Letter," by Mariama Ba, "Devil

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

Thiongo tries to show the folly of this with his work, and hopes that Kenya can survive and thrive in her freedom from the rule of others.

Early in the book, Thiongo says, "Happy is the man who is able to discern the pitfalls in his path, for he can avoid them" (Thiongo 7). This is also his hope for Kenya, as they throw off their past, and head toward their future. Of course, the path has been filled with pitfalls, but the people of Kenya, like Wariinga, stride toward the future confidently.

Like "Devil on the Cross," "July's People" is also concerned with freedom, but the freedom of culture and integrity that is so difficult to find in South Africa. The people may have won their freedom from oppression, but they are still fighting for true equality, and that is the central theme of this novel, but roles are reversed, it is the white people who are losing their rights and belongings to the natives, and it is difficult for them. They eventually have to learn a new life from the people they had initially taught. "This white woman who had to be taught" (Gordimer 131).

It is the responsibility of the blacks to make a new life, and even create a new language they can understand and relate to. "Gordimer makes it clear that the black majority must create the new 'words that would make the truth that must be forming here, out of the blacks, out of themselves' (127)" (Folks 121). Before this, their worlds were vastly different, and Gordimer is trying to show the difficulties of merging two cultures that have been so intensely interdependent for so long.

The black July and the white Maureen try to come to some understanding during this trying time, but there is always something between them - their color. The South Africans may have gained their freedom, but there is still a wall between them that freedom cannot change. It takes integrity to see fellows as equals, and the color barrier negates this integrity. July realizes this about Maureen, "his measure as a man was taken elsewhere and by others. She was not... his people" (Gordimer 152).

Each of these novels employs a strong theme and central issue to make their point, but all in a unique and often unsettling way. They are classics in African literature, and allow the reader to understand more about the hardships modern Africans face every day.

Works Cited

Adeeko, Adeleke. "Plotting Class Consciousness in the African Radical Novel." Critique. 38.3 (1997): 177-192.

Ba, Mariama. So Long a Letter. England: Longman, 1979.

Folks, Jeffrey J. "Artist in the Interregnum: Nadine Gordimer's July's People." Critique. 39.2 (1998): 115-126.

Gordimer, Nadine. July's People. New York: Viking, 1981.

Kemp, Yakini B. "Romantic Love and the Individual in Novels by Mariama Ba, Buchi Emecheta, and Bessie Head." Arms Akimbo: Africana Women in Contemporary Literature. Eds. Janice Lee Liddell, and Yakini Belinda Kemp. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 1999. 147-161.

Mazrui, Alamin M. "Socialist-Oriented Literature in Postcolonial Africa: Retrospective and Prospective." African Visions: Literary Images, Political Change, and Social Struggle in Contemporary Africa. Eds. Cheryl B. Mwaria, Silvia…