African In the World: Lecture Four (Prof. Neil) 10/25/2010 12:51:00 PM
1. African writers
2. Rewriting European Writing
3. Writing Africa
4. Assignment 2
Second assignment: Due in 2 weeks
North Africa- Arabic down to west Africa and East Africa
- alphabetic writing- Arabic using alphabet so does English
Arabic and English writing are very related and have common roots
Arabic associated with Islam and the Quran penetrated all throughout Africa
giving it connotations
Writing belongs to sacred book
-Areas where Arabic people were not their west Africa coast, central and
south Africa there was no exposure to alphabetic writing.
Things fall apart writing is shown through leaving marks- way of
Graphic marks as a means of communication
Writing with marks represents sound
Alphabetic writing was not present in most of sub Sahara Africa
- other people in west Africa sent messages through drums and musical
- Means of communication as not alphabetical literacy
- Passing on culture, verbal culture- stories, proverbs, songs and many
expressive ways using words
- Just cause they used graphics and markings, doesn’t mean they didn’t
have a rich culture
- Hausa and Swahili (blend of bantu and Arabic) are biggest African
languages were written in Arabic characters
- Biggest librarires in Africa is toombuck too.
- Ibo Land (things fall apart)- there was no writing (southern Nigeria) writing
came with the colonizers and missionaries.
- many African languages were written down in the 19 century.
- Ibo or Igbo was first written down in the early 20thcentury by missionaries
some black and white who came from outside and learned ibo and wrote it
down and created a system and translated the bible in Ibo language to try
and convert people. - first converts was ichube father and learned to read and write and learned
English and read and write in that language.
- African languages were written down by missionaries and there are sounds
in African lanuages that are not found in European languages.
- for examples, Zulu language has click sounds that don’t exist in European
- to write this language we pick useless letters like x and c and that’s how
missionaries wrote it down.
- first missionaries wrote IBO originally but now included achebe we write
IGBO of standard igbo language because of the silent g that presents the
- First missionaries and governments set up schools for the Africans and
moved form local places to French and English , Portugeese territories.
- Achebe’s father was a convert to Christianity and was able to be bilingual
in Igbo language and English as well
- Achebe got a scholarship to boarding school and he became very well and
got to the first university in Nigeria opened up in Ibadan
- Give university of London degrees in Ibadan University; went to study
medicine to become a doctor for his parents dreams.
- He shifted to English to study literature and stories; studied English
literature because he loved listening to traditional stories form his roots and
found the books in literature classes attractive; exposed to British and
American writers but not African writers because their were none present at
- Leopold Senghor- father of French African writing and started a couple
decades earlier in French African and English Africa
- French wanted to apply the method of assimilation by giving them same
education as young French students in France.
- British followed indirect rule and were concerned with letting people do
what they want as long as they paid taxes and supplied the labor.
both were ways of colonizing- French and British
- Went to school in St. Louis and Paris to University and met young blacks
from French Caribbean. These French caribbeans came up with philosophy
- they wrote poetry and other reflective art to get in touch with their African
roots - achebe wanted to write novels like he read and had a couple of motives:
can’t write the books he loves but something closer to his own experience.
- Heart of darkness by Joseph Conrad about a journey up in unnamed river
inspired by Congo river in centre of Africa; going back to deep in
unconscious and journey that is about the monsters Europeans become
when they colonize and leave behind their fixed stable societies and find
themselves in other people societies where they enslave people and kill
- Racist book because they are called savages and are the people of Jungle
and are mysterious people; weird and incomprehensible rituals.
-Chinua Achebe read heart of darkness in university and was shocked by the
African society portrayal of his roots and disagreed with it.
- Then that inspired him to write ―things fall apart‖ because he wanted
to write about the world he knows and want to correct the mistaken facts
about Africa in European Literature
- 1960- Nigeria got its independence and African Literature started same
time as African Nations do.
