Spheres Public and Private
The coverage displayed here is predominantly on sub-Saharan literary production, and with a – perhaps systemic – focus on important aspects of political history and socio-political structures (including marxian analyses of the ‘public sphere’) and such crucial arenas as religious discipline, the tension between tradition and modernity, ecological awareness, family, and gender.
Most of the discussions are traditionally content-oriented, but there are at least two essays (on Soyinka’s Aké and on Amma Darko’s The Housemaid) that attempt to come to grips narratologically with the medium of prose fiction itself. A quartet of essays with a more general purview – including a refreshing demontage of exclusive obeisance to (Western) écriture – is followed by a section on poets, some canonical, others emergent: Ogaga Ifowodo, Jack Mapanje, Olu Oguibe, Tanure Ojaide, Okot p’Bitek, Wole Soyinka, Ladé Wosornu. Essays on fiction cover general topics (women’s fiction; political writing in Nigeria; the nightmare of Biafra), and landmark texts both anglophone (Chinua Achebe, Amma Darko, Festus Iyayi, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Wole Soyinka), francophone (Mariama Bâ, Mongo Beti, and Ousmane Sembène), and – a novum for Matatu – hispanophone (Donato Ndongo). The theatre section has essays on Ama Ata Aidoo, Zakes Mda, Anne Tanyi–Tang, Soyinka, and Ahmed Yerima, as well as Ngugi and Mugo.
We are especially pleased to be able to offer accomplished original poetry, short stories, and a complete drama text. Four comprehensive essay-reviews (on literary criticism, cinema, graphic art, and traditional African society) round out this issue.