The Revolutionary African Novel

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THE REVOLUTIONARY AFRICAN NOVEL AND
SOCIALIST REALISM
BY
P. O. BALOGUN, Ph.D
Dept. of Modern European Languages,
University of Ilorin.
Introduction
The revolutionary African novel emerges from the crises
of colonialism and neo-colonialism.
The two are historical
contradictions that breed a lot of socio-psychological, sociopolitical
and
contemporary
socio-economic
African
crises
society.
In
in
the
other
past
words,
and
the
revolutionary African novel is preoccupied with resolving the
conflicts engendered by exploitation and oppression, which
are derivatives of colonialism and neo-colonialism.
The revolutionary African novel is that aspect of African
literature, which through prose fiction exposes the bitterness,
and woes of oppression on one hand.
On the other hand, it
exposes
revolutionary
the
attempt
made
by
the
African
novelists
to
dethrone
oppression,
its
practitioners
and
enthrone equity and an egalitarian society.
In reality, the revolutionary African novel is a protest
against and denouncement of oppression manifested through
exploitation, apartheid, racialism and other principles and
practices of social injustice employed by the practitioners of
colonialism and neo-colonialism.
Colonialism was a 19th century economic and sociopolitical
philosophy
employed
by
Europe
to
exploit
and
underdevelop Africa in all ramifications. Tangentially, it was
meant at the economic exploitation of Africa. In order to
facilitate the accomplishment of this motive, Europe evolved
diverse socio-political and economic structures/machineries.
Prominent among them were the indirect rule system, the
assimilationist policy, the apartheid system and other inhuman
agents
and
agencies
of
these
power
machineries.
Dehumanising agents and agencies of administration such as
the prison, the police, the military, racism were all weapons of
exploitation adopted by Europe to pauperise Africa.
In the contemporary ‘independent’ Africa, colonialism is
being replaced by another brand of economic and sociopolitical philosophy called neo-colonialism.
The ideology
could be defined from two different critical perspectives.
On
one hand is the attitude of the power machinery (government
2
structure) and its agents to the citizenry. This is portrayed in
the
attitude
of
Master-servant
relationship,
that
of
the
privileged and the underprivileged scrubble, that of the rich
versus the poor syndrome, etcetera.
In these perspectives,
the degree of exploitation is heightened as the individual
social status determines his being.
The second perspective reveals the role still being
played by Europe in African affairs even after the celebrated
independence of the African states. It is therefore saddening
and highly nauseating too; that the political independence
acquired by these states is a mockery of the true concept of
independence. Though, it is evident that most if not all African
states are politically independent, the superficiality of the said
freedom is obvious.
independent
states
Most if not all of these so called
are
still
tied
politically,
socially,
economically and in other spheres of life to the apron string of
their colonial lords.
colonialism
and
alienation,
class
There is no doubt in the fact that
neo-colonialism
stratification,
produced
conflicts
and
oppression,
struggles,
corruption and the like.
It is against this background that the revolutionary
African novel was born.
Since its birth, it has been and it is
still being dedicated to the cause of liberating the oppressed
from the shackles of oppression and bastardization.
3
It is
meant to sensitize the masses and the exploited to the
prevailing practical social reality in the African socio-political
milieu. The revolutionary African novelists who could also be
described as the emergent novelists evolve a corresponding
literary ideology known as socialist realism to combat and
negate the thesis of negation intended and pursued in
colonialism and neo-colonialism.
As an ideology of emancipation, socialist realism is
committed to the cause of the masses and the oppressed.
This commitment is expressed in the context of addressing
more concrete socio-economic and socio-political issues in the
African world. The ideologues of socialist realism identify the
oddities in the social setting and go beyond by proffering
panacea to them.
In their view, the solution is found in
revolution.
Our attempt in this chapter is geared towards identifying
and discussing those revolutionary elements in the African
novel as exemplified in Sembene Ousmane’s God’s Bits of
Wood, Xala and Alex La Guma’s A Walk In The Night and The
Stone Country.
The discourse presupposes that there is a
close affinity between ideology (socialist realism in this case)
and the African novel genre.
Thus, the view permeates the
study as this paper discusses this relationship through the
4
different characters created and employed by these novelists
and through the various themes pursued in their novels.