- African nation needed literature as in Nigeria and continent as a whole
and him and his classmates felt that they needed African Literature and
wrote about his fathers time and lived his whole life under colonialism
and found it embarrassment and wrote about the pre-colonial time, his
grandfathers time because it had rich history and would change other
- ‘Animism’- people who are stable in African roots, traditional
- first half of book- before colonizers arrive and when they do, things fall
- Okonkwo life becomes significant then falls- tragedy.
Umuohia- clan amongst Ibo people.
- Okonkwo commits suicide because he’s fighting against his own spirit.
- very end in novel, there is a character who is revealed who will write a
story and survived and went on to remember everything that happened.
- Minor character in things fall apart, stands up and says I will include this in
writing and will write this: district commisioner- the president of colonial.
- He will give paragraph to tell the story of this suicide; small space that is
misrepresented a.k.a wrong story. No one reads and writes except district missionaries, and wants to write it down so he can get it wrong; simply
- readers know that this will be a false story and gives it an ironic ending
and the district commissioner will not tell a real story and was based on a
real story by Arthur Glyn Leonard- The Tribes of the Lower Niger
- anthropology has its origins in colonialism- they wrote about people so
next colonial administer would know better how to govern them.
Ethnography- trying to shed its colonial past and write more about its
- In Ethnography Okonkwo would be seen as a subject to be studied b/c his
reactions are not his but reactions of tribes men in lower Niger. He would be
a typical African, and typical suicide.
- Arthur assumes they commit suicide because there is something wrong
with African, each suicide reveals something that is true about its culture.
- Okonkwo has personal psychology which is diff. from everyone with his
own story, own relation to wives, sons and is a significance story because
not b/c its typical but follows custom blinding-
- Okonkow- interest for himself.
District commissioner is writing a novel called “ The Pacification of the
Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger”- „Pacification‟- suggests larger process
- Author was conscious that history is going to be made. Notion of making
history has imperialist mind- history moves forward.
- Teleological- search meaning
- hundred years ago British people thought everywhere in the world will be
colonized by Europe because it was inevitable.
- Process sounds neutral- but really means colonization- pacification
- Achebe intended to show that Ibo’s had choices and made diff. ones; and
made decisions; yes, colonization happened but was not what should’ve
happen or had to happen in Achebe’s view.
Pacification- ease aggression and make peaceful
- Pax Britannica- British Peace
- Umuohia goes to war with neighbouring people b/c someones umuohpian
wife got killed and goes to war for revenge, deceit compensation - Colonial ideology- Africans fight b/c they are Africans and british don’t
come in with peace language but come in with negativity and smash the
- Disporportion in the means of violence and British colonizers
Primitive- sense of pride and how things were at the beginning before
history gets started
- People are ruled by culture and culture never changes.
- Europeans felt like when they travel back, its like they are travelling back
in time and imagined that when they went across Atlantic or south in Africa
felt like they were meeting their ancestors; they were not, but meeting
others who are living in the same times as them to make friends with and
- One direction history is going in and decision is made by Europeans
- people are conscious of change
- Tribes- clans
Umuophia is a clan and Ibos- we would call a tribe
- endogamous- marrying inside the community
Ibos were a bunch of clans
Lower Niger- relation the Nigerian delta (near the mouth)
- Tribe- people who don’t have a state
- Clan- much smaller groups where people know each other and can make
easy decisions amongst themselves
- district commissioner locates them in history and on the map which is
unfair: why? b/c
- Several motivations to rewrite this history: writing in English about people
who don’t speak English and these people have no idea of larger history of
colonization. He is writing a modern needs about people who wouldn’t see
things the same way; trying to be fair to how people would see things and
tell a story.
- correct false European notions and has to be fair to thse characters who
don’t write, have English, or don’t see themselves as African or Nigerian and
needs to be fair to ho they would tell this story.
- so, he concludes with one of their stories in page 196.
