African Languages and African Literature

  • CA Eme
  • DU Mbagwu


In the 1960s, much diatribe was exchanged by African literary artists within their caucus, and outside with different scholars interested in African literature. Wali demonstrates this disagreement. He comments, “… until these writers and their western midwives accept the fact that true African literature must be written in African languages, they would be merely pursuing a dead end, which can only lead to sterility, uncertainty, and frustration.” In reply to Wali, Achebe expresses, “…you cannot cram African literature in a small, neat definition. I do not see African literature as one unit but as associated units – in fact, the sum total of all the national and ethnic literatures of Africa”. The disagreement is no longer conspicuous. However, the question that demands an answer is, “Have African languages become productive in African literature?” This paper argues that they have not, maybe, yet. It assesses this situation, providing factors responsible. One of such factors is the nondevelopment and underdevelopment of the African languages. Besides, the paper makes recommendations that can salvage the situation; one of which is instituting awards for literary works in African languages.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1595-1413