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Indiana University of Pennsylvania


In his fascinating study of contemporary African intellectuals and their struggle to set themselves apart from their European educations, K wame Anthony Appiah describes the intellectual ferment throughout the continent as producing "new, unpredictable fusions" because Africans "have the great advantage of having before [them] the European and American--and the Asian and Latin American--experiments with modernity to ponder as [they] make [their] choices" (134). Appiah uses the example of his own sister's wedding in Ghana to exemplify the hybridized role that religion continues to play in that self-definition. The ceremony followed the Methodist ritual; a Roman Catholic bishop offered the prayers, and Appiah's Oxford-educated relatives poured libations to their ancestors. Such syncretism, he notes, religious and otherwise, is now common.

Such apparently compatible "fusion," if it can be so called, still rankles in many institutional quarters--religious, political, and intellectual--all purists for their respective points of view. The role of Christian missionaries, in particular, has long been a controversial topic in African fiction, generally a target for the criticism that its eurocentricism has demeaned indigenous African culture. Chinua Achebe expressed this position in its simplest form when he wrote: "I can't imagine Igbos traveling four thousand miles to tell anybody their worship was wrong!" (qtd. in Appiah 114).



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