Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Tydskrif vir Letterkunde]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/rss.php?pid=0041-476X20090001&lang=en vol. 46 num. 1 lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/img/en/fbpelogp.gif http://www.scielo.org.za <![CDATA[<b>Congo in the literature</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2009000100001&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en <![CDATA[<b>Remembering colonial violence</b>: <b>inter/textual strategies of Congolese authors</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2009000100002&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en This article explores the Congolese remembering of the experienced colonial violence through the medium of literature. Although criticism of colonialism is not a favourite topic of Congolese writers, there exists an important corpus of texts, especially when the literary production of Congo Kinshasa and Congo Brazzaville with their politically distinct though sometimes similar experiences is taken into account. Three main strategies of writing about the topic can be distinguished: a documentary mode, an allegorical mode and a fragmented mode, which often appear in combination. Intertextuality with the colonial archive as well as oral African narrations is a recurrent feature of these texts. The short stories of Lomami Tchibamba, of the first generation of Congolese authors writing in French, are analysed as examples for a dominantly allegorical narration. Mythical creatures taken from the context of oral literature become symbols for the process of alterity and power relations during colonialism, while the construction of a heroic figure of African resistance provides a counter-narrative to colonial texts of conquest. Thomas Mpoyi-Buatu's novel La reproduction (1986) provides an example of fragmented writing that reflects the traumatic experience of violence in both Congolese memory of colonialism and Congolese suffering of the present violent dictatorial regime. The body of the protagonist and narrator becomes the literal site of remembering. <![CDATA[<b>Legitimizing the invented Congolese space</b>: <b>the gaze from within in early Congolese fiction</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2009000100003&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Postcolonial discourses describe colonization as a process of invention to impose the will of a conquering West on "backward" societies. The will to power conjugated with the need for raw materials served as the main catalysts. They put side by side a hegemonic intruder bent on duplicating itself, and a powerless and compliant native unable to react to the blitz of transformations. Hence, the master/slave or father/child relationships that describe the colonial framework. The task is to interrogate these generally accepted assumptions and binary oppositions. Although marginalized, the Congolese native was unwilling to become an object for the colonizer's gaze. In fact, the inability to expel the "invader" did not prevent the creation of legitimacies out of what was precipitously brought in. This mechanism of transformation is perceptible in Paul Lomami Tchibamba's novel Ngando (1948), the object of this study. Ngando's imagined colonial city stands out as a site of contrasts and contradictions. However, the duplicated model shows the "transformability" of the new space into "normalcy" by a subversive native. <![CDATA[<b>Modernity and the Belgian Congo</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2009000100004&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en This article will explore the intellectual context in which French-Belgian colonial writing developed from the turn of the twentieth century to the late 1930s. This period is marked by a gradual shift from evolutionism to cultural relativism. The analysis will first focus on the Tervuren colonial exhibition of 1897 and the progressive emergence of Belgian africanism in the early twentieth century. Secondly, it will account for the ways in which this overall context bore witness to new and somewhat less Eurocentric conditions of possibility. Subsequently, the article will attempt to draw parallels between these more inclusive and seemingly less orientalising anthropological paradigms and the advent, first in France and then in Belgium, of a rejuvenated brand of colonial literature (or indigenous realism) which, for all its openness and eagerness to embrace modernity, did not result in radical rejections of colonialism on the part of its promoters. Finally, two Belgian novels in French - M. L. Delhaise-Arnould's Amedra (1926) and H. Drum's Luéji (1932) - will be analysed to appraise whether or not their authors' objective to reconstitute Congolese indigeneity is a strategy to oppose Belgian modernity against Congolese supposed pre-modernity. <![CDATA[<b>The sins of the fathers</b>: <b>the missionary in some modern English novels about the Congo</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2009000100005&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en This essay offers a discussion of some novels written in English in which the (Belgian) Congo forms the historical background to the fictional world, and that were published after that country became independent. Works by internationally