Say My Name and Other African Stories from Home and Away
Nuria Ranking: #167 in African Interest
Cultural difference elicits both essentialist and hybrid conversations from diverse fields, particularly the humanities and social sciences. For Africa, essentialist voices, for instance, underscore the need to reject Western culture and return to the African ways of the past. In the 1956 conference of Black Writers, essentialists were represented by Aime Cessaire. In their view, the great Africa could only be founded on its past cultural ways.
Ngugi wa Thiong’o and Obi Wale bolster Cessaire’s proposition in their defence of African languages with respect to the writing of African literature. In their opinion, writing African literature in European languages in tantamount to transmitting European values. Frantz Fanon, on the other hand, contented that Africa can only succeed through a mix of Western and African ways.
Referring to Fanon, Homi Bhabha associates essentialist discourses with the politics of polarity. For him, the return to traditional culture is a recipe for cultural othering that could threaten national aspirations.
It is in the backdrop of these divergent conversations that the stories in Say my Name and Other African Stories from Home and Away we selected. While Joy Chenyenyozi, Yvonne Wamuyu, Maurice Simbili, Virginia Asenath and James Nderitu stand for a cultural mix of what seems inevitable in Africa, Denis Waswa, Muruli Muhande, Imali Abala and Ann Namatasi Lutomia are concerned with representation of Africa’s lost past. Using autobiographical style, the authors capture among other things, the physical environment, childhood activities, initiation rites, parenting styles, dances, food, cherished values and other aspects that show the cultural diversity of the Kenyan populace.