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Corruption in Post-Colonial African Literature Ayi Kwei Amah’s The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born and Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah

Corruption in Post-Colonial African Literature Ayi Kwei Amah’s The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born and Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah

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1.1 Background to the Study

Society and literature are inseparable. Society inspires novelists and literary writers portray society. All what characterizes a given society; values, norms, beliefs and culture can be reflected in the novelists’ pieces of writing. Those modes of portraying can be seen in literary genres and writers’ style and themes. In all its changing forms and contents, literature traces the development of the society through history in very creative way. This creativeness is clear when literature combines the society’s culture to “represent impalpable subjects such as assimilation, rejections, transformation as well as political and social issues and historical facts” (Dobie 84-85). The exploration of corruption within the context of post-colonial African literature has become a pivotal avenue for understanding the intricate socio-political dynamics that have shaped the continent in the aftermath of colonial rule.

According to Ali Monday et al (80), colonialism in Africa refers to the period when European powers established control over various African territories, exploiting their resources and imposing their political and economic systems on the indigenous populations. This era, which lasted from the late 19th century to the mid-20th century, had profound and lasting effects on the continent, including the emergence of corruption as a significant issue. During the colonial period, European powers often implemented exploitative policies that prioritized their own interests over those of the local populations.

This included the extraction of natural resources, forced labor practices, and the imposition of arbitrary borders that disregarded existing tribal or ethnic divisions. These actions disrupted traditional African social structures and economies, creating conditions that facilitated corruption. However, Michalopoulos Sunday and Papaioannou Eagle (53) added that the creation of corrupt systems is one of the legacies of colonialism in Africa is the establishment of corrupt systems of governance. European colonizers frequently installed authoritarian regimes that relied on patronage networks and bribery to maintain control.

Corruption in Post-Colonial African Literature Ayi Kwei Amah’s The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born and Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah

This culture of corruption became deeply entrenched in many post-colonial African states, where leaders continued to exploit their positions for personal gain at the expense of their citizens. Harrison Inyang defines Corruption as the misuse of public power for private gain. It can take many forms, including bribery, embezzlement, extortion, nepotism, and cronyism. Corruption can occur at any level of government or society, from local officials to the highest levels of national governments and international organizations.

Fox et al (113) noted that African literature by all considerations, is an excellent portraying of its society. Its representative figures, at first, claimed for the African heritage. Later, their writings changed to become one the important weapons that used for asking for independence. Great novelists like Achebe, Ngugi, Forna and Armah considered by all critics the portrayers of their societies realistically. As those writers depicted their social reality, the themes within their novels revolted around the abusing practices by the colonizers in all its levels and forms.

Themes in African literature shifted from calling for independence during the colonial rule, to fighting society’s evils and calling for change during the postcolonial era. As the colonizers’ attitudes have not been fully removed from the colonized minds, post-colonial Africa was characterized by corrupt political system and unjust social practices. Corruption by all its forms is a result of colonialism.

The leaders in postcolonial period were nothing but pawns in full service for the colonizers. Those people helped the corrupt deeds to grow and develop in their societies. In fact, post- colonial era has not shown a distinction from the colonial period. In contrast, the African state’s rapidly degenerated and the whole continent was indulged in corrupt practices. The theme of corruption was a prevailing theme in post-colonial African literature. The writers of this era echoed all the corrupt practices in their societies. They did not only did they criticize their political and social situation, but also called for resistance to get rid of those abuse deeds as Nyamndi states” the situation of corruption in Africa is not enough and a call for changes necessary in order to move society in the right direction” (566-578).

However, Richards Daniel (170) added that Achebe’s work, published in 1987, examines the impact of corruption on the fictional state of Kangan. Set in the aftermath of a military coup, the novel intricately weaves together the lives of its central characters as they grapple with power, morality, and the consequences of unchecked corruption. Achebe, often regarded as the father of African literature, employs a rich narrative to depict the erosion of ethical values in the wake of political upheaval.

