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Lwati: A Journal of Contemporary Research

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Refiguring the African Image in the Counter Hegemonic Discourse of the Bestial Other in the Poetry of Claude Mckay and Langston Hughes

AE Eyang

Abstract


The stereotyping discourse in which the African was seen as the bestial other and
consequently the lower order had long survived in Western scholarship and held on to
as a necessary justification for years of exploitation through slavery, colonization,
Neo-colonization and other forms of Postmodernist contraption such as globalisation.
In this negative discourse, the African suffered great indignity as his tormentor sought
to exclude him from the rights and benefits of his society. Goaded by the need for a
creative re-assessment of the African image, pioneer Pan-Africanists like W.E.B Du
Bois championed an intellectual crusade to counter the hitherto hegemonic discourse
that treated the African condescendingly. African-American Poets of the
Harlem renaissance such as Claude McKay and Langston Hughes particularly,
creatively exploded the stereotypes in their angry denunciation of oppression and
racial injustice. At once they artistically rejected and reversed the stereotypes using
different stylistic strategies thereby connecting, sharing and responding to the overall
African colonial experience. This paper discusses the strategies adopted by McKay
and Hughes in their poetic counter-rhetoric as a way of forging the African image, a
major motif in colonial and post-colonial literary articulation in Africa.




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