Africa is the second largest continent after Asia. It contains a complex mosaic of peoples, languages, and cultures. The number of spoken languages in Africa has been variously estimated at between 800 and 1,700. The dominant religion of Northern Africa is Islam, which replaced Christianity in the 7th century and spread west and south across the Sahara and into the equatorial zones.
African literature comprises the oral and written forms of the continent, composed in either African languages or foreign ones.
The widespread African oral tradition is rich in folktales, myths, riddles, and proverbs that not only convey an imaginative view of the world but also serve a religious, social, and educational function.
African literary works have only been produced in the 20th century, most of them after World War II. Unlike Europe, the Middle East, and parts of Asia, black Africa has no ancient traditions of written literature. The earliest examples are Muslim inspired religious writings from North Africa.
The first full length narratives in Sesotho, Yoruba, and Ibo were modeled on John Bunyan’s 17th century allegory Pilgrim’s Progress.
The first major works in West Africa appeared in the 1950s at the end of the colonial era were primarily concerned with reinterpreting African history from an indigenous point of view that stressed the dignity of the African past. Chinua Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart (1952). AFRICAN WRITERS AND POETS
Wole, Soyinka (Born in Nigeria, July 13, 1934) is the foremost English language poet and certainly the most celebrated playwright of Black Africa. His work earned him the 1986 Nobel Prize for literature. Combining Western dramatic forms with music, dance, and mime of Africa, his plays achieve a ritualistic power and demonstrate the fundamental African concern with ‘‘numinous” boundaries: those between the human and the divine, between life and death. Chinua Achebe (1930), Nigerian novelist and poet,...
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