Literature is yet another genre that Africa’s intellectual elites struggle to elucidate coherence for dissemination and consumption to ingrain within viable institutions. Modern African literature is considered a byproduct as well as an explicit goal engineered at the Berlin Conference (1884-5) by the imperialist nations of Europe. The challenge for African literature is to be incorporated in the ‘universal’ standards of literary canons without the demeaning criticisms of this controlled universalism by the very Westerners whom much of the literary positions African writers had adopted, yet rejected. According to Pius Adesanmi, third generation African writers are not contributing to theories manifested out of the colonial experience of their predecessors, and thus jeopardize the colonial discourse of earlier writers in favor of the ‘universal’ of Western academe. To better analyze the literary debates of African writers, this paper will answer two critical questions about literature in African studies. One question would be why African writers would write literature, and two, what are some of the challenges they face internally in Africa as well as externally in global literary canons?
Just to clarify, in this paper, scholars of academic writings are different from literature producers although the authors may dib and dab in both fields. For instance, Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart is considered literature, while his An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness would be considered scholarship. This paper is an analysis of the various theories, themes, and future debates that may lose relevancy as production increases, yet, are fundamental to developing the minds of future writers.
When we answer and analyze the first question of why African writers write modern literature we first notice that Africans were a colonized people. In African Literature and the Colonial Factor, modern African literature was “to restore the moral...
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