Efuru is a novel by Flora Nwapa which was published in 1966 as
number 26 in Heinemann's African Writers Series, making it the first book
written by a Nigerian woman to be published. The book is about Efuru,
an Igbo woman who lives in a small village in colonial West Africa.
Throughout the story, Efuru wishes to be a mother, though she is an
independent-minded woman and respected for her trading ability. The
book is rich in portrayals of the Igbo culture and of different scenarios
.which have led to its current status as a feminist and cultural work
Plot summary
The story is set in West African Igbo rural community. The
protagonist, Efuru, is a strong and beautiful woman. She is the daughter of
Nwashike Ogene, a hero and leader of his tribe. She falls in love with a
poor farmer called Adizua and runs away with him, upsetting her people
as he did not even perform the traditional wine carrying and pay her bride
price. She supports her husband financially and is very loyal to him, which
makes her mother-in-law and aunt by marriage very fond of her. At this
point, she accepts to be helped around her house by a young girl named
Ogea in order to help her parents who are in financial difficulty. However,
Adizua soon abandons Efuru and their daughter Ogonim as his own father
has done in past. After her daughter dies, Efuru discovers that he has
married another woman and had a child with her. Her in-laws try to
convince her to stay with him, i.e. remain in waiting in their marital house.

Efuru then tries to look for him, but after failing, she leaves his house and
goes back to the house of her father who receives her happily as she can
care for him better than others. Efuru then meets Gilbert, an educated
man in her age group. He asks to marry her and follows traditions by
visiting her father, and she accepts. The first year of their marriage is a
happy one. However, Efuru is not able to conceive any children, so this
begins to cause trouble. She is later chosen by the goddess of the lake,
Uhamiri, to be one of her worshipers, Uhamiri being known to offer her
worshipers wealth and beauty but few children. Efuru’s second marriage
eventually also fails as her husband mistreats her in favor of his second
.and third wives
Characters in Efuru

Efuru - The protagonist. Born into the highly respected Nwashike
Family, Efuru is raised solely by her father, Nwashike Ogene. The novel
portrays her as a beautiful, kind-hearted, strong-willed, understanding,
clever, and relatively more free-spirited female character compared to the
other female characters. In certain scenarios, Efuru does not follow the
traditions of her people, for example, she marries Adizua although he
cannot pay her dowry. However, she undergoes the customary
circumcision although it is unsafe and painful. Overall, Efuru does not
completely try to rebel against her society’s constructs and mentality but
slowly breaks away from what a reader of this century would deem as
“anti-feminist” ideas.

Nwashike Ogene - Efuru's father. He is a highly respected member of
their society because of his own father, who fought against the Aros
people, and also due to the fact that he was an excellent fisher and
farmer, abilities valued among his people, when he was younger. He is
praised for being wise and understanding but surprises people with how
lenient he is with his daughter when she does not follow traditions. He
gives up on trying to bring Efuru home after he is told that she is happy
with Adizua and after the marriage falls apart, Nwashike Ogene still lets
his daughter return home.

Adizua - Efuru's first husband. He is portrayed as a lazy,
irresponsible character unlike Efuru who is willing to continue her trade
after only one month of “feasting”, i.e. eating in order to heal after her
circumcision, because of the little money they had. He is deemed
unworthy to marry Efuru because of his unknown father who did not
achieve anything to bring honor to the family. Within this context, he
becomes even less worthy when he eventually elopes with another
woman. He does not even return for their daughter’s funeral. Efuru
eventually leaves him although it is customary to wait for the return of the
wrong-doing husband.

Ajanapu - Adizua's aunt and Efuru’s aunt-in-law. A sensitive, strong,
and talkative mother of seven who acts as a mother-figure to Efuru.
Throughout the story, Ajanupu does not hesitate to give advice and a
majority of the time her advice is helpful to Efuru. The author comments
on how she could be a midwife, which is convincing, because of the clear
expertise she shows when it is Efuru’s time to deliver her baby.

Ogea’s mother. Ogea helps Efuru take care of Ogonimy. she treats Efuru well. Her quiet and reserved persona is most noticeable when she is with her sister. A healthy baby girl until the age of two when she becomes ill and dies.Efuru’s firstborn daughter. although he had to stop at standard five due to a lack of funds . Ajanupu. resulting in a deep bond between the characters. His Igbo name is Enerberi but it changed to Gilbert after he was baptized. Ogea as a maid and borrow ten pounds.  Ogea . causing him to fall into debt and to beg Efuru to take his daughter.He is Efuru’s childhood friend and later on her second husband.Adizua’s mother and Efuru’s mother-in-law. which is why Ogea’s reaction to Ogonim’s passing is justified despite how present side-characters at the funeral told her to stop.  Ogonim . He and his wife have trouble paying back the ten pounds but Efuru's patient character prevents any tension to form among them. She started living and working at Efuru’s house at the age of ten. He is known as a great farmer but the flood ruins his harvest.  Nwosu . . Nwabata and Nwosu’s daughter.Efuru’s maid.  Gilbert . Although her son does not follow pre-marital customs. Her love for her husband and ignorance become apparent when she cried after she heard that her husband needed surgery. hardworking farmer who works with her husband on their rented plot of land. showing readers the contrast between the two. He is one of the few characters to receive an education. Ossai . She is an uneducated.Ossai’s cousin.  Nwabata .

she receives surgery and made a full recovery.Efuru is portrayed as a highly industrious woman.  Nnona . as well as a guarantee that the wife will have a say in family matters. and throughout the rest of the story.She is Gilbert friend’s sister whom he knows since childhood.  Enterprising nature of women .Efuru lived with Dr. In fact.the main requirement of marriage presented in the book is productivity.Gilbert’s mother.The gate-woman with an infected leg. A woman is considered either adulterous or cursed if she fails to conceive. she seems to be the main source of gossip in the novel. She later becomes his second wife and has a baby boy. and even her femininity is questioned. He treats Nwosu and Nnona under Efuru’s request.  Nkoyeni . Uzaru and his mother until the age of fifteen. intimacy and help. Amede .Uzaru. as she not only helps her first husband pay her bride price as well as quit his menial farm job. However.One of the women who criticizes Gilbert and Efuru’s public displays of affection and points them out to Amede. this does not mean that Igbo marriages are not also partnerships involving mutual love. Later. This is why the number of children in a marriage is a measure of its success or failure. but is also able to support herself after he leaves her. Efuru helps her by arranging an appointment with Dr. A neutral and quiet character that happily accepts Efuru as her daughter-in-law. In addition. Major themes and motifs  Importance of children and Love in Igbo marriage .  Dr Uzaru . .  Omirima .

In addition. and later makes many sacrifices to Uhamiri. can be fixed by a trip to the dibia. such as the aforementioned cases. polygamy is .Nwosu’s wife is shown to be wise when she advises her husband to use their earnings to pay off some of their debt. when Efuru is chosen by Uhamiri.  Spirituality and superstition . etc. in order to become one of her worshipers. it is through instructing Efuru to perform sacrifices that the dibia helps her. who advises his gift-bearing guests accordingly. She then sacrifices all her energy and possessions in order to try to make her marriages work. For instance. including her chance to have more children. Similarly superstition governs the behavior of the Igbo as demonstrated by the fear of pregnant women crossing their legs or getting into contact with snails (so that children are not born with excessive saliva). Efuru’s barrenness is a curse. the goddess of the Lake. as one of her worshipers. which he disregards by buying a title and later regrets doing so.The novel is often criticized as being more a representation of Igbo traditions than an actual story being told. In fact. any problem. as is the infertility of crops.this is a common motif in the story because it seems to be the generator of all movement in the plot. of mothers counting their children…  Sacrifice . Indeed. many aspects of their practices and beliefs are represented informatively. Thirdly.[1]  Igbo traditions . Moreover.The Igbo are shown as a very spiritual people. usually older women (if they are widows or have been abandoned) reside with the family of their son. Everything is explained as the work of the gods. her status increases among the villagers as it validates her saintly profile.

We also learn about the usual occupations of the people such as commerce and fishing. It is also a method of manipulation as Omirima exemplifies by talking about Efuru to her mother-in-law in an attempt to get Adizua a second wife. feminism is arguably found in this novel. not to mention ceremonies that are considered very important.[2]  Feminism . .Gossip is very common among Igbo women and seems to be the main method of transmitting information.the West is reflected firstly through Christianity in the story. Education also shows the impact of Western influence as villagers. as it is the way in which Efuru finds out what probably happened to her first husband after he didn’t return.very common and even necessary if the other wife (or wives) cannot bear children or if she is difficult to handle as Nkoyeni turns out to be.although saying this novel is feminist raises some controversy.  Gossip . are shown to increasingly attend school. or at least complimenting it as several characters are sent throughout the plot to a hospital by Efuru. In fact. rebel against some traditions. which is shown after the death of Ogonim.  Western influence on traditions . Finally. especially “taking one’s bath” which is a euphemism for female circumcision considered important before pregnancy in order to make a safe birth more likely. not only is Efuru allowed to choose her own husbands. medicine is shown to be replacing dibias as a method of healing. and burial. which is seen by some as the root of all problems since it tells the Ibo that their “gods have no power” and so they commit crimes without fear of punishment. even women.

this shows how Efuru is very lenient in her marital life and does not mind her husband taking as many wives as he pleases. which translates into “killer of cow”. for it is usually acquired by men. This title is of high importance. for it is my right” . and even leave her husbands when they mistreat her. for it was “the first novel published by a Nigerian woman in English. However. Nwapa was awarded the title “Ogbuefi”.[3] Reception and Controversy The novel Efuru is recognized as a substantial stepping stone in Nigerian literature and in the feminist movement in Nigeria. They are saying that Efuru cannot be considered a woman since she has been unable to give him children. but she is also represented as an industrious and productive woman who becomes a pillar in society through her good deeds.such as bringing wine to her father before she marries. Efuru does not break with tradition but refuses for it to be used as a method of subordinating women. she asserts herself in her right to remain the “first” wife since it her rightful place by principle and tradition.  “I want to keep my position as his first wife.[5] . Nwapa gained even more recognition for her work. Important Quotes  “Two men do not live together”: Adizua’s family members use this as an argument when they try to convince him to take a second wife.”[4] As a result. as the Nigerian government granted her several prestigious awards after Efuruwas released. Furthermore.

“The constant banter of women reveals character as much as it paints a comprehensive. most of whom criticize Nwapa for focusing on the affairs of women.”[9]Many reviewers of the novel .[8] which is mainly one of passiveness Furthermore. commend Nwapa for creating an image of female protagonists which is unlike that created by Nigerian male writers. Naana Banyiwe-Horne states. however.After Efuru’s first publication. were not as fond of the book. however. social canvas against which Efuru's life can be assessed. Efuru is one of the few that portrays vividly the woman’s world. For instance.” [7] Christine N. Author Rose Acholonu describes Nwapa and certain other African female writers as “pathfinders”. assertive and individualistic females have helped to salvage the lop-sided image that . Communications. Ohale a professor at the department of English. Later critics of Efuru. Literary critic Eldred Jones and author Eustace Palmer both represent the opinion of some Nigerian male writers at the time. who were able to “break the seals of silence and invisibility on the female protagonist by the early traditionalist male writers. in her discussion of Efuru.male writers have created”. it received mixed reviews. stating that “of the many novels that are coming out of Nigeria. credible. critics such as Naana Banyiwe praise the use of dialogue as a stylistic element of the novel.”[6] Nwapa’s male counterparts. Media Arts and Theater in Chicago State University mentions that Nwapa’s “efforts to present brand-new. giving only peripheral treatment to the affairs of men. Kenyan author Grace Ogot spoke positively of the novel in a review which appeared in theEast Africa Journal in 1966.

Waveland Press. Forum on Public Policy. 4. 6. Anna. 3. 2. she is able to paint an accurate picture of what life for Igbo women is like.agree that the “dialogic style established in Efuru is even more central to the novel’s thematic concerns” Through the dialogue that Nwapa uses. ISBN 978-0415097710. Efuru. . Jump up^ "Themes and Motifs". Jump up^ "Flora Nwapa". Scholar Commons. Florence (1994). "The Dea(R)Th Of Female Presence In Early African Literature: The Depth Of Writers’ Responsibility" (PDF). Jump up^ Stratton. New York: Routledge. Zaccheus Onumba Dibiaezue Memorial Libraries. Jump up^ Mears. considering the novel too “gossipy”. Mary.[10] Other critics however. reprimand the excessive use of dialogue. Contemporary African Literature and the Politics of Gender. Jump up^ Githaiga. free of Western imposed values. Salvation Press. "Choice and Discovery: An Analysis of Women and Culture in Flora Nwapa’s Fiction". 7. Christine. Notes on Flora Nwapa's Efuru. 80. 5. Jump up^ Ohale. ISBN 978-1-4786-1327-5. Retrieved 2 December 2014.[11] References 1. p. Critics such as Christine Loflin point out that the use of dialogue in Efuruallows a sense of African feminism to emerge. Jump up^ Flora Nwapa (21 October 2013).

9. Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table (Summer). Jump up^ Owomyela. The Columbia Guide to West African Literature in English Since 1945. Pushpa (2014). Jump up^ Jagne.8. Christine (2010).org/wiki/Efuru . London: Routledge. 11. p. Postcolonial African Writers: A Bio-bibliographical Sourcebook. 10. ISBN 978-1138012134. Jump up^ Ohale. New York: Columbia University Press. 106.wikipedia. ISBN 978-0231126861 Source: https://en. Sigha and Parekh. 338. Oyekan. Jump up^ "Flora Nwapa". "The Dea(r)th of Female Presence in Early African Literature: The Depth of Writers' Responsibility". Enotes. p.

When the child takes ill and dies. It was not only that she came from a distinguished family. but at about the same time. is a beautiful young woman who Notes unfortunately. the title character in Flora Nwapa's 1966 novel. her family and friends are upset.Efuru Dialogue s Efuru. always seems to have bad luck with Links men. Efuru is a strong and successful woman in her Teaching West African village. but Efuru manages to keep the bond she has with her father as well as create a special relationship with her inlaws. Adizua cannot be found for the funeral and is said to have married . She was distinguished herself" (Nwapa 1). After a few years. Efuru has a child. When Efuru elopes with the unknown Adizua. "she was a remarkable woman. her husband begins disappearing for days at a time. The whole village knows Citations Efuru.

She attended school at Ibadan and Edinburgh. Yet. About the Author Flora Nwapa was born in 1931. Not long after she has returned to her father. They marry and have a blissful marriage.another woman. later to return and teach in Nigeria. she questions this worship when she remembers that Utuoso had no children. and without family. and raised in Eastern Nigeria. Efuru is left alone. Efuru. T Dialogues . appears. and cannot return the people she has lost in her life. leaves Adizua's home and returns to her father. She puts faith into the goddess of the lake. Utuoso. a suitor. rather than face what she sees as shame. until he disappears in the same upsetting way and does not attend the funeral of Efuru's father. who she feels she was chosen to worship. husbandless. childless. Eneberi.

Importance of Children Like in novels such as Agatha Moudio's Son. she still gives back to those who give her so much. She is unlike El Hadji. However. When Efuru is unable to bear children. who lives by the hands . she shows that unlike many woman in her community. she can survive with children and still find strength in her businees and her religious faith. and pay the lowest. she also. When Efuru's husbands are unfaithful to her. However. At the same time she remains a respectable woman in her village's society. like Nnu Ego in Buuchi Emecheta's Joys of Motherhood. Altough she is successful. Joys of Motherhood. by Ousmane Sembène. She aids the sick and poor. unlike in other polygamous villages. has more rights than that of other women in such novels as Xala. as a woman. She is able to bring in the highest prices. and Things Fall Apart. and Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. Efuru. is a business woman. Efuru is independent and thinks of herself as well as her husbands.Marriage in Efuru's Village Efuru's village is a polygamous village. is able to leave her husbands. children are central to the lives of villagers. she is devastated. Efuru's Ablities in Business Efuru. in Sembene's Xala.

much like Fanny in Agatha Moudio's Son. T Notes . Efuru does not forget about her own rights. Efuru thinks of her husbands and although she is not able to bear more than one child.of those he swindles. However. she is willing to bring a second wife into her home in order to give her husbands more children. Efuru and Her Husbands Though she loves both men she marries. she keeps her dignity and leaves her husbands when they abandon her illustrating her strength to care for herself.

very beautiful. Efuru begins by dreaming about this "elegant woman. turns her faithfulness to the goddess of the lake. Uhamiri instead grants what she has: "Her beauty. and the goddess "assumes the role in Efuru's life that is equivalent�of the Igbo chi" (Phillips 91) as described in Achebe's Things Fall Apart. causing her to wonder. children. Efuru sets not only a feminist example through her . She gave women beauty and wealth but she had no child" (Nwapa 281). Uhamiri. "a symbol of hope for all women so that her devotees such as Efuru can taste of her kind of freedom and happiness with or without children. "why then did women worship her" (Nwapa 281)? Rather than give women children. Her independence becomes desirable and blessed. the lake goddess in unable to grant Efuru her one desire.Efuru. Uhamiri is rather. Efuru has the ability to be happy without a child because she is so similar to Uhamiri. combing her long black hair with a golden comb" (Nwapa 183). she was wealthy. Efuru is chosen to be one of Uhamiri's worshipers. This dream signifies the beginning of her worship of Uhamiri. her long hair and her riches�she was happy. She was beautiful. not able to depend on her husbands. Sadly.

but she is also a symbol of survival and independence from a Colonial empire. In addition to Efuru's independence. and Gilbert. T Links ** Kabalarian Philosophy This site offers a description of the name Efuru and its meaning.independence. Within this culture she finds strength in her kitchen. happy. by his Christian name and ideals after having attended a Colonial school. traditional beliefs and traditional attitudes towards wifehood and infertility" (Nnaemeka 141). **Flora Nwapa This site provides biographical information on Flora Nwapa as well as a number of links to other pages. Adizua by his abuse after having profited by marrying Efuru without having paid a dowry. Efuru is successful. Both men symbolize Colonial power. she clearly accepts her culture's "traditional practices such as circumcision and polygamy. and the "symbols of empowerment" and "weapon in the truest sense of the word" (Nnaemeka 142) harbored there. It is . Adizua. and free from her oppressive and abusive first husband. and from her equally disappointing second husband Gilbert.

Consider using Buchi Emecheta's The Joys of Motherhood. Many African authors have turned their novels into screenplays. costumes. Then have them write an essay comparing their religion to the goddess worship of Uhamiri in the novel.available in both French and English. Have a class discussion on the male/female relationships in the novel. *** Flora Flora Nwapa This site is part of a larger site concerning Postcolonial Studies. Discuss whether or not Efuru is a feminist novel. and a list of major publications. and culture that will create the background of their story. T Teaching Have students examine their own personal beliefs concerning religion. It is published by Emory University and contains biographical information on Flora Nwapa as well as notes on Nwapa. but to setting. Ask them to pay attention not only to the script. Use this exercise to note any Colonial images in the text. . Have students work in groups to create a screenplay for Efuru. customs. Read Efuru in addition to other African women's literature.

edu/dialogues/texts/efuru. "From Orality to Writing: African Women Writers and the (Re)Inscription of Womanhood.. Obioma.Search -. Bessie Head and Tsitsi Dangarebga's Writing. Maggi. Buchi Emecheta. London: Cox & Wyman Ltd.Themes -. 1966 Philips. Nwapa." Research in African Literatures 25 (Winter 1994): 89-103 Colonial & Postcolonial Literary Dialogues Home -. Flora. Efuru.About Us Page Created by: Sarah Welshman Last Updated: 4/2001 Source: http://wmich." Research in African Literatures 25 (Winter 1994): 137-157. "Engaging Dreams: Alternative Perspectives on Flora Nwapa.Texts -.Links -.html . Ama Ata Aidoo.Citations T Nnaemeka.

