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Title: Representing West African culture : Achebe and Oyono through the prism of translation
Author: Cudjoe, Alfred B.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2708 200X
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2011
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An important aspect of the struggle for independence by African countries in the late 1950s and early 1960s is the determination of emerging scholars at the time to assert the continent's cultural emancipation. Thus while the various African countries fought to liberate the continent from many years of colonial domination by Western powers, scholars also sought to produce literary works that engaged with misconceptions and stereotyping about the people of Africa. This thesis discusses the emergence of postcolonial African literature and the debate on the appropriateness of the language used in its production. Of importance in this debate is the call by renowned writers and literary critics like Ngugi wa Thiong'o for the use of African languages in the production of African literature, including genres like the novel, especially because of the difficulty in expressing indigenous culture in European languages. Accomplished writers and postcolonial African theorists like Chinua Achebe, on the other hand, are of the view that African scholars should not, in "rejecting the devil" in colonialism throw away the good with it. Colonial languages, they argue, are powerful linguistic tools which unite the many ethnic communities in former colonies. They, therefore, advocate the use of European languages in order to reach an international audience but in a way that will enable those languages convey the African experience. In using the metropolitan languages, African writers resort to innovative writing techniques to enable them to conveniently articulate their postcolonial African discourse. Two West African novels, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe and Une vie de boy by Ferdinand Oyono, as the selected texts for the research, have been analysed to engage with the assertion that African imagination is difficult to express in European languages. The discussion also covers the role of translation in the representation of African culture. Given that postcolonial African literature is, in many cases, a product of literary ‘translation’ from oral culture resulting in the creation of a hybrid language, the translation of postcolonial literature between two European languages poses an interesting challenge. This involves the analysis of a number of postcolonial translation theories that are often used in the rendering of postcolonial African texts from English into French and vice versa. This is then applied to the selected texts and their translation in order to evaluate their success in expressing the African experience. The fact that the translators of the selected texts are non-Africans makes it possible for the African message and the way it is expressed to be reversed. The concluding part of the thesis is, therefore, devoted to the evaluation of the translation of selected texts from English into French and vice versa with a view to assessing the extent to which they represent the original authors’ message. Conclusions made from this assessment have implications for approaches to the translation of postcolonial African literature in European languages. As a contribution to postcolonial African literature and its translation, a number of recommendations have been made to serve as a guide to Europhone writers and translators of their works from one European language into another.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available