LESSON 1: DEFINITION African literature is the body or group of oral or written

narratives
or descriptions that proceed from an individual or communal African consciousnes
s.
African literature refers exclusively, therefore, to imaginative works created b
y Africans.
The language of narration or description could be either African or any of the c
olonial
world languages like French, Portuguese or English. We can, therefore, have Afri
can
literature in English, which would also belong to the main corpus of imaginative
writing
called English literature. What makes the writing English is the language used w
hile what
makes it African is the fact that it proceeds from an African consciousness (tha
t is, it is
either written by an African or it is a reflection of African experience). Afric
an literature
becomes modern African literature when the experience described is modern. Accor
ding
to Chinweizu et al (ii) only works done for Africans, and in African languages c
onstitute the
historically indisputable core of African literature. These are works like our t
raditional oral
literature and a number of vernacular literatures. What we regard as modern Afri
can
literature, however, are works, which have come under, according to Kesteloot, f
oreign
linguistic, stylistic and thematic influence. Usually, such works combine foreig
n and
traditional materials in their description of modern experience. As Gakwandi (1)
points out,
'It is becoming widely accepted that the broad similarities of the African exper
ience from
which writers draw their creative material is modern rather than ancient and it
stems from
the shared history which is fairly recent.' Much of what is called modern Africa
n literature
is, therefore, written literature that derives from the need to interpret the so
cio-historical
contact between traditional Africa and the non-African world. HOME LESSON 2: ORI
GIN
The socio-historical contact started with visits by European explorers, traders
and
missionaries towards the end of the 15th century. The visitors came many years a
fter
black African States, Empires and Civilizations had flourished without any Europ
ean
influence. Africa looks back today with nostalgia on polities like Old Ghana, Ma
li, Songhai,
the Hausa States, Kanem-Bornu, the Oyo Empire, Benin, Dahomey, Kongo, Great
Zimbabwe, Monomotapa, Mombassa, Ethiopia, Pemba, Nubia and Egypt.