does writing in african languages

The Ugandan writer Bwesigye bwa Mwesigire takes up the issue of language and literature and Africa.

Does African literature has to be written in an indigenous language? Just skip all the languages that did not originate on the African Continent (English, French, Portugese, Afrikaner, Arabic, German, maybe I have left out a few)? We can also skip (Ki)Swahili for large parts of East Africa, for (Ki)Swahili is a non-indigenous language to the Pokot and Turkana, just to name two ethnic communities in Kenya/Uganda (leave aside the tricky influence of Arabic (non-indigenous) on the (Ki)Swahili-language, let us classsify (Ki)Swahili as multi-indigenous?)

There are different opinions of the matter of language. You can also apply the same kind of reasoning to race/ethnicity. Only indigenous writers are truly African writers. But indigenous to what? To the whole of the continent? To the area where you live? To the area of your roots? Zukiswa Wanner lives and works in Nairobi, Kenya, but her roots are not in Kenya. Does she classify now as a non-indigenous writer? Mukoma wa Ngugi is a non-indigenous writer in the United States of America, but an indigenous writer in Kenya? Or is it just the other way around?

This is all nice stuff for theorists and purifiers. 

Mukoma Wa Ngugi says that African literature in English and other colonial languages is privileged over literatures in African indigenous languages. Photo: David Harrison


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I enjoy reading about Africa. New books. Old books. By African writers. By non-African writers. Novel. History. Travel. Biographies. Autobiographies. Politics. Colonialism. Poetry.

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