TRADITIONAL AESTHETICS TRANSFER AND THE AFRICAN NOVELISTS: A STUDY OF ACHEBE’S THINGS FALL APART AND LAYE’S THE AFRICAN CHILD

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TRADITIONAL AESTHETICS TRANSFER AND THE AFRICAN NOVELISTS: A STUDY OF ACHEBE’S THINGS FALL APART AND LAYE’S THE AFRICAN CHILD

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Reading through African novels, this research work was triggered by a lot of borrowing from oral traditional aesthetics into the written form by African novelists. The transfer of traditional aesthetics is a common feature in African novels. According to Bodunde (2001) “…. aesthetic transfer investigates the transformation of different aspects of indigenous heritage….”(p.7)

African traditional setting in general comprises cultural activities that constitute the concept of beauty or aesthetics. These aesthetics are enriched in the belief of or custom handed down from one generation to another. The aesthetics can be found in the people’s early beliefs, religions, customs, festival, myth, legends, laws, folktales, settings, communities, metaphysics and magical ceremonies of the people. African novelists mostly source their raw materials from African traditions. This is why the transferred aesthetics were formally oral.

TRADITIONAL AESTHETIC TRANSFER AND THE AFRICAN NOVELISTS

          Many African novelists owe much to traditional aesthetics. There are many examples of African novelists that their works show evidence of traditional aesthetic. Good examples are: Wole Soyinka, Amos Tutuola, Sembene Ousmane and Ngugi wa Thiongo. These writers are African novelists and they are competent in using traditional aesthetics in their works. Amos Tutuola in his novel The Palm wine Drunkard makes use of lots of traditional aesthetics. Amos Tutuola writes about African cosmology, myth, legend, folktales, belief in supernatural powers and the African sociology. The novel is rich in morals, rituals, andentertainment. The novel brings out rich cultural elements Just as Chinua Achebe and Camara Laye hadbrought about the cultural elements in Things fall Apart and The African Child.

          Also in Weep Not Child by Ngugi wa Thiongo. Ngugi wa Thiongo makes use of traditional aesthetics like traditional custom, traditional settings and governance, myth and legend, superstitious belief and folktales. In Weep Not Child, Kimathi is a legendrical figure and the myth about Gikuyu and Mubi. There is also the custom of circumcision. Also is the traditional setting; Ngotho is the head of his family and he built his household huts by himself. Ngotho’s polygamous family is a model, because of Ngotho’s sense of ruling. This view shows that most African novelists transfer the traditional aesthetics into their works.

          The examination of the traditional aesthetics and the Africannovelists, a study of Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and Laye’s,The African Child, the goal of this research work. The transfer of African traditional aesthetics in the contemporary world such as myths, proverbs, festival, folktales, superstitious belief, cultural celebration are features of most African novels.

SIMILARITIES IN THE SETTINGS OF THINGS FALL APART AND THE AFRICAN CHILD

          According to David (1980) who made a comparative analysis of the setting in Things Fall Apart and The African Child. He observed some similarities in, the setting of the Igbo people of Nigeria and Malinke people of Guinea in the respective novels. They both lived in an extended family compounds, both are autonomous and self ruled. They lived in an oral society where learning was done traditional through songs, stories and proverbs. Farming was their predominant profession.

          The traditional aesthetics in The African Child and Things Fall Apart are similar in the sense that we received detailed accounts of family, tribal, rituals, customs, ceremonies through the stories the characters tell.

          The similarities in the setting of the two novels explain the similarities in the use of traditional aesthetics. It also explains the transfer of traditional aesthetics of African tradition and cultural heritage in relation to the two texts.

1.2    PURPOSE OF THE STUDY

          The purpose of this study is to examine the traditional aesthetic transfer in two of African novels. Chinua Achebe Things Fall Apart and Camara Laye’s The African Child.

          This research also aims at making a critical analysis of the various traditional aesthetics used by Camara Laye in The African Child and Chinua Achebe’s Things fall Apart.

          Finally, the researcher shall discuss importance of the traditional aesthetics in the two texts.

1.3    JUSTIFICATION

          This study is embarked upon because no study of this nature to the researcher’s knowledge has focused specifically on the transfer of traditional aesthetics, using the two texts: Things Fall Apart and The African Child. 

          The works that the researcher came across in the information collection include, Kilam (1969) which focuses on the use of language and literary devices inThings Fall Apart. Another is Idowu (2009) which deals with the use of mythology and superstitious belief in Laye’s The African Child.

          The researcher also came across Ashaolu (1989) who focuses on the image created by Chinua Achebe in Things Fall Apart.

The difference of this work from Kilam (1969), Ashaolu (1989) and Idowu (2009) is that the researcher intends to focus on the traditional transfer in Things Fall Apart and The African Child.

1.4    SCOPE OF THE STUDY

          This research work shall be restricted to the analysis of the traditional aesthetic transfer in Camara Laye’s The African Child and Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. This research shall not divert into their other works.

          The researcher shall specifically bring out the traditional aesthetics that are similar to the two novels and give their importance.

1.5    METHODOLOGY

          The theoretical approach of this research study is functionalism. The reason is that the approach addresses the society as a whole in terms of the function of its constituent elements namely norms, customs, traditions and institution.

          The chosen texts shall be employed as functional novels as they also deals with the socio-cultural patterns of their respective settings. Also, the belief in the uni-linear and parallel stages of social evolution which all societies must pass through.

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