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Routes: language and the identity of African literature

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 December 1999

Moradewun Adejunmobi
Affiliation:
African American and African Studies Program, University of California, Davis, CA, USA

Abstract

The debate over the language of African literature has continued to generate significant interest ever since the emergence of African literary writing in European languages. Discussions of this debate have in the past often highlighted the inherently normative character of the idea of an African literature in African languages. By tracing the history of the debate, this paper seeks to distinguish between the actual role played by African languages in the emergence of a literature identified as African by its practitioners, and the ideological function of the debate for Africans who write in European languages. From this perspective, appeals for a literature in indigenous languages appear to serve the purpose of ethnic signification on behalf of a tradition of writing that continues to rely on European languages at the levels of both creative practice and theoretical formulation.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 1999 Cambridge University Press

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