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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Creative literature, language and African identity
Author:Mulokozi, M.M.ISNI
Geographic term:Africa
Subjects:African identity
African languages
Abstract:Language is a key element in identifying a literature as belonging to a specific community and hence is capable of serving as a basic feature of that community's identity. While in Europe and Asia literature and identity usually go together, in Africa they tend to be separated by language. That among the 'world's' 100 best books of the twentieth century there were less than five books written by Africans is in fact hardly surprising. Africans writing in a 'borrowed' language such as English or French cannot expect to compete with an indigenous English or French writer. Sadly, however, a list of the 100 best 'African' titles of the twentieth century contained less than ten titles which were not in one of the four colonial languages (English, French, Portuguese, Spanish). An unstated linguistic criterion - a work should preferably be in the languages of the former colonizers - seems to have played a decisive role in the selection. A dichotomy has emerged between African literature written in indigenous languages and the literature of the elite written in foreign languages. Yet a people's identity, expressed in that people's culture, beliefs, rituals and way of life, can best be depicted in the indigenous, home-grown language. Africans must write in their indigenous languages. They must decide on a continental language, which should eventually serve as a pan-African language, so that 'Africans conversing with one another will no longer need interpreters'. Bibliogr. [ASC Leiden abstract]