Socialist Realism and African Literature
The African revolutionary novel is a product and a
depiction of the socialist literature. The emergent literary and
critical works show the dawn of a new literary phenomenon.
In Africa, some of the novelists in this category are Ngugi Wa
Thiong’o, Sembene Ousmane, Alex La Guma etcetera.
The distinguishing characteristics of the works of these
writers are the underlying socialist ideas.
D. Markov writes
that this new literature:
came into being at the dawn of the
working class movement, at the time
when the spread of Marxist ideology and
socialist enlightenment were the order of
the day and when the key task was to
organize the working class, was militant
and propagandist in character.1
The socialist ideologue identifies alienation as the major
factor responsible for the crisis inherent in human society. He
sees alienation manifesting itself in various ways in the social,
political and economic structure of the society. To the socialist
writer, exploitation is a facet of alienation.
He therefore
objects to the exploitation of the working class.
Class
literature.
struggle
is
an
important
aspect
of
socialist
In socialist literature, the individual character’s
5
performance is to articulate the common cause of the class
struggle.
This is termed commitment in this school of
literature.
In estate literature, commitment is ideological and
revolutionary.
It encompasses the effort of the revolutionary
writer to effectively educate the masses to accomplish his
revolutionary
vision.
Therefore,
commitment
and
class
struggle are aspects of the socialist literature that are relevant
to our understanding of the revolutionary African novel.
Party commitment expounded by Lenin reveals
ideological
and
phenomenon.
aesthetic
relevance
of
this
the
literary
According to him, class struggle assumes a
political character against a background of advanced class
contradictions.
class
This exposes clearly defined demarcation of
positions.
This
class-consciousness
represents
the
essence of party commitment. In Lenin’s words, partisanship
means “the result and the political expression of highly
developed class antagonisms.”2
Thus, party commitment
requires an understanding of the relationship between various
classes and of the prospects for society’s development.
As we noted in the introductory note to this paper, the
prevailing
socio-political
and
economic
conditions
in
the
colonial and neo-colonial Africa lead to the emergence of the
oppressed class.
This class is depicted in socialist literature
as the hero of a “new historical phenomenon: the proletarian
6
filled with a deep faith in the revolutionary transformation of a
society filled with social injustice.”3 African socialist writers
share the keen awareness of “class irreconcilability and
revolutionary faith in the historical mission of the proletariat
and the oppressed masses.”4
Furthermore, socialist literature tries to examine and
endeavour to resolve “the principle of class commitment in art,
the
harm
of
decadent
literary
theories,
the
role
of
a
progressive world outlook in artistic creation, the unity of
content and form, the historical inevitability of the emergence
and development of a new socialist literature.”5
Revolutionary violence is also an element of socialist
literature.
Revolutionary
necessarily related.
violence
and
ideology
are
Revolutionary thinkers like Karl Marx,
Engels, Jean-Paul Sartre, Frantz Fanon concerned with the
plight and welfare of the down trodden masses contend that
through strike and violence, the masses could be liberated
from the shackles of oppression. To these scholars therefore,
violence is a means to an end.
It is from this general
ideological framework that we shall attempt a comparative
study of Ousmane and La Guma.
Their contributions to the growth of socialist aesthetics in
Africa are tremendous.
Their artistic creativity and social
vision are derivations of the alienated people’s ideological
7
moves toward a better human existence.
The pre and post
independent Africa which is dominated by disgust, discontent
and disillusionment which emanate from all those conditions of
alienation are radically expressed in the works of La Guma
and Ousmane.
Their patterns of characterization, language
structure and their stylistic devices reflect those conditions of
human existence in the society that we defray in this paper.
God’s Bits of Word and Xala in the context of
Socialist Realism
The wage differences of the White and Black workers in
God’s Bits of Wood are responsible for the crisis in the novel.
These visible different conditions of service of these working
groups are all conditions of alienation.
The degree at which
the whites arrogate power to themselves at the expense of the
blacks in the novel reflects alienation denounced by the
emergent literature.
In God’s Bits of Wood, class struggle exists as the
workers
show
their
disgust
in
their
white
employers’
exploitative and oppressive gimmicks. The strike action in the
novel is a result of class struggle. As the whites are conflicting
with the blacks, so also the oppressors and the oppressed are
at log-a-head with one another. Furthermore, the bourgeoisie
always resist the open confrontation from the proletariat.