Heinemann. Efuru is a portrayal of life in the Igbo culture.Africa Resources Literary A Book Review of Flora Nwapa's Efuru   Sunday. Although it came out to be a well written book with a profound message. Efuru. unlike novels written at that time by African male writers like Chinua Achebe and Ngugi wa Thiong'o. maintaining very successful . where Nwapa herself lived. she is unable to have a lasting marriage or give birth to children like other women in her village. Set in the village of Oguta. She gives birth to one daughter who died. but both marriages failed. 17 April 2011 05:50 Africa By Ahmad Ghashmari 221pp. brightness and wealth. who both were also published by Heinemann. ISBN: 0-435-90026-9. especially women's life. was published by Heinemann in London in 1966. But even though. She marries twice. the novel tells the story of an independent-minded woman named Efuru. Efuru remains firm and strong. the novel did not receive the attention it deserves. She is a woman who becomes a role model and a catalyst for change in her own society. Her first novel. 1966 Flora Nwapa is the first Nigerian female novelist to be published. Despite her success. $12.

women's empowerment. I try to project the image of women positively. the heroine. sisterhood and gender equality. One is Enough (1981). However. her writings do not qualify in the Western criteria of feminism to be called feminist. caring. However. one can see that Nwapa is a writer who dedicated her efforts to discuss women's issues of struggle. in order for a work of art to be considered feminist. abide by a set of rules. and successful at the same time. loving." (Umeh 27).and prosperous business and standing as a perfect example of generosity.Idu (1970). it must. and to mention some. is a different woman. according to the Western criteria. and Women are Different (1986). Flora Nwapa refused to be called a feminist. and care among her peers The novel has at its core fundamental feminist concepts like women's agency. she said. "I don't even accept that I'm a feminist. She is different in the sense that she stands out as being very generous. she did not call herself a feminist writer because. in an interview by Marie Umeh in 1993. brave. Efuru. these can be like showing the rebellion of women towards their own cultures and traditions and showing how they refuse to succumb to patriarchal practices and attempt to overthrow the whole hierarchy. quest for independence and success in their native patriarchal Igbo culture. . I accept that I'm an ordinary woman who is writing about what she knows. in my viewpoint. By looking at her novels which include in addition to Efuru. The concept of feminism as a movement and a school of thought seemed to exclude the black woman from its agenda. She strives for change and prosperity in her . Never Again (1975). Thus.intelligence.

she. or neglected (In rare cases. and we need to admit that what applies to the women of Paris and Boston does not necessarily apply to the women of Oguta. and she acknowledges man's right to polygamy. but she is not rebellious against her culture." (24) She also never resists going through the painful circumcision. they might be canopied with white "imperialist" feminism). on the other hand. rejected. although she believes in romantic love and rejects to have an arranged marriage. the Arab. For example. Nwapa does not consider herself a feminist because she felt that the feminist movement at her time is by and for white women only and it does not include the black. insists that her marriage with Adizua. As Barbara Smith points out in her 1977 essay "Toward a Black Feminist Criticism": "The mishandling of Black women writers by Whites is . The cultural context is crucial to understanding the message of the novel. only then that Efuru and Adizua "felt really married. her first husband. the Caribbean. saying. she shows reverence to the traditions of her people.community. "Only a bad woman would . will not be complete until he pays the dowry and fulfills her people's marriage customs. The problem is that texts written by women from these regions (The Third World) are usually misread.like to be married alone by her husband" (57) When reading Efuru as a feminist text. one important thing we must bear in mind is the sense of location and cultural centrality. or the Indian women. We need to consider the culture difference and the importance of traditions in shaping the identity of the individual. and she never wishes to overlook or discredit them. On the contrary.

Efuru was able to pull through and resume her ." (2305) In her quest for success and change. Efuru appears superior even to men. especially her two husbands Adizua and Eneberi. with respect to her intelligence. Efuru believes in the idea of compromise and negotiation as a way of getting ahead in life in her culture.paralleled more often by not being handled at all. If we return to the example of Efuru's first nuptials in the novel. Efuru knows the traditions of her culture and she never trespasses against them but in the meantime she marries the man she wants even without her father's consent. social life. and that every culture is different and to be able to live you need to adapt. all you have to do is to bend. particularly by feminist criticism. She believes in freedom but she also believes that freedom has limits. So Efuru is a feminist manifestation as it talks about the ability of a woman to be a leader and a reformist in her community. Her failure in her first marriage does not shatter her as in the case of her mother-in-law Ossai who lives in endless pain and loneliness since being abandoned by Adizua's father (I think Nwapa uses Ossai's story as a contrastive case to Efuru's). argues that Efuru is an example of what she calls "negofeminism" or the feminism of negotiation which is that the African woman can adapt herself by means of negotiation and compromise between tradition and modernity. You do not have to break the rules to be a reformer. success in business. What helps women succeed in the Igbo culture is the elasticity of the rules. Obioma Nnaemeka. or reshape them. expand. On the contrary. One critic of Nwapa.

she commits herself to the mission of helping others live right. the old . Nwosu and Nwabata. Ossai does not admit her weakness first and she tells Efuru. She keeps helping and lending money to Ogea's parents. Through her connections with doctor Uzaru. she arranges to help sick people who cannot otherwise afford being treated like Nnona. This is the real meaning of sisterhood and woman empowerment which Western scholars fail to see in the Third World womanhood. She changes Ogea from a useless girl into a good useful and obedient woman." (61) but she later faces reality and admits that "Efuru's patience couldn't be tried…Life for her meant living it fully. She did not want merely to exist.woman who has a bad leg and Nwosu who has a genital disease ." (78) This shows how different Efuru is from other women in her society." Efuru does not live for herself only. Whereas Adizua who runs away with another woman and never comes back to Efuru is fickle and weak and after being deserted by the woman he elopes with he exiles himself and his life seems shattered. "I can only solicit patience…I am proud that I was and still am true to the only man I loved.life and success. She excels in saving other people's lives and having an influence on their personalities. Eneberi is also not that different from Adizua and has even wronged Efuru .in a way that she could not forgive him when he accuses her of adultery Efuru's insisting to "Live life fully" resonates with Nwapa's goal of "Projecting positive image of women. despite their repeated misfortunes and inability to pay back. She wanted to live and use the world to her advantage.

But Uhamiri denies her followers one thing." (147) It seems that the dream is kind of a religious calling. Efuru. When she narrates her dream to her father. Efuru's personal traits resemble the goddess of the lake. Uhamiri.The character of Efuru is very familiar in the Igbo culture which worships Mammy Water deities. Nwashike Ogene. also says that Efuru's mother had similar dreams. appropriates the myth of the water goddesses and the strong rootedness of this tradition in the Igbo culture. and this is true if we apply . But there is a sign in the story that one becomes a follower only if s/he responds to the call because Efuru's father." (221) Efuru starts to have dreams about the woman of the lake right after she loses her first and only child as if the death of her child was an early sign that she is chosen to be a disciple by Uhamiri. It says that to be successful you must compromise and sacrifice something. he assures her that she "has been chosen to be one of [Uhamiri's] worshippers. and actually all of Nwapa's oeuvre. but obviously she was not a follower since she has a daughter. The myth. children. say that Uhamiri "had never experienced the joys of motherhood. and the novel itself. The idea of Uhamiri is very crucial to the concept of the feminism of negotiation and compromise that I have referred to before. Uhamiri chooses her followers (the majority are female followers) and favors them with success in trade. bestow on them wealth and prosperity and shower them with her blessings. Nwapa leaves the novel open-ended and concludes it with a question which is that since Uhamiri had never experienced the joys of motherhood "Why then did the women worship her?" (221) I think at least part of the answer lies in the policy of give-andtake that the women in Igbo culture live by.

has a strong leading personality and has a lot of . fairly wealthy. Towards a Black Feminist Criticism. pp. . Inc. she can still experience the joys of motherhood and live her life like any other ordinary woman and not follow the call of the woman of the lake. From The Norton . Vol. Efuru's aunt-in-law. If we look at the example of Aajanupu. London: Heinemann. 1995). Norton & Company.jstor.org/stable/3820273. Leitch. Accessed: 25/10/2009 15:56 Nwapa. Barbara. we will find that she was successful. Vincent B. 2. 2299-2315 Umeh.it to any other culture.Anthology of Theory and Criticism Ed. and Cultural Boundaries: Rereading Flora Nwapa and Her Compatriots. Being a follower of Uhamiri is not obligatory as it appears through the example of Efuru's mother. Obioma. Flora. 1966 Smith. From Research in African Literatures. http://www. No. New York: W. Feminism. 2001. Rebellious Women. not only the Igbo culture. (summer. Efuru. 80. And that does not mean that if she is not a follower she also cannot be successful and wealthy. The Poetics of Economic Independence for Female Empowerment: An Interview with Flora Nwapa.113. Pp. Marie and Flora Nwapa.children :Works Cited Nnaemeka. so if a woman chooses. 26. Indiana University Press. W.

Freedom House. He also worked as a fellow with various international organizations such as Amnesty International. leading an initiative for women's rights and against honor killings in the Middle East. a favorite and powerful pastime. Ghashmari is a Ph. childless woman is a cause for fear. Ohio Sources: http://www. pp. 22-29. In her village.as accepted.com and Mideastyouth.English Literature at Kent State University. 1995). He is a columnist for AltMuslimah. a highly respected woman of her village.D student of . Indiana University Press.Research in African Literatures. he started a campaign called LAHA to mobilize grassroots action against honor killings in Jordan. and the American Islamic Congress. In 2007. a single. and the villagers begin to gossip.africaresource. 26.jstor. Flora Nwapa (Summer. and feared as one's own relatives. Efuru. Yet her personal life is mired with tragedy: she has two unsuccessful marriages and her only child dies. carries on the family tradition of treating others well and is successful as a trader. URL: http://www.org/stable/3820268 Accessed: 01/12/2009 18:46 Ahmad Ghashmari is a Jordanian human rights activist. Vol. No. They question her good deeds and wonder what she . Ahmad was a winner of the 2007 Dream Deferred Essay Contest and also won the Naji Namaan Creativity Prize for Literature in 2008. respected.com. a world where spirits are a part of everyday life .com/essays-areviews/literary/894-flora-nwapas-efuru-a-book-review Efuru explores Nigerian village life and values. 2.

html? id=_X5Y90o8b7QC&redir_esc=y . whose influence and power are at the center of their lives.com. Source: https://books.has done to upset the spirits. In her struggle to understand all that has happened to her Efuru seeks the advice of the dibias. and finds her spiritual guide and the path she must follow.eg/books/about/Efuru.google. village doctors.

Achebe. Nwapa commentates rather than judges. apart from her father the men in her life are . The writing style is very similar to Things Fall Apart and if you enjoyed that you would certainly enjoy this. The blurb with the book sums it up Efuru. Efuru is a wonderfully strong and vibrant character.Comments on GoodRead Published in 1966. Things Fall Apart has 141 386 ratings and 5993 reviews and Efuru has 193 ratings and 17 reviews. This is not because of a difference in quality. beautiful and respected. but the messages are clear and this book is about the society of women in the same way Things Fall Apart is about the society of men. Like Achebe. is loved and deserted by two ordinary “ ”.undistinguished husbands The setting is rural and Efuru is a woman who is independent and competent and trades for herself. Perhaps because it is written by a ?woman? Surely not The story opens a window onto customs and traditions going back centuries which are beginning to die out with younger generations and the encroachment of white culture and medicine. It is set in the same area and tradition as Things Fall Apart by Chinua . Just look at the difference in ratings. this apparently was the first book written by a Nigerian woman to be published (this is from Wiki so take with a pinch of salt). they are both great books and in my opinion Efuru is marginally better. In my judgement this novel is every bit as good as Things Fall Apart and yet it is hardly known. There is a not too graphic but very powerful description of genital mutilation.

This is a great novel. Finally. the Middle East and other areas of the world where it is routinely practiced. but still. The book also describes quite matter-of-factly the horrific ritual of female circumcision--a painful clitorectomy--that all young women in this society are expected to undergo before marriage. She appears to be unable to produce lots of children and this is a source of sadness for her but she finds a role model in the form of the goddess of . Efuru calls it her "bath. the women of the community worship her. motherhood and eventual personal ephiphany of a young woman of contemporary Nigeria. powerful. and perceives that a goddess of her tribe. ." and willingly submits to the cutting and agony. "the lady of the lake" has chosen her for another role. (Efurus' only daughter dies while she is still a small child. the ritual still goes on today). marriage. much too neglected and well worth looking out for This beautiful novel describes the youth. and a son never arrives). Efuru's eventual tragedy is that she is not able to marry or raise children successfully. Efuru realizes that she surely must have a higher calling. and independent and without children .pretty useless and she concludes she is better off without them.the lake who is beautiful. (Although feminist groups are exposing this awful practice more and more to the world at large and trying to get it outlawed in Africa. Efusu muses at the story's end that the lady of the lake has never married nor had children.

The last paragraph of the book. The protagonist is a Nigerian girl who must submit to the traditinal . and she's one of the writers that Chimamanda Adichie namechecks often. Chibundo Onuzo and Chika Unigwe ." This last line to me alludes to change in the society. but through her challenges she carries herself superbly. Efuru's life isn't as society expects. although she has been a hovering presence in my literary awareness for a long-time I've never till now actually engaged with her work.it's the first work of Flora Nwapa's that I am reading and I found the first line of the book riveting. Efuru is a well respected woman in the community who marries an undistinguished man that no one knows. is the only purpose of womanhood to be a wife and have children? I read this as part of a week-long book discussion on Female African writers.all great igbo writers for whom Flora Nwapa is definitely a forerunner. rounded off the story perfectly. That said.This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. this was the first book written by an African woman writer and ultimately inspred Buchi Emecheta's "The Joy of Motherhood". click here. I'm currently reading Efuru . and that's one of the great things about the emergence of writers like Adichie. her musing on the worship of the Lady of the Lake. "And yet we worship her. African women writer's have definitely been under-rated and under celebrated. I'm aware as a pioneer. Even though no one understands her choice they still hold her in high esteem. and mentioned at our literature festival last year. with it's last line. To view it.

Her inability to get pregnant dooms her first marriage and reveals the importance of having chikdren in Nigerian life. as it is able to capture and display circumstances the way film does. Not only does Efuru capture female life so vividly. alongside subtle nods to the presence of colonialism. The reader is taken through the everyday life experiences of women in an African setting. The narrative is written in a style which is almost cinema-like. female circumcision are all discussed. Pregnancy. marriage. it also contrasts with the male dominated African literature of the period in which Nwapa writes.female genital mutilation which was the standard in the early 20th century as well as currently in some African countries.Nwapa was emulating the storytelling nature of her people and the way people talk. . although stylistically this was not a well written work. Flora Nwapa's text is a pioneering example of female African literature.

The literature of South Africa in English and Afrikaans is also covered in a separate article. the body of traditional oral and written literatures in Afro-Asiatic and African languages together with works written by Africans in European languages. two of the languages of Ethiopia. South African .the African oral traditions exerted their own influence on these literatures . There are also works written in Geʿez (Ethiopic) and Amharic.literature. there are written literatures in both Hausa and Arabic. with models drawn from Europe rather than existing African traditions. which is the one part of Africa where Christianity has been practiced long enough to be considered traditional. In particular. Traditional written literature.Encyclopaedia Britannica Written by: Harold Scheub Introduction African literature. is most characteristic of those sub-Saharan cultures that have participated in the cultures of the Mediterranean. and the Somali people have produced a traditional written literature. which is limited to a smaller geographic area than is oral literature. Works written in European languages date primarily from the 20th century onward. created by the scholars of what is now northern Nigeria. But . Modern African literatures were born in the educational systems imposed by colonialism. See also African theatre The relationship between oral and written traditions and in particular between oral and modern written literatures is one of great complexity and not a matter of simple evolution.

time collapses. History becomes the audience’s memory and a means of reliving of an indeterminate and .deeply obscure past Storytelling is a sensory union of image and idea. always more than an academic subject. seemingly inaccessible. the storyteller uses realistic images to describe the present and fantasy images to evoke and embody the substance of a culture’s experience of the past. And history. Reality. is here. its most deeply felt yearnings and fears. but with explosive emotional images giving it a context. one’s emotions.Oral traditions The nature of storytelling The storyteller speaks. a process of recreating the past in terms of the present. It is a time of masks. But it is inaccessible only to one’s present intellect. and they therefore have the capacity to elicit strong emotional responses from members of audiences. it is always available to one’s heart and soul. These ancient fantasy images are the culture’s heritage and the storyteller’s bounty: they contain the emotional history of the culture. joining its forebears. and the members of the audience are in the presence of history. and so the audience walks again in history. This is the storyteller’s art: to mask the past. making it mysterious. becomes for the audience a collapsing of time. During a performance. the present. these envelop contemporary images—the most unstable parts of the oral . The storyteller combines the audience’s present waking state and its past condition of semiconsciousness.

Flowing through this potent emotional grid is a variety of ideas that have the look of antiquity and ancestral sanction. never hardened in time. ever in transition. contemporary world. Story occurs under the mesmerizing influence of performance—the body of the performer.thereby visit the past on the present It is the task of the storyteller to forge the fantasy images of the past into masks of the realistic images of the present. Images that are unlike are juxtaposed. Performers take images from the present and wed them to the past. the music of her voice. with its own set of laws. and in that way the past regularly . Storytelling is therefore not a memorized art. The necessity for this continual transformation of the story has to do with the regular fusing of fantasy and images of the real. Performance gives the images their context and ensures the audience a ritual . It is a world unto itself. Stories are not meant to be temporally frozen. the complex relationship between her and her audience. forming a conception of the present. whole. and then the storyteller reveals—to the delight and instruction of the members of the audience—the linkages between them that render them homologous. they are always responding to contemporary realities. to visualize the present within a context of—and therefore in terms of—the past. but in a timeless fashion.tradition. enabling the performer to pitch the present to the past. ideas are thereby generated. because they are by their nature always in a state of flux—and . In this way the past and the present are blended.experience that bridges past and present and shapes contemporary life Storytelling is alive.

Storytellers reveal connections between humans—within the world. and the similar memories of the storyteller. It is the metaphorical relationship between these memories of the past and the known images of the world of the present that constitutes the essence of storytelling. to those they love. known world. Images are removed from historical contexts. on the other. within a family—emphasizing an interdependence and the disaster that occurs when obligations to one’s fellows are forsaken. and thoughts into the images of the story. then reconstituted within the . and to the essential core of their . contemporary. and the manipulation of the body and voice of the storyteller and. That familiarity is a crucial part of storytelling. joining humans to their gods. image. within a society. The storyteller does not craft a story out of whole cloth: she re-creates the ancient story within the context of the real. the memory of his real-life experiences. to their deepest fears and hopes. the patterning of image. it is built of the shards of history. the storyteller forges the bonds. tying past and present. familiar to the audience.societies and beliefs The language of storytelling includes. The story is never history. It is the rhythm of storytelling that welds these disparate experiences. The artist makes the linkages. And the images are known. the memory and present state of the audience. to their leaders.shapes an audience’s experience of the present. A storytelling performance involves memory: the recollection of each member of the audience of his experiences with respect to the story being performed. to their families. yearnings. on the one hand.

meaningful . It is only when images of contemporary life are woven into the ancient familiar images that metaphor is born and experience becomes . Storytellers know that the way to the mind is by way of the heart. an experience of the emotions.demanding and authoritative frame of the story. a context for their experiences that has no existence in reality. And it is always a sensory experience. The interpretative effects of the storytelling experience give the members of the audience a refreshed sense of reality.

Stories deal with change: mythic transformations of the
cosmos, heroic transformations of the culture, transformations of
the lives of everyman. The storytelling experience is always
ritual, always a rite of passage; one relives the past and, by so
doing, comes to insight about present life. Myth is both a story
and a fundamental structural device used by storytellers. As a
story, it reveals change at the beginning of time, with gods as the
central characters. As a storytelling tool for the creation of
metaphor, it is both material and method. The heroic epic unfolds
within the context of myth, as does the tale. At the heart of each
of these genres is metaphor, and at the core of metaphor is riddle
with its associate, proverb. Each of these oral forms is
characterized by a metaphorical process, the result of patterned
imagery. These universal art forms are rooted in the specificities
of the African experience. The riddle
A pot without an opening. (An egg.)
The silly man who drags his intestines. (A needle and thread.)
In the riddle, two unlike, and sometimes unlikely, things are
compared. The obvious thing that happens during this comparison is that
a problem is set, then solved. But there is something more important
here, involving the riddle as a figurative form: the riddle is composed of
two sets, and, during the process of riddling, the aspects of each of the
sets are transferred to the other. On the surface it appears that the riddle
is largely an intellectual rather than a poetic activity. But through its

imagery and the tension between the two sets, the imagination of the
audience is also engaged. As they seek the solution to the riddle, the
audience itself becomes a part of the images and therefore—and most
.significantly—of the metaphorical transformation

The riddle
A pot without an opening. (An egg.)
The silly man who drags his intestines. (A needle and thread.)
In the riddle, two unlike, and sometimes unlikely, things are
compared. The obvious thing that happens during this comparison is that
a problem is set, then solved. But there is something more important
here, involving the riddle as a figurative form: the riddle is composed of
two sets, and, during the process of riddling, the aspects of each of the
sets are transferred to the other. On the surface it appears that the riddle
is largely an intellectual rather than a poetic activity. But through its
imagery and the tension between the two sets, the imagination of the
audience is also engaged. As they seek the solution to the riddle, the
audience itself becomes a part of the images and therefore—and most
.significantly—of the metaphorical transformation
This may not seem a very complex activity on the level of the riddle,
but in this deceptively simple activity can be found the essential core of
all storytelling, including the interaction of imagery in lyric poetry, the
tale, and the epic. In the same way as those oral forms, the riddle works in

a literal and in a figurative mode. During the process of riddling, the literal
mode interacts with the figurative in a vigorous and creative way. It is that
play between the literal and the figurative, between reality and fantasy,
that characterizes the riddle: in that relationship can be found metaphor,
which explains why it is that the riddle underlies other oral forms. The
images in metaphor by their nature evoke emotion; the dynamics of
metaphor trap those emotions in the images, and meaning is caught up in
that activity. So meaning, even in such seemingly simple operations as
.riddling, is more complex than it may appear
The lyric
People were those who
Broke for me the string.
The place became like this to me,
On account of it,
Because the string was that which broke for me.
The place does not feel to me,
As the place used to feel to me,
On account of it.
The place feels as if it stood open before me,
Because the string has broken for me.

so also in lyric: metaphor frequently involves and invokes paradox. establishing metaphorical relationships within the poem. On account of it. In the lyric. the series of riddling connections responsible for the ultimate experience of the poem. it is as if the singer were stitching a set of riddles into a single richly textured poem. Further clues to meaning are discovered by the audience in the rhythmical aspects of the poem. carefully establishing the connective threads that bring the separate metaphorical sets into the poem’s totality. the poet brings the audience to a close. Bleek and L.I. And.The place does not feel pleasant to me. the riddling organization itself. as in riddles. and so it is that riddling is the motor of the lyric. Lloyd. —(a San poem. everything in the .lyric is directed to the revelation of metaphor . intense sense of the meaning of the poem. As in the riddle. As these riddling relationships interact and interweave. from W. The singer organizes and controls the emotions of the audience as he systematically works his way through the levels of the poem.C. Each riddling relationship provides an emotional clue to the overall design of the poem. None of the separate riddling relationships exists divorced from those others that compose the poem.H. and the sound of the singer’s voice as well as the movement of the singer’s body. Specimens of Bushman Folklore [1911]) The images in African lyric interact in dynamic fashion. the way the poet organizes the images.

