In the African context, there exists the ‘myth’ that orality means tradition. Written and oral verbal art are often regarded as dichotomies, one excluding the other. While orature is confused with ‘tradition’, literature is ascribed to modernity. Furthermore, local languages are ignored and literature is equated with writing in foreign languages. The contributions in this volume take issue with such preconceptions and explore the multiple ways in which literary and oral forms interrelate and subvert each other, giving birth to new forms of artistic expression. They emphasize the local agency of the African poet and writer, which resists the global commodification of literature through the international bestseller lists of the cultural industry. The first section traces the movement from oral to written texts, which in many cases coincides with a switch from African to European languages. But as the essays in the section on “New Literary Languages” make clear, in other cases a true philological work is accomplished in the African language to create a new written and literary medium. Through the mixing of languages in the cities, such as the
Sheng spoken in Kenya or the bilinguality of a writer such as Cheik Aliou Ndao (Senegal), new idioms for literary expressions evolve. The use of new media, technology or music stimulate the emergence of new genres, such as
Taarab in East Africa, radio poetry in Yoruba and Hausa, or Rap in the Senegal, as is shown in the section on “Forms of New Orality.”
It is a great achievement of this second volume of
Versions and Subversions in African Literatures that it assembles contributions by scholars from the anglophone and the francophone world and that it covers literary production in a broad spectrum of languages: English, French, Hausa, Sheng, Sotho, Spanish, Swahili, Wolof and Yoruba.
Some of the authors and cultural practitioners treated in detail are: Mobolaij Adenubi, Birago Diop, Boubacar Boris Diop, David Maillu, Thomas Mofolo, Cheik Aliou Ndao, Donato Ndongo–Bidyogo, Hubert Ogunde, Shaaban Robert, Wole Soyinka, Ibrahim YaroYahaya, and Sénouvo Agbota Zinsou.
ALAIN RICARD is currently ‘directeur de recherche’ at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and teaches at the National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilizations in Paris. He has published on the history of African languages and literatures, on African theatre, on Wole Soyinka as well as on the African playwright Ebrahim Hussein, among others, and has produced two films on African performance arts.
FLORA VEIT–WILD is professor of African literatures and cultures at the Humboldt University, Berlin. She has researched and published widely on Zimbabwean literatures. Her research interests and publications include anglophone writing of Southern Africa, francophone writing of Central Africa, surrealism, discourse on body and madness, and urban writing from Africa.
Acknowledgements Introduction Alain RICARD and Flora VEIT-WILD: Local Literatures Versus Global Culture From the Oral to the Written Sélom Komlan GBANOU, János RIESZ & Sénouvo Agbota ZINSOU: Les métamorphoses du conte Sénouvo Agbota ZINSOU : Du conte à la scène János RIESZ : Du conte au roman politique, de l’oralité aux médias
Yévi et l’éléphant chanteur de Sénouvo Agbota Zinsou Sélom Komlan GBANOU : De la planche à la bande: Les voies modernes de l’oralité africaine: De la scène à la cassette Kahiudi Claver MABANA : La réécriture francophone du mythe de Chaka Éloge, démystification et interrogation Anja OED : Beaking the Buffalo Woman’s Silence: The Rewriting of Ifa Divination Literature in Mobolaji Adenubi’s “The Importance of Being Prudent” New Literary Languages Alain RICARD: “Un ouvrage d’imagination absolument original...”:
Moeti oa Bochabela de Thomas Mofolo: Premier roman africain Xavier GARNIER : Shaaban Robert ou l’optimisme de l’écriture Thomas GEIDER : Code-Switching Between Swahili and English in East African Popular Literature Ute GIERCZÝNSKI-BOCANDÉ: L’OEuvre de Cheik Aliou Ndao en français et en wolof: Chances et problèmes d’un écrivain bilingue au Sénégal Antonio URIBE : La littérature de Guinée Équatoriale: Une littérature tricontinentale? Analyse des racines espagnoles, latinoaméricaines et africaines Susanne GEHRMANN : Written Orature in Senegal: From the Traditionalistic Tales of Birago Diop to the Subversive Novels of Boubacar Boris Diop Femi OSOFISAN: Yorùbá Theatre in Crisis: Death or Transition? Forms of New Orality Said A.M. KHAMIS: From Written through Oral to Mediated Oral: The Example of
Taarab Music Sa’idu Babura AHMAD: From Orality to Mass Media: Hausa Literature in Northern Nigeria Sophie Moulard-KOUKA: Le rap sénégalais: Un mode d’expression inédit entre oral et écrit? Rita NNODIM : Yorùbá Neotraditional Media Poetry: A Poetics of Interface Epilogue Graham FURNISS: On the Implications of Orality Notes on Contributors and Editors Notes for Contributor