SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

vol.46 issue1Legitimizing the invented Congolese space: the gaze from within in early Congolese fiction author indexsubject indexarticles search
Home Pagealphabetic serial listing  

Services on Demand



Related links

  • On index processCited by Google
  • On index processSimilars in Google


Tydskrif vir Letterkunde

On-line version ISSN 2309-9070
Print version ISSN 0041-476X


GEHRMANN, Susanne. Remembering colonial violence: inter/textual strategies of Congolese authors. Tydskr. letterkd. [online]. 2009, vol.46, n.1, pp.11-27. ISSN 2309-9070.

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.

Keywords : Congolese literature in French; colonial violence; memory; allegory; fragmentation; body.

        · text in English     · English ( pdf )


Creative Commons License All the contents of this journal, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License