By Handel Kashope Wright
Read or Download A Prescience of African Cultural Studies: The Future of Literature in Africa Is Not What It Was (Counterpoints (New York, N.Y.), Vol. 40.) PDF
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Extra resources for A Prescience of African Cultural Studies: The Future of Literature in Africa Is Not What It Was (Counterpoints (New York, N.Y.), Vol. 40.)
By the time St. Augustine appears at the door, the bedlam has come to an abrupt halt, replaced by a studious quietness, punctuated with the orderly sound of pages being ﬂicked as we search for our “place” in the text. St. Augustine walks briskly to his desk, narrating on the way in a loud voice and from memory the poem we are to discuss that day. This exhibitionist illustration of his prodigious long-term memory is designed to amaze and impress the class—and it never fails! “St. ” My classmates are whispering the usual noises of appreciation of his performance.
I wonder to myself, risking a reprimand by turning my attention away from the teacher (who is continuing his rendition of Keats from his desk) to stare outside for inspiration. I am mildly surprised to see eight shirtless, sweating fourth formers still playing an intense game of soccer, risking suspension from school to achieve a decisive conclusion to their game. It’s probably colder than a harmattan morning, I bet. Perhaps it is as cold as the inside of a fridge? Colder? Cold as inside a freezer?
However, in the end, these criteria by themselves are too narrow. They do not deal with the fact that literature can be and often is engaged for pleasure, even for escapism; they do not deal with the fact that pure social transformation is hardly a signiﬁcant criterion of traditional African forms; they do not take into account the importance of myth and the fact that African worldviews almost always involve an element of the mythical. When this narrow set of criteria is applied to African literature, many works that are not overtly Marxist or materialist are declared unimportant and, perhaps more dangerous, un-African.