8
In Xala, the diversion of the masses’ resources by the
more privileged class is exploitative.
The attitude of the
oppressing class in the novel portrayed by El Hadji Beye is a
clear indication of oppression among Africans even after
independence. Therefore, in the novel, the crisis between the
beggars and El Hadji Beye is a matter of class struggle. The
beggars exercise their disapproval of El Hadji’s oppressive
posture as they march to his house.
All these conditions of alienation and class conflicts call
for violence.
In Ousmane’s works, this violent tendency is
also manifested in his characters – whites and blacks alike. In
God’s -Bits of Wood, the great and dynamic Penda loses her
life due to the violent approach of the colonial security agents.
In fact, her death is precipitated by series of measures from
the whites, which are oppressive. In Xala, the same situation
prevails. Though, there is no record of loss of life in the novel,
instances of reactionary violence are glaring. The invitation of
the police by the white colonial lords to quell the
beggars’
protest is a visible display of violence.
This is why Ousmane’s oppressed characters in his
works are created to pursue their disapproval of oppression.
In fact, the idea of the strike in God’s Bits of Wood represents
the use of revolutionary violence.
All the steps taken by the
oppressed characters during the strike are overtly or covertly
9
expressed in a violent manner.
Also, the beggars in Xala
possess the violent attitude characteristic of the oppressed
classes as they march enmass to El Hadji Beye’s house and
confront him.
This validates the position of revolutionary thinkers who
see revolutionary violence as a means to an end.
The
oppressed characters in Ousmane’s works embark on the
strike and open confrontation as alternatives to oppression.
Therefore, revolutionary violence and ideology are inseparable
in revolutionary aesthetics.
It is on this basis that Ousmane helps the masses
organize themselves for better articulation of their wishes and
aspirations.
In his works, gradually and systematically too,
Ousmane makes the oppressed see why they are being
oppressed. In both novels, the novelist mobilizes the masses
to bridge the wide and diametrical distinction between them
and the oppressors.
This mobilization strategy is achieved
through the characters’ dedication to the cause of the struggle.
In Gods Bits of Wood, the collective resistance of oppression
by majority of the lower estates reflect the essence of mass
mobilization (collectivism) in socialist literature. Thus, in a
violent and effective manner, the lumpen-proletariat in the
novel toppido the colonial infiltrators.
10
In Xala, the novelist pursues this ideological necessity
with every rigour. The ability of the beggars to embark on that
procession reflect social mobilization and commitment of the
oppressed
strata.
Without
exaggeration,
the
beggars’
procession to El Hadji Beye’s house precedes his cure from
his ‘xala’.
Therefore, the beggars’ attitude validates Marx’s
belief in the masses as the clue to their problems. From now,
the masses gain recognition as a force to reckon with as
opposed to the aspersion and negligence with which they
were being treated. The lumpen-proletariat in Xala, in a very
subtle but strongly effective manner reshapes its destiny.
Depicting the lumpen-proletariat as the heroes of his
works, the novelist expresses his uncompromising tendency
towards the oppressors. This idea is succinctly summarized in
Hoffman’s words that:
the inability to wipe out poverty is perhaps
the most important fact of the time.
Hundreds of millions of people, whose fore
bears patiently accepted lives of misery
are the revolution of rising expectation!
What had been a distant dream has now
become a passionate demand. There is
general agreement that the industrially
developed nations – can no longer ignore
this demand – in their own interests. For,
if the yearnings of these hundreds of
millions of people for better lives are
ignored, the future promises an explosive
outbreak of another. On the other hand, if
effective assistance helps these people
achieve their lives, the world may become
better than anyone has ever hoped. More
11
than any other single factor, the response
to this demand will determine the political
and social complexion of the future.6
Perhaps, Ousmane’s creation of characters to revolt
against the oppressive system is a corroboration of Hoffman’s
perception of those hundreds of millions of people.
Though,
the originality of Ousmane’s ideas is undoubted, looking at the
above ideological standpoint, we accept the fact that they both
cater for the plight of the masses. Therefore, we could
conclude that Ousmane identifies completely with the masses.
