Writing dictatorship, rewriting African writing: mythology, temporality and power
Abstract This study explores the various representations of the dictator and the postcolonial condition in what can be termed the African dictator text. Adopting a panoramic approach that selects texts from several regions of Africa, the study critically examines the ambivalence and paradox of power, focusing on the various strategies devised and deployed by African writers to re-interpret and re-imagine postcolonial identities, time, space and authority in a globalised terrain, while arguing that the selected texts simultaneously entrench and destabilise content, form, views, attitudes, positions and meaning. The study also argues, in this respect, that the selected texts problematize representation of the performance of power as they reinforce, perpetuate and destabilise age-old but persistent stereo-typical notions of ‘exoticism’, ‘backwardness’ and the ‘dark continent’. This comes out through what the study sees as the collusion, tension and entanglement of myths, power and temporality which places the African and the continent in a completely different time-frame. The conclusion reached is that the dictator text continues to be an arena where African experiences are vigorously interrogated, re-interpreted and re-imagined, and in the process, the genre continues to spawn new and innovative strategies of representing the perennially confounding African postcolonial condition.
A thesis submitted to the Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, in fulfilment of the requirements of degree of Doctor of Philosophy Johannesburg, 2020