well-known authors like Graham Greene (A Burnt-out Case, 1961) Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible, 1998), Robert Edric (The Book of the Heathen, 2000) and John le Carré (The Mission Song, 2006), fall under the spotlight, though references are also made to other and earlier relevant works. The texts represent different eras in a history of just more than a hundred years and all of these narratives relate, in a direct or implied manner, the nature and impact of a Christian missionary presence. Whilst genre, story line and narrative tone differ considerably in the individual books, the reader is exposed to a remarkable analogous range of subject matter and theme: amongst others the disappointments of the missionary ideal, the corruptive power of authority and the subservient part played by the female devotees. The plight of the Congo is narrated from a postcolonial point of view, though the story lines indicate that this vast country has always been, and still is, at the mercy of colonial exploitation, in which the missionary set-up played a crucial part. The novels also display a remarkable intertextual relationship through recurring motifs, titles, images and names and thus contribute to that body of work forming a tradition of (English language) Congo literature. <![CDATA[<b>Leopard-men of the Congo in literature and popular imagination</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2009000100006&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en The Anyoto leopard-men, a society from eastern Congo, operated between approximately 1890 and 1935. Until now the history of the leopard-men has inspired representations of Central Africa as a barbaric and disorderly place, and the idea that a secret association of men attacked innocent people and ate their limbs remains dominant in western culture. Since the early 20th century this image has been rather faithfully perpetuated in colonial ethnography and official reports and in popular representations of Africa. The Anyoto costumes in the collection of the Royal Museum for Central Africa have in particular inspired leopard-men iconography in western sources until today. There are certain striking similarities between western fictional literature on the Anyoto society and the factual sources, such as eyewitness reports from colonists and missionaries. Both share the historically rooted and culturally-specific representation of people from outside their own areas. In Europe there has been a long tradition of representing heathens and non-Europeans as being half man, half beast and behaving like animals, including eating their own species. Such cultural predispositions have stood in the way of understanding the real purposes of this society. Anyoto men's activities were a way of maintaining local power relations, performing indigenous justice in secret and circumventing colonial government control. <![CDATA[<b>The Congo as topos of dystopic transgression in <i>fin-de-siècle</i> literature</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2009000100007&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en In this essay, I compare the representation of the Congo as a topos of dystopic transgression in Conrad's Heart of Darkness (1902), and in a lesser-known novel entitled Tropenwee (Tropical agony) by the Dutch author Henri van Booven, published in 1904. The idea of the Congo as a locus of degeneration will be read, not so much as a Conradian theme, but rather, as an idea that had gained wide currency throughout Europe during the fin-de-siècle period. Particular attention will be paid to some of the narrative techniques that shape this idea and the ideological assumptions it conveys. Moreover, I hope to show that degeneration as reflected by the writings under investigation is at once a colonial and anti-colonial theme, and therefore its significance requires moving beyond singular and clear-cut ideological labels. <![CDATA[<b>In black and white</b>: <b>a bird's eye overview of Flemish prose on the Congo</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2009000100008&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en This article provides an overview of the literary prose written in Dutch about the Congo, the former Belgian colony. The Congo was ruled over by king Leopold II as his private property from 1885 to 1908. From 1908 to 1960 it was governed by the Belgian state. The Congo gained its independence on 30 June 1960. During the colonial period and after the Congolese independence a substantial number of Flemish literary works have been written about the Congo. During the colonial period most of them were written in the colonialist vein. They reflect a Eurocentric perspective and a colonialist attitude. However, there are also a number of writers who are critical of the colonial project. Some of them criticize the way in which the colonization is carried out; others reject the colonial enterprise out of hand. After the Congolese independence Flemish authors engaged in some serious soul searching. The universality of western values is examined and the problems regarding acculturation are addressed. In the last two decades authors such as Guido Tireliren and Lieve Joris have tried to understand the Congo from within. Most Flemish literature on the Congo is not of a high literary quality