His ideological position, though derived from the utopian
aspect of the Marxist-Leninist doctrine, his devotion to the
cause of the masses is not rooted therein. Nonetheless, this
broadens and enriches “his experiences and vision as a
writer”.7 His desire always is thus to speak for the ‘voiceless
masses’.
He expresses his role as a writer in the following
words: “so far as I am concerned, writing which is not my job,
is a social necessity, like the jobs of the mason, the carpenter
or the iron-worker.”8
The structure and setting of his works, his language and
patterns of characterization all reflect his commitment to the
cause of the masses. In his works, there is unity of content
and form in the pattern of socialist literature.
The setting of
God’s Bits of -Wood in a railway company is a literary style,
which reflects a real life situation.
12
All the experiences
portrayed in the novel took place in reality between October
10,
1947
and
March
17,
1948,
in
Senegal.
In
Xala,
Ousmane’s interpretation of the ‘xala’, his choice of individual
characters, his flay of traditional African values and Islamic
principles, his employment of marriage rituals and the use of
religious marabouts are all reactions to real life situation in a
typical African setting after independence.
His language in
both novels also portrays the cause of the down- trodden.
Based
on
the
foregoing
discussion
of
Ousmane’s
ideological stance in his works, we could say he projects the
lumpen-proletariat as a class:
Of the majority, of the sources of all the
wealth and profit accruing to the state and
of those who really contribute to the
upkeep of the state. It therefore has to be
winning class. But then, this victory can
only come if the class of the oppressed
(the labourers, the alienated, the dregs of
the society) is conscious of its rights,
duties and potentials; if the class gets one
determined voice, if it is aware of the most
appropriate means to fight out its cause.9
Socialist realism in A Walk in the Night and
The Stone Country
In South Africa, as revealed by the literary works of the
country, alienation is in existence in a more complicated
manner than what we find in Senegal.
The oppressive
legislation made by the South African government is a
13
phenomenon of the capitalist ideology.
annihilate the blacks.
It is decreed to
This is actualised through violence.
This explains why violence is a common place phenomenon in
the attitudes of the principal characters of La Guma.
In A Walk in the Night, Realt’s attitude to Willieboy
reflects reactionary violence. According to Coetzee in spite of
all attempts by Willieboy to avoid Realt, this wicked and
malicious police constable “gets on his trail and guns him
down.”10
propagate
Therefore,
the
the
apartheid
police
system
system.
It
is
designed
also
shows
wickedness of colonialism as an ideology.
to
the
Commenting on
the reactionary violence of the apartheid regime in South
Africa, Ezekiel Mphahlele writes: “the violence in La Guma’s
white characters on the others, finds expression readily; by
means of the gun luncheon and obsenities.”11 This is the real
situation in The Stone Country.
In the novel, the murder, The Casbah Kid commits is
violence at work. This is a response to the wicked prevailing
socio-political and economic conditions in the society.
lower estate sees violence as a way of life.
The
It is seen as a
regenerating and spiritually purifying phenomenon in a setting
where intimidation, exploitation and segregation reign. At such
a tender age of nineteen years, The Casbah Kid does not see
any havoc in committing murder. He and others in his
14
category commit such atrocity as revolutionary strategy for
negating frustration and oppression.
Also, George Adams is
violent like any other member of the lower estate. His
colleagues in the prison confirm this.
In A Walk in the Night, at a point, the crowd bully the
colonial agents in one of their quests to hurt Willieboy. In fact,
the killing of the old white-man by Michael Adonis is a
reflection of La Guma’s characterization. This implies that his
characters react to prevailing situation in a violent manner.
Similarly, it portrays the psychology of oppression.
Again, this validates the place of violence in socialist
ideology. Since violent approach is visible in the characters of
both
authors
and
since
this
has
been
propounded
by
revolutionaries as a means to an end, it is a signification of its
ideological relevance. No wonder this is a pre-occupation of
revolutionaries in modern African literature.
The class conflict we find in the works of La Guma
validates the issue of class struggle identified with socialist
literature. In
A Walk in the Night and The Stone Country, the whites are
always clashing with the blacks and the coloureds. These
clashes
are
noticeably
rooted
in
the
social
stratification
existing in the country. Therefore, the issue of class conflict is
an aspect of ideological conflict found in the works of modern
15
African novelists. This is why Omafume Onoge acknowledges
the influence of social stratification in the creative process of
the artist.
