Journal of Humanities

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Melancholy and trauma in David Rubadiri’s poetry

Edgar Nabutanyi


David Rubadiri’s literary works embody a melancholy which is an inevitable outcome of the colonial epistemic violence committed against Africans during and after colonialism. This is perhaps why his works interrogate the dual collective traumatic memory of Africa’s colonial and post-independence disillusionment. It is unsurprising that the poetic works of Rubadiri generally, and those explored in this article simultaneously betray nostalgic melancholy of the continent’s squandered opportunities and promise at independence. The poetry is characterised by searing awareness of a collective and personal traumatic memory of Africa’s post-independence milieu. Using Caruth’s notion that traumatic content finds articulation in a language that is literary and Godbout’s postulation that melancholic literature aesthetically and artistically discloses philosophical truths, I argue that Rubadiri’s poetry foregrounds traumatic experiences and melancholic longings of Africa to provide profound insights into Africa’s post(colonial) reality. The melancholic tone of Rubadiri’s poetry that nostalgically recalls the missed opportunities of the continent and its people at independence surfaces traumatic experiences that are a lived reality of postcolonial Africa.

Keywords: melancholy, trauma, fiction, postindependence disillusionment, poetry,

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