but from a historical-cultural perspective it is a very important domain of study. <![CDATA[<b>Congo, the mission and the literature</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2009000100009&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Missionaries played an important role in the colonisation of the Congo. They brought Christianity and "civilisation" to the new colony in central Africa, which was ruled over by the Belgian King Leopold II from 1885 to 1908 and by the Belgian government from 1908 to 1960. Missionaries were active in the field of education, but they also left their mark on colonial literature, both as authors and as protagonists. This article explores the traces of the missionaries in the literature on the Congo. Father Amaat Vyncke was an early example of a missionary and author, just as Father Garmijn and Father Constant de Deken. These missionaries provided a positive assessment on the colonial system in their writings. Writers like Ad. Verreet and J. G. Schoup used missionaries as protagonists in their novels. Schoup portrayed a sympathetic missionary who sharply criticised the colonial system. After the colonial period Jef Geeraerts painted a very negative image of the missionary in his Gangreen novels. However, the travel books written by Lieve Joris and Bart Castelein and the play Missie (Mission) written by David van Reybrouck (2007) sketched a positive and nostalgic image of the missionary. <![CDATA[<b><i>In loco parentis</i></b>: <b>the adoption plot in Dutch-language colonial children's books</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2009000100010&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en This article analyzes the "adoption plot" in colonial children's literature from the 1950s, which narrates how black children are socialized into Western civilization. Many children's books about the colonies have been inspired by missionary stories dating from the 1900s about the conversion of black children. Children's literature generalizes these stories into abstract symbolic structures that can be easily reiterated in other contexts. The enduring relevance of the adoption plot is not to be underestimated. We still tend to conceive of Third World children as essentially parentless and as such, up for adoption by First World citizens, as the imagery of international relief demonstrates. <![CDATA[<b>Hugo Claus and <i>Het leven en de werken van Leopold II</i> (1970)</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2009000100011&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en The première of Claus' play Het leven en de werken van Leopold II (The Life and Works of Leopold II), in November 1970 (by the company Nederlandse Comedie), was directed by the author himself. After a second and again rather unsuccessful run (1972 - 1973, Arena, director: J. Tummers) it disappeared from the stage for nearly thirty years: there was no other production of Claus' play in the Low Countries until the autumn of 2002 (KVS, director: R. Ruëll). Undoubtedly Het leven en de werken van Leopold II is one of the lesser-known plays by the Flemish author Hugo Claus (1929-2008). While writing it, at the end of the sixties, Claus was simultaneously working on two poetry collections. Van horen zeggen contains accessible poems, sometimes rather anecdotal, with many references to the contemporary political situation. These poems show a clear affinity with the neo-realistic poetry that was dominant in Dutch-language literature in the sixties. Also in 1970, on the same day as Van horen zeggen, Claus published Heer Everzwijn (Lord Wild Boar), manneristic poetry showing another poeta faber. Given Claus' interest in the history of the Congo Free State (see also the novel De geruchten [The rumours]) and the way he caricatures King Leopold II and his government in Het leven en de werken, it is worth investigating the political and social perspectives articulated in both his drama and his poetry. What are the similarities between the poet and the playwright? How can we explain his interest in the way Leopold mistreated the people of the Congo? In this essay I present the ideological and social points of view adopted by Claus in a broad literary and political context, studying his play on Leopold's atrocities in what would later (in 1908) become a Belgian colony, alongside the poetry he produced in the same period. <![CDATA[<b>In search of adventure</b>: <b>Ladislav Mikeš Pařízek, a Czech in the Congo</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2009000100012&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Ladislav Mikeš Pařízek's books, articles and lectures had a large impact on the image of the Congo as it existed in communist Czechoslovakia from the 1940s till the 1970s, but this Czech traveller and writer has almost been forgotten. Through an analysis of his works and of reviews of these works published in newspapers of the 1950s, the nature of the African discourse as it was created in communist Eastern Europe, as well as the (mis)use of this discourse by the ruling party, is revealed. Special attention will be paid to the illustrations accompanying his books, articles and lectures. <![CDATA[<b>Perception of the relationship France-Africa by André Gide and Camara Laye</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2009000100013&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en