Wisdom killed the wise man. The African proverb seems initially to be a hackneyed expression.grouping of tired words . When one experiences proverbs in appropriate contexts. In the riddle the poser provides the two sides of the metaphor. the African proverb ceases to be a . In one sense. the members of the audience derive their aesthetic experience from comprehending that complexity. and it is in its performance and metaphorical aspects that it achieves its power. it is also metaphor. a trite leftover repeated until it loses all force. The proverb establishes ties with its metaphorical equivalent in the real life of the members of the audience or with the wisdom of the past. that provides insight. In lyric poetry the two sides are present in the poem but in a complex way. But proverb is also performance. The words of the proverb are a riddle waiting to happen. the experience of a proverb is similar to that of a riddle and a lyric poem: different images are brought into a relationship that is novel. The words of the proverb are by themselves only one part of the metaphorical experience.The proverb Work the clay while it is fresh. they come to life. And when it happens. The other side of the riddle is not to be found in the same way it is in the riddle and the lyric. rather than in isolation.

In the simplest of tales. these emotions are the raw material that is woven into the image organization by the patterning. is much more complex than an obvious homily that may be readily available on the surface of the . and proverb are the materials that are at the dynamic centre of the tale. The riddle contains within it the possibilities of metaphor. With each part of the story.tale This patterning of imagery is the main instrument that shapes a tale. lyric.The tale The riddle. and then it is repeated in an almost identical way. a song organizes the emotions of helplessness. And meaning. as the ogre moves closer and as the woman and her children are more intensely imperiled. of menace. a model is established. Such images are drawn chiefly from two repertories: from the contemporary world (these are the realistic images) and from the ancient tradition (these are the fantasy images). and :of terror. therefore. even as it moves the story on its linear path . when they are rhythmically organized. These diverse images are brought together during a storytelling performance by their rhythmic organization. In a Xhosa story an ogre chases a woman and her two children. and the proverb elaborates the metaphorical possibilities when the images of the tale are made lyrical—that is. Because the fantasy images have the capacity to elicit strong emotional reactions from members of the audience. The audience thereby becomes an integral part of the story by becoming a part of the metaphorical process that moves to meaning.

the metaphorical character of the lyrical poem. the song—and that is the engine of metaphor. But that fantasy and that reality are controlled by the lyrical centre of the tale. is subverted by a cyclical movement—in this case. There is an uninterrupted linear movement of a realistic single character fleeing from a fantasy ogre—from a conflict to a resolution. events. characters. With little more than a brief introduction and a quick close. what do you want? I’m leaving my food behind on the prairie. and meanings.gives the tale a potential for development In a more complex tale. even in the simplest stories. each of those worlds seemingly different. So it is that the simplest tale becomes a model for more-complex narratives. The very . I’m leaving it behind. the storyteller develops this tale. the rhythmical ordering of those worlds brings them into such alignment that the members of the audience experience them as the same.Qwebethe. That linear movement. I’m leaving it behind. But by means of that lyrical pulse. Qwebethe. and that seemingly simple mechanism provides the core for complexity. the storyteller moves two characters through three worlds. It is this discernment of different images as identical that results in complex structures. That lyrical centre . It is the cyclical movement of the tale that makes it possible to experience linear details and images in such a way that they become equated one with the other. And what brings those different images into this alignment is poetry—more specifically.

provides insights into this matter of the construction of stories. The possibilities of epic are visible in the simplest of tales. Son of Senzangakhona. Bayede! You are an elephant! . Of whom it is said.composition of tales makes it possible to link them and to order them metaphorically. It strikes the shields of men! Father of the cock! Why did it disappear over the mountains? It annihilated men! That is Shaka. bringing the real world and the world of illusion into temporary. convincing his dupe of the reality of metaphor. That trickster and his antic activities .and so also are the possibilities of the novel The trickster tale. as it does with so much of the oral tradition. Others disappearing into the heavens! Son of Menzi! Viper of Ndaba! Erect. Masks are the weapons of the trickster: he creates illusions.are another way of describing the metaphorical motor of storytelling Heroic poetry Hero who surpasses other heroes! Swallow that disappears in the clouds. ready to strike. . shimmering proximity.

and the main composers are women. Obvious metaphorical connections are frequently made between historical personages or events and images of animals. emotions associated with both historical and nonhistorical images are at the heart of meaning in panegyric. riddle.shapes experiences of the present Among the Tuareg of western Africa. they are present at all rites of passage. It is a dual activity: history is thereby redefined at the same time that it . the professional bards. the essence of panegyric is metaphor. As in other forms of oral tradition. and cushioning the transformation being experienced. In Mauritania it is . and proverb. The fantasy aspects of this kind of poetry are to be found in its construction. a stringed instrument often accompanies the creation of such poetry. rejoined according to the poetic intentions of the bard. It is within this metaphorical context that the hero is described and assessed. celebrating. that lyric and image come into their most obvious union. although the metaphorical connections are sometimes somewhat obscure. accompanying. In the process. As in the tale and as in the lyric. or panegyric. The Songhai havemabe. for example. History is more clearly evident in panegyric. It is the lyrical rhythm of panegyric that works such emotions into form. in the merging of the real and the animal in metaphorical ways. history is reprocessed and given new meaning within the context of contemporary experience. but it remains fragmented history.—(from a heroic poem dedicated to the Zulu chief Shaka) It is in heroic poetry.

The mbongi wa ku pfusha is the bard among the Tonga of Mozambique. singing of lineage. All of this centres on the character of the hero and a gradual revelation of his frailty. urging them. In the evenings.the iggiw (plural iggawen) who creates heroic poetry and who plays the lute while singing the songs of the warriors. Among the Hima of Uganda. placing their martial activities within the context of history. their main organizing implement being the subject of the poem. the bard is the omwevugi.motion. creating poetry about chiefs and kings The images vary. Yorubabards chant the ijala. He goes to battle with the soldiers. the metaphorical apparatus. he often dies. and heroic poetry to form a larger narrative. Drums and trumpets sometimes accompany the maroka among theHausa. with the oriki. The diare (plural diarou) is the bard among the Soninke. the accompaniment becomes orchestral. The . the king. the proverb. and. in the process of bringing the culture into a new dispensation often prefigured in his resurrection or his coming into knowledge. he sings of the omugabe. and torments. uncertainties. including sound and . It is the metrical ordering of images. and of men in battle and of the cattle. the controlling mechanism found in the riddle and lyric. not the narrative of history The epic In the epic can be found the merging of various frequently unrelated tales. He . that holds the poem together. building their acts within the genealogies of their family. saluting the notable.too sings of the glories of the past. or is deeply troubled. When a king is praised.

with emphasis on origins. The fictional tale ties the historical episode. the heroic poem. The epic. And at the core of the epic is that same engine . with parts of it developed and embellished into a story. and myth are combined in the epic. in the heroic poem these are not greatly developed. history. The epic combines the two. linking the historical episode to the imaginative tale. contains historical references such as place-names and events. The tale. the lyric. like the heroic poem. He is given greater detail than the tale character. In the epic these elements are tied to the ancient images of the culture (in the form of tale and myth). In an echo of the tale—where the emphasis is commonly on a central but always nonhistorical character—a single historical or nonhistorical character is the centre of the epic. These events change the culture. an act that thereby gives these . Sometimes. When they are developed in an epic.the hero An epic may be built around a genealogical system. or place-name to the cultural history of the people.composed of the riddle. person. myth is also a part of epic. and the proverb Much is frequently made of the psychology of this central character when he appears in the epic. The epic performer remembers the great events and turning points of cultural history. given deeper dimension. they are built not around history but around a fictional tale. In an oral society. oral genres include history (the heroic poem) and imaginative story (the tale). tortured movements of .mythical transformation caused by the creator gods and culture heroes is reproduced precisely in the acts and the cyclical.

in the tales. And why must he be taught by the gods after he has established his heroic credentials? Central to this question is the notion of the transitional phase—of the betwixt and between. “Out there” is where the learning. it is the hero’s vision for a new social . but it is guided by a vision: in the myths.changes But. There is change and transformation. and then he becomes liminal again at the hands of the gods. magic keeps Sumanguru in charge and enables Sunjata to take over. the transformation. by inference. can a herobe vulnerable?—but more important is his nonmoral energy during a period of change. Mwindo is a liminal hero-trickster: he is liminal while he seeks his father.events cultural sanction. in Mwindo. supernatural atmosphere: all of nature is touched in the Malagasy epic Ibonia. why was Mwindo such a trickster? He was. it is the society’s vision for completeness. after all. in the West African epic Sunjata. There is a paradox in Mwindo’s vulnerability—how. In Ibonia there are major alterations in the relationship between men and women. of the someone or something that crosses yet exists between boundaries. in the epics. occurs. it is god’s vision for the cosmos. The trickster energy befits and mirrors this in-between period. after all. as no laws are in existence. in Sunjata and in the epic Mwindo of the Nyanga people of Congo there are major political . to history) a magical. It is a time of momentous change in the society. The tale and myth lend to the epic (and.dispensation . a great hero.

poetry) in Mwindo. the imaginative tale. to give history the resonance of the ancient roots of the culture as these are expressed in myth. it is as if the shift in the direction of the society is a return to the paradigm envisioned by ancient cultural wisdom. therefore. heroic poetry and history. Oral societies have these separate categories: history. Continuity is stressed in epic—in fact. but he does not signal a total break with the past. to a lesser extent. heroic poetry. History exists as a separate genre. These separate genres are combined in the epic. made discontinuous. and tale and myth (and.The heroic epic is a grand blending of tale and myth.of the immortals . and separate epics contain a greater or lesser degree of each—history (and. history is fragmented. and worlds of reality and fantasy. The effect of the epic is to mythologize history. heroic poetry and tale in Ibonia. the historical alteration of the society) are tied to the etiology of mythology—in other words. In heroic poetry. fact and fancy. giving the changes their sanction. The epic hero may be revolutionary. to a lesser extent. The essential characteristic of epic is not that it is history but that it combines history and tale. imaginative tale (and motif). the acts of the mortal hero are tied to the acts . And the etiological aspects of history (that is. In epic these discontinuous images are given a new form. and epic. to bring history to the essence of the culture. that of the imaginative tale. Epic. The epic becomes the grand summation of the culture because it takes major turning points in history (always with towering historical or nonhistorical figures who symbolize these turning points) and links them to tradition. poetry) is dominant in Sunjata. is not simply history. myth. and metaphor.

History is not the significant genre involved in the epic. In both of those epics. certainly. myth and . This suggests the great value that oral societies place on the imaginative traditions: they are entertaining. provides a context for the evolution of a heroic story. god and human. The epic is a blending. of the ancient culture as it is represented through imaginative tradition with historical events and personages. the effect of which is to tie the epic hero decisively and at the same time to history and to the gods. the panegyric forms a pattern. dramatize the rite of passage of a society or a culture: the hero’s . takes historical experiences and places them into the context of the culture. in the form of the praise name. The divine trickster links heaven and earth. This imaginative environment revises history. and cultural continuity and historical disjunction What is graphically clear in the epics Ibonia and Sunjata is that heroic poetry. as well as Mwindo. then. but they are also major organizing devices. the epic hero does the same but also links fancy and reality.history. so in epic is history given a form and a meaning that it does not possess. As the tales take routine. History by itself has no significance: it achieves significance when it is juxtaposed to the images of a tradition grounded in tales and myths. It is instead tale and myth that organize the images of history and give those images their meaning. and gives them cultural meaning. everyday experiences of reality and—by placing them in the fanciful context of conflict and resolution with the emotion-evoking motifs of the past—give them a meaning and a completeness that they do not actually have. Those epics.

at the heart of nationalism. the whole given an illusion of poetic unity by the heroic poetry.individual members . The tale at the centre of the epic may be as straightforward as any tale in the oral tradition. between the traditions that support and defend the rights of the group and the sense of freedom that argues for undefined horizons of the individual—this is the contest that characterizes the hero’s dilemma.rhythm Storytelling is the mythos of a society: at the same time that it is conservative.movement through the familiar stages of the ritual becomes a poetic metaphor for a like movement of the society itself. and the hero in turn is the personification of the quandary of the society itself and of its . But that tale is linked to a complex of other tales. it is the propelling mechanism for change. The struggle between the individual and the group. which in turn provides a lyrical .

But the linkage is also a crucial characteristic of more-serious and more-complex fiction. in northern Ghana among the Guang. and contemporary writers of popular novellas have been the obvious and crucial transitional figures in the movement from oral to literary traditions. and in many ways they have influenced each other. the popular fiction of Accra. its oral tradition. To be sure.Senegal among the Tukulor and Wolof. One cannot fully appreciate the works of Chinua Achebe or Ousmane Sembene without placing them into the context of Africa’s classical period. Ancient Egyptian scribes. French. early Hausa and Swahili copyists and memorizers. the popular love and detective literature of Nairobi. the visualizing of story in the complex comic strips sold in shops in Cape Town. What happened among the Hausa and Swahili was occurring elsewhere in Africa—among the Fulani.African classical frames . and Portuguese literary traditions along with Christianity and Islam and other effects of colonialism in Africa also had a dynamic impact on African literature. English. Ghana. and in Madagascar and Somalia The linkage between oral tradition and the written word is most obviously seen in pulp literature: the Onitsha market literature of Nigeria. in . the Arabic. but African writers adapted those alien traditions and made them their own by placing them into these .Oral traditions and the written word Written by: Elizabeth Ann Wynne Gunner Oral and written storytelling traditions have had a parallel development.

though it is always rooted in the real. and their community—is the way one likes to think things happened. has to do with the gods and creation. the giving of form to thought and emotion. the writer invents characters and events that correspond to history but are not history.character. myth and hero. a . It is the driving force of a people. to the heavens. with the essence of a belief system. on the one hand. it is the imaged embodiment of a philosophical system. This is the alchemy of the literary experience. which is deeply. Transformation is the crucial activity of the story. written literature is a combination of the real and the fantastic. in the real world. to the forever.History and myth As is the case with the oral tradition. hence its link to the gods. In the process of this examination. the real (the contemporary world) and history (the realistic world of the past) and. in a complex. In the oral tale this is clearly the fantasy . and nightmares—of a people. intensely emotional. fragmented history. moving through a change. so it is. fears. Literature is atomized. a character or event that moves beyond reality. In mythic imagery is the embodiment of significant emotions—the hopes. At the centre of the story is myth. its dynamic movement. refracted way. in written literature Myth. it is the everlasting form of a culture. the fantasy element. that emotional force that defines a people. with metaphor being the agent of transformation. dreams. The hero is everyman. The writer is examining the relationship of the reader with the world and with history. History—the story of a people. on the other. their institutions. It combines.

He thereby becomes a part of it. the essence. Mugo. History is the real. or the four pilgrims. Metaphor is the transformational process. Dan and Sello in Bessie Head’s A Question of Power (1973). the doctor. the narrator. The real contemporary . He has been mythicized. embodying the culture. the world against which this transformation is occurring and within which the hero will move. Myth is the stuff of which the hero is being created. Coetzee’s Life and Times of Michael K (1983).moved into history and returned with the elixir In serious literary works. the past. those with connections to the essence of history. charismatic shapers. story does that. of culture. These are the ambiguous. the movement from the real to the mythic and back again to the real— changed forever. Elizabeth. and so moving into the myth. The hero is everyman with myth inside him. Mustapha in al-Ṭayyib Ṣāliḥ’s Season of Migration to the North (1966).M. Kihika (and the mythicized Mugo) in Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s A Grain of Wheat (1967). because one has become mythicized. The real-life character is the hero who is in the process of being created: Samba Diallo. representative of it. of his history. Michael K in J.transformation. such characters include the Fool in Sheikh Hamidou Kane’sAmbiguous Adventure (1961). In each case. a real-life character moves into a relationship with a mythic character. because one has . the mythic fantasy characters are often derived from the oral tradition. and that movement is the movement of the hero’s becoming a part of history. and Nedjma in Kateb Yacine’s Nedjma (1956).

Elizabeth with Dan and Sello. in the case of A Question of Power. to the essence of history. the historical panorama. the doctor with Michael K. and the larger issues. This character is the heart and the spiritual essence of history. then. The fantasy character is crucial: he is the artist’s palette. or battling it. the shaped and the shaper. then: the hero who is being shaped. The hero is the person who is being brought into a new relationship with that history. the fantasy character who is the ideological and spiritual material being shaped and who is also the artist or shaper. the narrator with Mustapha. Mugo with Kihika (and the mythicized Mugo). or somehow having a relationship with it by means of the fantasy mythic character. is that rich combination of myth and history. This . It is the explanation of the historical background of the novels. the four pilgrims with Nedjma. be it the history of a certain area—Kenya or South Africa or Algeria. Metaphor is the hero’s transformation The image of Africa.return. It is in this relationship between reality and fantasy. These are the keys. the mythic element of the story. for example—or of a wider area—of Africa generally or. the history of the world.character and African/European history The fantasy character provides access to history. with the hero embodying the essence of the history.world is the place from which the hero comes and to which the hero will . but that backdrop is not the image of Africa: that image is the relationship between the mythical . occurs against a historical backdrop of some kind. This relationship. that the story has its power: Samba Diallo with the Fool. which is a harbinger of change.

The real-life character. between genders. and between generations. as the four pilgrims move into Nedjma. This movement of a realistic character into myth is metaphor. between rural and newly urban. as Samba Diallo moves into the Fool. are essentially the . The materials of storytelling.is the Fool.same The influence of oral traditions on modern writers Themes in the literary traditions of contemporary Africa are worked out frequently within the strictures laid down by the imported religions Christianity and Islam and within the struggle between traditional and modern. the hero. created by literary . Kihika. It is the hero’s identification with history that makes it possible for us to speak of the hero as a hero. as the hero moves through an intermediary period into history. as Elizabeth moves into Dan and Sello. the confluence that is at the heart of story. the centre of the story. It is the power of the story. In this movement the oral tradition is revealed as alive and well in literary works. as the narrator moves into Mustapha. The oral tradition is clearly evident in the popular literature of the marketplace and the major urban centres. Michael K. and so the transformation begins. Here is where reality and fantasy. the blending of two seemingly unlike images. as Mugo moves into Kihika. Dan and Sello. history and fiction blend. comes into a relationship with that mythic figure. as the doctor moves into Michael K. The kinds of imagery used by literary storytellers and the patterned way those reality and fantasy images are organized in their written works are not new. Mustapha. whether in the oral or written tradition. Nedjma.

beyond mere imitation The most successful of the early African writers knew what could be done with the oral tradition. That interaction is revealed in the placing of literary works into the forms of the oral tradition. recast. S. they understood how its structures and images could be transposed to a literary mode. such works went . Guybon Sinxo explored the relationship between oral tradition and writing in his popular Xhosa . Some of these writings were merely imitations of the oral tradition and were therefore not influential. Some of the early writers sharpened their writing abilities by translating works into African languages. Fagunwa in Yoruba. and they were able to distinguish mimicry from organic growth.O. at the same time remaining faithful to the tradition. But the work of writers such as Tutuola had a dynamic effect on the developing literary tradition. Mqhayi in Xhosa.K.oral traditions There was a clear interaction between the deeply rooted oral tradition and the developing literary traditions of the 20th century. The impact of the epic on the novel. Violet Dube in Zulu. The oral tradition in the work of some of the early writers of the 20th century—Amos Tutuola of Nigeria. continues to influence writers today.D. for instance. others collected oral tradition. most experienced their apprenticeships in one way or another within the contexts of living . or transcribe materials from the oral tradition.E.storytellers who are manipulating the original materials much as oral storytellers do. Such antiquarians did little more than retell. and Mario António in Portuguese—is readily evident.

though there is no doubt that there was also interaction with European traditions. they are reciprocal. Matsepe (in Sotho). The threads that connect these three categories of artistic activity are many. Jordan (in Xhosa). Oromo. most importantly from the 13th century. Amharic. Tigrinya. The more common spoken language. Dhlomo (in Zulu) built on that kind of writing. Amharic.R. The Kebra nagast (Glory of Kings). The classical language is Geʿez. relates the birth of Menelik—the son of . became widespread when it was used for political and religious . and they are essentially African. written from 1314 to 1322.R.creative interaction Literatures in African languages Ethiopian Ethiopian literatures are composed in several languages: Geʿez. Most of the literature in Ethiopia has been in Geʿez andAmharic. between the writers of popular fiction and those writers who wished to create a more serious form of literature. and A. establishing new relationships not only between oral and written materials but between the written and the written—that is. but over time Geʿez literature became the domain of a small portion of the population. in an area of .C.novels. Writers in Africa today owe much to African oral tradition and to those authors who have occupied the space between the two traditions.Tigré. and Harari.K.purposes to reach a larger part of the population Geʿez was the literary language in Ethiopia from a very early period. O. and R.

