State/Society: Narrating Transformations in Selected African Novels


Dr. Gilbert Shang Ndi

Research Area:


The present research is a study of the representation of the State-society relationship in post-independence Africa in literary works. The corpus is constituted of four selected novels by Ahmadou Kourouma, Ayi Kwei Armah, Ngugi wa Thiong’o and Sony Labou Tansi. From a diachronic and synchronic perspective, we examine the portrayal of State-society relationship across socio-political (r)evolutions in the works of the individual authors in comparison with their contemporaries. This is done through the analysis of the dynamism of aesthetic/ethical visions of the selected authors and the tendencies, convergences and peculiarities that can be inferred thereof. Using the postcolonial and sociological theories of literary analysis, the research examines the centrality of the State in the power configuration, ideological formulation and political marginalisation in postcolonial African societies. In the same vein, it analyses the (ab)use of history, colonial memory and culture in post-independence societies and how they conjugate in the politics of power legitimisation and resistance in the postcolony. This analysis permits us to critically examine the mediating role of the author/intellectual in the situation of State-society antagonism and the articulation of a socio-political vision in the post-independence African literary context in the face of apparent historical determinism.