According to him, such stratification produces a
“dialectical paradigm (that) underscores conflict rather than
harmony, stresses forces rather than equilibrating ones; and
affirms
qualitative
Therefore
in
the
discontinuity
works
of
rather
La
than
Guma
like
gradualism.”12
any
ideologue, class struggle is a major pre-occupation.
socialist
This is
pursued to the core.
On La Guma’s ideological position, Ezekiel Mphahlele
observes that:
The author (La Guma) acknowledges a
Marxist approach to his setting: the
brutality of an environment like urban
ghettos which have been created by the
white man to dehumanize blacks. There is
little internalization of conflict in the
individual.
He is a victim and must
survive the South African nightmare. He
must clutch at what he can get out of a
barren life; love, seek compassion from
fellow blacks, keep patching a leaking
roof, come every wet season; engage in
fights; drink wine; welcome the new born;
do what is right by the dyeing.13
Such are the characters of La Guma.
As a Marxist-oriented
novelist, he sensitises the oppressed. He also condemns the
apartheid system in totality.
He perceives it as “an extreme
racial tendency of capitalism.”14
His commitment to the cause
of the oppressed like any other Marxian ideologue is rooted in
16
his personal experiences. He shares the horrible experiences
of the masses.
He left South Africa for London on exile in
1966. Before this time, he suffered with one hundred and fiftyfive others for Treason Trial. Because of La Guma’s personal
experiences, it is observed that: “there is no pretence that the
writer is removed; he is there in the slums, among the people;
involved with their lives, their hatreds and their defeats.”15 His
works are therefore expressions of his revolutionary vision.
This he achieves by mobilizing the oppressed to socio-political
awareness.
As a disciple of the Marxian ideology, La Guma
commits himself to the use of revolutionary and radical
traditions in his works.
This is why the oppressed always
feature in his works. In fact, his works are writings of liberation
struggles waged not only by the blacks in South Africa, but by
all the oppressed people of the society.
La Guma’s style reflects the unity of content and form
advocated in socialist literature.
social
stratification,
the
The visible dichotomy in
movement
of
people
from
the
countryside to the urban setting noticeable in the plot structure
of his works, the manipulative skills of characters and the
predominant violent tradition are features of South African
literature.
La
Guma’s
characterization
pattern
featuring
sociology of crimes, physical and psychological struggles are
all
aspects
of
apartheid
literature.
17
Race
and
class
compartmentalization noticeable in his works are elements of
alienation denounced in socialist literature.
His language
pattern where the oppressed characters insult the oppressing
classes is an authentication of his position as a Marxian
ideologue.
A Synopsis of Revolutionary Aesthetics in La
Guma and Ousmane’s Works
Ousmane and La Guma’s works based on colonial and
neo-colonial
economic
settings
oppressions
delineate
and the
the
racial,
apartheid
socio-political,
system of
the
oppressor’s syndrome. Racial discrimination, egocentricism
and eurocentricm that motivated the external and internal
imperialists’ economic and political domination of a people
were responsible for the contradictions discussed in this study.
In the novels being examined, Ousmane and La Guma make
a convincing character delineation of both the blacks and the
whites to portray the racial, socio-political and economic
arrogance of the oppressors. While Dejean, Pierrot, Isnard
and Beatrice in God’s Bits of Wood are manifestations of the
French policy of assimilation, Raalt the police Constable in A
Walk in the Night and the prison guards in The Stone Country
stand for the apartheid system of the white settlers in South
Africa.
Also, El Hadji Mabigue in God’s Bits of Wood and Hadji
Abdou Kadre Baye in Xala embody the aspirations of the
18
privileged
classes
in
the
African
society.
Ousmane’s
European characters practicalise human exploitation in the
factories.
By
creating
numerous
draconian
decrees,
the
European characters in La Guma’s works throw the black
characters into prison only to make them work freely for the
white
settlers.
premeditated
The
the
novelists
conflict
prove
between
that
labour
colonialism
and
capital
noticeable in the neo-colonial era. Furthermore, the complex
political machinery of these Europeans aids the oppression
and
denigration
machinery
was
of
a
the
prelude
blacks.
to
This
complex
rural-urban
political
dichotomy
and
polarization visible in the neo-colonial fiction. In most cases,
the masses are impoverished into hewers of wood and
drawers of water except in occasions where some masses
betray others.
