The notion of ‘landlines’ intimates communication, and is a fairly safe bet as far as most of the writing offered here, critical and creative, is concerned. In a way, of course, the metaphor is a rearguard action, and blows up in one’s face, as it were, suggesting as it does a system of telephonic communication that is no longer typical of Africa, which is at the forefront of cellphone culture. On the more positive side, it is hoped that ‘landlines’ evoke traditional values, permitting the endorsement of communicative standards that are higher than those fostered by the ‘etherial’ chaos of cyberspace.
The essays included are overwhelmingly concerned with Nigeria (productive power-house of the continent), covering such writers as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Vincent Egbuson, Buchi Emecheta, D.O. Fágúnwà, Sarah Ladipo Manyika, Femi Osofisan (two articles), Wole Soyinka, and Ahmed Yerima. The Nigerian novel (four articles) is roughly matched by studies of Nigerian dramatists (five articles). Also offered are three essays on fiction from outside Nigeria, by Alexander McCall Smith (Botswana), J.M. Coetzee (South Africa), and Marie NDiaye (France), and a treatment of the poetry of Jack Mapanje (Malawi). A further, wide-ranging essay, on cityscapes, discusses novels from Cameroon, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, and Kenya, as well as paintings from Equatorial Guinea and public placarding in Accra. Social awareness, a firm sense of history and traditional culture, the contemporary challenges of gender and identity-politics, and the perennial theme of endemic corruption are themes that underpin all of the contributions to Matatu 47.
Matatu has traditionally fostered the publication of creative writing, and the present issue is no exception, featuring as it does poetry from Trinidad, a play from Nigeria, and short stories from Burundi, Ghana, and Nigeria. The volume closes with in-depth reviews of books on Yorùbá proverbs, Chinua Achebe, and transnational literature.
Contributors are: E.B. Adeleke, Tony E. Afejuku, Sophia Akhuemokhan, Niyi Akingbe, Sunday Victor Akwu, Félix Ayoh’Omidire, Dele Bamidele, Gilbert Braspenning, Clare Counihan, Jane Duran, Summer Edward, Pelumi Folajimi, Fausat M. Ibrahim, Isaiah U. Ilo, Ayodele S. Jegede, Mahrukh Khan, Adele King, Adebayo Mosobalaje, Dorothy Odartey–Wellington, H. Oby Okolocha, Harry Olufunwa, Owojecho Omoha, Wumi Raji, Marie–Thérèse Toyi, Flora A. Trebi–Ollennu, Kenneth Usongo, and Lendzemo Constantine Yuka.
This volume pays tribute to the formidable legacy of Hena Maes–Jelinek (1929–2008), a pioneering postcolonial scholar who was a professor at the University of Liège, in Belgium. Along with a few moving and affectionate pieces retracing the life and career of this remarkable and deeply human intellectual figure, the collection contains poems, short fiction, and metafiction. The bulk of the book consists of contributions on various areas of postcolonial literature, including the work of Wilson Harris, the ground-breaking writer to whom Hena Maes–Jelinek devoted much of her career. Other writers treated include Ben Okri, Leone Ross, Kamau Brathwaite, Jamaica Kincaid, Peter Carey, Murray Bail, Patrick White, Janice Kulyk Keefer, Dan Jacobson, Joseph Conrad, and Eslanda Goode Robeson. Caryl Phillips revisits his earlier reflections on the ‘European tribe’. There are wide-ranging essays analysing consanguineous authors, on such topics as Caribbean treatments of the Jewish Diaspora, Swiss-Caribbean authors, the contemporary Australian short story and the Asian connection, and ‘habitation’ in Australian fiction, as well as a searching examination of the socio-political fallout from the scandal of Australia’s ‘Stolen Generations’.
Contributors are: Gordon Collier, Tim Cribb, Fred D'Aguiar, Geoffrey V. Davis, Jeanne Delbaere, Marc Delrez, Jean–Pierre Durix, Wilson Harris, Dominique Hecq, Marie Herbillon, Louis James, Karen King–Aribisala, Bénédicte Ledent, Christine Levecq, Alecia McKenzie, Carine Mardorossian, Peter H. Marsden, Alistair Niven, Annalisa Oboe, Britta Olinder, Christine Pagnoulle, Caryl Phillips, Lawrence Scott, Stephanos Stephanides, Klaus Stuckert, Peter O. Stummer, Petra Tournay–Theodotou, Daria Tunca, Cynthia vanden Driesen, Janet Wilson.
The White Spaces of Kenyan Settler Writing provides an overview of Kenyan literature by white writers in the half-century before Independence in 1964. Such literature has been over-shadowed by that of black writers to the point of critical ostracism. It deserves attention for its own sake, as the expression of a community that hoped for permanence but suffered both disappointment and dispossession. It deserves attention for its articulation of an increasingly desperate colonial and Imperial situation at a time when both were being attacked and abandoned in Africa, as in other colonies elsewhere, and when a counter-discourse was being constructed by writers in Britain as well as in Africa. Kenya was likely the best-known twentieth-century colony, for it attracted publicity for its iconic safaris and its Happy Valley scandals. Yet behind such scenes were settlers who had taken over lands from the native peoples and who were trying to make a future for themselves, based on the labour, willing or forced, of those people. This situation can be seen as a microcosm of one colonial exercise, and can illuminate the historical tensions of such times. The bibliography is an attempt to collect the literary resources of white Kenya in this historically significant period.
Matatu is a journal on African literatures and societies dedicated to interdisciplinary dialogue between literary and cultural studies, historiography, the social sciences and cultural anthropology.
Matatu is animated by a lively interest in African culture and literature (including the Afro-Caribbean) that moves beyond worn-out clichés of “cultural authenticity” and “national liberation” towards critical exploration of African modernities. The East African public transport vehicle from which
Matatu takes its name is both a component and a symbol of these modernities: based on “Western” (these days usually Japanese) technology, it is a vigorously African institution; it is usually regarded with some anxiety by those travelling in it, but is often enough the only means of transport available; it creates temporary communicative communities and provides a transient site for the exchange of news, storytelling, and political debate.
Matatu is firmly committed to supporting democratic change in Africa, to providing a forum for interchanges between African and European critical debates, to overcoming notions of absolute cultural, ethnic, or religious alterity, and to promoting transnational discussion on the future of African societies in a wider world.
Matatu will be published as
journal as of 2016. All back volumes are still available in print.