The festschrift tradition in African literature: Its implications for the future of African literary criticism
Within the past nearly two decades or so, a number of festschrifts on African literary icons and other scholars have been published, suggesting a paradigm shift in the preferred choices of publication options open to critics of African literature. The front burner position which festschrifts now seem to occupy, the variegated nature of their structural configurations, the baggage of doubtful mix that we often get from their editors and the doubtful quality of a number of the papers published in them, are the main factors that have inspired the writing of this essay. We note that in spite of the usefulness of festschrifts as publication outlets which younger critics have often found handy, a number of inherent weaknesses have already manifested from the above-named factors, and we believe that these are portentous for African literature if they go on unchecked. Drawing analytical evidence from over twenty-five festschrifts published since 1994, this paper examines the implications of the festschrift tradition for the future of African literary criticism.
Keywords: African literature, literary criticism, Nigerian festschrift tradition.