L’Afrique dans l’imaginaire antillais

Ajoke Bestman
African Studies
Caribbean Literature
Cesaire, Aime
Conde, Maryse
Lacrosil, Michele
Literary Criticism
Maran, Rene
This is a study of the representation of Africa in Caribbean literary imagination. The West Indian writer’s quest for identity invariably leads to an exploration of Africa – the lost of Motherland. This work reveals that there are several representations of Africa in Caribbean literature. The first generation of writers tend to depict Africa as a dark continent associated with evil. This attitude is not unconnected with the white master’s brainwashing, the shame of an ignominious past and the influence of the literature written by white colonisers on Africa. However, with the negritude movement, Africa was rehabilitated in the literary perception of Caribbean authors. In thier eagerness to proclaim thier African heritage, negritude writers sometimes paint an idyllic picture of the ‘native land’. The generations that follow are however not as enamoured with Africa moreso as some of them made the ‘return to the native land’ advocated by Aime Cesaire and his peers not only spiritually but also physically and are disenchanted with the face of modern Africa. The works of four authors – Rene Maran, Aime Cesaire, Michele Lacrosil and Maryse Conde are analysed to illustrate these various positions. The conclusion highlights the new trend among Caribbean intellectuals to ‘make peace with their islands’ and proclaim their Caribbeanness as advocated by Edouard Glissant and their Creoleness as propounded by Jean Bernabe, Patrick Chamoiseau and Rapheal Confiant.
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