1. Simon Gikandi (2002, 389) says that, despite the emergence of a
modern literary tradition of novels in Amharic, Hausa, Swahili, Xhosa, and
Zulu, the most influential form of long fiction on the continent, the one that
has made Africa central to the study of modern literature, is novels written
in the major European languages. Wendy Griswold (2000, 31) puts it more
baldly in her sociology of the anglophone Nigerian novel. ‘‘While there
exists a tradition of poetry and plays in Hausa and Yoruba, full novels in
these languages—unlike poetry or plays—are far and few between. . . . Even
rarer is a novel in Igbo or in any of the hundreds of minority languages
because few Africans can read these languages, most of which lack a stan-
dard orthography.’’
2. Lydie Moudileno offers a useful summary of the conditions that gave
rise to Négritude in her dictionary entry, ‘‘West African Literature in French,’’
in Gikandi 2002, 567–71. The classic scholarship is Kesteloot 2001; see also
Arnold 1981. Lila Azam Zanganeh has quoted Boniface Mongo-Mboussa, a
critic from the Congo Republic and the author of Le désir de l’Afrique, as
calling Négritude the first truly modern African literature: ‘‘Before Negritude
African literature was a colonial literature that pretended it was African’’ (Lila
Azam Zanganeh, ‘‘Out of Africa,’’ New York Times, June 12, 2005, 39). My point
is not to illustrate the received wisdom that Négritude marks the beginning of
authentic, autochthonous, anticolonial African voices in poetic writing. Né-
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