A saga of black deglorification : the disfigurement of Africa in Ayi Kwei Armah's novels

Doctoral Thesis


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University of Cape Town

The focus of this dissertation is the thesis that if Ayi Kwei Armah's five novels - The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born (1968), Fragments (1969), Why Are We So Blest? (1972), Two Thousand Seasons (1973) and The Healers (1978) - are closely analysed, they will emerge as a single creative mythology devoted to the fictional disfigurement of Black Africa from primeval times to the present. An analysis of Afiican writings reveals that a body of contemporary African literature has and is still undergoing a distinctive metamorphosis. This change, which amounts to a significant departure from the early fifties, derives its creative impulse from demonic anger and cynical iconoclasm and is triggered by the mind-shattering disillusion that followed independence. The proclivity towards tyranny and the exploitation of the ruled in modern Africa is traced by radical African creative writers to an ancient source : the legendary and god-like rulers of pre-colonial Africa. Ouologuem's Bound to Violence, Wole Soyinka's play, A Dance of the Forests, and Armah's Two Thousand Seasons and The Healers hypothesize that past political violations begot the present wreckage of the African populace. The legendary warrior heroes of the past, whose glory and splendour were once exalted in African writing, are now ruthlessly disentombed and paraded as miscreants and despots, who brutalized and sold their people into slavery. Although Armah glorifies "The Way" in Two Thousand Seasons and "the metaphysics of African healing" in The Healers, the dominant preoccupation of two novel histories is to divest the ancient godlike kings of their false glory.

Bibliography: p. 260-284.