African Literature Analysis

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The category African Literature is a literary category that contains works of literature that are about Africa and that are set on the continent. Literary works in this category are often written in English and other major languages spoken in the continent such as Arabic, Portuguese and French. Literary works such as We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo, Americannah by Chimamanda Adichie and Woman at Point Zero by Nawal El Sadawi are found in the category. Despite the fact that this category widens African writers’ audience, it fails to fully express the cultural and linguistic diversity that exists on the continent and perpetuates the single narrative about Africa because it puts members of its audience with little knowledge about Africa…show more content…
The people making up this continent speak a multitude of languages (around 2000), they have different beliefs and they belong to many different cultures and traditions, and hence have very different literatures. “The fact that they share a common history of colonialism and exploitation is not enough to just lump their literatures into a single pigeon-hole” (Saro-Wiwa 155) because by doing so, those that have little knowledge about the continent and its people are enabled to think of Africa as a continent of people who share a common literature and culture hence not fully expressing the continent’s diversity. When describing the literatures of the African people, Achebe uses the analogy of new-born infants to show how literatures found in the continent may seem similar but are actually different and hence should not be grouped together; he says “If you look cursorily one infant is pretty much like another; but in reality each is already set on its own separate journey” (Achebe 4). As can be inferred from Achebe’s analogy, it is very inaccurate to group African literatures into one category because doing so implies that the literatures are similar and uniform thus failing to express their…show more content…
It also perpetuates the single narrative about Africa and African people. This is because it creates a possibility members of its audience that do not have enough knowledge about Africa to think of Africans as a single cultural unit as it groups African works of literature into a category titled “…literature” which might imply that these works are one or a uniform group of people. With these limitations, it can be concluded that the category African literature is not an efficient way to group literatures found on the African continent. It is therefore more proper, as Saro-Wiwa suggests to rename it, ‘African Literatures’ (Saro-Wiwa 157) because that way its audience will understand that the category is not a collection of works that belong to a particular literature (Africa’s literature) but rather a collection of works that belong to a multitude of literatures found in Africa and hence the category will be able to express the linguistic and literary diversity that exists in the African continent and also curb the single narrative about Africa and African

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