Instances of this betrayal syndrome are
most noticeable in
God’s Bits of Wood with Imam and Sounkare in the forefront.
The workers of these novelists reflect the master-servant
relationship typical of any colonial setting.
Besides this
effective characterization, both novelists create settings and
actions that depict the exploitativeness of colonialism and neocolonialism.
Also, the two novelists create vocal masses that do not
adhere to the stoic philosophy of suffering in silence.
19
These
masses agitate against and resist the colonial and neocolonial authorities. The Workers’ Strike and the disapproval
of some oppressive machinery in both God’s Bits of Wood and
Xala are evidences of the agitation and resistance.
approach
is
spearheaded
by
militant
and
This
revolutionary
characters like Bakayoko, Doudou, old Fa Keita, Penda,
Rama and the beggars. Again, evidences of such resistance
and agitation are noticeable in A Walk in the Night and The
Stone
Country.
The
deviant
attitudes
of
characters
like
Michael Adonis, Willieboy, The Casbah Kid, George Adams,
Butcherboy in both novels are significations of this resistance.
These conflicts, are precipitated by the oppressiveness of
labour over capital.
Furthermore, the novelists are of the conviction that the
woes of colonialism are still glaring in Africa even after
independence.
In another form, the neo-colonial masters
have encroached on the life of the “independent nations” in a
different and more complex manner.
Ousmane’s works.
This is more visible in
Through characterization and actions,
Ousmane shows the technical fetishism of Europe” in Xala
and the Money Order.
In these novels, the novelist reflects
the way and manner the international capitalists use the
national
middle
class
to
impoverish
the
oppressed.
Furthermore, exploitation by capital and the callousness of the
20
new leaders are well expressed in Xala. There is doom in the
“new nations”. This doom emanates from the recklesness of
the new leaders. With the exception of Rama – a member of
the educated class, all the other privileged classes in Xala
constitute social debris that inhibits the societal peace and
sanity.
The situation in South Africa is more pathetic.
As
revealed in A Walk in the Night and The Stone Country,
colonialism is still in practice in the country. Colonialism which
we assumed has been removed from the African soil some
decades ago is still enforced in another fashion in South
Africa.
In this era, that most African states are independent,
South Africa is still under oppression. Owing to the stringent
socio-political
victimized.
condition
in
the
country,
the
blacks
are
They contravene the draconian decrees of the
colonizers; hence, they are thrown into jail. In response to this
new oppressive approach, Michael Adonis, Willieboy in A
Walk in the Night, The Casbah Kid, George Adams and others
in The Stone Country constitute themselves to deviants that
threaten the continuing existence of the oppressor in the
country.
With all these gloomy situations, these novelists are
optimistic about social transformation.
However, they do not
see this revolution as the handiwork of any of the oppressing
21
classes discussed in this study. The two novelists believe it is
only the masses themselves that could be the architects and
the implementors of the desired transformation.
This is why
they expose the masses to the prevailing practical social
reality
and
novelists
their
also
dehumanising
make
the
living
masses
see
condition.
the
These
possibility
of
changing the situation for better. In the works of La Guma and
Ousmane,
it
is
evident
that
the
masses
are
conscious of a total liberation from oppression.
eventually
This is why
the cheated and alienated masses in God’s Bits of Wood
protest against the colonial oppressive bureaucracy. Similarly,
the duped masses in Xala in a collective and militant manner
confront Hadji Beye and seek redress. In
A Walk in the Night and The Stone Country, the oppressed
masses resort to violence and deviant behaviour as an
expression of disgust resulting from the apartheid system.
Motivated by postulations of Marx and Fanon, these
novelists mobilize the masses to resist the oppressive system.
Some characters in the works of these novelists assume the
leadership of the protest mission. They organize the masses
to carry out the resistance.
These organizers are part and
parcel of the class suffering from social, political and economic
oppression we have been discussing in this chapter.
