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Ngugi wa Thiong'o's Visions of Africa
I was living in a village and also in a colonial situation. Nguigi,Homecoming(48)
Landscape as an aspectof fiction has tendedto be underrated:less interestingthannarrative, rhetoric,or tropology.Yet throughlandscape the authorcreates the horizons of the novel, establishingit in a historical(or an ahistorical)space. The landscapeis not merelythe settingof the story:it is a shifting, expanding territory,where the boundariesof public/private,fictional/real in uninterested landoverlap.It has been said thatAfricanwritersare particularly is understoodas the scape description(Roscoe 177-78). If, however, landscape descriptionof the land and its role in the cultural,economic, and spirituallife of the community,it immediatelybecomes clearthatlandscapeis an essentialpartof Africanliterature. the Throughout Africannovel, concernsaboutland use, ownership, spiritual values, nationalism, and pan-Africanism are reflected in the descriptionof the land. In their descriptionsof Africa, their mappingof boundaries, their choice of featuresand background,of what mattersin the landscape of Africa, African writers challenge Westernvisions of Africa and reclaim the landscape for themselves. In Nguigi wa Thiong'o's novels, the importanceof the landscapeis paramount, the landscapeof Kenyais intimatelyrelatedto the as community'sspiritual,social, and political identity. Ngugi's descriptionsof landscapeare shapedby some specific circumstances of Kenyan history: the centralityof land in the Gikuyu worldview, the forced removalsof the Gikuyu from the White Highlands,the Mau Mau independence disillusionmentin Kenya.Nguig himself has insisted war,and post-independence on the connectionbetween particular historicalevents and literature: Literaturedoes not grow or develop in a vacuum;it is given impetus, shape, direction and even area of concern by social, political and economic forces in a particular society. (Homecomingxv) In analyzing the descriptionof landscapein Ngigi's novels, I want to do more than show his mastery of a Westerntechnique;Nguigi'sworks re-evaluatethe importanceof landscape,integratinggeographywith his people's culturalenvironment,religious beliefs, and economic system. For the Gikuyupeople, land is centralto their spiritual,culturaland economic practices: to anyone who wants to understand Gikuyu problems,nothing is more thana correctgraspof the questionof land tenure.For...