André Gide, the French traveller, went to Congo and Chad in 1925, on an official mission. He noted his impressions in his journal, published later under two titles: Voyage au Congo (Voyage to the Congo) and Retour du Tchad (Return from Chad). He expressed delight at the flora and fauna but presented the Africans as primitive beings, without spiritual or cultural values. His travels turned into a humanitarian quest when he witnessed the treatment inflicted on the natives by employees of the monopolistic rubber companies. The dilettante and aesthete Gide became a man committed to a struggle to improve the life of Africans in these regions. The publication of his books, and of articles describing the situations, had important positive consequences. Thirty years after Gide, a Guinean writer, Camara Laye dismantled the clichés attached to these supposedly "primitive barbarians". He offers another picture of the Africans and of Africa in his novel, le Regard du Roi (The Radiance of the King, 1954). The hero is a troubled Frenchman travelling in Africa. Camara inverted the roles traditionally attributed to Europe and Africa. The crossing of various regions is presented as initiatory tests which bring about the hero's palingenesis. Camara shows that a spiritual Africa brought peace and salvation to the Frenchman. The article will contrast these perceptions. <![CDATA[<b>Culture and social environment in the pre-colonial era</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2009000100014&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en André Gide, the French traveller, went to Congo and Chad in 1925, on an official mission. He noted his impressions in his journal, published later under two titles: Voyage au Congo (Voyage to the Congo) and Retour du Tchad (Return from Chad). He expressed delight at the flora and fauna but presented the Africans as primitive beings, without spiritual or cultural values. His travels turned into a humanitarian quest when he witnessed the treatment inflicted on the natives by employees of the monopolistic rubber companies. The dilettante and aesthete Gide became a man committed to a struggle to improve the life of Africans in these regions. The publication of his books, and of articles describing the situations, had important positive consequences. Thirty years after Gide, a Guinean writer, Camara Laye dismantled the clichés attached to these supposedly "primitive barbarians". He offers another picture of the Africans and of Africa in his novel, le Regard du Roi (The Radiance of the King, 1954). The hero is a troubled Frenchman travelling in Africa. Camara inverted the roles traditionally attributed to Europe and Africa. The crossing of various regions is presented as initiatory tests which bring about the hero's palingenesis. Camara shows that a spiritual Africa brought peace and salvation to the Frenchman. The article will contrast these perceptions. <![CDATA[<b>The intersection of experience, imaginative writing and meaning-making in Es'kia Mphahlele</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2009000100015&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en André Gide, the French traveller, went to Congo and Chad in 1925, on an official mission. He noted his impressions in his journal, published later under two titles: Voyage au Congo (Voyage to the Congo) and Retour du Tchad (Return from Chad). He expressed delight at the flora and fauna but presented the Africans as primitive beings, without spiritual or cultural values. His travels turned into a humanitarian quest when he witnessed the treatment inflicted on the natives by employees of the monopolistic rubber companies. The dilettante and aesthete Gide became a man committed to a struggle to improve the life of Africans in these regions. The publication of his books, and of articles describing the situations, had important positive consequences. Thirty years after Gide, a Guinean writer, Camara Laye dismantled the clichés attached to these supposedly "primitive barbarians". He offers another picture of the Africans and of Africa in his novel, le Regard du Roi (The Radiance of the King, 1954). The hero is a troubled Frenchman travelling in Africa. Camara inverted the roles traditionally attributed to Europe and Africa. The crossing of various regions is presented as initiatory tests which bring about the hero's palingenesis. Camara shows that a spiritual Africa brought peace and salvation to the Frenchman. The article will contrast these perceptions. <![CDATA[<b>Esk'ia Mphahlele remembered</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2009000100016&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en André Gide, the French traveller, went to Congo and Chad in 1925, on an official mission. He noted his impressions in his journal, published later under two titles: Voyage au Congo (Voyage to the Congo) and Retour du Tchad (Return from Chad). He expressed delight at the flora and fauna but presented the Africans as primitive beings, without spiritual or cultural values. His travels turned into a humanitarian quest when he witnessed the treatment inflicted on the natives by employees of the monopolistic rubber companies. The dilettante and aesthete Gide became a man committed to a struggle to improve the life of