A. Oed / U. Reuster-Jahn (eds.): Beyond the Language Issue – The Production, Mediation and Reception of Creative Writing in African Languages [PDF]


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Selected Papers from the 8th International Janheinz Jahn Symposium, Mainz 2004

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293 pp.
4 colour pages featuring the conference programme

Text language: English

One of the most central and also one of the most heated debates in critical discourses on African literatures in the second half of the twentieth century was concerned with the language issue, creating the impression that literature in African languages was a marginal phenomenon. This collection of essays is indicative of a new trend in the reception of African literatures, which strives to move creative writing in African languages – as an integral, exciting and mainstream part of African literatures more generally – into the centre of scholarly attention.

Exploring aspects of the production, mediation and reception of creative writing in African languages, the essays in this collection contribute to understanding the historical, social, cultural as well as personal conditions in which African-language literatures are written, published, read and negotiated. They discuss creative writing with different linguistic and literary backdrops and contexts – traditions of creative writing looking back on one or more centuries of literary production as well as traditions which are just beginning to assert, or reassert, themselves.

The wide range of languages covered – including Chewa, Hausa, Igbo, Luba, Mbundu, Rwanda, Kongo, Lingala, Ganda, Shona, Sotho, Tswana, Sheng, Swahili, Xhosa and Yoruba – facilitates a comparative approach. The contributors to this volume, which is mostly based on papers read at the 8th International Janheinz Jahn Symposium, have diverse professional experience in the field of African literatures, for instance in publishing, translation, the ministries of culture and education of different African countries as well as in secondary and tertiary education, and several have themselves published creative works in African languages.


Anja Oed: Introduction


Christine Glanz: The production, mediation and reception of creative writing in Luganda – a challenging endeavour

Crispin Maalu-Bungi: Written literature in Congolese languages – origin and principal genres

Jean Chrysostome Nkejabahizi: Creative writing in Kinyarwanda

Kiba-Mwenyu: Kimbundu literature – origins and continuity

Farouk Topan: The expanding world of the Swahili writer

Thomas Geider: A survey of world literature translated into Swahili


Walter Bgoya: The endeavour of publishing – its limits of success with Swahili readers

Uta Reuster-Jahn: The choice of the new generation – Swahili entertainment literature from Ndanda Mission Press 1990–2005

Jeff Opland: The newspaper as empowering medium of Xhosa literature – the case of Nontsizi Mgqwetho

Akin Oyetade: Publishing and the market for African-language books in the Diaspora – reflections on personal experience


Alain Ricard: Creative writing in African languages – writers, scholars, translators

Daniel Kunene: African-language writing comes of age – the dawning of an era

Francis Moto: Attitudes towards African languages and African-language literatures in education – the case of Malawi

Dinah Kereeditse Itumeleng: Teaching Setswana literature in post-colonial Botswana – past, present and future

Akinwumi Isola: A key to Africa’s own ‘bank of images’ – revitalising creative writing in African languages as cultural heritage

Anja Oed: Film adaptations of Yoruba literary texts – Akinwumi Isola’s Ó le kú and Tunde Kelani’s video based on the novel


Maurice Vambe: Shona literature and the creation of an alternative reading ‘public’ in Zimbabwe

Memory Chirere: Ignatius Mabasa’s Mapenzi and innovation in the Shona novel – the Zimbabwean response

Abdalla Uba Adamu: Breaking out, speaking out – youth, Islam and the production of indigenous Hausa literature in northern Nigeria

Euphrase Kezilahabi: The house of everydayness – Swahili poetry in Tanzanian newspapers

Alina Rinkanya: Sheng in Kenya – an alternative medium for indigenous creative writing


Ernest N. Emenyonu: The dynamics of creativity and reception – the Igbo-language novel from Pita Nwana to Toni Ubesie

Flora Veit-Wild: Rereading Feso – the first Shona novel as a nation builder

Alena Rettová: ‘The horns of my thoughts are fastened together in a knot’ – transformations of ‘humanity’ in Swahili and Shona literatures

Mikhail Gromov: The Swahili novel on the turn of the centuries – recent trends and perceptions

Lutz Diegner: Answers to ‘glocalisation’ in Swahili fiction – Chachage’s Makuadi wa Soko Huria and Wamitila’s Bina-Adamu!


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