The subject of this essay, then, is the enduring spiritualities of Africa (including "imports"), their varying levels of success in meeting the challenges of engagement with non-African cultures, and, particularly, the manifestations of these encounters in a representative sampling of its fiction. In the first wave of novels in English and French, African religion typically loses out to Christianity and Islam in much the same process that village economies fail before railroads and missionary schools. In more recent fiction, more worldly-wise Africans (whether as characters of novels, or as writers of those novels who have been educated abroad) turn a more appreciative (if not necessarily naive) eye back on indigenous religion as a less-encumbered source for contemplation of a universal human need for transcendence and an imminent power that is not materialistic. The resulting personal crisis posed by competing cultural ties is nicely summarized by V.Y. Mudimbe's protagonist in Between Tides: "I entered the great seminary. Yet my uncle was waiting to introduce me to my past. How to combine two upbringings?" (129).
Literary Expressions of African Spirituality
Elizabeth J. West
Carol Patricia Marsh-Lockett
Hawley, J. C. (2013). The Gods Who Speak in Many Voices, and in None: African Novelists on Indigenous and Colonial Religion. In E. J. West and C. P. Marsh-Lockett (Eds.), Literary Expressions of African Spirituality (pp. 15-34) Lexington Press.