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Lexington Books


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).

Chapter of

Literary Expressions of African Spirituality


Elizabeth J. West
Carol Patricia Marsh-Lockett


Copyright © 2013 Lexington Books. Reproduced by permission of Rowman & Littlefield. All rights reserved. Please contact the publisher for permission to copy, distribute or reprint.



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