Orality in ngũgĩ’s devil on the cross, matigari and wizard of the crow

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University of Dar es Salaam
This study examines the progressive use of orality in Ngũgῖ waThiong’o’s three novels: Devil on the Cross, Matigari and Wizard of the Crow. The novels under spotlight are picked because they technically belong to a third phase of Ngũgῖ’s writing career, a phase characterized by Ngũgῖ’s mission to revive Gikũyũ oral traditions and create an authentic African novel by embedding orality into literacy. Orality in this study is looked at as a narrative framework informing the entire compositional thrust of the stories. Oral materials are however, considered to have been used only in relation to the oral narrative energy behind them during their execution. The exercise is subjected to voices speaking in the texts, performers of the stories and how the performances are taking place and how the audiences are engaged in the stories. The study begins by setting an argument on Ngũgῖ’s case by showing that the process of interplaying orality with literacy is not new in Africa and it did not start with Ngũgῖ. The study has noted that, Ngũgῖhas successfully managed to trade in two different cultures: African oral and Western literary traditions. The three novels are orchestrated on performance and they exhibit to have their roots in and take their lives from gῖkũyũ oral traditions whichprovide life to the three novels at the levels of inspiration, composition and transmission. Orality is not undermined by literacy or writing rather the two compliment each other since literacy is used to revive gῖkũyũ oral traditions as well as to folklorize global issues and push Ngũgῖ’s thematic agenda inthe novels. The study therefore, argues that three novels can be looked at as a triad of Ngũgῖ’s novels displaying his progressive use of orality as a narrative framework for the narratives as well as his continuous narration of aparable about Kenyans’ post-independence struggles.
Available in print form, East Africana Collection, Dr. Wilbert Chagula Library, Class mark (THS EAF PR9381.9.N45L45)
Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Africa, Fiction
Lema, E.P. (2015) Orality in ngũgĩ’s devil on the cross, matigari and wizard of the crow, Doctoral dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam, Dar es Salaam