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Journal for African Culture and Society
Matatu is a peer-reviewed 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 "Asian") 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 was published as book series until the end of 2015. All back volumes are still available in print.


Articles for publication in MATATU should be sent to Christa Stevens at c.stevens [a t] brill.com

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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.
In: Matatu
In: Matatu
Author: Sabine Binder

miscegenation, and shame, as colonial racism became institutionalized, for being black” ( 1998 , 100). As she points out, Coloured people attempted to erase their “shameful” origins by assuming European names. As a consequence, they “have lost all knowledge of [their] Xhosa, Indonesian, East African, or Khoi

In: Women and Crime in Post-Transitional South African Crime Fiction
In: Matatu
Journal for African Culture and Society
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.
Author: Bernth Lindfors
Some of the essays in this book - notably those concerned with examining Western influences on sub-Saharan African writings (tracing Shakespearean and Brechtian echoes in Nigerian drama, for instance, or following the footprints of Sherlock Holmes in Swahili detective fiction) - fit the traditional definition of comparative literature. These are essays that cross national literary boundaries and sometimes transcend language barriers as well. They look for correspondences in related literary phenomena from widely dispersed areas of the globe, bringing together what is akin from what is akimbo. But most of the essays included here involve closer comparisons. Two focus on works produced in different languages within the same African nation (Yoruba and English in Nigeria, Afrikaans and English in South Africa), and one presents a taxonomy of dominant literary forms in English in three East African nations. Others concentrate on the oeuvre of a single author, and on the likely future output of exiled writers who soon will be returning home. One essay contrasts discursive tendencies within the same text, and another investigates conflicting African and Western religious beliefs. A great variety of comparative methodologies is deployed here; not all of these are transnational, multilingual or pluralistic in scope. The last two groups of essays deal with matters of characterization and authorial reputation. Studies of the depiction of African Americans, politicians and women in a wide range of African literary texts are followed by an assessment of the current standing of anglophone Africa's leading authors. In entering such highly contested terrain, the comparatist approach adopted has been that of the neutral witness to early African attempts - comparatist in their own way - to define an African canon of classic texts.
Authors discussed include: Ama Ata Aidoo (Ghana); Chinua Achebe, John Pepper Clark, Cyprian Ekwensi, D.O. Fagunwa, Wole Soyinka and Amos Tutuola (Nigeria); Peter Abrahams, J.M. Coetzee, Nadine Gordimer, Alex La Guma, Thomas Mofolo, Es'kia Mphahlele and Karel Schoeman (South Africa).
In: Matatu
In: Matatu