Celebrating the Power of Literature in African Development


Author: Hellen Roselyne L. Shigali, Moi University, Kenya
Email: lungrose@yahoo.com
Published: November 30, 2016

Citation: Shigali, H. R. L. (2016). Celebrating the Power of Literature in African Development. IAFOR Journal of Literature & Librarianship, 5(1). https://doi.org/10.22492/ijl.5.1.04


The late South African author Lewis Nkosi described history as a hero in African literature in his critical text Tasks and Masks: Themes and Styles in African Literature (1981). In this paper I argue for the reverse: that African literature is not only a hero in Africa but also a powerful proactive force in the continent’s development. This function of literature is rarely acknowledged yet the subject constitutes the academic arm of the continent’s struggles against various forces. Colonialists recognised the essence of literature as a tool for deconstructing African culture and identity. African writers and political leaders from various vantage points also recognised its centrality in the decolonisation process. Therefore a comprehensive history of Africa, particularly in the last half century, must take cognisance of the contribution made by literary artists and texts.


African literature, postcolonialism, Ngugi wa Thiong’o