Chinua Achebe has proven his worth among English-speaking African novelists by representing the African social and political environment in a thoroughly realistic way. His novels depict life within a particular historical background, and convey a sense of growing disgust and unrest within Nigerian society, a society that has started to emerge from the ‘colonial complex’ caused by years of denigration and self-abasement. Chinua Achebe’s Anthills Of The Savannah is Achebe’s fourth novel.

It describes Nigeria in its post-independence phase, during which time the country became a ‘cesspool of corruption and misrule’ in the context of colonial-style social and economic development, a situation that resulted in conflict between the emergent elitist middle class and the general populace. Achebe’s reputation as a novelist rests on his impartial understanding of, and ability to represent the Nigerian environment. His realistic characterization and diagnosis of his country’s malaise has the power to inspire a revolution informed by African ideologies.

In the same vein, Chibani Michael and Guendouzi Angel (686) added that Achebe’s works have primarily focused on “African politics, the depiction of Africa and Africans in the West, and the intricacies of pre-colonial African culture and civilization, as well as the effects of colonization of African societies”.  Saman (25) asserts that the focal point in postcolonial novels is that of identity in which the colonised people struggle to identify between the former indigenous heritage and history as well as the dominating culture imposed by the colonisers.

The impacts of colonialism are still evident today in postcolonial society, and literature is a good platform to behold this. This is a clear indication that the mind of the colonised has not entirely been decolonised. Chinua Achebe and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie form part of the postcolonial writers who have, to a great deal, contributed to the reconstruction of the image of the indigenous people in the postcolonial society of Africa.

Equally, according to Macheka Mavis (101) Ayi Kwei Armah is another renowned African writer who has portray the ills in Africa from the precolonial to the postcolonial era. According to  Macheka,  Ayi Kwei Armah’s novel the Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born is a classic novel written in the years shortly after independence precisely 1968, it is a literary work that attempts to place within context the corrupt values that existed during independence either socially or politically. It is Based in Ghana formerly Gold Coast where Armah was born.

This literary work uses the country as a symbolic representation of other African countries so it is meant that the issue of corruption is broadly discussed in the novel and should not be viewed as completely localized in Ghana but rather should be generally used as a mirror reflection of the experiences of other African countries. The novel is rich in its thematic approaches as well as the literary stylistic devices that have been put at the disposition of the author for ease of communicating the message. Armah’s novel, offers a searing critique of post-independence Ghana.

The narrative unfolds against the backdrop of a morally bankrupt society, plagued by corruption at every level. The protagonist, an unnamed man, becomes a symbolic representation of the struggle to maintain personal integrity in the face of societal decay. The novel serves as a mirror reflecting the disillusionment and moral bankruptcy that characterized the early years of African independence.

The Beautyful Ones Are Not yet Born has captured the widespread of corruption among Africans and the despair caused by this phenomenon so It is meant that Armah’s main perspective is to discuss the harsh image of corruption and selfishness of both the inhabitants and the leaders. Moreover many critics investigated the theme of corruption in The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born.

However the study will focus primarily on the theme of corruption that is Armah’s main focus in the novel, a testament to the fact that the author’s intention was to locate exactly the weakness that corruption presented to his country. The experiences of other African countries in this regard were at independence and up to now are not any different. Corruption still remains to be a major social, ethical and political economic challenge for which a lot of attention and emphasis has been paid.