in which a girl disguised as a boy becomes the centre of complex love involvements. Early Amharic works such as Mist’ire Sillase(1910–11. by Afawark Gabra Iyasus. “An Imagined Story”). and books were published in Amharic. wrote two novels that are critical of child marriage and that . missionaries brought the printing press to Ethiopia.Solomon and Makada. and this was to become a major work in . and there was some secular poetry. The work became a crucial part of the literature and culture of Ethiopia. There were also translations from Arabic At the end of the 19th century. Ta’amra Maryam (The Miracles of Mary) was written.Ethiopia. But most of the writing was religious in nature and tone. the climax of which includes the conversion of a love-smitten king to Christianity. that was to influence later Amharic . by Gabra Giyorgis Terfe. the queen of Sheba—who became the king of Ethiopia. Royal chronicles were written. and there were translations of European literary works. In the 15th century. The first novel written in Amharic was Libb-waled tarik (1908. “The Mystery of the Trinity”) were rooted in traditional literary works. Newspapers in Amharic began to appear in 1924 and 1925. including an Amharic translation of John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress. an Ethiopian foreign minister who became the country’s first major writer.literary work Two writers created the foundation for the Amharic literary tradition.Heruy Walda Sellasse. Many translations of religious works were produced. The oral storytelling tradition is clearly in evidence in this novel. as were works having to do with the lives of Zagwe kings.

he wrote of a youth who is educated in Europe and who. and Menghistu Lemma. One of Ethiopia’s most popular novels. In his second novel. Ye-dem zemen(1954–1955.Girmachew Tekle Hawaryat wrote the novel Araya (1948–49). who wrote plays that satirized the conflict between tradition and the West. and T’aytu Bit’ul (1957– 58). “Era of Blood”). all historical novels. But he was also critical of the Christian church and proposed in one of his novels its reform. “The New World”). Playwrights included Tekle Hawaryat Tekle Maryam. Poetry included works in praise of the Ethiopian emperor. and with political problems. Haddis alem(1924. who wrote a comedy in 1911. “David III”). important writers continued to compose works in Amharic. biographer.extol Christianity and Western technology. with issues of social justice. Other writers also dealt with the conflict between the old and the new. Mekonnin Indalkachew wrote Silsawi Dawit (1949–50. Central themes in post-World War II Amharic literature are the relationship between humans and God. and historian. when he returns to Ethiopia. about the journeying of the peasant Araya to Europe to be educated and his struggle to decide whether to remain there or return to Africa.traditional life and attitudes in his poetry After World War II. experiences clashes between his European education and the traditions of his past. and the importance of . Yoftahe Niguse. the difficulties of life. it explores generational conflict as well as the conflict between tradition and modernism. Gabra Egzi’abeher frequently took an acerbic view of . Drama was also developed at this time. Kabbada Mika’el became a significant playwright.

it also introduces a strong thread of Islamic history. Writers such as Mengistu Gedamu and P’awlos Nyonyo became more and more concerned in their works with social issues. struggles against the British colonial regime. including the military coup attempted against Emperor Haile Selassie I in December 1960. One year later the bureau publishedMuhammadu Bello’s Gandoki. resulting in a story patterned on the heroic cycle. Gandoki. Didactic elements. however. At the turn of the 21st century there . and the widespread struggle between tradition and modernism was debated.was also a concern with preserving traditional materials in Amharic Hausa The first novels written in Hausa were the result of a competition launched in 1933 by the Translation Bureau in northern Nigeria. and exploring historical events. Kabbada Mika’el wrote drama reinforcing Christian values.humility and acceptance. Novelists looked further afield and wrote about apartheid in South Africa and the African nationalist leader Patrice Lumumba. Bello does in Gandoki what many writers were doing in other parts of Africa during this period: he experiments with form and content. Asras Asfa Wasan wrote poetry and historical novels about political events. His novel blends the Hausa oral tradition and the novel. are awkwardly interposed and severely dilute Gandoki’s aesthetic content (as often happened in other similarly experimental African novels). attacking materialism. Taddasa Liban wrote short stories that examine the relationship between the old and the new in Ethiopian society. in which its hero. But Bello’s efforts would eventually give rise .

the Hausa language was written in an Arabic script called ajami. in Arabic. Hausa. which dealt with the clash between religion and contemporary political reality. Arabic writing among the Hausa dates from the end of the 15th century. the Latin alphabet was added. At the beginning of the 19th century. Early poets included Ibn al-Ṣabbāgh and Muhammad al-Barnāwī. Much poetry dealt with the Prophet Muhammad and other Islamic leaders.Tutola’s English-language novel The Palm-Wine Drinkard (1952) It is possible that written Hausa goes back as far as the 14th or 15th century. Social problems were also considered by Alhaji Umaru in his poem Wakar talauci da wadata (1903. In 1903. Other early writers in Arabic were Abdullahi Sikka and Sheikh Jibrīl ibn ʿUmar. There was poetic reaction to the presence of British colonial forces: Malam Shi’itu’s Bakandamiya (“Hippo-Hide Whip”) and Alhaji Umaru’s Zuwan nasara (“Arrival of the Christians”). Usman dan Fodio. “Song of Poverty and of Wealth”). especially among the Sufi. There was mystical poetry as well. There was also secular poetry. Religious and secular poetry continued through the 20th century and included the work of . including the war song of Abdullahi dan Fodio. wrote Wallahi Wallahi (“By God. His experimentation would also find its most successful expression in Amos . .to a more sophisticated tradition of novel writing in Hausa.primarily religious. Nana Asma’u wrote poetry. and Fula in Arabic ajami script Islamic Hausa poetry was a continuation of Arabic classical poetry. By God”). under the influence of the British. Abdullahi’s older brother and the founder of the Fulani empire in the first decade of the 19th century.

also a Translation Bureau prizewinner. Religious and .didactic poetry continue to be written among the Hausa The novel Shaihu Umar. by Muhammadu Gwarzo. mingle African and Western oral tradition with realism. and it moves from realism to fantasy. by Alhaji Abubakar Imam. and Ruwan bagaja (1957. was written by Rupert East and J. by Tanko Zango. who is kidnapped and taken to a ruler. by Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. Sa’idu Ahmed Daura’s Tauraruwar hamada (1959. Nuhu Bamali’s Bala da Babiya (1954. Mu’azu Hadeja wrote didactic poetry. The Water of Cure). and Aliyu Na Mangi. Tafida Wusasa. Da’u fataken dare (“Da’u. Na’ibi Sulaimanu Wali. “You Will Pay for the Injustice You Caused”). deals with robbers who live in a forest. Jiki magayi (1955. Idon matambayi (“The Eye of the Inquirer”). it is a story with folkloric elements. Mudi Sipikin. The Story of Iliya Dam Maikarf) has to do with Iliya. a prime minister of the Federation of Nigeria. a blind poet from Zaria. Ahmadu Ingawa’s Iliya ʿdam Maikarf (1959.Garba Affa. Nagari na kowa (1959. In Umaru . by Jabiru Abdullahi. Salihu Kontagora and Garba Gwandu emphasized the need for an accumulation of knowledge in the contemporary world. is the story of Salihi. “Bala and Babiya”) deals with conflicts in an urban dwelling. “Good to Everyone”). is set in a Hausa village and Egypt. It is a novel of love. a sickly boy who is cured by angels and then embarks on a crusade of peace. Sa’adu Zungur. who comes to represent traditional Islamic virtues in a world in which such virtues are endangered. “Star of the Desert”) centres on Zulkaratu. the story is told with much fantasy imagery. the Nocturnal Merchants”).

Mutswairo. and Dauda Kano. and Ki yarda da ni [1997. and forced . Another early novel. “Agree with Me”]) and Balaraba Ramat Yakubu (Budurwar zuciya [1987. it was written by Solomon M. “Needle in a Haystack”]. travels .marriages Shona Feso (1956). a boy. Alhaji Muhammed Sada. Adamu dan Goggo. the breaking down of Shona culture. and the Christian who attempts to blend past and present. by Bernard T. “Young at Heart”]. has to do with themes that dominate prose writing in Shona: the attempt to remain true to Shona tradition. popular romances by such writers as Bilkisu Ahmed Funtuwa (Allura cikin ruwa[1994. “Dodge the Broom”). “Who Knows What Tomorrow Will Bring?”]. and Wa zai auri jahila? [1990. “Who Will Marry the Ignorant Woman?”]). women and education.G. An account of the invasion of the Rozwi kingdom and an expression of longing for the traditional past. Abubakar Tunau. was the first literary work to be published in Shona. “The Comet”). In the 1980s there began to appear littattafan soyayya (“books of love”).Nzvengamutsvairo (1957. Dramatists include Aminu Kano. Chidzero. In 1959 . These works deal with the experiences of Hausa women and address such subjects as polygamy. Alhaki kuykuyo ne [1990. a historical novel.Dembo’s Tauraruwa mai wutsiya(1969. the ugly aspects of Western ideas. “Retribution Is Inescapable”]. Wa ya san gobe? [1996.into space Hausa drama has been influenced by the oral tradition. Kilba.

“If I Had Known”): Kufakunesu is a wicked teacher. it depicts the conflict between the African past and the urbanized. Westernized. “Hell Has No Fire”) depicts a woman who is wholly evil. Murambiwa Goredema) was published. the forces of good and evil struggle. Emmanuel F. and is arrested and jailed. but in the end Christianity brings him to a new life. Marimazhira’sNdakaziva haitungamiri (1962. Education is also a danger in Xavier S. which describes the effects of Western-style education and the consequent alienation from traditional society: Saraoga. becomes angered as his wives compete with each other. Three Is None”). changes his name. Giles Kuimba’s Gehena harina moto (1965. The loss of traditional values is treated in Kenneth S. married to two women. having renounced his mother. with an emphasis on the need to establish roots within the reality of the world as it is. with its emphasis on love and a desire to cultivate Christian ideals of love: Rujeko and Taremba embody Christian love. who nevertheless continues to seek him. The conflict between Christianity and tradition is also the subject of L. trans. but evil in the form of the jealous Shingirai assaults that relationship. “I Loved Her unto Death”). a boy. “Two Is Company. the Son of Goredema”.Mutswairo’s novel Murambiwa Goredema (“Murambiwa. Kumazivandadzoka (“Who Goes There Never Comes Back”). revealing inner conflicts in other characters in the novel. becomes corrupted. Also in 1959 John Marangwanda published a novel. is attracted to the city. . an attack on polygamy: Mazarandanda. Eng. He again changes his name. Washington Chapavadza’s Wechitatu muzvinaguhwa (1963. and Christianized contemporary world. Bepswa’s Ndakamuda dakara afa (1960.

Rudo ibofu (1962. escapes his father’s murderous wrath to return later and overcome the tyrant. She is later mauled by a leopard. Christianity becomes a theme in Chakaipa’s third novel. “I Shall Return”) and Dzasukwa mwana-asina-hembe (1967. Matamba. manipulates the traditional system to his own selfish advantage. “Karikoga and His Ten Arrows”) is a blend of fantasy (it is based on a tale from the Shona oral tradition) and history. In the latter. a boy from the country. the corrosive effects of colonialism on . having been rendered moneyless by Muchaneta and blinded by her male friends. In the former. Muchaneta. Ndyire. “Love Is Blind”). This novel resembles the Nyanga epic Mwindo: a son of the chief. “Dzasukwa Beer-for-Sale”) focus on contemporary urban life and its vicissitudes. falls into the clutches of a prostitute. “The Spear of Blood”) depicts the dangers of the misuse of power in traditional times: a chief. she returns home as a nun. At a dramatic and climactic movement. Tanganeropa.traditional Shona views of the ancestral spirits The major Shona writer of novels during the 20th century was Patrick Chakaipa. “You Shall Confess”) is a reassessment of . a love story focusing on conflicts between Shona and Ndebele peoples. Garandichauya (1963. HisKarikoga gumiremiseve (1958.Shona tradition are dramatized . he finds his wife awaiting him. having to do with the conflict between tradition and Christianity: Rowesai is beaten by her father when she decides to become a nun. When he returns to his rural home. Pfumo reropa (1961.Ribeiro’s Muchadura (1967. and her father converts to Christianity.

“I Warned You”). trans. is an effort to blend . by Herbert W. trans. some of which was published in Madetembedzo (1969). His novel Karumekangu (1970). Nyika. Nyadzi dzinokunda rufu) has its hero. Eng. it describes a modern African couple. “The Way to Get Married”). move from the traditional world into an urban setting where he is debased and disgraced. a somewhat allegorical poem about a wandering African who must make a decision whether to preserve custom or to move in new directions. and Chirimo . which also deals with the contest resulting when perceived notions of traditionalism are placed within an urban context. moving into their married life within the context of the two conflicting forces.journals as Poet. Eng. Two Tone. which takes as its setting urban locales in Zimbabwe and South Africa.tradition and urbanism The first published poetry in Shona was Soko risina musoro (1958. Chidyausiku wrote the first published Shona play. Chidyausiku’s novel Nyadzi dzinokunda rufu (1962. Wilson Chivaura wrote poetry as well. Tadzimirwa and Chiwoniso.In Nhoroondo dzokuwanana (1958. Chitepo. Soko risina musoro). Shona poetry also appeared in such . Ndakambokuyambira (1968. “Dishonour Greater than Death”. “The Tale Without a Head”. Paul Chidyausiku attempts to bring into union traditional Shona beliefs and Christianity: using marriage as the focal point.

. and Short Stories”). usually chanted. Qamaan Bulhan. Ismaaʿiil Mire and Sheikh Aqib Abdullah Jama . and Salaan Arrabey were also well-known poets. Bootaan’sMurti iyo sheekooyin (1973. popular poetry.Somali Hikmad Soomaali (“Somali Wisdom”). “Traditional Wisdom and Stories”) and Muuse Cumar Islaam’s Sheekooyin Soomaaliyeed (1973. maahmaah. and thehees. dealing with the traditional past in negative terms. Proverbs. iyo sheekooyin yaryar (1965. composed by women. Shire Jaamac Axmed published materials from the Somali oral tradition as Gabayo. or balwo. Abdillahi Muuse created didactic poems. also chanted and usually moody. mainly in the oral tradition. Maxamed Cabdulle Xasan (Mohammed Abdullah Hassan) created poetry as a weapon.“Somali Stories”) Poetry is a major form of expression in the Somali oral tradition. Iftiinka aqoonta (“Light of Education”). was published in 1956. and Rooxaan (“The Spirits”). a collection of traditional stories in the Somali language recorded by Muuse Xaaji Ismaaciil Galaal. the buraambur.composed religious poetry. made up of short love poems and popular on the radio. the jiifto. Ilmi Bowndheri wrote love poetry . short and dealing with war. He also edited a literary journal. “Poems. and published two short novels in 1973: Halgankiii nolosha (“Life Struggle”). thegeeraar. Further stories from the oral tradition were written down and published in Cabdulqaadir F. Its different types include the gabay. Farah Nuur. theheello.

Verse influenced by Somali oral tradition plays a major role in this drama. and here. The two central characters in the novel. wrote Kalahaab iyo kalahaad(1966.generations A story by Axmed Cartan Xaange “Qawdhan iyo Qoran” published in 1967 in the journal Horseed examined the situation of women in traditional society. The author also brings the oral poetry . a play concerning traditional and modern ideas about marriage and relations between the . the oral tradition continues to have a dynamic influence. the British colonial powers. Cali Maxamed Xasan and Cawrala Barre. as in the language’s other written forms. “Wide Apart and Flown Asunder”). another playwright. depicting women’s role in the independence struggle after World War II. were based on historical characters. Somalia’s daily newspaper serialized stories as well. Ignorance Is the Enemy of Love)—the first novel published in Somali—Faarax Maxamed Jaamac Cawl criticized the traditional past.Drama has also flourished in the Somali language. He made use of documentary sources having to do with the struggle against colonialism in the early 20th century.Axmed Faarax Cali “Idaajaa” and Yuusuf Axmed “Hero In his novel Aqoondarro waa u nacab jacayl (1974. Samawada (1968). In 1968 Hassan Shekh Mumin wrote the play Shabeelnaagood (Leopard Among the Women). Ali Sugule. which has to do with marriage and the relations between men and women in contemporary contexts. including works by ”. He wrote the first play in Somali. among others. when forces under the leadership of Maxamed Cabdulle Xasan fought.

telling her that “a hero does not die. and they fall in love. especially the subverting of such customs for one’s own ends. and this leads to difficulties with his wife’s family. the ship founders. and she debates with her parents and members of her community whether she should marry the man her father has selected for her. but he survived. Cawrala’s love for Calimaax intensifies. Customs having to do with marriage play an important role in the novel. he was wounded. has Sugulle. her mother forces her to leave home. as the title suggests. its characters speaking in poetic language. because he cannot read. Cawrala and Calimaax meet onboard a ship that has sailed from Aden. Cawrala is miserable. The novel launches an assault on ignorance. Calimaax. Her family agrees. She sends a letter to Calimaax. at night. still suffering from his wounds and his love for Cawrala. read it to him.tradition into the novel. In the meantime. illiteracy. When Cawrala learns of this. Two years after that. Geelbadane. his new father-inlaw. but she dies before the marriage can take place. But she becomes so ill that he sends her back to her family.” And in fact. a voice comes to Cawrala. Calimaax did not die. Then she learns that Calimaax died while at war. And it takes a positive view of Somali women. she is distressed. and Calimaax rescues Cawrala from the water. Then. She is forced to marry the man. asking that she be allowed to marry him. Because of a rough sea. and the words of Cawrala’s letter sustain him. who. he must fight a leopard. When Cawrala laments his death. sends a message to her family. But Cawrala has been promised by her father to another man. learning of this. Alone and wounded. . and her relations with her father are therefore strained. among other things. born of.

the Pride of Moshoeshoe”).is the most outstanding example . the story of Moorosi and his dealings with the British. A later novel by Cawl.S. Malefane.“The Shackles of Colonialism”). morena oa Baphuthi(1948. “Customs and Stories of the Sotho”). M. Sekese. Historical events. Moshoeshoe le baruti (“Moshoeshoe and the Missionaries”).J. Lesoro and B. Garbaduubkii gumeysiga (1978. who gathered Sotho oral traditions and published them in Mekhoa ea Basotho le maele le litsomo (1893. shoeshoe ’a Moshoeshoe (1954. Zakea D. The prolific B. Much of Sotho poetry is derived from the oral tradition. Machobane’s Mahaheng a matšo (1946. . Mangoaela’s collection Lithoko tsa marena a Basotho (1921. both of whom wrote dramas about the Zulu chief Shaka. in J. “In the Dark Caves”) and Senate. “The Book of Stories of the Meeting of the Birds. both of which treat events during the reign of the Sotho chiefMoshoeshoe. “Moorosi. “Senate. and the Lawsuit between Sefofu and Seritsa”). Bukana ea tsomo tsa pitso ea linonyana. Makalo Khaketla published a play in 1947. has to do with contemporary history Southern Sotho The first writer in the Southern Sotho language was Azariele M.M. He also wrote a popular animal story.Praise of the Sotho Kings) . S. Damane wrote the historical novel Moorosi. a central focus in much early Sotho literature.A. for example. the King of the Baphuthi”). and historical themes can be found in plays by E. le tseko ea Sefofu le Seritsa(1928. Guma wrote historical novels about King Mohlomi (1960) and Queen Mmanthathisis (1962).Calimaax dies. are depicted.

Eng. Chaka uses a stark element of realism to break with the romanticism and the circular ordering of oral tradition.The giant figure in Southern Sotho literature is Thomas Mokopu Mofolo. who serves as both an actor in the narrative and a commentator on it. But. Chaka. trans. Mofolo’s work is significant not only as a fictionalized historicalbiography but as a crucial work positioned confidently on the boundaries of—and revealing the clear connection between—the oral and the written. Pitseng). His three novels were Moeti oa bochabela (1907. Mofolo is able to present his interpretation of the Zulu chief. and Chaka (1925. Pitseng has to do with conflicting views of marriage. Christian and traditional. out of the purely oral realm and into a more psychologically realistic mode. and it is the oral tradition that makes this complex layering process possible. it is an effective blending of Sotho oral tradition and contemporary historical reality and. Mofolo depends on the oral tradition—more specifically. like Chinua Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart (1958). enables Mofolo to generate this layering. The Traveller of the East). In Mofolo’s novel the mythic being Isanusi. By moving the novel’s central character. The Traveller of the East is clearly influenced by Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress (which had been translated into Southern Sotho in 1872): it is an allegorical work that views Christianity as light and Africa as darkness. Pitseng (1910. trans. Chaka: An Historical Romance). Eng. Chaka is a novel about Shaka. the traditional heroic cycle—for the formal structure of his work. from the point of view of storytelling. Mofolo effectively brings the historical Shaka into the context of a psychological Shaka. The . a yoking of oral and literary forms. “In the Pot”.

