The Dynamics of Underdevelopment in the African Novel: A Comparative Appraisal of Anglophone and Francophone Fiction
The post-independence era in sub-Saharan Africa is characterized by progressive underdevelopment. From the 1960s till date no meaningful development has occurred, and all known development strategies that have so far been adopted have defied all logic. Accordingly, some social scientists and scholars of development theories have come to the sad conclusion that with respect to Africa, all development theories have hit the rocks (Chambua, 1994, p, 37). The implication is that in all spheres of human endeavour, Africa south of the Sahara has failed. The leadership problem is one of the plagues that have bedevilled the West African sub region. And from the failure of leadership stems a truckload of woes: infrastructural deficit, corruption, neo-colonialist propensity, unemployment, ethnicity, educational backwardness, declining living standards, etc. This situation has left Africans disillusioned and disappointed. And African writers from the Anglophone and Francophone worlds have not relented in their condemnation of the post-independence malaise. Their oeuvre is a clear reflection of the battered landscape. Thus, in the works of Chinua Achebe, Wale Okediran, AhmadouKourouma and J.R. Essomba, the reader is led into the very soul of a continent in turmoil. These authors are selected from both sides of the linguistic divide. Whereas, Achebe and Okediran are Anglophones from Nigeria, Kourouma and Essomba are Francophones from Côte d’Ivoire and Cameroon respectively. This paper therefore attempted a diachronic investigation of the works of these authors in order to uncover the pervasive indices of underdevelopment. In other words, between Achebe and Okediran on the one hand, and between Kourouma and Essomba on the other hand, one discovers that the ills which the earlier novelists condemned in the first decade of independence have only gone from bad to worse some five decades later. The methodological approach adopted for this research work is textual analysis/ intertextuality, while privileging a socio-historical framework.
Key Words: underdevelopment, West Africa, dynamics, Achebe, Okediran, Kourouma, Essomba
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