The general literary contention that this work will focus on will be to assess as well as evaluate main theme in the novel as a pointer to the challenges African countries continue to faced, it will be an attempt to question this prevailing theme that Armah emphasized in his novel The Beautyful Ones are Not Yet Born. This study endeavors to contribute to the broader discourse on post-colonial African literature by dissecting the portrayal of corruption in Ayi Kwei Armah’s The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born and Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah. By delving into the historical context, thematic exploration, and literary techniques employed by these esteemed authors, we aim to unearth a deeper understanding of the intricate relationship between literature and the socio-political landscape of post-colonial Africa.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Corruption stands as a pervasive and pressing challenge within the post-colonial African context, exerting a corrosive influence on governance structures, socio-economic development, and the collective psyche of nations. Ayi Kwei Armah’s “The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born” and Chinua Achebe’s “Anthills of the Savannah” delve into the intricate manifestations and consequences of corruption in the wake of colonial legacies, presenting a nuanced exploration of the moral and political dilemmas faced by individuals and societies.

Despite the undeniable impact of corruption on the fabric of post-colonial African nations, there exists a notable gap in the scholarly discourse, particularly in the comparative analysis of these seminal literary works. This study seeks to address this gap by examining the thematic underpinnings of corruption in Armah’s and Achebe’s novels, exploring the ways in which these narratives contribute to our understanding of the intricate dynamics of corruption within the post-colonial African context. The overarching question driving this research is: How do Armah and Achebe, through their respective works, provide insights into the multifaceted nature of corruption, its roots in colonial histories, and its enduring impact on individual morality and societal structures in post-colonial African nations?

1.3 Aims and Objectives of the Study

The aim of the study is to examine the pervasive issue of corruption in post-colonial African societies as depicted in the two seminal works of literature by two of the continent’s most renowned authors (Ayi Kwei Amah’s The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born and Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah). However, the specific objectives of this study were:

  1. examine the historical and colonial antecedents that have laid the groundwork for the prevalence of corruption in post-colonial African societies, as portrayed in the two selected texts.
  2. explore the moral dimensions of corruption within the two novels under study by analyzing the ethical dilemmas faced by individual characters.
  3. investigate the narrative structures, symbolism, and character development utilized in both novels to convey the complexities and nuances of corruption in post-colonial African settings.
  4. assess the broader societal implications of corruption within the narratives, exploring its effects on governance structures, socio-economic development, and the overall well-being of communities in post-colonial African nations.

Corruption in Post-Colonial African Literature Ayi Kwei Amah’s The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born and Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah

1.4 Significance of the Study  

The research holds significant implications for academic, literary, and socio-political discourse, contributing valuable insights into the understanding of corruption within post-colonial African societies as portrayed in Ayi Kwei Armah’s The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born and Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah. However, by conducting a nuanced analysis of how corruption is depicted in these seminal works, the study contributes to the existing body of literature on post-colonial African literature. It enriches academic discussions by offering a comparative examination of the literary techniques employed by Armah and Achebe, providing scholars and researchers with a deeper understanding of the portrayal of corruption within the context of post-colonial narratives.

Equally, this research will also sheds light on the cultural nuances and socio-political realities embedded in the portrayal of corruption in post-colonial African literature. It facilitates a more profound understanding of the cultural context in which these novels are situated, offering readers and scholars alike a more nuanced and empathetic perspective on the challenges faced by African societies in grappling with the legacy of corruption.

Moreover, by examining corruption through the lens of literature will enhances public awareness and engagement with the complex socio-political issues faced by post-colonial African nations. By bringing these narratives to a wider audience, the research contributes to fostering a sense of social responsibility, encouraging dialogue, and empowering individuals to critically reflect on the implications of corruption within their own cultural and historical contexts.

1.5 Scope and Delimitation

This study focuses on the thematic exploration of corruption within post-colonial African societies as depicted in Ayi Kwei Armah’s The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born and Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah. The analysis will center on the historical, moral, and societal dimensions of corruption within the context of these literary works.

1.6 Research Methodology

This research is a qualitative research, and relied on textual analysis of the selected texts of Ayi Kwei Armah’s The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born and Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah, which were the primary sources of data collection for the study. However, other relevant materials were gotten from internet, journals both online/offline and library materials which form the secondary sources for data. The texts are purposively selected based on their relevant contents.