Mofolo’s technique is derived from oral historians in Southern Africa. and Sek’hona sa joala (“A Mug of Beer”). Malebaleba. “Riches Are Like Mist and Fog”). and then is converted to Christianity by Malebaleba.M. moralizing stories—were among the earliest . It turns out that he is the man selected for the young woman. and she is the woman selected as his bride. it is not. It is a comment on history. but his beloved’s parents want her to marry someone else.importance ofChaka. Albert Nqheku’s novel Arola naheng ea Maburu (1942. “Ramasoabi and Potso”). by M. by T. Mofolo’s inclusion of a character such as Isanusi keeps the novel from becoming overly didactic . Everitt Lechesa Segoete wrote the novel Monono ke moholi ke mouoane (1910. then. between the rural and . which in a heavily moralizing way treats the conflict between Sotho tradition and the world of the whites: Khitšane falls in with a criminal.and also sustains its status as a work of art Sotho tradition is a central concern of B. In it a young man. can be found in a number of Sotho works. Ramasoabi le Potso (1937. Moeketsi. Mofokeng—both didactic. is not that it is history. and by now Moeketsi’s parents have chosen a bride for him. Maile. He meets another young woman. falls in love.L. including Christianity. goes to jail. who has become an evangelist.dramatic works in Southern Sotho The conflict between Sotho tradition and the West. who interlaced history with commentary. Khaketla in his novel Meokho ea thabo(1951.M. “Tears of Joy”). “Arola Among the Boers”) deals with the conflicts between blacks and whites. but she is engaged to a man she does not know.

P. “The Epic of Fumo Liyongo”). Koote. was a central vehicle of written literary expression.G. Love poetry.the urban.S. Khabari za Lamu (“The Lamu Chronicle”). reassembled by the 19th-century scholar Fumo Omar al-Nabhani.L.D.J.V.S. Monare). Playwrights such as Maile and Khaketla wrote of polygamy. Leutsoa. The didactic Utendi wa Mwana Kupona (1858. like other poetry. showing the influence of Muslim Arabic literature and of the East African culture from which it arose. by Sayyid Abdallah bin Ali bin Nasir. was created by Muhammad Kijumwa (Utenzi wa Fumo Liyongo [1913. There were early historical works. Mocoancoeng). love relationships (J. Motsieloa. There were also contemporary epics. The epic of the legendary figure Fumo Liyongo wa Bauri. Another chronicle. who likely lived during the 12th century. others examined marriage (J. and Christianity and tradition (Mofokeng) Swahili Swahili literature is usually divided into classical and contemporary periods and genres. J. was sung with or without musical accompaniment. albeit still within an Islamic context. Moiloa. such as Tarekhe ya Pate (“The Pate Chronicle”). and between tradition and modernism. Muyaka bin Haji al-Ghassaniy wrote much poetry. has closer connections to historical reality. . “Poem of Mwana Kupona”) was written by the first prominent Swahili female poet. Mwana Kupona binti Msham. Both religious and secular poetry. including Utenzi wa vita vya Wadachi kutamalaki . takes the 18th and 19th centuries as its subject.G. including works with nationalistic topics. it describes events from the 13th to the 19th century. and J. Al Inkishaf (The Soul’s Awakening).

1307 A. (1955. Almasi za Afrika (1960. “The Epic of the Maji Maji Rebellion”). he juxtaposes the oral and the written in this novel. The German Conquest of the Swahili Coast. In Kusadikika a fantasy land is created. and Utenzi wa vita vya Maji Maji (1933. the rulers of the state of Usambara It was Shaaban Robert who had the most dynamic and long-lasting effect on contemporary Swahili literature.H. it is his experimentation with narrative time that is unique. 1897 A. Kusadikika. which occurs mainly in a courtroom. “Adili and His Brothers”). Kusadikika tells the story of Karama. Habari za Wakilindi (“The Story of the Wakilindi Lineage”. Of his prose. The Kilindi). by Abdul Karim bin Jamaliddini. published posthumously in 1967). (In the succeeding works of his trilogy.mrima. published in three volumes between 1895 and 1907 by Abdallah bin Hemedi bin Ali Ajjemy. Like many other African authors of his time. He wrote poetry. Robert moves away from the homiletic somewhat. and Kufkirika (written in 1946.) By means of flashbacks and images of the future. trans. prose. by Hemedi bin Abdallah bin Said Masudi al-Buhriy. Eng. a Country in the Sky). his utopian novel trilogy is among his bestknown works: Kusadikika. deals with . and proverbs. This largely didactic novel is heavy with morals. Adili na nduguze (1952. Adili and His Brothers is told largely by means of flashbacks. “African Diamonds”) is one of his famous books of poetry.the Kilindi.). nchi iliyo angani (1951.D. as suggested by the allegorical names given to the characters. A novel. Robert also wrote essays and Utenzi wa vita vya .

Tambueni haki zetu (1973. “Decoration”). “The Principles of Poetics Together with a Collection of Poems by Amri”). Heshima yangu (1974. published in 1984. Ahmad Nassir and Abdilatif Abdalla also wrote poetry. “My Honour”). Kinjeketile). Other experimenters with poetry included Mugyabuso M. Mulokozi and Kulikoyela K. A play by Hussein. “Come In”]) that led the way to the establishment of freeverse in Swahili. “I Love You. 1939 hata 1945 (1967. trans.uhuru. Kinjeketile (1969. and Pambo (1975.1945”) Significant poetry collections include Amri Abedi’s Sheria za kutunga mashairi na diwani ya Amri (1954. “Reveal Our Rights”). “Guilt”). Henry Kuria experimented with drama with such plays asNakupenda. when he was a political prisoner.But…”) Muhammad Saleh Abdulla Farsy wrote the novel Kurwa and Doto: maelezo ya makazi katika kijiji cha Unguja yaani Zanzibar (1960. lakini… (1957. Abdalla’sSauti ya dhiki (1973. “The Voice of Agony”) contains poems composed between 1969 and 1972. deals with the Maji Maji uprising. Eng. Ebrahim N. Kahigi. and Muhando wrote such plays as Hatia (1972. The Paukwa Theatre Association of Tanzania produced Ayubu. . Euphrase Kezilahabi wrote poetry (as in Karibu ndani [1988. “Kurwa and Doto: A Novel Depicting Community Life in a Zanzibari Village”). Hussein and Penina Muhando produced innovative dramatic forms through a synthesis of Western drama and traditional storytelling and verse. who together published Malenga wa bara (1976). . “The Epic of the Freedom War. 1939 to .

T. “I Have to Marry Her to Calm My Heart”]) and Bob N.Rashidi Ali Akwilombe In addition to pushing the boundaries of verse. There were also novels about contemporary society. “Hardship”) focus on contemporary social conflicts Popular newspaper fiction was a major source of literary storytelling during the 20th century. Kezilahabi also experimented with the novel form. Banzi (“Lazima nimwoe nitulize moyo” [1970. Mzimu wa watu wa kale (1960. “Loneliness”) and Ndyanao Balisidya’s . and with the appearance of Faraji Katalambulla’s Simu ya kifo (1965. Somba. Kaburi bila msalaba (1969. Mkangi’s novel Ukiwa (1975. “He Who Sows the Wind Reaps the Storm”).N. He had a major influence on the contemporary novel.M.C. In the 1980s this genre flourished with works by such authors as the prolific Ben R. Kareithi. In his Rosa Mistika (1971) . including Kuishi kwingi ni kuona mengi (1968. “Phone Call of Death”). Christianity is a strong influence in these novels. Muhammad Said Abdulla wrote the first Swahili detective novel. Nagona (1990) is an example. “Graveyard of the Ancestors”). The Mau Mau uprising is treated in a novel by P.Another utopian novel was written by Paul O. “The Key to the Treasure”). “Grave Without a Cross”). by J. “Rashidi Felt a Wild Kiss Pulling His Tongue”]). Mtobwa and . “Living Long Is to Experience Much”) and Alipanda upepo kuvuna tufani (1969. Ugula. Okoth (“Rashidi akasikia busu kali lamvuta ulimi” [1969.novel Shida(1975. It appeared in such newspapers as Baraza and Taifa Weekly and included writing by A. G. Ufunguo wenye hazina (1969. the genre hit its stride.

Indaba (“The News”). The Bible was translated between the 1820s and 1859. Iselamagazi”). which ran to 1841. Ikhwezi was produced during the years 1844 and 1845. Isitunywa Senyanga (“The Monthly Messenger”). by Clemence Merinyo Xhosa The first piece of Xhosa writing was a hymn written in the early 19th century by Ntsikana. the Scots mission. The Wesleyan missionaries started a magazine in 1850. to be replaced byIsigidimi samaXhosa (“The Xhosa Messenger”). it was succeeded by The Kaffir Express in 1876. “An . John . “Goodbye. and in Dunia uwanja wa fujo (1975. Umshumayeli Indaba (“The Preacher’s News”). was the centre of early Xhosa writing.AIDS Death”). The topic of AIDS emerged in the 1980s in novels such asKifo cha AIDS (1988. In Kwaheri Iselamagazi (1992. In Kichwamaji (1974. His critical stand on Tanzania’s socialism is reflected in Gamba la nyoka(1979. “Waterhead”) he treats the conflict between the generations.the effects of alien cultures on indigenous cultures are measured. Lovedale. In 1837 the Wesleyans published a journal. in Xhosa only. Bernard Mapalala explores critically the rule of the Nyamwezi warlord Miramboduring the 19th century. A monthly in both Xhosa and English. “The World Is a Field of Chaos”) he emphasizes the effects of foreign cultures on indigenous cultures. ran from 1862 until 1865. Lovedale Press was established in the 19th century by the London Missionary Society. “The Snake’s Skin”). its publication was interrupted by one of the frontier wars. edited by William Govan.

but Jolobe was the .K. Jolobe attempted in his poetry to blend nostalgia for the Xhosa past with an acceptance of the Christian present.E. Poets such as Henry Masila Ndawo and S. many early writers of prose and verse had Christian backgrounds that were the result of their having attended missionary schools. Imvo Zabantsundu (“Opinions of the Africans”) was a newspaper edited by Jabavu. Imvo Zabantsundu was suppressed by military authorities during the South African War.B. which was not allowed in works published by the mission presses. Gqoba and William Wawuchope Citashe published politically potent poetry in the newspapers. Jonas Ntsiko (pseudonym uHadi Waseluhlangeni [“Harp of the Nation”]) in 1877 urged Isigidimi samaXhosa to speak out on political issues. Rubusana. Mqhayiassailed white South Africans for creating an increasingly repressive atmosphere for blacks.Tengo Jabavu and William Gqoba were its editors. Much early Xhosa prose and poetry appeared in these periodicals African protest.innovator who experimented aggressively with form Some of the first prose writers. it was financially assisted by Cecil Rhodes. It ceased publication with Gqoba’s death in 1888.) Mqhayiwas called "the father of Xhosa poetry" by the Zulu poet and novelist Benedict Wallet Vilakazi. such as Gqoba and W. In fact. was heard in the journals. who had resigned as prime minister of Cape Colony in . James J. Izwi Labantu (“The Voice of the People”) began publication in 1897 with Nathaniel Cyril Mhala as its editor. and so shared Jolobe’s thematic concerns. were concerned with putting into print materials from the Xhosa oral . who was assisted by John Knox Bokwe.R. (Indeed.1896.

“Nomathamsanqa and Sigebenga”)—the name Nomathamsanqa meaning "Good Fortune" and the name Sigebenga meaning "Criminal" or "Ogre"—the son of a traditional chief provides sustenance for his people. Nomsa.structure of the story from the Xhosa oral tradition Guybon Sinxo’s novels describe city life in a way similar to those of Alex La Guma. borrowing the . was heavily influenced by the first half of that translation. In Sinxo’suNomsa (1922). Nomalizo. Nomsa marries the village drunk and reforms him. Guma. or. a South African writer. The Things of This Life Are Sheer Vanity). she is the cause of difficulties among her people and between the races. John Henderson Soga. Henry Masila Ndawo’s first novel. izinto zalomhlaba ngamajingiqiwu (1918. the main character. In uNomathamsanqa noSigebenga(1937. Enoch S. wrote a somewhat allegorical study of two boys. okanye. and those of the Nigerian author Cyprian Ekwensi. In Sinxo’s second novel. becomes aware of the dangers of urban living. albeit a Christian one." Brought up in an urban environment. uHambo lukaGqoboka (1909. “The Journey of a Convert”). The Xhosa oral tradition also had an effect on Ndawo’s work.traditions. Umfundisi . In the end. translated Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress into Xhosa asuHambo lomhambi (1866 and 1926). where she creates a loving home. she then returns with him to the country. in his noveluNomalizo. Tiyo Soga and his son. about a woman whose name means "Misfortune. including the novel uNolishwa (1931). learning "that the very people who most pride themselves on their civilization" act against those ideals.

however. but in so doing he severs his connections with his traditional past and soon after dies. written by A. exhausted. and he survives. the novel’s central character. Ndimeni’s labours bring him success. was Umzali wolahleko (“The Prodigal Parent”).C. Jordan. In this novel Jordan explores the central issue that concerned most of the writers who came before him—the relationship between African tradition and the intrusion of the West into African societies—and in the process he moves the novel form into greater complexity and nuance. he is brought down in a starkly realistic manner by an . and one of Africa’s finest novels. the story of a boy. Zwelinzima. Ndimeni does all the work in the household. combines Christianity and Xhosa tradition in his life. has a dream that inspires him to become a Christian minister. “The Priest of Mthuqwasi”). Ndopho. Ndimeni. Thamsanqa. "No Xhosa will flourish if he continues to drink The greatest achievement in Xhosa writing. isIngqumbo yeminyanya (1940. Like Okonkwo in Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and Chaka in Mofolo’s Chaka. is confronted with the demands of Mpondomise tradition and Western Christianity. His brother-in-law. Ndopho is spoiled. and his brother. The Wrath of the Ancestors). because of an essential flaw. a businessman. published in 1939.waseMthuqwasi (1927. of past and present. but. Sinxo "!moralizes. Sinxo’s third novel. while Ndopho’s self-involvement leads him steadily down. Zwelinzima is given the opportunity to assume a heroic role. In an unsparingly realistic way. What dooms Zwelinzima is that he is unable to bring these warring sides into harmony.

“Weapons”).internal psychological struggle.S. In K. Tradition and modernism are a theme in D. who has steadily followed Xhosa customs. “The Prodigal Son”) and Peter M. Ngani. the reader is led to a revelation of the corruption that results when traditional ties are broken. Bongela’s Alitshoni lingenandaba (1971.Z. including P. In E. Christianity and urban corruption are at the centre of Witness K.marginalized role of the African in it became more and more evident . D.B. Lutshete in Unyana wolahleko (1965.S. Bertrand Bomela.society writ small Other novelists after Jordan continued in various ways and with varied degrees of success to deal with these same issues. Other authors—such as Aaron Mazambana Mmango. Tamsanqa’s Inzala kaMlungisi(1954. Mtuze in uDingezweni (1966). “Our Ancestry”) and E. is happily married and has become a successful businessman. Dyafta’s Ikamva lethu (1953.S. and Minazana Dana—confronted very similar issues. Qangule’s Izagweba (1972. Westernized Africans and uncompromising Xhosa traditionalists are at cross-purposes in Z. Marcus A. Godfrey Mzamane. “The Sun Does Not Set Without News”). That struggle is the conflict within his . Dlova’s Umvuzo wesono(1954. These writers tried to come to terms with the world that so enthralled 19th-century Xhosa intellectuals but that lost its appeal as the .P. the character Zwilakhe cuts himself off from Xhosa customs and lives an unhappy life.M. “The Wages of Sin”). Lupuwana. “The Progeny of Mlungisi”).M. while Jongikhaya.M. Ndovela’s Sikondini (1966).

“Irinkerindo the Hunter in the Town of Igbo Elegbeje”. The fox becomes the storyteller’s means of revealing the developing wisdom of the boy. With the assistance of a fantasy character. all rich combinations of Yoruba and Western images and influences. trans. Fagunwa’s final novel. each time confronting fantasy characters and each time involved in a difficult task. Ireke-Onibudo (1949). “The Jungle of the Almighty”). the boy is able to meet the challenges set by ominous oba (kings) in three kingdoms. In the end. andIrinkerindo ninu Igbo Elegbeje (1954. all written in a similar way: Igbo olodumare (1949. which contains fantasy and realistic images along with religious didacticism and Bunyanesque allegory. Adiitu olodumare (1961. Its central character is Akara-ogun. The novel very effectively combines the literary and oral forces at work among Yoruba artists of the time. all placed within a frame story that echoes that of The Thousand and One Nights. The work was successful and was followed by others. Eng. a boy moves farther and farther away from home. . “God’s Mystery-Knot”). he and his followers go to a wise man who reveals to them the accumulated wisdom of their adventures. Expedition to the Mount of Thought).O. who steadily loses his innocence and moves to manhood. He moves into a forest three times. This oral tale is the framework for the best-known work in Yoruba and the most significant contribution of the Yoruba language to fiction: D.Yoruba In a story from the Yoruba oral tradition. each a greater distance from the boy’s home. The Forest of a Thousand Daemons). Fagunwa’sOgboju ode ninu igbo irunmale (1938. a fox.

dealt with personal and historical experiences. containing prose and poetry. a friend of Adiitu attempts to destroy the relationship. published as Bibeli mimo in 1900.placed a more contemporary story into the familiar fantasy framework: so as to help his poverty-stricken parents. Adiitu. and of the Bible. Kolawole Ajisafe. journeys into a forest. When they get to their home. The first written poetry. the other receiving its impetus from the West. Iwe kika Yoruba (1909–15). and finds his parents dead when he returns home. Denrele Adetimkan Obasa published. These poems combined traditional poetic structures and contemporary events as well as religious influences. where he encounters his parents. The earliest literary works were translations of Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. There was an early series of Yoruba school readers. struggles with creatures of the forest. the central character. a volume of materials from the Yoruba oral tradition . by such poets as J. published as Ilosiwaju ero-mimo in 1866. The history of Yoruba literature moves between these forces. At about the same time. where he saves her. in the characters.(other volumes followed in 1934 and 1945) .with a realistic frame revealed new possibilities to Yoruba writers There are two competing strands in Yoruba literature. He falls in love with Iyunade. He moves into heaven in a dream. one influenced by the rich Yoruba oral tradition. Sobowale Sowande and A. and they are marooned on an island. This combination of a folktale . Realism is faced with fantasy in the structure of the story. but in the end they are married. and in the events. in 1927.

“Changing Times: The White Man Among Us”) is another novel in this realistic vein. that move characters into realms of fantasy. a realistic novel having to do with life in a Yoruba city. Ogunsina Ogundele wrote novels. Lojo ojo un (1963. is also a historical novel. Faleti also published a historical novel. which also shows the influence of Fagunwa. “The Deeps of Olokun”) and Ejigbede lona isalu-orun (1956. “What People Do!”) deals with traditional Yoruba life. Isaac Oluwole Delano’s Aiye d’aiye oyinbo (1955. perhaps influenced by Fagunwa. the latter about . “The Kiriji War”). whose novel Aiye re! (1947. Afolabi Olabimtan wrote a realistic novel. Adebayo Faleti’s works. and Ogun Kiriji (1961.aCinderella-type boy who moves from misery to happiness Other works.J. display fantasy roots. Femi Jeboda wroteOlowolaiyemo (1964). by Gabriel Ibitoye Ojo. such as the short novel Ogun awitele (1965. “A War Foreseen”) and the narrative poem Eda ko l’aropin (1956. including Ibu-Olokun (1956. Joseph Folahan Odunjo also wrote two novels. J. also have oral roots. melded fantasy and realism: Olorun esan (1952. “God’s Vengeance”). it deals with the coming of the Europeans. Omo oku orun(1964. “Ejigbede Going to Heaven”). by Olaiya Fagbamigbe. “Korimale in the Forest of Adimula”). “In Olden Times”). Fatanmi wrote K’orimale ninu igbo Adimula (1967. “Son of the Horse’s Master”). “The Deceased Woman’s Daughter”) and Kuye (1964). “Don’t Underrate”). His second novel. Omo olokun-esin (1970. .A realistic treatment of the Yoruba past was attempted by Adekanmi Oyedele. D. Kekere ekun(1967.

Olabimtan. Olanipekun Esan’s plays based on Greek tragedies were produced in 1965 and 1966. “Zulu Heritage”) and T. Thembu’s story uMamazane (1947) includes references to . Westernized milieu and the traditional. Masondo’s Amasiko esiZulu (1940.ku(1974. a realistic novel Drama was also being developed in the middle of the 20th century.H. Akinwunmi Isola wrote O le . a heavily Christian work. largely rural . the other with Christianity. Magema kaMagwaza Fuze’s Abantu abamnyama lapha bavela ngakhona (“Where the Black People Came From”) was published in 1922. “Zulu Customs”). including Petros Lamula’s Isabelo sikaZulu(1936. “Fearful Incidents”). These two broad areas of early literary activity combined in the 1930s in an imaginative literature that focused on a conflict that profoundly preoccupied southern African writers for decades—the conflict between the urban. Written works on Zulu customs also appeared.“Leopard Boy”). one concerned with traditional (Zulu) life and customs. Hubert . Other significant playwrights include Faleti. Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress was also translated and published in two parts (1868 and 1895). Christian.Ogunde.Z.African past There were early translations of the Christian scriptures in the mid19th century. Zulu literature of the 19th and early 20th centuries falls into two distinct categories. and Duro Ladipo Zulu Like most other African literatures. R.

