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IRCALC Editors

Ayi Kwei Armah: Provincialising Old Centres and Remaking the African Myth

by Divine Neba Che

FOREMOST revisionist African mythologists like Cheikh Anta Diop and Chinweizu have successfully debunked the Western collusion in Black inferiorisation. They are joined by Ayi Kwei Armah, a dogged revisionist mythologist who in the novel Osiris Rising attempts to demythologize the racist maxim that the black world is "forward never, backward ever" by resuscitating the African past as a means of restoring her lost values. This process of resuscitation, recycling and integration may not totally erase assimilated or hybrid values, for Africa owes a debt to the modern nation states and vice versa, but is simply a process of bringing into limelight what has been rejected or ignored for

centuries: the ancient Egyptian myth of Osiris and Isis and the building of the image of a vibrant Africa via literature.

Our premise is that decentering former spheres of influence gives birth to new provinces where each province has a defined autonomy enabling it to operate with little constraint within the global milieu. Although this may not allow for a protracted study of Amah's works as a whole, it traces the history of a severed continent in Two Thousand Seasons and its regenerative ability in Osiris Rising using the ancient Egyptian myth of Osiris and Isis with the intention of rebuilding the image of a vibrant Africa. In both novels Amah’s proposition on the question of provincializing the modern nation states includes reconstructing or mending the dismembered past by making Africans more aware of their history.

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The Journal of African
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Journal of African Literature JAL #10 2013

With the end of the Mayan calendar of millennial history by 2012, and the prospect, through literature, of advancing those dreams which humanity had so often expressed through their enlightened spokesmen and women, we are learning to recognize the common ideals which unfold as we grow, realising that the contribution emphasized by each great thought, as it develops, broadens our perspectives, and that the perception of unity in great variety enriches all in the universe.

JAL 10 will go beyond the textual categorisations within conventional literary genre and tradition to investigate progress and aesthetic in African and African-American writings, illuminating significant psychological, spiritual  and ethical values that dominate much of ancient and modern African and African-American works of the past century and beyond.

We will explore the prevalence of tropes in the understanding and recreation of history in arts and science, and the shaping of popular culture brought about by fictional recreations that evolve and have come to be accepted as true. Further curiosity about the literary content and processes of cultural inheritance, provoking the quest for a meaningful heuristic for approaching the culture of contemporary arts, will be pursued.

In line with the rediscovery - and revalidating - of the values of tradition we will continue to welcome insights into racial, transnational, cultural and gender relations where specific interests, aims and problems have to be addressed within specific contexts and with full awareness of, and in deference for, variety and difference. Moreover, works that exemplify the appropriate articulation of self and circumstance as a prerequisite for identifying the problems that afflict women, children and citizens, in addition to pointing the way to appropriate solutions, will be welcome.
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