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Reviewing the Curriculum of African Literature in Our Universities: A Case for Literature in Indigenous Languages
A number of African literature scholars including Emenyonu (2006) Nnolim (2006) and Hale (2006) made cases for a radical change of focus of African Literature of the 21st century. While Emenyonu advocated for a new direction in the millennium that will challenge the writers. readers, teachers, and publishers of African literature to invest their best initiatives in harnessing the 20th century legacies of African literature towards a consolidated base for the 21st century, Nnolim advocated that the African writers/scholars in this century must be challenged to envision a new Africa which has achieved parity (politically, technologically, economically, and militarily with Europe and America. He has to widen his canvas. However, all their recommendations fell short of a complete and holistic re-focusing of the objectives of African literary studies in the 21st century, as it did not incorporate a deliberate attempt at recognizing literature in indigenous African languages as key elements not only in African literature, criticism and analysis but also in the curriculum for its teaching in our universities. Proving that literature in African languages, be it prose as in Ofomata’s Ihe Ojoo Gbaa Afo (Iwuchukwu, 2006) or drama as in A.B Chukuezi’s Udo Ka Mma (Ikeokwu, 2005) or poetry all like such works in the imperialist languages, English, French, Portuguese. Etc. mirrors the society, presenting its ills and problems with the intent of reforming by proffering solutions. Some of those authors using the vernacular see, hear, feel, go or sense what others using the colonial languages cannot see, hear, feel, go or sense. The paper wonders why such works as stated above and many others not stated as well as the vital messages conveyed, should be left unexplored nor insight about them not form part of the knowledge an African literature student should acquire. The paper further makes case for the review of the African literature curriculum content to accommodate courses that will expose the students to some details about literature in African languages. It argues that the continued exclusion of this component of the curriculum remains a subtle emasculation of the African-ness in African literature which suggests a lack of the literary will required to anchor the 21st century African literature on a radically different pedestal from those of the previous centuries.