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Beti, Mongo


Subject Imperial, Colonial, and Postcolonial History » Postcolonial History

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781444334982.2016.x


When Mongo Beti passed away in 2001, a Guardian obituary remembered the famed African writer as “a brilliant polemicist who claimed he entered literature through writing political tracts” ( Whiteman 2001 ). Indeed Mongo Beti was an unrepentantly militant intellectual for whom literature was mostly another weapon of war against colonialism and its multifarious delayed consequences afflicting Africa's postcolonies. He took the literature-as-anti-colonial-weapon task so seriously that he could not stand his fellow pioneer African writers who chose to romanticize old Africa rather than battle the grave civilizational and economic scourge that was colonization. Thus in an article published in Présence Africaine , and titled “Afrique noire, littérature rose” (1955), he scolded Camara Laye for daring, in his famous novel L'Enfant noir , to close his eyes to the ravages of colonial forced labor, police brutality, and so on in order to concoct a rosy tale of an enchanted Africa of mysterious black snakes, colorful initiation rites, and exquisite peasant soul harmony. A closely related feature of Beti's life and work was his abiding commitment to an undiluted socialist self-understanding and interpretation of the world through which he seemed to have compulsively read and narrativized all the happenings in colonial and postcolonial Africa and Europe. The question is: How did someone who ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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