Ghettoization or Globalization Of the African Literature By Raïs Neza Boneza (Bled, slovenia 2012)
Dear Comrades and coleagues
When considering Africa or analyzing world history from the fourteen century, one could assert that world’s history is dominated by warfare, conquests, wars, slavery and dominations. Consequently that led to the establishment of the Global system. Since then globalization has became more sophisticated and has changed it techniques of enslavement through imposing industrialization, and an abusive marketization which bring to massive subjugation and de- humanization world-wide.
Today in his mess, Africa is totally deprived of its sovereignty, is strangled economically and culturally by this new global. This continent has been sacrificed upon the Altar of the IMF and World Bank Policies; sick of poverty, diseases, corrupt leaderships. As Ngugi wa Thiongo pointed out in his lecture at Girvetz Theater in 2004:
“Globalization has weakened the post-colonial state to the point where the states are too weak to interfere with the operations of international finance, so those finances can come and go at will”. “Outside, non-governmental organizations begin operating as modern-day missionaries, secular missionaries that become parallel states not beholden to the state itself.”
With its narrow point of view, the west is prejudicing at all time the African continent. For example Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness can almost be described as prejudiced, racist and anti-African. All this is the norm. Even in our time some critics consider the African writer as an aspiring western, an unfinished handcraft that in time and with adequate guidance will be westernalized.
While many African writer obviously want to be recognized as just “writers” being part of a world literature. The only African authors to receive recognition are those who manage to make it to the main western production networks and are promoted or confirmed by the media. For them, England, France or the US with their large chain of publishing houses and distribution networks appears to be the only place that can offer them international recognition. It is a difficult challenge to decide to become a writer in Africa; Generally the African writer evolved from a space devoid of advantages.
In this Global context how can the African writers try to go beyond his singularity and integrate what we call the global or world literature?
As the west has managed to ghettoize Africa through it imperial domination and polarization of wealth and knowledge, the arena of world literature seems not to include Africa. Africa is under exogenous domination and has never been able to impose its own criteria of appreciation and this makes it literature vulnerable to marginalization.
As long as it will be under total Global influences (The west); African literature can not benefit the continent. It today richness come from its rich oral traditions, to the diversity of its
cultural, and languages which have had a strong influence to the apostles the negritude such
Aimee Cesaire or Nobel price winner such as Wole Soyinka.
Marketization and caricatured identity of the African writer
Since a book it is a product that must be sold, Africa sells are very negligible as priorities are more concentrated to its wars, political instabilities and diseases. In Africa, books are still an unaffordable luxury. The average price of a book in Europe can be the equivalent of the price monthly wage of some workers in Africa, and may feed a family for several days. But on the other side when we talk about global market controlled by the west; if the European publisher would like to sell his product, he will probably prefer the author of the book to be also a marketable goods. Therefore African writer find themselves between in an un-going war. When trying to maintain their Africanity while on the other hand they have or have to sell their soul to the devil of globalization. For example, an African writers writing in the western country become detached from their homeland and maintain mostly a vague memory of their far-belonging-land. They are de-rooted and have to cure this handicap through “a cultural imagery” trying to overcome their fear of not belonging anywhere and nowhere. They adopt a caricatured identity presenting themselves as “Citoyen du Monde”. And in his new clothed identity as “World’s Citizen”, the African writer lived in a constant exile as he live in a society of fantasy, a virtual Ghetto.
Africa is not imagery, or a world of fantasy with its Safari, elephants, and lions. But it is as real as reality itself. A continent with nations and million of people but not remote part of the globe far-out civilized nations. Today, we speak of the African Union, and all the different initiatives to improve economical and social condition in Africa. The African writer’s role is more than ever crucial in the fight to liberate Africa from local and foreign oppressors. This role cannot be the same with that of writers in other less tormented or and less afflicted continents. And yet the need for engagement remains. As Ngugi said “values, cultures, politics and economics are all tied up together” and woe unto the writer who fails to realize this. In the same sense, African writers who claim the right to be recognized and have a place in the global literature; would may not be able to achieve this if they do not play their role as African writer to re-construct, their homeland and plant in their society a sense purpose. They should first definitely assume their Africanity.