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Title: Towards indigenous poetics: morality and stylistic nuances in Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s Gǐkũyũ fiction
Authors: Muhia, Johnsons Mugo
Keywords: indigenous poetics
Issue Date: Feb-2014
Publisher: Egerton University
Abstract: This study is a stylistic investigation of Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s Gikuyu fiction. Its purpose is to interrogate the use of orature and the aesthetic value it has given to his Gikuyu creative writings. The use of vernacular languages in literary creation and the inherent challenges opened an avenue that had not been explored in African literature. Earlier works that had laid the basis of African literature, and especially in Ngugi’s case, were short stories as opposed to the novelistic discourse. These languages, which had not been used in creating long literary discourses, need to be examined as to how they were moulded for literary creation. The study has attempted to show that orature does not only have aesthetic appeal but it is also a growing body of art that is able to adapt to changes in the society through space and time. The study has evaluated how Ngugi has appropriated Gikuyu language and oral tradition to achieve aesthetic effect. It has also analyzed Ngugi’s adaptation of motifs and images of oral tradition in a changing, contemporary society and its use in projecting social and ideological vision. Based on eclectic but carefully selected theoretical framework and methodological orientation, the study has taken advantage of postcolonial, stylistics and semiotic theory (including some postulations from semiotic theoreticians like Foucault, Bakhtin and Althusser). From semiotic theory the study has taken cognizance of the importance of signs in all cultures, this has guided the study in interrogating the growth and adaptability of oral forms (which are treated as individual signs) through time. The enquiry has also taken advantage of Saussure’s concept of langue and parole, and has approached oral tradition as a system from which African creative writers’ use in their construction of a work of art. Postcolonial theory has been crucial to the study, especially in the light of Ngugi’s change of language, and more because language is an important component in the questions of identity, power and representation. The study’s conclusion is that Ngugi employs orature as a textual strategy in consciously subverting and deconstructing colonial and neo-colonial practices. It has also been used as a process of reclaiming and recovering the previously occluded indigenous histories and tradition. The recuperated oral forms have in turn been employed as models or templates in representing contemporary postcolonial reality. In the studied works therefore, orature emerges as a vii weapon of resistance against all forms of social injustices, its constituents which include oral narratives, proverbs, songs and riddles are some of the locales from which differing ideologies are discussed, contested and subverted.
Appears in Collections:Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

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