Reading Room > Literature > Hugh Webb, African Literature

Passionate Spaces:
African Literature and the Post-Colonial Context

For Carol


Author's Note

Part I. Historical Context

Chapter 1. African Independence and Before: Telling the people where the rain began to beat them

Chapter 2. African Independence and After: Some well-written things to make people angry

Part II. Literary Interventions

Chapter 3. In the Beginning: One struggle for paged history

Chapter 4. After Uhuru: Pulling smiles out of hanging lips

Chapter 5. Voices in the Dark: Them enemies

Chapter 6. No Sweetness Here: The straight way lost

Chapter 7. The Crown of Thunder: Groping after tomorrow

Chapter 8. Desperate Declamations: Globules of anguish strung together on memory

Chapter 9. Breaking the Circle: When the show comes to an end

Chapter 10. Tune the Melody to Purpose: Life in the house of the fire-god

Part III. Genres

Chapter 11. The Historical Novel: Hear this for the sound of it

Chapter 12. The Novelistic Autobiography: Actions alone

Chapter 13. The Realist Novel: Casting the contradictions

Chapter 14. The Allegory: Mirrors of ideology

Chapter 15. The Polemical Poem: A flash of fire

Chapter 16. The Satirical Play: Drama, society and politics


Chapter 17. Literary Form and Ideology: The Counter-Attack?



This study of black African writings in the period 1956 to 1975 is a contribution to the developing field of postcolonial cultural debate. The historical era involved seems to me to be a key narrative moment in the shaping of postcolonial patterns of response and in the re-shaping of connections between literature and social context. These literary 'passionate spaces' vibrate with political meanings that urgently need to be heard.

Some sections of this work have appeared earlier in different form. I acknowledge the following : New Literature Review for "Literary Form and Ideology : The African Counter-Attack?" and "'I address this book to the people' : Soyinka's Novelistic Autobiography"; World Literature Written in English and the University of Texas at Arlington for "Flash of Fire : Poems from Africa"; the Institute for the Study of English in Africa, Rhodes University for "Allegory : Okara's The Voice" originally published in English in Africa; the Literary Half Yearly for "Drawing the Lines of Battle : A Man of the People"; for "The African Historical Novel and the Way Forward", African Literature Today and Heinemann Educational Books.

The poem "Apres la Guerre" first appeared in A Shuttle in the Crypt published jointly by Rex Collings Ltd. and Eyre Methuen and Co. Ltd. I thank Wole Soyinka for both this poem, and for his helpful comments on an earlier version of the manuscript of Passionate Spaces.

Passionate Spaces : African Literature and the Post-Colonial Context would not have appeared without the continuing support of my colleagues in the English and Comparative Literature Programme at Murdoch University and the passionate commitment to the cultural liberation of the Australian continent by Aboriginal writers, especially Mudrooroo.

Perth, Western Australia, 1991

First published in 1991 by Postcolonial Press, Unit 3, 165 Moreing Road, Attadale, W. Australia 6156

Printed in Australia

ISBN 0 646 04316 1

©Hugh Webb 1991

This work is copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of criticism or review, as permitted under the Copyright Act, no part may be reproduced by any process without the written permission of the author.

New: 13 May, 1996 | Now 2 April, 2015