Discuss the relationship between literature and social commitment with reference to the texts in your course.

 Q. Discuss the relationship between literature and social commitment with reference to the texts in your course.

Ans. Introduction

Ngugi's writings exemplify the commonly held belief that the Kikuyu, among the various ethnic groups in Kenya, experienced the most severe forms of racial, political, and economic tensions but were also considered the most advanced tribe. They had a higher number of educated individuals and a greater degree of political consciousness.

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The relationship between literature and social commitment

In the pursuit of establishing a tradition of novel or fiction writing in the Kikuyu language, Ngugi acknowledges the influential figure of Gakaara wa Wanjau, who founded a journal in the Kikuyu language. Wanjau, who was imprisoned for writing in the language of the masses, kept a diary during his years of imprisonment from 1952 to 1962, which was later published as a book. Wanjau's impact on Ngugi's career is evident, as Ngugi himself writes, or at least wrote, in the Kikuyu language, in addition to publishing Detained: A Writer's Prison Diary, which documents his own year spent in a maximum security prison.

However, Ngugi's educational background and early career also highlight the Kikuyu community's recognition of the advantages of adopting English. As early as 1938, Jomo Kenyatta's book, Facing Mount Kenya, written by a Kikuyu, gained global attention.

The most significant body of Kenyan prose writing in English has emerged from writers whose native language is Kikuyu. During the 1960s and 1970s, many of these works centered around the Mau Mau movement and its aftermath. Among these novels that explore the theme of 'freedom,' I will briefly discuss a few notable examples. These include Ngugi's "Weep Not, Child" (1964) and "A Grain of Wheat" (1967), Charity Waciuma's "Daughter of Mumbi" (1969), John Karoki's "The Land is Ours" (1970), Godwin Wachira's "Ordeal in the Forest" (1968), and Meja Mwangi's "Carcase for Hounds" (1974) and "Taste of Death" (1975). However, critical opinion remains divided regarding the portrayal of this significant event in Kenya's history.

These novels, rooted in the Kikuyu literary tradition, delve into the complexities of the Mau Mau movement and its impact on Kenyan society. They capture the struggles, sacrifices, and aspirations of individuals and communities during a time of political upheaval and colonial resistance. Through vivid storytelling, these works offer different perspectives on the Mau Mau movement, shedding light on the experiences of fighters, victims, and those caught in the crossfire.

Ngugi's "Weep Not, Child" and "A Grain of Wheat" are seminal works that explore themes of national identity, political disillusionment, and the legacy of colonialism. They provide nuanced portrayals of characters grappling with personal and collective challenges in the aftermath of independence. Charity Waciuma's "Daughter of Mumbi" delves into the experiences of women during this period, highlighting their resilience and agency within the context of a male-dominated struggle.

John Karoki's "The Land is Ours" examines the complexities of land ownership, a central issue in Kenya's history, while Godwin Wachira's "Ordeal in the Forest" offers a gripping account of individuals caught in the turmoil of the Mau Mau uprising. Meja Mwangi's "Carcase for Hounds" and "Taste of Death" confront the lasting scars and moral dilemmas faced by former fighters as they navigate post-independence society.

These novels contribute to a rich literary tradition that explores the complexities of Kenya's history and the lasting impact of the Mau Mau movement. They offer diverse perspectives and narratives that challenge mainstream narratives and contribute to a more nuanced understanding of this important period in Kenya's past. Through their writings, these Kikuyu authors have made significant contributions to the canon of Kenyan literature and the broader discourse on colonialism, independence, and social transformation.

Theatre in Nigeria

The development of theatre in Nigeria can be traced back to a fusion of traditional rituals, including masquerades, chants, music, and dancing, with themes and ideas influenced by the Bible through the work of missionaries. Ulli Beier extensively discusses Yoruba theatre in an essay, highlighting its beginnings in performing Biblical stories both inside and outside the church, accompanied by Yoruba hymns. These plays, which originated in the 1930s, served the purpose of instructing church members and as fundraising initiatives. The initiation of theatrical activity in Nigeria was influenced by a combination of traditional and foreign elements.

Theatre in Nigerian languages, particularly Yoruba, is deeply rooted in the country's cultural heritage. It draws upon traditional performance elements, incorporating local music, dance, and storytelling techniques. This form of theatre serves as a vehicle for cultural expression and preservation, allowing Nigerian communities to celebrate their rich traditions and share them with audiences. Performances in Nigerian languages offer a unique experience, fostering a sense of pride, identity, and community engagement.

Discuss the relationship between literature and social commitment with reference

Theatre in English has played a vital role in Nigerian literature and cultural discourse. English-language theatre often tackles contemporary social, political, and economic issues. Nigerian playwrights, such as Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, and Femi Osofisan, have used the English language to create powerful works that address post-colonial realities, corruption, social injustice, and cultural clashes. These plays have contributed significantly to the development of Nigerian literature, exploring themes that resonate with local and global audiences alike.

So theatre in Nigeria emerged through a combination of traditional rituals and biblical influences brought by missionaries. Theatre in Nigerian languages celebrates cultural heritage, while theatre in English serves as a medium for socio-political commentary and artistic expression. Both forms of theatre contribute to Nigeria's vibrant artistic landscape, enriching the literary and cultural fabric of the nation.

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