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Contrasting Images of Africa


Contrasting Images of Africa


This course analyses the manner in which various images of Africa have been generated, by a range of writers, including Europeans who participated in the colonisation of Africa and those who questioned it. The literary representation of the “dark continent” will be explored and the African responses to that viewpoint. The complex nature of the “African identity / identities” will be considered and the texts will highlight the challenges faced when representing the self and the “other”. Critical issues that will be discussed include the notion of “the white man’s burden”, the “civilising mission”, the challenges that gave rise to the negritude movement as a manifestation of black consciousness, the role of education in an African context, liberalism and the colonial state

Prescribed Texts (in the order in which they will be discussed):

  • H. Rider Haggard, King Solomon’s Mines, London, Collins
  • Marguerite Poland, Shades, Penguin [1913]
  • Leopold Sedar Senghor: Selected Poems (Departmental handout)
  • N. Bulawayo, We Need New Names, Struik
  • Meg Vandermerwe, Zebra Crossing, Struik
  • Ngugi Wa Thiongo, A Grain of Wheat, London, Heinemann
  • A. Paton, Cry, the Beloved Country, Harmondsworth, Penguin
  • J.M. Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians, Harmondsworth, Penguin


The course work will consist of two essays and a seminar presentation, which will make up 50% of the final mark. There will be a three-hour examination, constituting the other 50%.

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