Essays on Literary Stylistics and Narrative Styles
Edited by J.K.S. Makokha, Ogone John Obiero and Russell West-Pavlov
Essays on Werewere Liking’s Art and Writings
Edited by John Conteh-Morgan and Irène Assiba d'Almeida
Liking’s excellent but little-known poetry and art criticism, her iconoclastic novels and essays are all the subject of close critical attention in particular studies. There is also consideration of the challenges that her original language and fictional forms present to a literary translator. Liking’s work has provoked an extensive commentary, in the popular press as well as in scholarly journals and her critical reception both inside and outside of Africa is carefully examined. The final important inclusions are two plays by Liking published here for the first time in English translations– Liquid Heroes and This Africa of ours...
“The Original Explosion That Created Worlds”: Essays on Werewere Liking’s Art and Writings may serve as an introduction to the work of one of Africa’s most important contemporary artists and one of the most astute commentators on the position of Africa in the new century. To those already familiar with Liking’s novels, poetry, plays, criticism or other cultural work it offers an expanded and deepened understanding of her working contexts and the amazing reach of her cultural expression. The book is of necessary interest to all readers, students, and scholars of postcolonial African literatures, of translation studies, and of gender issues.
Gregory F. Barz
An East African kwaya is a community that gathers several times each week to define its spirituality musically. Members of kwayas come together to sing, to pray, to support individual members in times of need, and to both learn and pass along new and inherited faith traditions. Kwayas negotiate between multiple musical traditions or just as often they reject an inherited musical system while others may continue to engage musical repertoires from both Europe and Africa. Contemporary kwayas comfortably coexist in the urban musical soundscape of coastal Dar es Salaam along with jazz dance bands, taarab ensembles, ngoma performance groups, Hindi film music, rap, reggae, and the constant influx of recorded American and European popular musics.
This ethnography calls into question terms frequently used to draw tight boundaries around the study of the arts in African expressive religious cultures. Such divisions of the arts present well-defended boundaries and borders that are not sufficient for understanding the change, adaptation, preservation, and integration that occur within a Tanzanian kwaya. Boundaries break down within the everyday performance of East African kwayas, such as Kwaya ya Upendo [“The Love Choir”] in Dar es Salaam, as repertoires, traditions, histories, and cultures interact within a performance of social identity.
The Return of Culture: Anthropology’s Temptations
An important turning point in African studies in the 1980s was the emergence of culture as a central concern in fields where it had been quite marginal until then. Development experts began to emphasize culture as crucial to any intervention or project. Economists came into the habit of invoking “culture” as a final explanation, turning it into some sort of black box that had the capacity to explain why African societies continued to falsify their neat models of how development should be realized.
For anthropologists, this new attention to culture was somewhat confusing. It had always been a central notion in our discipline, especially in US anthropology. So the sudden advancement of the notion in the development industry and elsewhere opened up promising perspectives. However, this came at the very time when leading anthropologists – again, especially in the US – began to warn against the dangers of our notion of culture, insisting that anthropology had to liberate itself from its ancestral heritage, notably of this central concept. James Clifford (1988), for instance, attacks the essentialist tenor of classical anthropology’s take on culture. In his view, this notion inspires a search for an authentic core that not only risks isolating the discipline from modern changes, but also turns culture into some sort of timeless mall in which people seem to be imprisoned. Similarly, Arjun Appadurai, in his Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization (1996), pleads for a complete ban on the term culture – in any case as a substantive – since it could so easily inspire a “culturalist” approach in which cultural difference seems to be a given. Appadurai warns, moreover, that such a view on culture could be dangerous in the present-day world, where globalization processes seem to be closely int ertwined with ever fiercer eruptions of communal violence.
Pan-Africanism is most often thought of in its political sense. This is the case whether one refers to the several Pan-African congresses, beginning in 1919, organized by W.E.B. Du Bois and colleagues from Africa and other parts of the Diaspora; or whether one refers to the Independence-era vision of Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah, in which the “hereditary significant other,” i.e. the African Diaspora, was invited to come and take part in Africa’s development. Yet, there are also well-known instances of cultural Pan-Africanism: the1940s Negritude movement, the journal Presence Africaine, and numerous writers congresses and cultural festivals, beginning in the 1960s and continuing into the present. So, indeed, the Pan-African impulse of writers and artists from the African continent to commune and share common cultural bonds with their counterparts in the African Diaspora has been manifested in cultural productive form at least since the 1940s. But it would not be until about the 1970s, and increasingly in the ’80s and ’90s, that the two strands of Pan-Africanism, the political and the cultural, would begin to converge. The Ghanaian Ama Ata Aidoo was the first African writer to explore a union between Africa and the Diaspora, with her 1969 play Dilemma of a Ghost. Roughly twenty-five years after Aidoo’s play, her compatriot Ayi Kwei Armah would play a variation on the theme of this book in his 1995 novel Osiris Rising, although with a more conscious vision of the partnership in the construction of Africa’s future. Equally significant as the texts written by writers from the African continent became texts by writers from the Diaspora itself. While Césaire’s Cahier evokes his image of Africa, other writers, notably Guadeloupean Maryse Condé, take on the Diaspora-to-Africa experience in its various realities. Indeed, for Condé, the Black Atlantic, Pan-African community is the context, psychological, if not geographic, of most of her fiction.
In Search of a New Ethics
The Representation of the Barwa in Zakes Mda’s She Plays with the Darkness
that inevitably fail to coincide with the present. The changes in a postcolonial village are less marked perhaps but the passage of time can be read there too, and the village in Mda’s novel is no exception. The working of time, though, is most graphically illustrated in the novel in relation to the
A Rough Sketch
Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor
reckoning and acknowledgment—a witnessing. I scour these ruins in the hope of a more complete vocabulary of past, future, present, of me, of us, of other, of Kenya, of Africa, of the Commonwealth, of the world. You see, don’t you, that the prevailing world lexicon is incapable of naming and bearing all our
The Women’s Jail (Johannesburg) as a Site of Encounter
of the present. The curators were interested in creating both sacred and liveable space; a site that invites the respectful commemoration of the experiences of apartheid witnesses while also offering secure and accessible public space; a place of refuge and a source of pride that appeals to diverse