The African Quest for Freedom and Identity

The African Quest for Freedom and Identity : Cameroonian Writing and the National Experience

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Independence generated the promise of a better future for the ethnically diverse populations of African countries, but during the past thirty years economic and political crises have called into question the legitimacy of speaking about nationhood in Africa. Richard Bjornson argues here that a national consciousness can indeed be seen in the shared systems of references made possible by the emergence of literate cultures. By tracing the evolution of literate culture in Cameroon from the colonial period to the present and by examining a broad spectrum of writing in its social, political, economic, and cultural contexts, Bjornson shows how the concepts of freedom and identity have become the dominant concerns of the country's writers, and he relates those themes to the history of Cameroon's as a complex modern state. Bjornson also analyzes in detail works by writers such as Mongo Beti, Ferdinand Oyono, Marcien Towa, Guillaume Oyono-Mbia, Rene Philombe, and Francis more

Product details

  • Hardback | 528 pages
  • 159 x 237.2 x 36.6mm | 934.42g
  • Indiana University Press
  • Bloomington, IN, United States
  • English
  • Fr.2M.
  • 0253311942
  • 9780253311948

Review quote

Authoritative, comprehensive, and very readable, this eminently significant study reflects exacting and thorough scholarship, direct contact with African writers and scholars, and masterful treatment of a very complex subject. Bjornson, editor of Research in African Literatures and coeditor of Africa and the West (CH, Jun'86), here exposes and explains historically the problem inherent in applying the concept of nation DEGREESD> or nationhood DEGREESD> to a grouping of African ethnic cultures within certain territorial limits as a result of colonial conquest--as is the case of Cameroon. In Cameroon, the problem is further complicated since a united Cameroon includes both former British and former French colonies and languages. Bjornson shows that a national consciousness can develop through shared systems of reference, which a literate culture provides. From the colonial period through independence to the present, writers are studied in the context of the political, historical, and social experience of the Cameroonians. Detailed and perceptive analyses of works by authors such as Mongo Beti, Ferdinand Oyono, Benjamin Matip, Francis Bebey, and Rene (Rene) Philombe reveal the relationship of writers to the current situation and their dominant concerns: freedom and identity. This is a major work in the study of African national literatures, written in a style marked by clarity, continuity, insight, and a sympathetic, understanding approach. It includes a preface, an introduction, maps, notes, and index. A must for undergraduate, graduate, and public libraries.M. H. Nachtsheim, The College of St. Catherine, Choice, September 1991show more