Post-Colonialism and Mainstream Anglophone African Novel [ca.1970-2000]: A Comparative Approch

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Addis Ababa University


The production, mediation and critical reception of Modem African Literature was bound with the Eurocentric framework until the emergence of the post-colonial theory which fully crystallized in the 1980s. Since the appearance of The Empire Writes Back (1989) which ushered in a typological revision of critical theory, however, dogmatic universalism has been subverted in a bid for paradigm shift from a monolithic critical theory to polyphonic canons. All the more, the Orientalists' defiance of the Eurocentric standard of literatures has triggered introspective indigenous authors to reclaim their history, language and culture. Bearing such assumption in mind, this study was designed to determine tne post-colonial trajectories as reflected in mainstream Anglophone African novel (ca. 1970 -2000). Structurally, the study is organized into four parts and eight chapters. In the Preliminary chapters (1-3), an attempt has been made to shed light on the matrices of and the major issues in the study of Modem African Literature together with the theoretical framework. The Second Part, where the bulk of the work is concentrated, deals with a contrapuntal reading of selected East, West and southern African post-colonial novels in that order under three independent chapters (4-6). The post-colonial obsessions such as tyranny, exile, resistance and representation, endemic xenophobia, underdevelopment, economic dependency, rampant corruption dominance of patriarchal ideology, ordeals of the intellectual and sycophancy of the clergy have been captured vividly in the novels cited. These malpractices are coupled with other variations of oppression like the race-class metamorphosis, militarism, political atrophy and neo-colonialist patronage prevalent in the referent countries. The contemporary works reflect the spirit of the generation of 'angry young men' who are critical of the status quo and determined to put the record straight as aggressively as possible. The perpetuation of such an anomalous phenomenon is primarily attributed to internal colonization, the ineptitude of African demagogues and mass/intellectual resignation rather than British colonialism per se. In spite of the gloom, however, the cosmic vision of these novelists is one of optimism that heralds the probability of a conditional change for the better, however, late. The Third Part (Chapter Seven) dwells upon a comparative analysis of these novels with a view to determining their thematic convergence and stylistic parallelism which traverse nations and regions across mainstream Anglophone Africa. The comparative approach, thus, reveals that all the novels in question except Disgrace (1999) invariably partake thematic and stylistic intertextuality as an expression of political resistance and cultural renaissance. While the subject matter of Anglophone African Literature has commanded unanimity, the question of decolorising its medium of expression still engenders emotive debates between the adherents of appropriation and abrogation of English. After all, the dominance of English-some times described chauvinistically as-The Chosen TongueMoore (1969), has already impacted upon the African cultural productions. Consequently Anglophone African novelists who grapple with the language politics have ventured to decenter RS-EngJish in favor of 'english' which involves editorial intrusions and deviations from the normative usage. Thus, one of the most outstanding achievements of the Post-colonial dialogue with or an act of writing back to the Imperial Center (Britain) is the empowerment of an alternative textual strategy without recourse to the traditional prescriptive rules. The Fourth Part, which draws upon its antecedents and recapitulates the findings of the study, is followed by its implications for post-colonial African writers, curriculum designers and Eurocentric literary critics. The major implications underpin the maintenance of Aristotle's "Golden Mean" and avoidance of extremes, which is believed to be compatible with the age ofmulti-culturalism and globalisation. Thus, the third generation of Anglophone African novelists (ca. 1970 - 2000) has evolved an eclectic approach to the criticism of Modern African Literature in order to accommodate its peculiarities such as thematic 'parochialism' and cultural hybridity due to the accidents of history