There would also be one additional ingredient: the events that constituted Zulu history. as did Leonhard L. became the first Zulu to write a novel in his native language with Insila kaShaka (1933.L. Cyril Lincoln Sibusiso Nyembezi and Otty Ezrom Howard Mandlakayise Nxumalo compiled Zulu customs.I. Jeqe.J.Zulu tradition.A. and F. Other historical novels include Lamula’s uZulu . John Langalibalele Dube. Nyembezi gathered and annotated Zulu and Swati heroic poems in Izibongo zamakhosi (1958. Violet Dube’s Woza nazo (1935. Xaba. Ntuli’s Izinganekwane nezindaba ezindala (1939. Moses John Ngcobo. uShaka (1937). The second.R. “Here and There”) contains Zulu . “Chakijana the Clever One. “Come with Stories”).R. uMpande (1938). and E. published a popular series of five novels on Zulu kings: uDingane (1936). and uDinuzulu (1968).S. uCetshwayo (19 52). R.A. One. Mdhladhla’s uMgcogcoma (1947. Alan Hamilton S. the Bodyservant of King Shaka). Christian influence from abroad would combine with the techniques of traditional Zulu oral traditions to create this new form. Eng. the Medicator of the Men’s Fighting Sticks”). Mbata and Garland Clement S.narratives These early Zulu writers were amassing the raw materials with which the modern Zulu novel would be built. “Shaka’s Servant”. Dhlomo. Mncwango. and M. trans. Two outstanding early writers dealt with historical figures and events. Mdhladhla’s uChakijana bogcololo umphephethi wezinduku zabafo (1927. “Oral Narratives and Ancient Traditions”) are compilations of oral stories. “Heroic Poems of the Chiefs”).

Son of Jobe”) is a study of Shaka’s mentor. Son of Sithayi”) is built on the drama of Shaka’s assassination. “Dingiswayo.B. an imaginative work by Moses Hlela and Christopher Nkosi based on the Zulu War. The movement from the oral to the written was achieved without difficulty: in the beginning.kaMalandela(1924). “The Death of Shaka”). is depicted in A. Zulu literature owes something to influences from the West. Mbatha’s Nawe Mbopha kaSithayi (1971. and Benedict Wallet Vilakazi’suDingiswayo kaJobe (1939. others simply reproduced the oral in writing. Mageba lazihlonza (1962. the Mtetwa leader Dingiswayo. and Bethuel Blose Ndelu composed a drama. Zungu’s uSukabekhuluma (1933). Luthango’s uMohlomi (1938). but the indigenous oral tradition is dominant. Stories of the . “I Swear by Mageba. “You Too. the adviser of the Sotho chief Moshoeshoe. “Barked Trees”). who became famous during the Bambatha Rebellion. Among other written works based on Zulu history are Muntu ’s uSimpofu (1969).kingCetshwayo At the heart of Zulu literature of the 20th century is oral tradition. set during the reign of the Zulu . Mbopha. and Imithi ephundliwe (1968.S. some Zulu authors utilized written forms as venues for sermonizing. a biography of Mohlomi. S. the Dream Has Materialized”). as is Elliot Zondi’s dramaUkufa kukaShaka (1966. The historical trickster Chakijana. L. The magical aura of the oral is present but disguised in the written tradition of the Zulu people.L.Z. But more adventurous and creative writers quickly saw the connections between the two and fashioned written works using the looms of the oral.

instead it is the relaxation of Zulu values that is the problem. Mdluli explores the same theme in uBhekizwe namadodana akhe (1966. Mamathunjwa.influence the written ones In a number of novels. “On What Do You Pride Yourself?”) is similarly constructed around positive and negative characters. tradition) and becomes a successful teacher. gives way to the space of the immediate. This insistence on retaining a connection with the African past produced a literature interwoven with Negritude. while the pampered children die in shame. Simangaliso and Nomacala. but despises her two stepchildren. or black consciousness. a girl. Msweli and Hluphekile. Fikile.V. the space of the eternal. struggles with what she perceives as a gap between those two worlds. an aspect of the ancient tradition.e.M. and the values expressed in the oral stories continue to . Forgive Me”). In James N. Christianity is not the villain. a theme that would become a dominant one in South African politics in the . A bad son goes wrong and is on the edge of destruction until he recovers his roots.. A stepmother. “Bhekizwe and His Young Sons”): a good son retains his ties with his parents (i. S. “The Bad Path”) investigates the polarity between urbanized life and traditional practices and . Zama’s novel Nigabe ngani? (1948.1960s and ’70s Dhlomo’s novel Indlela yababi (1946.contemporary world are constructed over the old oral stories.H. Zulu writers contend with the conflict between tradition and Christianity. Gumbi’s Baba ngixolele (1966. J. “Father. spoils her own children. Msweli and Hluphekile succeed.

Mntanami! Mntanami! (1950. but. In Ikusasa alaziwa (1961. a man loses his children when Zulu tradition is compromised.concludes that the former is unstable. both educated in schools influenced by the West. “The Government of Zembe and Bhekifa’s Problem”): a chief and his wife. There is much of the Zulu oral tradition and of Pilgrim’s Progress in such novels. trans. “Fear of Authority”). The influence of Jordan’s The Wrath of the Ancestors can be seen in Kenneth Bhengu’s Umbuso weZembe nenkinga kaBhekifa(1959. come into conflict with Zulu tradition. Eng. A city trickster cons country people out of their savings in Nyembezi’sInkinsela yaseMgungundlovu (1961. “He Was About to Go Home”) shows a country boy turning to crime as a result of urbanization. “Tomorrow Is Not Known”). from imitating ancient Zulu poetic forms to analyzing the system of apartheid that dominated life in South Africa during the 20th century.and that Christianity and Zulu values can together act as guides Zulu poetry varies widely. “The Man from Mgungundlovu”). In Nxumalo’sNgisinga empumalanga (1969. both in content and in form. “I Look to the East”). he becomes a criminal. That theme persists in Nyembezi’s most successful novel. Ikhwezi(1965. “My Child! My Child!”. Gumbi’s novel Wayesezofka ekhaya (1966. Uvalo lwezinhlonzi (1956. Some of the finest Zulu poetry can be found in two collections by Nxumalo. Mntanami! Mntanami!): the character Jabulani loves the city. A similar theme is developed in a novel by Jordan Kush Ngubane. unprepared to deal with it. “The Morning Star”) . Nxumalo shows that the urban environment need not be fatal .

took over the government in 1948. Myeni sought to adapt ancient forms to modern literary Zulu.and Umzwangedwa (1968. Self-Consciousness). Ntuli (Amangwevu [1969. As is the case with the language. Afrikaans literature will be forever on the outside. In Hayani maZulu (1969. J. “Until the Mouth Dries Up”]) Literatures in European and European-derived languages Afrikaans Afrikaans literature in South Africa can be viewed in the context of Dutch literary tradition or South African literary tradition. together with English-speaking whites. The conservative branch of the Afrikaner people. trans. “Sing. Eng. “Snuffbox”]). Other Zulu poets who wrote during the second half of the 20th century include Deuteronomy Bhekinkosi Z. after which the notorious system of apartheid was enshrined in laws that would be demolished only in the early 1990s. was in conflict throughout the 20th century with a talented and growing group of young poets and novelists. always the most numerous and the most powerful. P.T. M.J.Inzululwane]). “The Young Man of kwaZulu”]).C. Makhaye (Isoka lakwaZulu [1972. Within an African context. Louis Leipoldt and Breyten Breytenbach. Mazibuko (Ithongwane [1969. “Giddiness”.Mkize (Kuyokoma Amathe [1970. who sought to broaden the confines of . it is caught in an identity crisis that was created irrevocably by the fiercely defended political and cultural identity of the Dutch settlers who arrived in South Africa in 1652 and whose descendants. “Uppercuts”]). Zulu People”). Dlamini (Inzululwane [1957. such as C. and Elliot Alphas Nsizwane kaTimothy . N.

The history of Afrikaans literature is the history of the Afrikaners. . an alien people whose literature .is a testimony to that state of alienation  IMAGES  QUIZZES  LISTS    Afrikaans. with its roots in Dutch. has been spoken in South Africa mainly by whites since the 18th century. led by Stephanus Jacobus du Toit and others.an increasingly limited people and literature. The First Afrikaans Language Movement began in 1875. it represented an effort to make Afrikaans a language separate from Dutch.

In 1914 Cornelius Jakob Langenhoven fostered Afrikaans in schools. a poem by Eugène Marais. The Hertzog Prize for poetry.Leipoldt. Marais. and Toon van den Heever. a magazine.The first newspaper in Afrikaans.begun to change Poets became the most potent harbingers of the new language as the Second Afrikaans Language Movement began. a poem by Jan Celliers. Earlier 19th-century writing had been heavily didactic. Die Patriot (“The Patriot”). began publication in 1876. dramatically ushered in this new literary language. prose. Parliament recognized Afrikaans as an official language in 1925. The linguistic shift from Dutch to Afrikaans did not occur without considerable dispute among the whites of Dutch descent. Celliers. six years after it was named the language of the Dutch Reformed Church. and “Die vlakte” (1906. Publishing houses specializing in Afrikaans publications began in 1914 and 1915. they included Leipoldt. Daniel François Malherbe. and drama in Afrikaans was established in 1914. It was after the South African War (1899–1902)—which became a prominent subject of early Afrikaans literature—that Afrikaans became a significant written language. had a literary section from 1910. “Winternag” (1905. “The Plain”). by the 1920s this had . “Winter’s Night”). was probably one of the greatest and most original . and the language was soon after studied at universities and used as a medium of instruction. who would one day be condemned as a traitor to Afrikaners. Die brandwag (“The Outpost”).Jakob Daniel du Toit (Totius). along with language organizations such as the Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie (founded 1909).

was A. the Child of Nature”). a sharpening of racial conflict. The poetry of W. such as those by Gustav Preller. moving away from such melodramatic works asJohannes van Wyk (1906). while Marais in his poetry linked European tradition to the realities of life in South Africa. “Ampie. Realism began to dominate Afrikaans prose. and Elisabeth Eybers was at the heart of this fertile activity. a study of a poor white in South Africa. significant political changes.H. Langenhoven.A.G. and the deepening of the Afrikaans-English conflict—isolated Afrikaners more dramatically in South Africa. a novel by J. and H. to more rigorously realistic historical works. die natuurkind (1931. who wrote a trilogy.H.E. which centred on experimentation with form.” or writers of the 1930s) infuriated conservative Afrikaners with a new type of poetry. Uys Krige wrote romantic poetry but . as . with Raka as the incarnation of this evil taking over a community. Fagan.G. Louw. especially in the work of Jochem van Bruggen. Visser Dramatic events in the 1930s—including a drought that caused many farmers to move to the cities. Pienaar (pseudonym Sangiro) wrote popular books about animals. van Wyk Louw. and fiercely partisan organizations such as theAfrikaner-Broederbond and Federasie van Afrikaanse Kultuurvereniginge gained new adherents.poets of the early 20th century. Van Wyk Louw’s Raka(1941) is a rhymed study of evil. The Afrikaner poets known as the Dertigers (“Thirtyers. Langenhoven was also a popular poet. N. de Waal.P. Drama also began to flourish through the writings of Leipoldt.A. Prose also appeared during this period. the first part of which was Ampie. A.

Die swerfjare van Poppie Nongena (1978. Jonker. Anna M. Audrey Blignault and Elise Muller wrote short . van den Heever. literary magazines carried Afrikaans works. Abraham de Vries. it could not be performed because of its political message. The Long Journey of Poppie Nongena. Elsa Joubert wrote a novel about a black woman.” or writers of the 1960s) attempted to do for prose what the Dertigers had done for poetry. and Johannes van Melle. He also wrote Putsonderwater (1962. Dolf van Niekerk. and Chris Barnard experimented with the novel and moved into areas largely forbidden until that time. Jan Rabie. Brink. D. In 1954 Arthur Fula became one of the first black Africans to write a novel in Afrikaans. Karel Schoeman’s ’n Ander land (1984. dealing with the Afrikaner rebellion of 1914–15.is known for his war poetry and as a dramatist. C. whose Bart Nel (1936). is considered by some to be the finest novel in . There was prose written during this period by Abraham H. Etienne Leroux. Brink’s Lobola vir die lewe (1962. or Poppie).Afrikaans After World War II.M. .J. an acclaimed drama about the South African War.stories and essays. considered among the finest plays produced in Afrikaans. such as sex and atheism. André P. Louw wrote novels The Sestigers (“Sixtyers. “Pledge for Life”) and Orgie (1965. “Well-Without-Water”). and he introduced decisively South African racial themes into his work. “Mother Hanna”). Opperman continued the experimentation with the Afrikaans language in his poetry. “Orgy”) caused sensations.Bartho Smit wrote Moeder Hanna (1959.

blended Zulu oral tradition with the world of apartheid. Ingrid Jonker wrote intensely personal poetry. a novel based on Sophiatown. His Katastrofes (1964. in Die ding in die vuur (1990. death. Adam Smallwrote works. Etienne van Heerden dealt with 20th-century South African history. In his novels Toorberg (1986. a husband leaves his family to join the fight against apartheid.Catastrophes) is a series of sketches that . Triomf). his work revealing his struggle with the Afrikaners’ political situation in South Africa. and madness as their subjects These themes persisted through the end of the 20th century. “The Thing in the Fire”).“Another Country”) moved into the sensitive political and social realities of South Africa. Kikuyu). (See also treatment of literature in Afrikaans in South African literature. that revealed the realities of the lives of nonwhites in South Africa. Ancestral Voices) andKikoejoe (1996. “Triumph”. “Lament for Koos”). published in 1932 by . In Lettie Viljoen’s Klaaglied vir Koos (1984. trans. Marlene van Niekerk wrote Triomf(1994. Breytenbach wrote surreal poetry. such as Kanna hy kô hystoe (1965. a black settlement near Johannesburg that was replaced by the South African government in the 1950s and ’60s by a white working-class suburb dubbed Triomf. a collection of short stories. Love in Ebony: A West African Romance. Kanna—He Is Coming Home). Eng. Riana Scheepers.take racism.) English Early works in English in western Africa include a Liberian novel.

the traditional journeying tale into a very contemporary framework . The Nigerian Amos Tutuola wrote The PalmWine Drinkard and His Dead Palm-Wine Tapster in the Deads’ Town (1952). a Ghanaian. Other early popular writers in Ghana include Asare Konadu. the elixir that the hero brings back from the land of the dead. In it the hero moves to Deads’ Town to bring his tapster back to the land of the living.E. wroteEighteenpence (1941). its construction revealing a clear linkage between the oral and literary traditions. R. Benibengor Blay’sEmelia’s Promise and Fulflment (1944). an early work on the conflict between African and European cultures. however. Tutuola is faithful to oral tradition.Charles Cooper (pseudonym Varfelli Karlee). but he places . is an egg that is death-dealing as surely as it is life-giving. Efua Sutherland. and Kwesi Brew. Obeng. as well as such works of Ghanaian pulp literature as J.

Soyinka was a contributor to and coeditor of the influential journal Black Orpheus. winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986. poetry. founded in 1957 and containing the early works of poets such as Christopher Okigbo of Nigeria. provided additional opportunities for writers to have their works .Wole Soyinka. The Horn.Nigeria has been a font of creative writing in English. from the works of Chinua Achebe to those of Ben Okri. Another literary journal. manipulating time so that in the end the very structure of the story is a comment on the lives of the several protagonists. is known for his drama. launched in 1958 by John Pepper Clark. and Tchicaya U Tam’si of Congo (Brazzaville). and prose. Dennis Brutus and Alex La Guma of South Africa. HisThe Interpreters (1965) weaves stories from the contemporary world to the mythic and historical past.

whose tragic and fatal flaw. is prescribed for her. living in a small community. His frenzied desire to be anything but what his father was causes him to develop a warped view of his society. who. Borrowing a technique from the oral tradition. Things Fall Apart is a precolonial novel that ends with the coming of colonialism. When he returns. Okonkwo is in any case doomed because of his skewed vision.Transition. and if she does not fulfill that role she suffers the negative criticism of members of her society. Its main character is Okonkwo. Nwapa injects the dimension of fantasy through the character of the goddess Uhamiri. the story of a talented. his overweening ambition. and he takes his life. Okri blends fantasy and reality in his novel The Famished Road (1991. wounds him. childbearing. A woman’s fundamental role. and things fall apart for him: it is not the society he envisioned. brilliant. is confined by tradition. part of a trilogy that also includes Songs . moves not to freedom and independence but from one form of slavery to another. who is a mythic counterpart to the real-life Efuru. Flora Nwapa wrote the novel Efuru (1966).Neogi. as she journeys from childhood to adulthood. was also a valuable outlet for many African writers Achebe’s Things Fall Apart (1958) is perhaps the best-known African novel of the 20th century. so that in the end that view becomes (thanks to seven humiliating years in exile) reality to him.published. and beautiful woman who. he cannot accept seeing his people in the throes of adapting to the intruding whites. a literary journal begun in Uganda in 1960 by Rajat . which triggers Okonkwo’s demise. In The Slave Girl (1977) the novelist Buchi Emecheta tells the story of Ojebeta.

Baako. . alone and alienated. InA Grain of Wheat (1967) he tells the story of Mugo. Okri uses myth. In the novel. As Mugo’s story unfolds. The spiritual and real worlds are linked in the novel. and other fantasy images to shift between preindependence and postindependence settings. Mumbi. including those of Gikonyo. who returns from the United States to his Ghanaian family and is torn between the new demands of his home and the consequent subversion of a traditional past represented by the mythic Naana. which addresses the reality of postcolonial Nigeria. and Ayi Kwei Armah. the novelist works into his narrative other stories.a context for the tragic story Baako is experiencing The dominant writer to emerge from East Africa is the Kenyan Ngugi wa Thiong’o.narrative mode that African storytellers have been using for centuries In other parts of western Africa. who establishes . B. in a . he has a terrible secret. The novelist Ebou Dibba and the poet Tijan M. though he has considered himself the Moses of his people. Writers in Ghana during the same period include Amma Darko.of Enchantment [1993] and Infnite Riches[1998]). Cameroonian authors writing in English during the second half of the 20th century include Ba’bila Mutia. farming after having played a role in the Mau Mau rebellion. and Karanja. Dinga. his blind grandmother. and Jedida Asheri. Kofi Awoonor. the Yoruba abiku (“spirit child”). InFragments (1970) Armah tells of a youth. John S. Sallah were also from The Gambia. Lenrie Peters of The Gambia and Syl Cheyney-Coker of Sierra Leone were among the most important 20thcentury writers. the one a dimension of the other. Kojo Laing.

by John Nagenda. and Secrets (1998).writers should compose their works in European or African languages Other East African novelists include Okello Oculi. by Moses Isegawa.E.Daniachew Worku. whose collection of poemsSkipping Without Ropes (1998) reflects on his four years as a political prisoner. the latter an allegorical novel in which a boy’s loss of innocence is tied to politics in that country. and Tsegaye Gabre- . who spent many years in exile fromKenya. In Timothy Wangusa’s novel Upon This Mountain (1989).each of whom has an unsavoury past as well. Palangyo.that becomes linked to the identity of the land across which he moves From Malawi came such writers as Jack Mapanje. and W. and The Season of Thomas Tebo (1986). Mkufya. In two novels from Uganda a boy moves to manhood: Abyssinian Chronicles (2000). Maps is the story of a youth. Askar. Gifts (1992). a quest . growing up in a Somalia divided by Ethiopia. Other writers from Southern Africa include Fwanyanga M. and David Rubadiri. the boy seeks his identity. With the mythic Misra. the character Mwambu climbs a mountain and comes of age. who becomes his surrogate mother. Later in his career Ngugi. engaged many writers in a debate as to whether African . Peter K. and by means of a geographical movement that occurs within a rich mixture of politics and sex. Mulikita and Dominic Mulaisho from Zambia and Berhane Mariam Sahle Sellassie. who wrote a trilogy composed of the novels Maps (1986). Grace Ogot. Ngugi constructs the story around the proverb “Kikulacho ki nguoni mwako” (“That which bites you is in your own clothing”). One of Africa’s greatest novelists is the Somali writer Nuruddin Farah.

a white couple attempting to become a part of the rural African landscape. Rider Haggard and John Buchan. Dambudzo Marechera. both attempting to find their place in contemporary Zimbabwe. and Turning Wheels (1937). He becomes dominant over the European Mary.background are mythic figures. Mutswairo. Her novel The Grass Is Singing (1950) centres on Dick Turner and Mary Turner. Tsitsi Dangarembga wrote Nervous Conditions(1988).Ṣāliḥ’s novel Season of Migration to the North (1966) There is much writing in English by expatriates that is rooted in South Africa. while Tambudzai is longing to break out of her traditional world. manipulating her fears and love of him until in the end he destroys her. Tambudzai’s aunt Doris Lessing is a British writer who spent her early years in what is today Zimbabwe. a black servant. the novels of H. Tambudzai and Nyasha. Lessing finds mythic fantasy dimensions in the Europeans. from the poetry of Thomas Pringle to E. Looming in the . Lessing depicts a stereotyped African character. Her novel The Story of an African . Moses. including Lucia. Shimmer Chinodya. Nyasha has been abroad and wonders about the effect that Westernization has had on her and her family. and Batisai Parwada are among Zimbabwe’s writers in English. whose name gives him historical and religious resonance. Olive Schreiner was the first major South African-born writer. a story of two Shona girls. J. byStuart Cloete.A. Nozipo Maraire. much as Mustafa Sa’eed does in the women of England in al-Ṭayyib . Alexander Kanengoni.Medhin from Ethiopia. Yvonne Vera. Chenjerai Hove. Solomon M. Kendall’s The English Boy at the Cape (1835).

by . by Peter Abrahams. Because of their experiences with the police. In To Every Birth Its Blood (1981).Farm (1883) continues to have an international resonance. A Ride on the Whirlwind (1981). In two early novels. Mongane Wally Serote tells the stories of Tsi Molope and Oupa Molope. by Alan Paton. the Beloved Country (1948). that dominated the country until the early 1990s. and Cry. black Africans go to Johannesburg and experience the terror of apartheid. codified as apartheid in 1948. The short-lived literary review Voorslag (“Whiplash”). begun in 1926. and Laurens van der Post A common subject in the works of the many South African authors writing in English during the 20th century is the racial segregation. the Molope family becomes more politicized. published for wider audiences work by such poets as Roy . Mine Boy (1946). Tsi’s sister—lives postdates the Soweto uprising of 1976. a time when resistance to apartheid took hold of a new generation and South Africa witnessed attacks and bombings. her novel The Beadle (1926) deals largely with the experiences of Afrikaners in the Eastern Cape region. William Plomer. Tsi looks to his past and wonders. “Where does a river begin to take its journey to the sea?” The world in which Oupa—the son of Mary. their uncertainties—while he also wants to demonstrate that it is not an easy matter to make the revolutionary leap.Campbell. Pauline Smith wrote powerful short stories. Serote wants the reader to see the human side of his characters—their vulnerabilities. Sarah Gertrude Millin had an international audience with such works as God’s Stepchildren (1924).

