully divorced from the other three phases of women’s self-realization in literature, we see African literature following a similar pattern—the initial imitation of colonial forms, the conscious deconstruction of colonial literature, and the eventual focus on African societies unencumbered by Western expression.