Literature is a Western invention. The stories and texts that we have been reading this week reinforce the idea that literature, as we define it, was definitely created in the Western world. It was not until colonization and the introduction of Western style education that African countries started to produce written literature. People could read and write for sure but they did not write stories down on paper. This idea came from colonizers and to some extent the Arab traders that brought Islam and an alphabet.  I say ‘to some extent’ because thought the Arabs brought written language and books to the continent, they did not necessarily bring literature. The West has always looked down upon Africa because it did not have ‘formal literature’ until they arrived. However, I  think that oral storytelling or oral literature is a valid source of information and should be respected. I think that the West puts far too much emphasis on the written word.  Oral literature consists of stories that have been passed down from generation to generation. They are great ways to learn not specific dates and facts about a people but about their norms and values.

The pamphlets we read this week make me think that written word is not all that reliable. The goal of the authors who write those pamphlets is not to inform or educate.  They are written to entertain people so that they will sell, and they do such a great job! Those pamphlets kind of remind me of trashy tabloids like US Weekly and the National Enquirer. People buy them at the grocery store because they are entertaining and scandalous. I do not know if these pamphlets are necessarily organic forms of writing. I think their subjects and themes are targeted towards a Nigerian audience, but I wonder if like the “African Novel” they came into being due to Western influence.

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About Bethany

I am a Junior at American University, pursuing a degree in International Studies. I am particularly interested in development in Africa, especially when it comes to education. I am going abroad to Senegal for the spring semester and will be writing about my adventures here.

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