1.7 Theoretical Framework: Post-Colonial Theory

The theoretical model that was adopted as the theoretical framework for this study was be Edward Said’s Post-Colonial Theory. Post-colonial literary theory is a critical approach to literature that seeks to analyze and interpret works in the context of colonial and post-colonial experiences. It emerged as a response to the legacy of colonialism and imperialism, aiming to deconstruct the power dynamics, cultural hegemony, and Eurocentrism prevalent in literature produced during and after the colonial period. Post-colonial literary theory examines how colonialism has influenced language, identity, representation, and narrative structures in literature from formerly colonized regions.

Post-colonial literary theory developed in the mid-20th century as a result of decolonization movements across the globe. The end of formal colonial rule led to a reevaluation of cultural identities, power structures, and historical narratives. Writers from formerly colonized countries began to assert their voices and challenge the dominant Western perspectives that had shaped literature for centuries. Post-colonial theorists sought to address the marginalization, stereotyping, and erasure of indigenous cultures in literary texts.

Post-colonialism is problematic in nature. It is facing difficulty to have one clear and concise definition. It has been known that this term come into fame as result of what happened in the colonial era. Concerning colonialism, it did not only affect societies on the social perspective, but it exceeds to touch the politics and economy. The consequences of these dimensions gave a broad area to what comes after colonialism.

In the coming sections, the paper will prove that post colonialism questions the process of history. This questioning touches all sides of the society. The term post-colonialism is complex. Its complexity led to a definitional problem. To understand what this term implies, we need to look backwards to colonialism and neo-colonialism. In 1950, Alfred Sauvy coined the term Third World to refer to the developing nations such as the ones in Africa. He was interested in the colonized societies who were ruled by the power.

He gave an analysis to the circumstances of the colonized societies. He considered their political, social and psychological changes that were due to the colonizers impressive power. In brief, we can say that post colonialism was interested in all what concerns the societies under power. Consequently, it discusses what happened to colonial people at all levels. As long as those people are in focus to postcolonial era, the colonizers, as the doers of abuse, are intervened with the discussion.

Colonialism can be defined as the subjection of one population to another. This has obviously been seen in physical conquest. Not only does this conquest imply physical domination, but also it does political, economic and cultural control. As the time go on, the traditions of the colonizer started to gain supremacy over the colonized so that many aspects of the colonized culture began to disappear. The period preceding 1970s, witnessed the rise of anti-colonialist movements against colonialism. These have been known as anti-colonial movements. Many journals discussed this issue such as: African Literature Today (1988). Thus, Post colonialism was used to refer to the period following colonialism. Luzarus indicates that from early 1970s, the term post colonialism has no ideological spirit.

Corruption in Post-Colonial African Literature Ayi Kwei Amah’s The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born and Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah

There are challenges facing the term post-colonialism of being problematic in term of defining. Ashcroft et all argues that postcolonial theory emerges from the disability of European theories to deal effectively with challenges and varied cultural provenance of postcolonial writing. The contextual framework considered as challenge towards defining the term. As post colonialism gives importance to investigate race, culture, identity and gender, postcolonial theorists are obliged to answer the following question, which is problematic in answers.

This question is as Lazard et al states when does the native become truly postcolonial? (1173). Colonization never ends just because the word post is written to indicate the finality of the colonial practices. On the contrary, it confirms that the world cannot be postcolonial, instead it has become influenced by a new form of colonialism. George Landow assumed that the discussion around the use of the term postcolonial has some weaknesses and neglects many aspects. He added to the former debates the following ideas. He said that it is better to describe it as an open-ended term. It neither dives a definite answer to the raised questions nor finishes a discussion about how this term must work.

It is only a theory or field of study where theorists can provide a convenient way to discuss that texts. Postcolonial literary criticism had its fame in the early 1990s. For Dobie, it investigates the works of postcolonial writers who discuss how the colonized accepted the values of the power and resist them too. It is argued that its real job of it is to explore the implies by which Europe forced and kept up colonial mastery of so much of the rest of the world.