- we don’t speak the way we write; and is very different you need to learn
how to write.
- Africa in the World: Lecture 5
10/25/2010 12:51:00 PM
1. Writing Africa
2. What happened when things fall apart?
3. Double Consciousness
-photocopy pages you want and re-read them and look at how it’s written,
why there are proverbs, foreign words and why sentences are constructed in
such ways. Think about Achebe’s task of writing an African novel.
- Thesis about the novel as a whole.
Essay due next Tuesday: Write about how book is written. The encounters
that Chinua Achebe had to face during the process of his novel.
Oral story telling
- repetition (ex. They were very happy, he was very happy)
- run on sentences (additive- compound sentences)
- Taurus is full of cunning b/c he is a trickster, trickster story. Interpreting
between 2 diff. cultures.
- characters are types (Taurus out smarts others and maybe gets punished)
- Out of place: in story time, at the beginning
- contest/basic oppositions
- oral story telling requires memory and our attention and very often
involves parents talking to children
- close to the life world of the teller and listener (experiences)
- very fluid (he writes with a purpose and is chronologically and his words
are very visual)
- announces what stories he will tell before he tells them
- vivid imagery
- composed sentences
- out of the map; almost in story time (at the beginning)
- proverbs- make following the dialogue easier (oral and tradition wisdom)=
conservative- usually about bounds and being careful: maintaining
- writers have to prove that their original= great writers - Achebe’s style is oral story telling
- Okonkwo- fear less, aggressive, traditional, proud, powerful,
- Okonkwo is a type and easily described as a warrior = unchangeable
- oral stories often use ―types‖
- Okonkwo suffers from ―hubris‖- tragedy (story of rise and falls)
* oral tale
* Okonkwo is afraid to show weakness or to show mercy, doubt= lazy and
female like if he does do the following things
- Psychologically interesting- Okonkwo
- Achebe has to explain to Igbo’s and non-Igbo’s about this world
- has to write anthropology- often explains
Things fall apart= (mixture of oral tale, tragedy, novel and anthropology)
- communal- individualist/ one worldview- divided
- people are defined by relations: kinship (who you are related to)
- no division of labour; all subsistence farms
- more wives means wealthy farmer
- more kids= more help on the farm
*throwing a huge feast in the community = great farmer and earn more
respect and title
*wives and children= how good of a worker/farmer you are.
- Okonknow- self, made man becomes best farmer in the village
Government: democracy/debate/consensus (no king, chief) instead
- acephalous (without a head)
- clan: small face to face community/ no strangers= everyone is related to
- ancestors are still present
- horizontal society- symmetrical
- contrast between the world humans make and the non-human world
- oracle, Agbala
- Evil Forest
Egbo cosmology Northern Africa: Lecture 6 10/25/2010 12:51:00 PM
The U.N. defines North Africa as: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt,
Mauritania, and the conflicting zone of Western Sahara (Morocco currently is
in control of most of its parts, claiming sovereignty based on the historical
ties between the tribes of the Western Sahara and the Moroccan Kingdom as
well as the billion dollars spent on infrastructure since the Spanish colonizing
powers left the territory in 1975. The Polisario Front (independence
movement) and Algeria claim control over the Western Sahara, considering
the tribal history of the region as well as the failure of international
diplomacy to have a referendum take place, where the Natives of the
Western Sahara decide their political destiny, whether they want to seek
complete independence or self governance within the political regime of
Of course, the history of North Africa is more complex, but these are simple
facts that should be used along with our class discussions about the Spread
of Islam in North Africa along with Arabic/Arabization, minorities in
North Africa (Berbers in most of North African countries and
Christian Copts in Egypt), histories of early and modern forms of
colonization(s), wars for independence, political conflicts, and the
importance of economy in establishing power within the region or
beyond…We also discussed the interesting positioning of North
African is part of the African continent and the Arab world.
