Ma’atic Beauty: Ethics and Aesthetics of the Ancient Egyptians in Ayi Kwei Armah's Osiris Rising and KMT

  • F Mami


Consensus among archeologists exhibits the idea that Ma'at for Kemetic peoples (ancient Egyptians) stands for the fundamental order of the universe. It organized the ancient Egyptian world and made it spiritually and artistically sui generis. In his last two novels, the Ghanaian novelist Ayi Kwei Armah, deploys the ancient Egyptian concept of Ma'at in order to postulate a new identity paradigm. In Osiris Rising (1995), Ma'at is presented as the spawning force empowering underprivileged Africans to assess slavery as essentially unethical. In addition and thanks to Ma'at, these conscious Africans deploy the concept as an ideological nemesis that tried on several occasions to stage the termination of the spiteful trade in humans. In elaborating on this concept, readers find out its potential to foster cultural understanding and coexistence in today's Africa. Similarly, there are multiple instances in KMT (2002) where various narrators evoke Ma'at for the sake of conceptualizing it as a prism through which Africans can refract situations and then reflect upon a range of important themes in African history. One such important theme is how Africa can project a viable culture whereby it may get out from the present dysfunctioning as this dysfunctioning is manifested in violent conflicts. Abstract, as it may easily be charged from the first, Ma'at cannot be disconnected from debates over narratives of anti-colonial and postcolonial conflicts. Indeed, Armah reveals that far from being marooned into a state of archaic, timeless and unchanging tradition, Ma'at has the potential to shape and enhance a sound and inspiring ethical code for nowadays Africans.

Keywords: Mařat, kemetic culture, African cultural transformation, postcolonial condition


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eISSN: 0075-7640
print ISSN: 0075-7640