ALA ANNUALS, Vol. 10, Tongue and Mother Tongue

ALA ANNUALS, Vol. 10, Tongue and Mother Tongue

Pamela J. Olúbùnmi Smith, University of Nebraska at Omaha


Tongue and Mother Tongue is takes on two compelling challenges: the language question and the place and role of the mother tongue in African literature. This collection is the culmination of the fierce, decades-old debates on the question of African literature and its criticism. The fourteen essays, which range from a variety of critical and theoretical perspectives, have been organized in to five thematic categories whose sequence should be experienced as a continuous dialogue rather than a collection of discrete statements:

Five essays engage the more theoretical aspects of the language question and examine whether or not African writers should write in African languages. The ideological implications of each side of this debate are also explored in these essays.

A compelling essay examines the nature of criticism by examining the state of the literary discourse of the past decade and the immediacy of its implicit concern for the fate of mother-tongue literary discourse.

An essay explores the influence of the oral tradition on African literature and uses indigenous tropes within African orature to define systems of interpretation in African literature.

Two essays examine scholarship and the critical analysis of mother-tongue African literature and demonstrate the "respectability and legitimacy" of the creative and scholarly work being done in the field, as in the example of Yoruba metalanguage and literature.

Five critical essays contain general, textual analyses.