Document Type

Book Review

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Publication Title

The Literary Griot: International Journal of Black Expressive Culture Studies





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The advocacy for African mother tongue source texts, translated or otherwise, has gone long unheeded and has been mired in a decade of academic debates about "privileged insider/arrogant outsider" approaches to and judgment of African literature in European languages. The Western feminist knowledge naming and claiming prerogative which has characterized much of feminist praxis in the seventies and eighties, especially in its self-assigned mandate to "speak" for "Third World" women, has forced the discursive territory to yet another level. The "damned-if-you-do/damned-if-you-don't" mediating position African feminist voices find themselves in lately is forcing a text/context­ conscious criticism of modern African literature in European languages. The inherent naming-what-you-do-not-know challenge implicit in this approach to the criticism of African literary texts speaks to not just the need for major epistemological and pedagogical overhaul of the hitherto feminist practice of "usurpation" (as feminist critic, Obioma Nnaemeka puts it) but also to the challenge to African feminist voices to produce the much-needed source texts needed for this major overhaul. The "privileged insider/ignorant outsider" debates have run their course as scholarly, source-text informed studies by scholars (Karin Barber, Phanuel Egejuru, Obioma Nnaemeka, Diedre Badejo, Akinwumi Isola) and English translations of mother tongue African texts by competent translators (Daniel Kunene, Ousseynou Traore, Pamela Olubunmi Smith, Janis Meyes, etc.) begin to appear. The review of one such study follows.