By Evan Maina Mwangi
Explores the metafictional concepts of up to date African novels instead of characterizing them essentially as a reaction to colonialism.
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Additional resources for Africa Writes Back to Self: Metafiction, Gender, Sexuality
The novel presents them as dancing with grace in support of their own oppression. The songs present the subaltern speaking through her body and voice to aggrandize her own marginalization in a patriarchal society. This is best captured in the women’s participation in the literary components of the ceremony: Men shrieked and shouted and jumped in the air as they went round in a circle. For them, this was the moment. This was the time. Women, stripped to the waist, with their thin breasts flapping on their chests, went round and round the big fire, swinging their hips and contorting their bodies in all sorts of provocative ways, but always keeping the rhythm.
I allude indirectly to Shklovky’s notion of estrangement throughout the study not only because it structures much of the contemporary theorizing of literature but also because metafiction is a form of proliferated defamiliarization. In the search for a genealogy of metafiction in African novels, I also consider Ngu˜gı˜ wa Thiong’o’s and Fredric Jameson’s separate reminders that all literature is political, not the least texts and stylistic elements that appear to be apolitical. Metafiction as a technical device has been used in different ways to defamiliarize and consequently demystify African social experience and to serve as a forum for political intervention.
Echoing Bhabha, Olaniyan forges a third space that recognizes the inevitable interimplication between European and African forms and that sees literary production as a process that does not fossilize African literature into a static entity with a supposed culturalist leverage over other social categories. For Olaniyan, post-Afrocentricity distinguishes itself as “a singular insistence on unscrambling and supplanting the excessive Manichaeism that both constitutes the Eurocentric and undermines the subversive potential of the Afrocentric, while both affirming instead the foundational premise of an irreversible imbrication of histories, and therefore cultures and cultural forms” (1995, 4).