Aretha Phiri is a senior lecturer in the Department of Literary Studies in English (DLSE) at Rhodes University and was a research fellow at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS) in South Africa (2017–2019).
Introduction: Re-reading the Canon, Re-reading Africa
Chapter 1 Philosophy and an African Conscience
Oritsegbubemi Anthony Oyowe
Chapter 2 African Literature as a Handmaid of African Philosophy
Chapter 3 Conflict and Compromise in Three Novels of the Eastern Cape
Chapter 4 Blind Sisyphus: Two Perspectives on Meursault
Chapter 5 Digital Media, Literacies, Literature, and the African Humanities
Pier Paolo Frassinelli and Lisa Treffry-Goatley
Chapter 6 African Gaze: Hollywood/Nollywood and the Postcolonial Science Fiction Imagery in Nnedi Okorafor’s Lagoon
Chapter 7 Transgressing Borders: (Re)imag(in)ing Africa(ns) in the World
Chapter 8 “The Whims of the White Masters”: Miriam Tlali’s Between Two Worlds and the Totality of White Power
About the Contributors
Born from reflection on upheavals in South African universities, from 2015 to 2017, over tuition hikes and an excessively colonial curriculum, this volume opens and closes by looking at what it means to do philosophy with and on behalf of an African conscience. Both contributed by Phiri (literary studies in English, Rhodes Univ., SA), these two pieces critique nationalisms that presume the meaning of “African” while leaving room for one, like Steve Biko’s, that resonates with diasporic black struggles. Intervening essays connect the idea of “Afropolitanism” to global crises confronting women rather than to the international experiences of African elites, and expand Ngũgĩ wa Thiongo’s reasons for promoting indigenous languages in light of digital media and online publishing. Contributors mine Nigerian, South African, and Algerian novels for their insights into intergenerational communication, authentic versus merely instrumental compromise, and the existential meaning of oppression rather than (exclusively) anticolonial content. One particularly interesting essay addresses the interplay between filmic and literary representations of alternate African futures in Nigerian science fiction. A good introduction to recent thinking about the intersecting functions of African literature and philosophy in the academy and in popular culture (including children’s literature), this collection could be a valuable resource for courses on world literature or philosophy. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty.
Each essay is testimony to the rich and often surprising intellectual journey that results when African literatures and philosophies are brought into mutual conversation. Phiri’s deftly curated and wide-ranging collection throws fresh light on contemporary questions around epistemological and conceptual decolonization in (South) Africa. Read together, these essays posit Africa, and its philosophies and literatures, as an ongoing, exciting task, rather than a static given with clear boundaries. By showing rather than telling, the book as a whole presents a generous invitation to a global audience from both disciplines to participate in African intellectuals’ attempt to "reimagine the continent and its subjects."