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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Creating in the mother-tongue: the challenges to the African writer today
Author:Mlama, Penina Muhando
Periodical:Research in African Literatures
Geographic term:Subsaharan Africa
Subjects:indigenous languages
mother tongues
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/3819318
Abstract:Creating in the mother tongue is an issue that has been debated in African literature circles for several decades. After a short review of the advantages of writing in a foreign language and of the obstacles to writing in the mother tongue, the author discusses some of the challenges that face the African writer today. The first challenge begins with a writer's reexamination of his or her role in African society, in an Africa that is ripped apart by an economic, social and cultural crisis. It is extremely difficult for the writer not to take the side of the suffering majority. African written literature has continued to be bogged down by the problems faced by the mass media in general. It seems to lag behind the other media in the attempt to reach the grassroots. If the African writer is seen as someone who preserves, rejuvenates and guides his or her society's perception of an acceptable way of life, another set of challenges and questions arises: What is African culture? What is the writer's role in saving the African cultural identity? It is difficult to imagine the African writer today making a significant contribution to asserting the African people's cultural identity without having recourse to African indigenous languages. But if writers want to contribute to asserting the African people's cultural identity, writing in the mother tongue alone is not enough. They must extend their interests to areas outside the realm of literary creations. Bibliogr.