Africans in these regions. The publication of his books, and of articles describing the situations, had important positive consequences. Thirty years after Gide, a Guinean writer, Camara Laye dismantled the clichés attached to these supposedly "primitive barbarians". He offers another picture of the Africans and of Africa in his novel, le Regard du Roi (The Radiance of the King, 1954). The hero is a troubled Frenchman travelling in Africa. Camara inverted the roles traditionally attributed to Europe and Africa. The crossing of various regions is presented as initiatory tests which bring about the hero's palingenesis. Camara shows that a spiritual Africa brought peace and salvation to the Frenchman. The article will contrast these perceptions. <![CDATA[<b>Noni Jabavu</b>: <b>a peripatetic writer ahead of her times</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2009000100017&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en André Gide, the French traveller, went to Congo and Chad in 1925, on an official mission. He noted his impressions in his journal, published later under two titles: Voyage au Congo (Voyage to the Congo) and Retour du Tchad (Return from Chad). He expressed delight at the flora and fauna but presented the Africans as primitive beings, without spiritual or cultural values. His travels turned into a humanitarian quest when he witnessed the treatment inflicted on the natives by employees of the monopolistic rubber companies. The dilettante and aesthete Gide became a man committed to a struggle to improve the life of Africans in these regions. The publication of his books, and of articles describing the situations, had important positive consequences. Thirty years after Gide, a Guinean writer, Camara Laye dismantled the clichés attached to these supposedly "primitive barbarians". He offers another picture of the Africans and of Africa in his novel, le Regard du Roi (The Radiance of the King, 1954). The hero is a troubled Frenchman travelling in Africa. Camara inverted the roles traditionally attributed to Europe and Africa. The crossing of various regions is presented as initiatory tests which bring about the hero's palingenesis. Camara shows that a spiritual Africa brought peace and salvation to the Frenchman. The article will contrast these perceptions. <![CDATA[<b>George Weideman (1947-2008)</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2009000100018&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en André Gide, the French traveller, went to Congo and Chad in 1925, on an official mission. He noted his impressions in his journal, published later under two titles: Voyage au Congo (Voyage to the Congo) and Retour du Tchad (Return from Chad). He expressed delight at the flora and fauna but presented the Africans as primitive beings, without spiritual or cultural values. His travels turned into a humanitarian quest when he witnessed the treatment inflicted on the natives by employees of the monopolistic rubber companies. The dilettante and aesthete Gide became a man committed to a struggle to improve the life of Africans in these regions. The publication of his books, and of articles describing the situations, had important positive consequences. Thirty years after Gide, a Guinean writer, Camara Laye dismantled the clichés attached to these supposedly "primitive barbarians". He offers another picture of the Africans and of Africa in his novel, le Regard du Roi (The Radiance of the King, 1954). The hero is a troubled Frenchman travelling in Africa. Camara inverted the roles traditionally attributed to Europe and Africa. The crossing of various regions is presented as initiatory tests which bring about the hero's palingenesis. Camara shows that a spiritual Africa brought peace and salvation to the Frenchman. The article will contrast these perceptions. <![CDATA[<b>Reviews</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0041-476X2009000100019&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en André Gide, the French traveller, went to Congo and Chad in 1925, on an official mission. He noted his impressions in his journal, published later under two titles: Voyage au Congo (Voyage to the Congo) and Retour du Tchad (Return from Chad). He expressed delight at the flora and fauna but presented the Africans as primitive beings, without spiritual or cultural values. His travels turned into a humanitarian quest when he witnessed the treatment inflicted on the natives by employees of the monopolistic rubber companies. The dilettante and aesthete Gide became a man committed to a struggle to improve the life of Africans in these regions. The publication of his books, and of articles describing the situations, had important positive consequences. Thirty years after Gide, a Guinean writer, Camara Laye dismantled the clichés attached to these supposedly "primitive barbarians". He offers another picture of the Africans and of Africa in his novel, le Regard du Roi (The Radiance of the King, 1954). The hero is a troubled Frenchman travelling in Africa. Camara inverted the roles traditionally attributed to Europe and Africa. The crossing of various regions is presented as initiatory tests which bring about the hero's palingenesis. Camara shows that a spiritual Africa brought peace and salvation to the Frenchman. The article will contrast these perceptions.