Morocco is in many ways a country apart. It nestles on the northwestern tip
of Africa, separated from the rest of the continent by the towering Atlas
Mountains and by the Sahara itself. Its climate, geography, and history are
all more closely related to the Mediterranean than to the rest of Africa, and
for this reason visitors are often struck by the odd sensation of having not
quite reached Africa in Morocco. In the north, its fine beaches, lush highland
valleys, and evocative old cities reinforce this impression. Yet, as one moves
south and east, into and over the starkly beautiful ranges of the Atlases,
Morocco's Mediterranean character melts away like a mirage. The Sahara
stretches out to the horizon, and forbidding kasbahs stare. Morocco is situated on the extreme northwestern corner of Africa and is
bordered by Mauritania and Algeria, both to the south and east.
Morocco's varied geography includes no less than four separate mountain
ranges, in addition to lush river valleys, beautiful sandy coasts, and wide
expanses of desert. The three most prominent mountain ranges, which run
parallel to each other from the southwest to the northeast, are the Middle
Atlas, the High Atlas, and the Anti-Atlas. The Moroccan coastline, which
fronts onto both the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, offers plenty of great
beaches as well as a number of fascinating old coastal cities. In the
southeast, Morocco's mountain ranges yield inexorably to the desolate
expanse of the Sahara. The rivers that flow down this side of the High Atlas
support long, narrow, and lush river valleys that resemble linear oases.
Morocco's history began with the Berbers, the aboriginal people who have
inhabited the country since the end of the 2nd millennium BC Rome
extended its rule over the area after defeating Carthage in 146 BC, and
testimony to its presence still exists in the fine Roman ruins at Volubilis. As
Rome fell into decline Morocco was invaded first by the Vandals and then, in
the 7th century, by the Arabs. Although external Arab rule lasted little more
than a century, the arrival of Islam proved to be a permanent addition to
Moroccan culture. In the ensuing centuries a series of ruling dynasties came
to power, including the Idrissids, the Almoravids, and the Almohads. The
latter extended the sovereignty of Morocco to Spain in the North, Sudan in
the South, and almost Lybia in the East.
By the 15th century Spain and Portugal began to intrude into Morocco, after
having expelled the Moors from their own lands. Although Morocco
successfully repulsed these invasions, the tide of European imperialism
eventually proved too great. By the middle of the 19th century Morocco's
strategic importance had become evident to all of the European powers, and
they engaged in a protracted struggle for possession of the country. Finally,
in 1911, France was formally acknowledged as protector of the greater part
of the country, with Spain receiving a number of isolated locales. French rule
came to an end in 1953, with the official independence gained in 1956,
although its cultural influence on Morocco remains strongly in evidence.
Today the country is ruled by King Mohammed VI. He appears to be leading Morocco toward both long-term stability and a greater degree of economic
prosperity. His attempts at advocating women’s rights, education in rural
areas, and reducing unemployment rates are undeniable. He is also an avid
supporter of the Berbers’ attempts at reviving and rediscovering their culture
and linguistic heritage.
The economy of the country relies on agriculture, tourism, and phosphate
Nearly four times the size of Texas, Algeria is bordered on the west by
Morocco and Western Sahara and on the east by Tunisia and Libya. The
Mediterranean Sea is to the north, and to the south are Mauritania, Mali, and
Niger. The Saharan region, which is 85% of the country, is almost
From a historical perspective, excavations in Algeria have indicated that
Homo erectus resided there between 500,000 and 700,000 years ago.
Phoenician traders settled on the Mediterranean coast in the 1st millennium
B.C. As ancient Numidia, Algeria became a Roman colony, part of what was
called Mauretania Caesariensis, at the close of the Punic Wars (145 B.C. ).
Conquered by the Vandals about A.D. 440, it fell from a high state of
civilization to virtual barbarism, from which it partly recovered after an
invasion by Arabs about 650. Christian during its Roman period