Hally transfers his fear.M. Hally. love. in a restaurant in which two black African men. By means of flashbacks the Smales reconstruct their past. D. There is a war. takes place in an imagined postindependence South Africa. As the story develops. by their interactions with July and his family and friends. where these erstwhile liberals come to July’s rural home and learn. their black servant. and hate of his father to Sam. It is a story of a boy’s coming of age within the realities of the racist system of South Africa. exposes the fearful effects . by Nadine Gordimer.of apartheid The playwright Athol Fugard in 1982 produced his play “Master Harold”…and the Boys. the world of a Johannesburg suburb during the apartheid period. the story of a white boy. which is set in Soweto. self-confident white overlords. The result is to open anew the wounds of apartheid. and their relationship with July. and in the end he treats Sam as he cannot treat his father. that they cannot move past their former relationship with their servant and cannot see him from any perspective but that of liberal. Willie Malopo and Sam Semela. and Maureen Smale and Bamford Smale escape from their suburban home and go north. a novel dealing with the political prison maintained by the South African government off the shores of Cape Town . who received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991. a white couple. Zwelonke is the pseudonymous author of Robben Island (1973). The novel July’s People (1981).Sydney Sipho Sepamla. That hopelessly compromised position is the impasse that Gordimer investigates in this novel. The story deals with the Smales. are waiters.

crawling out of the dust of ruin. mute man of 30. a country that could be any country. and his torture and death J.M. and it relates his dreams and fantasies. making it grow and fructify Maru (1971). his . Maru and Margaret Cadmore. Coetzee. the loathed Masarwa. Maru is a realistic story with a mythic overlay in which oral and literary traditions are . a bureaucracy that could be any bureaucracy. nondescript. In the end. It is a story of a flawed world and the attempts of two mythic people. tells a story about the liberation of the San people from ethnic and racial oppression and about the liberation of the Tswana people of Dilepe from their prejudices and hatreds. re. It describes a war that could be any war.despair and anger. the Earth is destroyed. for he has no past. Michael K—a frail. born with a cleft lip—survives.brought together . but he will return. opens the hearts of Moleka and Dikeledi—as well as a political story—Margaret animates Maru’s political vision with love and art. The novel becomes. to restore it to its former perfection. wrote Life and Times of Michael K (1983). Through it all. So does Coetzee link apartheid to the ages. It is the story of Bekimpi. winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2003.from the mid-1960s. It is also a love story—Margaret. a novel by Bessie Head. an African political leader jailed at Robben Island. in the end. a story with a blurred hero and an indistinct historical and geographical background. a man is incarcerated.creating the Earth. an affirmation of humanity. not betraying his past. tied as he is to the unbroken continuity of history.

Some writers focused solely on African tradition. Doguicimi). Other early African works in French frequently deal with the tensions between country and city. The novel Forcebonté (1926. These themes have to do with African tradition. trans. between African and French culture. a Wolof boy. with French colonialism and the displacement of Africans both physically and spiritually from their native tradition. is embroiled in a struggle between Muslim tradition and the influence of the West. “The Three Wishes of Malic”).the French colonial experience into a new reality In his novel Les Trois volontés de Malic (1920. with attempts to blend the French and the African traditions. then. with its positive and negative qualities. and between traditional religious practices and Islam.French In the work of the earliest African writers in French can be found the themes that run through this literature to the present day. “Much Good Will”). Malic. he becomes a blacksmith. and with postindependence efforts to piece the shards of African tradition and . by Bakary Diallo of Senegal. also of Senegal. a historical novel depicting the time of the reign of the king Gezo in the ancient kingdom of Dahomey. He goes to a French-run school to study. Eng. these writers include Félix Couchoro. In Diagne’s novel. The Beninese writer Paul Hazoumé wrote Doguicimi (1938. whose . deals with a youth caught in a conflict between his Muslim background and Western values and culture. instead of going to Qurʾānic school as his parents wish. the Senegalese writer Ahmadou Mapaté Diagne anticipates such later writers as Sheikh Hamidou Kane.

traditional roots Women’s place in Cameroonian society is the subject of Joseph Owono’s Tante Bella(1959. He leaves the countryside for the Senegalese cities of Saint-Louis and Dakar but loses everything when he falls prey to the cities’ wiles. . where she is seduced. Faralako: roman d’un petit village africaine (1958. he returns. by Emile Cissé. “Mirages of Paris”) has to do with a Senegalese student in Paris who falls in love with a Frenchwoman. an anticolonial novel. about an African girl who leaves home and goes to Dakar. a novel that depicts a young Wolof caught between traditional and Western values. Abdoulaye Sadji of Senegal wrote Maïmouna(1958. Mirages de Paris (1937. “The Son of Charm”). is an early Guinean novel that examines African tradition and Western technology. “Faralako: Novel of a Little African Village”). Paul Lomami-Tshibamba of Congo (Brazzaville) wrote Ngando le crocodile (1948. trans. Eng. wrote Coeur d’Aryenne(1954. born in Congo (Brazzaville). in the end. Maïmouna). Jean Malonga. “Aunt Bella”). the first novel to be published in Cameroon. “Heart of Aryenne”). Traditional African society is the primary concern of the novels Le Fils du fétiche (1955. “Ngando the Crocodile”. The Senegalese writer Ousmane Socé wrote Karim (1935). The novel depicts the new society that was being born in early 20th-century Africa. trans. “The Slave”) examines slavery in traditional Dahomey. Ngando). a story rooted in African tradition. she becomes ill but then recovers her . She returns to her home and bears a child who dies. to traditional ways of living.novelL’Esclave (1929. by David Ananou of Togo. Eng.

and Léon-Gontran Damas of French Guiana. Other early poets writing in French in Madagascar include Elie-Charles Abraham. . This acknowledgement of blackness—of black roots. Édouard Bezoro produced one of the first Malagasy novels: La Soeur inconnue (1932. E.and Crépuscule des temps anciens (1962. They met with blacks from the United States. MichelFrancis Robinary founded the newspaper L’Éclair de l’Emyrne and wrote . many of the Africans who had served in the French army remained in France.by Nazi Boni of Upper Volta (later Burkina Faso) In Madagascar the journal La Revue de Madagascar (founded in 1933) encouraged writing by Malagasy writers and included the poetry of Jean-Joseph Rabéarivelo. and the result was a new concern with and pride in African cultural identity. Randriamarozaka. . “Forests”) were collections of poetry that sought to blend French and Malagasy cultural traditions and that shared many of the themes later taken up by the Negritudemovement. “Cutting the Ashes”) and Sylves (1927. Aimé Césaire of Martinique. black history. and black civilizations—became part of the struggle against colonialism and evolved. into the movement that became known asNegritude. whose La Coupe de cendres (1924. bringing pressure on the country to end colonialism and political assimilation. “Dead Flowers”) After World War I. and Paul Razafimahazo.poetry collected in Les Fleurs défuntes(1927. “The Unknown Sister”). under the tutelage of Léopold Senghor of Senegal. a historical novel about the conflict between the French and the Merina (Hova) state in Madagascar at the turn of the 20th century. “Twilight of the Ancient Days”).

“The Black Student”). “Anthology of the New Black and Malagasy Poetry of the French Language”) are among the important works of this movement. it would play a significant role in the encouragement and development of . and plays. Climbié). a novel dealing with traditional African society and the modern world. “Harmakhis: Poems of the African Land”) andPoèmes de l’Afrique noire (1963.. Leurres et lueurs [1960. Eng. The struggle had earlier been waged in such short-lived journals as Légitime défense (1932. Notebook of a Return to the Native Land. Bernard Binlin Dadié of Côte d’Ivoire wrote the autobiographical Climbié (1956. trans. “Legitimate Defense”) and L’Étudiant noir (1935. “Songs of the Shade”) and Éthiopiques (1956).Césaire’s Cahier d’un retour au pays natal (1939. “Poems . some of which emphasizes its connections with the ancestral African past. Fily Dabo Sissoko of Mali emphasized African tradition in such works as Harmakhis: poèmes du terroir africain (1955. “The Malagasy Gods”).Francophone writing Birago Diop of Senegal wrote poetry (e. or Return to My Native Land) and Senghor’s Anthologie de la nouvelle poésie nègre et malgache de langue française (1948. In Madagascar Jacques Rabemananjara wrote verse. “Lures and Gleams”]). including Les Dieux malgaches (1947.g. that were part of the Negritude movement. as is Senghor’s own poetry. “On the Edges of the Evening”). including Chants d’ombre(1945. collected in such volumes as Sur les marches du soir (1942. In 1947 the journal Présence africaine (“African Presence”) was inaugurated. as well as drama and lyrical poetry.

Lamine Diakhaté of Senegal wrote Negritude poetry.. “Necklace of Cowry Shells”). Epitomé [1962. and Jean-Paul Nyunaï wrote La Nuit de ma vie (1961. Dogbeh-David and Paulin Joachim. Denis Oussou-Essui of Côte d’Ivoire published a novel in 1965 that . The Congolese poet Antoine-Roger Bolamba wrote Esanzo: Chants pour mon pays (1955. Esanzo: Songs for My Country). “The Darkness of My Life”). Mamadou Traoré (Ray Autra). David Diop of Senegal was a poet of protest in his Coups de pilon (1956.“Epitome”] and Le Ventre [1964. as did Maurice Kone (La Guirlande des verbes [1961.from Black Africa”). “A Garden of Words”]). a collection of Negritude . as did the Senegalese Lamine Niang in Négristique(1968). The Congolese writerTchicaya U Tam’si published poetry dealing with colonialism (e. In Cameroon. “The Belly”]) Sidiki Dembele of Mali wrote a novel.poetry In Côte d’Ivoire Anoma Kanie wrote love poetry (Les Eaux du Comoë [1951. “The Useless Ones”). . Other poets of the period include William J. Les Inutiles (1960. urging African intellectuals to return to their traditional homes. From Benin came such poets as Richard G. Elolongué Epanya Yondo wrote Kamerun! Kamerun!(1960. Syad of Somalia and Toussaint Viderot Mensah of Togo.g. “The Waters of the Comoë”]).F. François Sengat-Kuo wrote Collier de cauris (1970. “Cameroon! Cameroon!”). The novelist and poet Pierre Bamboté is among the Central African Republic’s most important writers of the 20th century. and Condetto Nenekhaly-Camara. In Guinea prominent poets of the 20th century include Keita Fodeba.Hammer Blows).

Toundi undergoes a type of puberty rite of passage as his experiences among the whites slowly reveal to him the masks that cover their religion. who leaves his rural home and goes to the town of Dangan. Mission to Kala) treats the uneasy fit of traditional Africa and Western colonialism. Ferdinand Léopold Oyono. “Africa. The African Child). he begins anew. and Le Roi miraculé (1958. trans. nous t’ignorons(1956. as he moves deeper and deeper into an African forest.also dealt with the strains between African tradition and urban life. who. he embraces an ambiguous African king. Eng. is progressively shorn of his Western ways and pride. a story that deals with the complex relationship between Christianity and colonialism in Africa. wrote Afrique. Eng. Benjamin Matip.L’Enfant noir (1953. “The Finished Mission”. The Poor Christ of Bomba). trans. The Radiance of the King). when. wrote Une Vie de boy (1956. and their family ideals. His most important publication was the novelLe Regard du roi (1954. Guinean Camara Laye wrote an autobiographical novel. “A Life of a Boy”. King Lazarus) depicts a generational struggle within the context of a quixotic view of African tradition. where he becomes the servant for a French commandant and his wife. Eng. the story of Clarence. Another novelist from Cameroon. also a Cameroonian novelist. Toundi. which shows young people caught between the white man’s world and the traditional African world. trans. His Mission terminée (1957. the story of a boy. Oyono also wrote Le Vieux nègre et la médaille (1956. The . Mongo Beti (a pseudonym of Alexandre BiyidiAwala) of Cameroon wrote Le Pauvre Christ de Bomba (1956. a white man. Houseboy). naked and alone. At his nadir. We Don’t Pay Attention to You”). their justice system.

La Poupée ashanti (1973. The characters Fa Keïta. the Black Student”). Penda in the face of ostracism. which treats the negative efforts of France on traditional African values. “The . The Road to Europe). his greatest novel. and Ramatoulaye in the face of enormous want and deprivation. In it Bakayoko is the spokesman for a future that will combine African humanism and European technology. Hence his concern for tradition. The Death of Shaka). Agatha Moudio’s Son). who single-mindedly pursues change. In the earliest of those novels. it must be anchored in the past. but his society clings to a tradition that will not allow him to . Aké Loba of Côte d’Ivoire wrote Kocoumbo.marry the woman of his choice Ousmane Sembène was a major film director and a significant novelist. and Le Roi Albert d’Effidi (1976. King Albert)—show the influence of African oral tradition in their style and themes. l’étudiant noir (1960. describes the last gasp of colonialism through the story of a railroad strike. God’s Bits of Wood). The Ashanti Doll). Through it all stands Bakayoko. Penda. “Kocoumbo.Old Man and the Medal) and Chemin d’Europe(1960. of which the novel’s women are symbols. although he understands that change cannot be abrupt. The novels of Francis Bebey—Le Fils d’Agatha Moudio(1967. and each also demonstrates dignity and eloquence. each one is involved in the strike. Seydou Badian Kouyaté of Mali wrote a play about the Zulu leader Shaka: La Mort de Chaka (1962. His Les Fils de Kouretcha (1970. Fa Keïta retains his nobility in the face of torture. a man falls in love. Les Bouts de bois de Dieu (1960. and Ramatoulaye are all committed to change.

a story about two people returning to their country after colonialism. MarieGisèle Aka of Côte d’Ivoire wrote Les Haillons de l’amour(1994. Olympe Bhêly-Quénum of Benin wrote the novel Un Piège sans fn (1960. a novel dealing with women living in an indifferent male society. Marie Thérèse Assiga-Ahanda of Cameroon wrote the novel Sociétés africaines et “High Society” (1978. “The Remnants of Love”). within the context of Western philosophical thought. which focuses on the African traditional past. The Senegalese writer Sheikh Hamidou Kane wrote L’Aventure ambiguë (1961. a novel that considers the African and Muslim identity of its main character. In his novel Le Soleil noir point (1962. Samba. a novel having to do with a girl’s difficulties with her . “African Societies and ‘High Society’”). “A Cry from the Heart”). Snares Without End). Charles Nokan of . Many French-language novels of the last decades of the 20th century deal with familial struggles within a traditional society that can never again be the same. “Kouassi Koko…My Mother”).Sons of Kouretcha”) is a study of the effects of industrialization on traditional societies.Côte d’Ivoire deals with efforts to bring a nation to freedom In Africa’s postindependence period. Maimouna Abdoulaye of Senegal wrote Un Cri du coeur (1986. only to find a new kind of colonialism—an internal kind. Ambiguous Adventure). a novel about a woman whose existence narrows with the death of her male partner. similar themes persisted but were readjusted to conform to worlds in which new societies were being forged. Josette Abondio of Côte d’Ivoire is the author of Kouassi Koko…ma mère (1993. “The Sun a Black Dot”).

“Lemongrass in the Snow”). In the classical phase of Cape Verdean literature. A novel written in 1990 by Philomène Bassek of Cameroon deals with the plight of a mother of 11 children who has a harsh husband. “Dakar. Escapism is a theme in some of the poetry. poets such as José Lopes da Silva (Saudades da pátria[1952. the Cameroonian novelist Nathalie Etoké tells the story of an African who is an illegal immigrant in Paris. The Gabonese writer Justine Mintsa writes of tragic life in a contemporary African village .in a novel published in 2000 The relationship between Africa and Europe remained a theme through the end of the 20th century. depicts a character returning from Europe and finding things much the same in Dakar. the Native Tourist”). “Homesickness”]) . Henri Lopes is a Congolese novelist. depicting Africa and Europe as seen . In a 1999 novel. as is Maguy Kabamba. in Dakar. Aïssatou Cissokho. A young African woman in Paris is the focus of Gisèle Hountondji in Une Citronnelle dans la neige (1986. who wrote La Dette coloniale (1995.father. “The Patriarch’s Jujube”).through the eyes of a young African student Portuguese The literature in Portuguese of Cape Verde often focuses on the affinities and the strains between Portugal and Cape Verde. a Senegalese writer. Poverty and the upper classes preoccupy Aminata Sow Fall of Senegal in Le Jujubier du patriarche (1993. from the late 19th century to the first half of the 20th. “The Colonial Debt”). la touriste autochtone (1986.

was one of them. Chiquinho . the Portuguese creole language widely used on the islands. His first collection of poetry. in typical heroic fashion. and Stephen Andrea Mpashi’s Bemba story Cekesoni Aingila Ubusoja (1950). published in 1935. and it fell into precisely the same pattern as works composed elsewhere in Africa. His Chiquinho (1947) was a Portugueselanguage novel. a literary review. who was among the first Cape Verdean writers to publish in Crioulo. Brazil was also to . It was published nine times between 1936 and 1960 and had a considerable influence. the Portuguese creole used on the islands. who was among the founders of Claridade. who published Jardim das Hespérides in 1926. António Pedro wrote a book of exotic poems published in 1929. and Eugénio Tavares. A number of socalled Claridade poets emerged.emphasized Europe. Januário Leite (Poesias [1952]) and Mário Pinto (Ensaios poéticos [1911. Samuel Yosia Ntara’s Nyanja novelNthondo (1933). These early classical poets struggled with the tension between Europe and Africa and between the Portuguese language and Crioulo. Jorge Barbosa.become a crucial theme In 1936 there was a literary revolution when Claridade (“Clarity”). “Poetic Essays”]) wrote nationalistic poetry. appeared.nostalgic and romantic and placed its emphasis on the everyday person Baltazar Lopes (pseudonym Oswaldo Alcântara) wrote of the suffering of Cape Verdeans. deepening the tension between Africa and Europe. was . such as Pita Nwana’s Igbolanguage Omenuko (1935). Other early poets include Pedro Monteiro Cardoso.

His . But. And his return home is not an improvement. Realism and fantasy thus come into union in this story. when he returns to the world of his childhood. then returns to his home.realism of the novel Another Claridade poet was Manuel Lopes. the fantasy world of childhood juxtaposed with the real world of adulthood. Lopes plays with the form of his story here. In the third part of the novel. When Chiquinho goes to São Vicente.leaves the home of his birth. and the two are experienced now as the same. where he is educated. which is a dynamic contrast with the second part of the story: São Vicente and the experience of aloneness and sadness. there he finds poverty and suffering. Lopes brings those two worlds into metaphorical union: the world of Chiquinho’s past is actually revealed in the world of São Vicente. So it is that the child has come of age and has moved through his puberty rite of passage: the fantasy world of his childhood has been jarred into reality by his experiences in São Vicente. he was a novelist and short-story writer as well. he does so with grim realism. who was also among the journal’s founders. Chiquinho’s home world is romanticized. using irony as his device. In the first part. his experience is anything but glorious: he is out of work and alienated from his surroundings. Chiquinho discovers that it is no different from the alien world from which he has just departed. journeys to the Brazilian city of São Vicente. While Lopes follows the traditional movement of the oral tradition. Materials from the oral tradition are the stuff of Lopes’s literary storytelling: he makes critical alterations as he moves from the romance of the tale to the .

and with it came a new generation of poets. His novel Chuva braba (1956. António Nunes. and Djunga. youthful spirit that retained a continued emphasis on life in the islands. was a revolutionary Portuguese publication.poetry appears in Ilha de nome santo (1942. influenced by Aimé Césaire. Aguinaldo Fonseca. “Island of the Holy Name”) . Wild Rain) addresses some of the same themes.represented a new political voice. Certeza(“Certainty”). published posthumously asVersos in 1916.the Bay”) The literary magazine Presença (“Presence”). urging a break with the Portuguese past and encouraging ties to Cape Verde. “Maiá Pòçon: African Stories”) centres on racial prejudice and self-awareness. his . Caetano da Costa Alegre wrote poetry. “The Cock that Crowed in .poetry is suffused with a personal lyricism and with social themes. founded in 1927. including “O galo que cantou na baía” (1959. Cape Verdean folklore is woven into his short stories. Sérgio Frusoni. demanding change and reform São Tomé and Príncipe also produced writing in Portuguese during the first half of the 20th century. João Maria de Fonseca Viana de Almeida’s Maiá Pòçon: contos africanos (1937. Claridade led in 1944 to the founding of a new review. Francisco José Tenreiro. that deals with the tension between Africa and Portugal. who infused Cape Verdean literature with a new. including António Aurélio Gonçalves. which reflect his concern with the problems and the cultural values of Cape Verde. was an early Negritude poet. This generation also .