22
Comparing Ousmane and La Guma with their other
African
contemporaries
Thiong’O
who
situations
in
also
like
write
Africa,
they
Peter
on
Abrahams,
colonial
prove
more
and
Ngugi
Wa
neo-colonial
conscious
of
the
predicaments of the masses. As opposed to Soyinka, Achebe,
Armah, Awoonor and novelists of the critical realist school of
literature, Ousmane and La Guma do not only expose the
woes and misgivings of colonialism and neo-colonialism, they
also
make
moves
artistically
and
creatively
to
provide
pragmatic solutions to the contradictions engendered by these
colonial and neo-colonial doctrines.
Artists like Soyinka,
Awoonor, Armah, Achebe and others in their group, have
merely exposed the problems inherent in colonialism and neocolonialism. They have failed to offer any solution.
Unlike these scholars, Ousmane and La Guma use their
artistic creativity as a vehicle for negating the bourgeois
culture and ideology.
Their works rest on some positive
ideological alternative which is socialism.
As socialist realist
writers, they offer a diagnosis to the condition of social crisis.
La
Guma
capitalism.
and
Ousmane
identify
the
existing
They both name and discuss classes.
reality
as
They see
the capitalist social formation as inherently based on the
exploitation of the majority by the privileged few. Furthermore,
both of them see the solution of the social contradictions
23
inherent in the capitalist system in the liquidation of the
capitalist state.
This is why their characters, blacks and
whites alike engage in combat.
Also, both La Guma and Ousmane trace the origin of the
social crisis to its colonial roots. They see the colonial epoch
in Africa as producing the capitalist social order. They see the
primary motivation of the colonizers as economic. In view of
this fact, both La Guma and Ousmane insist that Africa must
structurally disengage itself from the capitalist structures in
Europe. This in their view is a prelude to the dealienation
process.
Thus, La Guma and Ousmane have a general
consensus on the ideological position of the masses in African
literature. In fact, it is on this vantage point that they treat the
masses with reverence in their literary works.
By and large,
their reference to the masses as the principal characters in
their
works
has
dispelled
the
levity
with
which
these
characters are treated. Out of such venture, the two novelists
have evolved a kind of literature that leans towards the
modern African literature – the ideological and sociological
novel.
They do not hide what they represent in their works.
They continuously aspire to build a realistic socialist literature
that
could
constantly
awaken
the
masses to the social transformation.
24
consciousness
of
the
Conclusion
This study has exposed us to the origin, course and
effects
of
colonialism.
the
contradictions
of
colonialism
and
neo-
Also, the study has exposed us to the efforts
made by the revolutionary African novelists to advocate for a
more viable society in which egalitarianism is desirable.
This
hope is kindled in us through their realistic social, artistic and
creative vision.
Thus, from the foregoing analysis, we could conclude
that the interests of the novelists being studied are centred on
the oppressed masses. They (novelists) create all avenues
necessary for liberating their clients from oppression.
They
also see the reality of this liberation in collective resistance,
which could only be possible through prolific writings, and
powerful utterances as manifested in their works through their
characters.
25
NOTES
1Dmitry
Markov, 1978, Socialist Literatures: Problems
Development. Moscow: Raduga Publishers, p.21.
2V.I.
of
Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. II, p.77.
3Dmitry
Markov, p.32.
4Ibid.,
p.32.
5Ibid.,
p.28.
6Harry
Bullis, et. al., 1962, Tensions in Developing Nations.
New York: Macfadden Books, p.9.
7Myron
Echenberg, ed. 1984, Canadian Journal of African
Studies, Vol. 18, No. 2 Ottawa: The Canadian Journal of
African Studies.
8Ibid.
9Ibid.
10See
J.M. Coetzee’s “Man’s Fate in the Novels of Alex La
Guma” published in Studies In Black Literature, Vol. 5,
No. 1.
11Ezekiel
Mphahlele, 1924, The African Image New York:
Fraeger Publishers, p.227.
12D.I.
Nwoga, ed. 1978, Literature And Modern West African
Culture. Benin: Ethiope Publishing Corporation, p.93.
13Ezekiel
Mphahlele, p.227.
Agye 1986, “Towards A People’s Literature of
Socio-political Awareness” in Literature and Society, ed.
Earnest Emenyonu, Calabar: Zimpan, pp. 127-145.
14Za-Ayem
15Ibid.
26
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