Essay Sample on The African Assertion: A Critical Anthropology of African Literature

Published: 2023-08-23
Essay Sample on The African Assertion: A Critical Anthropology of African Literature
Essay type:  Problem solution essays
Categories:  Race Culture Literature Anthropology
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1302 words
11 min read

African literature is a pathway that is seldom used as an expression of art and works within the surroundings. Anthropologists have various ways of enacting literary products/prose depending on different genres and cultures. In his book 'The African Assertion: A Critical Anthology of African Literature' Austin Shelton uses different writers who adopt various styles to tell stories vividly with up-front wording as well as emotional intensity. The book highlights an unbroken steadiness in African narrative through poetry spoken by popular novellas. Shelton Anthropology can be associated with an individual's aspirations, history, culture, and failures. Anthropology, as showcased by Shelton, decontaminates the essences of human experiences and nurtures them into memorable images of broad applicability. The book allows the reader to examine the writer's skills as a residue of the past cultural life. There is a drift in cultural change throughout Africa, and its impact is not the same in every nation. The subject of European colonization and the spread of Christianity is echoed throughout the book. Europeans colonized Africa under the pretense of spreading Christianity and conducting missionary work. Imperialism was aimed at illuminating the Dark Continent and enlightening the benighted African people. European colonization eroded and destroyed the morals, culture, and sovereignty of African people.

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Negritude is a battlefield designed by specific people who are selfish, malicious, and predisposed. Such persons intend to propel their political ambitions. There are enormous works that are appealing to me, specifically narratives that address the issue of Negritude, among them Abioseh Nicol's poem 'The Continent that Lies within us' and 'Men of All Continents' by Bernard Dadie. Negritude is a critical element, as portrayed by Shelton that he describes as a mind-set that affects Africans across the board regardless of whether they are end products of British/ French colony. Interestingly, both British and French policies resulted in two blocs that have found it to be an uphill task to work in unison in political and cultural spheres. The Africans experience division instead of togetherness in the wake of Negritude.

Notably, Nicol perceives Negritude as manipulation of people's way of life in the African set up who drew a sense of belonging from 'senior service.' Negritude is displayed as the incorporation of African values that need to be propelled in today's African culture that has embraced European values. It was a myth orchestrated for a particular situation in former French colonies such as West Africa. Negritude was the mastery weapon of the French colony considered as militant belief in the supremacy of French Culture, where culture refers to a rite/ belief that is crystalized by rituals of tradition in the African continent.

The cultural concept of Negritude as a political armor in the fight of freedom in the Western African nations was less significant. West Africa is split into French and British speakers, whereby as Nicol asserts, the British colonialists believed in virtues of British governance and cultural superiority as well as class cognizance (Shelton pg.18). The British awareness excluded the black men that resulting in tension between a nostalgic past and the future paving way to novel principles.

On the contrary, French-speaking African writers stress the impact of France on Africa. Negritude was pivotal in the rejection of colonialism as the author, Bernard Dadie, in his African narrative, addresses the issue of colonization by Europeans. The 1967 publication 'Men of all Continents' is a harsh litany of suffering and racial stratification that was a masterful representation of White supremacy (Shelton pg.74). Dadie pens the poem at the dawn of independence as a liberated Black African man. The young man to stand in the gap and be a voice for all men across the universe. He accentuates that there is no more hindrance between 'Them and Us.' Dadie stands for a generation of people who have been tested, stayed hungry, experienced bloodshed, and went through different turbulent times. He is disengaged from his past mentality. He needs to militate alone for the sake of Africa and Black tenets.

Additionally, echoing the same sentiments, Chinua Achebe in the 'Sacrificed Egg' expresses the effect of slavery and the slave trade in Africa. The introduction of Western trade relations in the African community undermined African culture through the slave trade. Slavery was an act of brutalism that degraded and shattered African culture (Shelton pg.8). The process of enslavement led to the growth of racial prejudice intended to depersonalize human relationships through the divide and rule strategy to exploit men more effectively.

Colonial domination left the majority of Africans vulnerable to hoax and exterminations. What's more, European conquest saw Africans at the mercy of European conquerors. The author uses African literature as a manifestation of a drastically evolving society. Nicol's story is engaging since we learn how Africans who were colonized perceived themselves amid literary movements. The tale of such African writers narrates of frustration and loss of their continent that fuelled Negritude. Black humanity was alienated through rupture stemming from the Atlantic Slave Trade. The slave trade played a crucial role in transforming Africans and making them comprehend their diverse culture. The deal was characterized by arduousness European culture, its lack of human nature, and destruction of Africa. Nicol confesses how he realized the accurate picture of Africa in terms of its potential and the value of freedom.

Africans have misinterpreted their identity based on history and culture pegged on colonialism. In his opinion, the land is rich in history as well as culture and full of abundance. Due to a lack of education, Africans experience a cultural identity crisis. Africans are carriers of an identity that is not familiar to them, according to Nicol, which results in the inferiority complex that the author depicted. The inferiority complex negatively impacts the mind-set of a person due to detrimental brainwashing that leads to embarrassment and self –isolation. Identity crisis falsifies people's thinking to the extent of imagining that nature favors people depending on their race and considers them superior. Africans are people without identity and history, but they mirror themselves through others. Ironically, they were treated as slaves since they could not reason or exercise freedom hence the history of darkness. Nicol was of the sentiments that nothing good came out of Africa (Shelton pg.18). He was engulfed by fear, which denied him his freedom. It was until he set himself off the African way of thinking did he realize that Africa was the homeland for all humanity. He was his own best enemy but drifting his lamentations he realized that:

Visiting Africa was not a bad omen but a conduit of uniting with the ancestors.

Names of African cities were typical symbols representing freedom, for example, Freetown and Dakar.

As Nicol purports, the output of one's mind dictates joy, contentment in addition to freedom. For a person to discover all about Africa, you must go upcountry. As the maxim states, it is the wearer of the shoe who knows where it pinches. Hence, for a person to discover and know about Africa, he/ she must go inside the bush, for there is where the hidden heart is and forms the basis of ancestral spirit (Shelton pg.19).

In conclusion, African writers can make a difference if they focus on the right issues affecting Africa. The authors carry the mantle and can precisely address problems that are cultural, political, and sociological. The buck stops with the anthropology writers who have a choice to represent Africa in a particular way rather than fragments. African anthropology has reversed the myth and generalization that Europeans are superior to Africans and enjoy both individual and collective liberation. Africa is a mouthpiece for the 'minority' where the Africanization of political and cultural shifts faces no obstacle.

Work Cited

Shelton, Austin J. The African Assertion: A Critical Anthology of African Literature. New York: The Odyssey Press, 1968. print.

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