Contextualising post-independence Anglophone African writing : Ayi Kwei Armah and Ngugi Wa Thiong'o compared
In the 'Introduction', I establish the basic parameters of the investigation, considering the problem of defining the nature and meaning of African Literature and its relationship to African Studies. The problem of African writing as marginalised and reactive, particularly when it is in the dominant English language, is discussed. A brief history of fictional writing in Africa is offered. Movements such as Negritude, Africanist arguments and nationalism are introduced as is the quest for a workable ideology. I show that the uses of the term Postcolonial, indeed the problems with the use of any post-term, are one of the clearest indicators of the tensions that continue to define the field. The version of Africa offered in western writing and communicated to Ngugi and Armah in the course of their schooling is discussed as is the way in which writing from inside the Continent must inevitably encounter the versions of Africa1 and the African from outside the Continent. This is the background against which I attempt to situate the novels of Ngugi and Armah. My thesis is then concerned with establishing and integrating the contexts out of which African writing has developed. I aim to assess the different ways in which these contexts supply the narratives with their substance and rationale, and I suggest that the African novel must be read from multiple perspectives. Chapter 2 offers a brief historical background of Ghana and Kenya as British Colonies. The impact of the two world wars of this century is briefly assessed. The approach to independence for both countries is charted and the initial impact of post-independence leadership is touched upon. The second section of this chapter, however, deals with Kenyatta and Mau Mau and with Ngugi's response to both. Kenyatta's trial showcases the drama of settler administration and prefigures his equivocal position as a national leader. The specifically gendered issue of female circumcision and Kenyatta's attempt to mediate between traditionalists and 'reformists' is advanced.