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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Orality in the Black Zimbabwean Novel in English
Author:Vambe, Maurice T.ISNI
Periodical:Journal of Southern African Studies
Geographic term:Zimbabwe
Subjects:oral literature
Literature, Mass Media and the Press
About persons:Solomon M. MutswairoISNI
Charles Lovemore Mungoshi (1947-2019)ISNI
Chenjerai Hove (1956-2015)ISNI
Dambudzo Marechera (1952-1987)ISNI
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/4133834
Abstract:The question of the extent to which African orality exerts an influence on the black Zimbabwean novel in English has taken centre stage in recent critical debates. One view is that a revived African cultural nationalism during the war of liberation claimed for its own purposes that African orality was always resistant to colonial policies. According to this view, colonialism's attempt to suppress African culture instead generated among Africans a sense of oneness, producing a united community with the single aim of achieving freedom. This assumption that resistance was inherent in orality, both before colonization and during the struggle, is complicated by evidence that, in the periods in question, orality communicated absolutely everything, including authoritarian and hegemonic ideas. Because orality occupied a highly volatile cultural space in the lived contexts of African societies, serving multiple and sometimes apparently contradictory purposes, it is not surprising that the same paradoxical uses of orality can be traced in the black novel. The challenge for black Zimbabwean novelists was whether they would attempt to make use only of specific 'traditional' protest genres within orality or whether they felt that the mere evocation of orality was enough to give an anticolonial authenticity to their novels. Referring to S. Mutswairo's 'Feso', C. Mungoshi's 'Waiting for the rain', C. Hove's 'Bones', and D. Marechera's 'Black sunlight', this article argues that Zimbabwean authors use orality to confront the reader with an array of unstable meanings that potentially subvert narratives of resistance. The article demonstrates that there are ideological differences and conflicting views underlying the ways in which authors use orality. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]