“The Sting of Marimbondo”). whose book of poetry Delírios (“Delirium”) was published in 1887. and Viriato da . including Terra morta (1949. as Ernesto Lara Filho did in his Picada de Marimbondo (1961. “My Soul’s Spontaneous Outpourings”). that depict the impact of colonialism on the Angolan people. The publisher Imbondeiro encouraged the publication of . A novel was serialized in 1929: António de Assis Júnior’s O segredo da morte (“The Dead Girl’s Secret”).Cruz Angolan poets often dealt with relations between blacks and whites. But the most significant early figure was Joaquim Dias Cordeiro da Matta. but this was not a cultivated practice. “The Turn”). Born in Portugal. The poetry and prose of Geraldo Bessa Victor reveal the struggle of a writer caught between Portuguese and African traditions. A number of newspapers and journals provided possibilities for authors to publish their work in these early years. influencing such writers as Agostinho Neto. “The Evil Spell”) incorporates local oral tradition. Dying Land) andViragem (1957. Mário Pinto de Andrade. a story of racial conflict and acculturation. Espontaneidades da minha alma (1849. The Movimento dos Jovens Intelectuais (Movement of Young Intellectuals) in 1947 and 1948 emphasized Angolan traditions and folklore. Fernando Monteiro de Castro Soromenho wrote novels. Óscar Ribas wrote novels and poetry. the poet Tomaz Vieira da Cruz both struggled with and embraced a sense of exile during the decades he spent in Angola.African literature in Portuguese in Angola has its origins in a book of poetry written by José da Silva Maia Ferreira. his novel Uango-feitiço (1951.

works by Angolan authors, who continued to struggle with racial conflicts
and the plight of the assimilado (those assimilated to Portuguese culture
and Roman Catholicism). Mário António wrote of the loss of the African
past, and Luandino Vieira (pseudonym of José Vieira Mateus da Graça)
described life in the Angolan city of Luanda (Luuanda [1963]). In 1961 he
was arrested and sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment. From the middle
of the 20th century the writing of poetry was encouraged by the
.Sociedade Cultural de Angola (Angolan Cultural Society)
Pepetela (Artur Carlos Maurício Pestana dos Santos) wrote novels,
such asMayombe (1980; Eng. trans. Mayombe), about the civil war that
followed Angola’s independence in 1975. He also looked to the more
distant past: Yaka (1984; Eng. trans. Yaka) deals with 19th-century Angola,
and Lueji (1989) is a story of an African princess of the 17th century. His A
geração da utopia (1992; “A Generation of Utopia”) takes the country’s
anticolonial struggle as its theme. In 1997 he won the Camões Prize, the
most important prize in Lusophone literature. Manuel Pedro Pacavira’s
novel Nzinga Mbandi (1975) depicts an African queen, Nzinga, of the 16th
and 17th centuries and describes relations between Angolans and
Portuguese. History is also the context for José Eduardo Agualusa’s
novels A Conjura (1989), which focuses on the city of Luanda, with
fictional characters that espouse nationalistic views worked into a context
of historical figures, and Nação crioula(1997; Creole), a 19th-century
.adventure set in Angola, Brazil, and Portugal

In Mozambique, João Albasini was, in 1918, one of the founders of O
Brado Africano(“The African Roar”), a bilingual weekly in Portuguese and
Ronga in which many of Mozambique’s writers had their work first
published. Albasini’s collection of short stories O livro da dor (“The Book of
Sorrow”) was published in 1925. Rui de Noronhacomposed poetry,
collected in Sonetos (1943; “Sonnets”), addressed to his patria do
misterio (“mysterious homeland”). Caetano Campo, a Portuguese
journalist, wrote stories and poetry; one of his books of
poetry, Nyaka (1942), is a nostalgic view of Africa. Clima (1959; “Climate”)
is a collection of poetry by Orlando Mendes, a Portuguese born in
Mozambique. João Dias wrote Godido e outros contos (1952; “Godido and
Other Stories”); he was Mozambique’s first African-born writer of modern
prose. The works of poet Augusto de Conrado include Fibras d’um
coração(1931; “Fibres of a Heart”) and Divagações (1938). In 1941 the
periodical Itineráriowas founded, and numerous new writers published
.their first works in this journal
Nationalist and political literature was important to writers in
Mozambique during the second half of the 20th century. In 1952 another
journal, Msaho, began publication; it included works by such poets as
Alberto Lacerda and Noémia de Sousa. Marcelino dos Santos (Kalungano)
wrote poetry steeped in African tradition, while Rui Nogar’s poetry
captured the atmosphere of Maputo, the capital of Mozambique. José
Craveirinha consciously evolved new poetic forms at a time when
attempts were being made to create a distinctively Mozambican literature

(Moçambicanidade). He had a major role to play in these efforts. In his
poetry can be found realism, folklore, and Negritude. Another journal
appeared in 1957,Paralelo 20 (“The 20th Parallel”), that emphasized
Mozambican prose and verse. The newspaper Notícias (“News”) in 1958
and 1959 encouraged creative Mozambican writing. O amor diurno (1962;
“Love Day by Day”) is a collection of poetry by Fernando Couto. Important
poets during the second half of the 20th century include Virgílio de Lemos,
whose work was banned (he was also imprisoned), and Rui Knopfli, whose
work includes O país dos outros (1959; “The Country Belonging to
Others”). Heliodoro Baptista’s poetry in A Filha de Thandi(1991) is poetry
of intensity, with its emphasis on form and image. Luís Carlos
Patraquim’s Vinte e tal novas formulações e uma elegia carnívora (1991)
.is of the same quality. Vieira Simões and Ilídio Rocha wrote short stories
Luís Bernardo Honwana, a Frelimo militant who was jailed for several
years in the 1960s, wrote short stories collected in Nós matámos o CãoTinhoso (1964; We Killed Mangy-Dog & Other Stories). Mia Couto
wrote Terra sonâmbula (1992; Sleepwalking Land); its publication was a
major event in prose writing in Mozambique. Couto moves between reality
and fantasy in his writing. In A varanda de frangipani (1996;Under the
Frangipani), for instance, a man returns from the dead to become a spirit
that moves into the mind of a Mozambican police inspector. Couto blends
folklore and historical events, such as Mozambique’s civil war, into this
tale. Ungulani Ba Ka Khosa wrote the novel Ualalapi (1987), which deals
with an African king who struggled against Portuguese colonialism. Paulina

Chiziane wrote Balada de amor ao vento (1990), a novel that looks more
realistically and less romantically at the African past and that blends the
fantasy of folklore with realism. Short-story writers of the late 20th
century include Macelo Panguana (As vozes que falam de
verdade[1987], A balada dos deuses [1991]) and Suleiman Cassamo. Lília
Momplé published the short-story collection Ninguèm mataou
Suhura (1988; “Nobody Killed Suhura”) and the novels Neighbours (1995;
Eng. trans. Neighbours: The Story of Murder) andOs olhos da cobra
.verde (1997; “The Eyes of the Green Cobra”)
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first internationally published female novelist in the English language Early Life Nwapa was born on January 13. Imo State into a wealthy and influential family. Ibadan (now the University of Ibadan) from 1953 to 1957. as well as a forerunner of a generation of African women writers best-known for broaching the topics of African life and traditions from a woman’s viewpoint. Her parents. teacher and administrator. Nwapa became Africa’s . Elelenwa in Rivers State. In 1958. . and Lagos.Discover Nigeria Florence Nwanzuruahu Nkiru Nwapa was a Nigerian writer. She was the first daughter of six children. were both teachers. With Efuru. She attended primary and secondary school in Oguta. she became an education officer in Calabar. She studied English. Nwapa attended the University of Edinburgh where she . Christopher and Martha Nwapa.obtained a Diploma in Education After returning from Scotland. 1931 in Oguta. History and Geography at University College.

she held the position of assistant registrar at the University of Lagos. she became a Geography and English teacher at Queen's School. which she began in 1962. When the Nigerian Civil War broke out in 1967. a businessman with whom she had three children.In 1959. was the first novel published by a Nigerian woman in English and challenged traditional portrayals of women. Although he took other wives. is a story about a woman whose life is bound up with that of her husband. Nwapa was married to Chief Gogo Nwakuche.ANA). The book. Idu (1970). who edited the series. returned to the Eastern Region. which is based on an old folktale about a woman chosen by the sea goddess to be her worshipper. Efuru refuses to resign to fate and tradition because of the challenges she faces from her two marriages. She did not leave or divorce him because she wanted her children to be raised by . like many members of the Igbo elite. Nwapa's second novel. she chooses to seek him out in .their father Writing and Publishing Career Nwapa made her literary debut with the novel Efuru. When he dies. From 1962 to 1967. demonstrating that a woman can survive with or without a man in her life. she had been made the secretary of the Society of Nigerian Authors (now the Association of Nigerian Authors . she left Lagos with her family and. A year earlier. of which Achebe was the president. The central character. she remained Nwakuche's first wife. Enugu. The novel was published in 1966 by Heinemann Educational Books as part of theAfrican Writers Series after consultation with her good friend Chinua Achebe.

The company. nine children's books.posthumously in 1995 Apart from writing books.the land of the dead rather than live without him. her final novel. The war novel Never Again (1975). established herself as a publisher by launching Tana Press in 1976 after becoming dissatisfied with her publisher. It was published . which published adult fiction. was the first indigenous publishing house owned by a black African woman in West Africa. with the help of her husband. three plays.. and had entrusted the manuscript to a friend. Nwapa.Nigerian Civil War Over the course of twenty-seven years.Deke (1980). Driver's Guard (1972). Wives at War and Other Stories (1980).moral and ethical teachings With regards to her political views. Some of these works include One is Enough (1981). she combined elements of Nigerian culture with general . a book of poems and innumerable essays. Cassava Song and Rice Song (1986). The Adventures of . Mammywater (1979). Journey to Space (1980). two collections of short stories. Between 1979 and 1981 she had published eight volumes of adult fiction. This is Lagos and Other Stories (1971). Nwapa published six novels. With these books. Nwapa considered herself a womanist a term coined by the American writer Alice Walker in her collection of . which was her third book. and Women Are Different (1986) At the time of her death. drew its material from the . Flora Nwapa and Co. which specialised in children’s fiction. Nwapa had completed The Lake Goddess. Nwapa set up also another publishing company.

a position she held until her death. In this role. the Nigerian government bestowed on her the OON (Officer of the Order of Niger). She was a member of the PEN International committee in 1991 and the Commonwealth Writers' Prizes committee in 1992. an honour that is . She encouraged other women with her own example to break the traditional female roles of wife and mother and to strive for equality in society through entrepreneurship. Enugu.1974 Honours and Awards In 1983.rather than a feminist in the Western sense.essays In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens: Womanist Prose (1983) . Anambra. she was appointed Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Maiduguri in Borno State. one of the country’s highest honours. She served as Minister for Health and Social Welfare for the East Central State (which now comprises Imo. she found homes for two thousand war orphans. She also served as Commissioner for Lands. She received the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) Merit Award for Authorship and Publishing at the 1985 Ife Book Fair. In 1989. Survey and Urban Development from 1971 to . She was awarded the highest chieftaincy title (Ogbuefi) by her hometown. She has . Ebonyi and Abiastates) from 1970 to 1971.often been called the mother of modern African literature Public Service Nwapa is also known for her governmental work in reconstruction after the Nigerian Civil War.usually reserved for men of achievement .

She was laid to rest in . Nwapa died of pneumonia at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital.Death On October 16. the place which inspired much of her writing Source: http://zodml.her hometown of Oguta. Enugu at the age of 62.org/discover-nigeria/people/flora-nwapa#.VwWSDpx96t . 1993.

She returned to her home state during the Biafran War. and Urban Development. She taught English at the Queen's School in Enugu in the early 1960s. the Ministry of Lands. short )Full name Flora Nwapa-Nwakuche) .discourse but has also garnered attention for its literary merits Biographical Information Nwapa was born in the East Central State of Nigeria in 1931. Her work holds an important place in feminist .story writer. Flora Introduction Flora Nwapa 1931-1993 Nigerian novelist. which provided a backdrop for her later fiction. poet. Nwapa held ministerial posts in the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. the Tana . Nwapa also started her own publishing company. After the war. and the Ministry of Establishment between 1970 and 1975. and hence gained international fame.Nwapa. where she began writing her first novel Efuru (1966). She graduated from Ibadan University in Nigeria then Edinburgh University in London. Criticism of her work is often influenced by feminist politics because of the woman-centered nature of her fiction. Survey. and children's author The following entry presents an overview of Nwapa's career through .1996 Flora Nwapa was the first Nigerian woman to publish a novel in English.

Efuru tells the story of the title character through the dialogue of the village women. Through the title character in Idu (1970). The effect of the women's gossip is to reveal both Efuru's character and the values of the society she inhabits. Kate feels the tension between her belief in an independent Biafran state and her belief that .1993. Nwapa's Never Again(1975) concentrates on the Nigerian Civil War and the trauma and paranoia experienced by the refugees fleeing federal troops. She was named Officer of the Niger by the Nigerian government in 1982 and received the Merit Award for Authorship and Publishing from the University of Ife in 1985. She died of pneumonia on October 16. Nigeria Major Works Nwapa's work often focuses on the effect that African values have on the lives of African women.Press Limited. and her inability to bear children. Efuru stands out from her community for her beauty. Nwapa subverts the notion that childbearing is the only characteristic valued in African women by making Efuru live her life as fully as possible and by showing the reverence and esteem granted to her by other women. Idu frets over her infertility until finally she produces a son. including several of her own works. which primarily published children's books. her skills as a businesswoman. She served as president of the Association of Nigerian Authors in 1989 and was a member of the PEN International Awards Committee in 1991 and the Commonwealth Writers Awards Committee in 1992. in Enuga. . The main character. Nwapa portrays the pressure African women feel to produce children.

on what was incidental or simply contextual to male action—domestic matters.” In terms of questions of style.defeat is inevitable. preferring to maintain her . Critics often engage in debate concerning the strength of the novelist's feminism based on her characters' actions and their level of acceptance of or rebellion against African patriarchal structures. In addition. Wives at War and Other Stories (1975) also focuses on the displaced refugees of the Biafran War. She eventually leaves their village for the city and becomes pregnant during her relationship with a priest.independence while still enjoying her sexuality Critical Reception Discussion of Nwapa's fiction as it relates to feminist politics abounds in critical study of her work. a Yoruban who has broken ethnic rules by marrying an Ibo and the tension that results between the couple when they must flee the war into Ibo territory. and at length. she feels pressure to repress these feelings for fear of being labeled a traitor. Reviewers note her strong female protagonists and her women-centered narratives. The title story surrounds Bisi. When the priest wants to leave the priesthood to marry her. “she concentrates. politics of intimacy. she refuses. Nwapa herself said that she was not a feminist. In One Is Enough (1981). Amaka is an independent female character who stands up to her husband when he tries to bring another woman and her two sons by him to live with them. critical discussion centers on Nwapa' use of conversational style. Boehmer asserts. “What also . but rather a womanist. Elleke Boehmer describes the thrust of Nwapa's fiction by stating.

“The constant banter of women reveals character as much as it paints a comprehensive. while bringing home her subject matter by evoking the vocality of women's everyday existence. creating the effect of a woman's verbal presence within her text. credible.Naana Banyiwe-Horne claims. social canvas against which Efuru's life can be assessed.” Many reviewers note the connection between Nwapa's narrative style and the Igbo oral . In her discussion of Nwapa's Efuru.tradition and praise Nwapa for her strong connection to her past Principal Works Efuru (novel) 1966 Idu (novel) 1970 This Is Lagos and Other Stories (short stories) 1971 Emeka: Driver's Guard [illustrated by Roslyn Isaacs] (juvenilia) 1972 Never Again (novel) 1975 Wives at War and Other Stories (short stories) 1975 My Animal Number Book (juvenilia) 1977 . but other reviewers enjoy the conversational narrative method.distinguishes her writing from others in the ‘Igbo school’ are the ways in which she has used choric language to enable and to empower her representation.” Some critics complain about the lack of traditional novelistic plot and structure in Nwapa's fiction.

My Tana Colouring Book (juvenilia) 1978 MammyWater [illustrated by Obiora Udechukwu] (juvenilia) 1979 The Adventures of Deke (juvenilia) 1980 Journey to Space [illustrated by Chinwe Orieke] (juvenilia) 1980 The Miracle Kittens [illustrated by Emeka Onwudinjo] (juvenilia) 1980 One Is Enough (novel) 1981 Cassava Song and Rice Song (poetry) 1986 Women Are Different (novel) 1986 .

She loses two husbands and her only child. NY: I remember reading Flora Nwapa's novel. EFURU BY EBELE CHIZEA Published on Wed. however. Our Culture WOMANISM THROUGH THE EYES OF FLORA NWAPA'S. Jul 29 2009 by Ebele Chizea Bronx. By the end of the book. it was her strong spirit and her ability to take responsibility for herself.protagonist who suffers many tragic events Efuru is the story of a young woman in post colonial Eastern Nigeria who wishes to be a wife. She is able to become a successful trader. She was the epitome of the modern woman. mother and a successful business woman. she visits the lake goddess Uhamiri after making some offerings. her personal life remains bumpy. Our Vision. It wasn't so much the tragedy that seemed to surround her that fascinated me.THE AFRICAN Our Voices. the world surrounded by spirits and other mystical elements . at age 11 and being captivated by the beautiful. financially independent female . It is then that she realizes that Uhamiri gives her followers wealth and beauty but few children. Efuru's cultural background. Efuru.

what she has the potential to be and what she is once again becoming. Her independence was a reflection of who she was as an African woman.was African." (from an interview with Marie Umeh. who are very. very positive in their thinking. I try to paint a positive picture about women because there are many women who are very. playwright. in Africa. Flora Nwapa's book which was published in 1966 and was the first novel to come out of Nigeria by a woman allowed people to take a peak into the authentic African woman. Efuru was her debut novel. a husband and children. she learns the hard way that she in particular can’t have it all. Efuru is like the contemporary woman in the sense that she wants to have it all. money. what she was. very industrious. very independent. Efuru’s story inspires me as a woman that no matter the ups and downs in one’s professional and personal life. Though she does all she can to satisfy all three. 1995) Flora Nwapa who referred to herself as a womanist. there is a light at the end of the tunnel. poet and the first woman in West Africa to own a publishing house. does that make her a failure or make her life not worth something? I believe that Flora Nwapa poses this question through this character. This is a Flora Nwapa quote I stumbled upon: "When I do write about women in Nigeria. was a novelist. She went on to write other books . and very. In the case of a woman who can’t have it all. Efuru’s story pushes us as women to ask ourselves how much we are willing to be defined by our marital status and child bearing/raising abilities.

2016 . Source: http://www.com/FORUM-1247-design004Womanism_Through_The_Eyes_of_Flora_Nwapa_s_Efuru_br_br_by_Ebele_C hizea_african_magazine_culture_fashion Date of Access: 8 April.including Never Again and Wives at War and Other Stories.africanmag. Nigeria. She died on October 16. 1993 in Enugu.

often sharply restricted by their husbands and by their culture but strong and capable in themselves. she loses her only child and neither of her husbands are faithful to her. by Flora Nwapa. The daughter of an important leader. Efuru. was published in 1966. She is generous to others. they are . her first novel. You. Village life Efuru. Although contact with white colonizers is slight. London : Heinemann. Other women are her friends and from them we see a variety of villagers’ viewpoints. a very successful trader and follower of the revered goddess of the lake. And Books Blog . Nigeria. Nwapa is a Nigerian and an Igbo. Nwapa focuses on village women. by Flora Nwapa JANUARY 19. a beautiful and good young woman able to thrive despite major losses in her life.traditional Igbo village Flora Nwapa was among the first women to join African men in gaining international recognition in the 1960s. and the book is presumably set in a village there. Her positive treatment of women and their ability to survive appears most strongly in her main character. In it. [1970] GLOBAL WOMEN OF COLOR REVIEW A positive portrayal of a beautiful and strong woman and her life in a .Me.Efuru. Efuru. 2013 tags: Fiction.

Even when tragic events occurred I was not drawn in emotionally.com/2013/01/19/efuru-by-flora/nwapa . Even when they make decisions that I would not make. Frequently characters “hissed” or “laughed. however.” but I couldn’t understand why. They often protest western and globalized practices.viewed as the cause of decline in obedience of the village children and of .wordpress. but they . I am willing to assume that the problems are mine. The writing. Perhaps Nwapa writes in ways more related to her tradition. I certainly found the book interesting and informative and was impressed by the ways in which the women refused to be victims. What was noteworthy is that I have not had this problem with more recent books by global women of color. not Nwapa’s. Many global women today have more experience in international settings. where they share styles of writing.write in styles that can be understood internationally Source: https://mdbrady. Ritual phrases and simple behaviors were repeated time and time again. their books move me in ways that Nwapa’s did not. was formal and even ponderous.the village itself My experience reading was Efuru was mixed. I am simply unfamiliar with this style of writing.