Loomba added that post colonialism mixed the culture and economic system in time both must be well distinguished as she argues .In fact, he wants to keep the difference between the immaterial realities that represented as, culture, religion, traditions, customs, beliefs, rites and so on in one hand ; and in the other hand the material realities that includes economic system. In the Concise companion to Postcolonial Literature, Brown says that the societies of the colonized people have no way other than to express his claims unofficially, that’s to say, from non-governmental tribunes and other societies that can do help through special centres.

Post-colonial literary theory has had a profound impact on contemporary literature by diversifying voices, challenging dominant narratives, and promoting cultural exchange. Writers from formerly colonized regions have gained recognition for their unique perspectives and contributions to global literary discourse. Post-colonial approaches have reshaped how we understand identity, power dynamics, and representation in literature, opening up new possibilities for dialogue and understanding across cultures.

Corruption in Post-Colonial African Literature Ayi Kwei Amah’s The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born and Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah

post-colonial literary theory provides a critical framework for analyzing literature through the lens of colonial history and its aftermath. By interrogating power structures, challenging stereotypes, and amplifying marginalized voices, post-colonial theorists have enriched our understanding of how literature reflects broader social realities and cultural complexities.

Both Armah and Achebe’s works can be analyzed through a postcolonial lens to understand how corruption is intricately tied to the legacy of colonialism. Postcolonial theory helps unpack the power dynamics at play, revealing how colonial exploitation has led to socio-political instability, economic disparities, and moral decay in post-colonial African societies. By examining these novels through a postcolonial perspective, readers can gain insights into how corruption is not just a contemporary issue but a historical legacy that continues to shape African nations.

In conclusion, postcolonial theory provides a valuable framework for understanding the themes of corruption in post-colonial African literature such as Ayi Kwei Armah’s The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born and Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah. These novels offer profound insights into the complex interplay between colonial legacies, power dynamics, and corruption in African societies.

1.8 Bio-Date of Authors

1.8.1 Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe was born on November. 16th 1930 at Ogidi. He is an English-speaking Nigerian writer, novelist, and poet, he is the author of Things Fall Apart and no Longer at Ease. Albert Achebe Chinualumogu (he changes his name during his studies for a traditional Igbo name) was born in eastern Nigeria. He is the fifth out of the six children born by Igbo Parents; Isaiah Okafo and Janet Achebe, who are devout Christians. Being a good student, Achebe won a scholarship during his studies at Government College Umuahia from 1944-1947, from where he got admission into the university of Ibadan where he schooled from 1948-1953, and obtained his BA degree Before Joining the Nigerian Broadcasting corporation (NBC), Achebe made a few trips to Africa and the United States and worked briefly as an English teacher. He trained at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), and began working at Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation in 1954. In 1958 he wrote his first novel, Things Fall Apart. He took part in a conference in Makerere University (Uganda) in 1962.

In the late 1960s he distinguished himself in the Biafra conflict in which he supported the Biafran freedom Fighter, led by Colonel Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. In 1972, he was appointed editor of the periodical Obike in 1978, the leader of one of the major parties in the Muslim North asked him to be his deputy. He agreed to show his countrymen that it is possible, from the east of the country to join a northern party.

After teaching in many English universities both in America and Nigeria, he became a professor at Bard College in New York and then at the university Brown. In 1990, he had an accident that nailed him to a roulant chair. He died on 21st March 2013 in a hospital at Boston.

Corruption in Post-Colonial African Literature Ayi Kwei Amah’s The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born and Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah

1.8 Ayi Kwe Armah

Ayi Kwe Armah was born on October 28, 1939 in Takoradi, Ghana. His heritage was Fante, one of the major ethnic groups in the country and he came from an elite family. At the time of his birth, the West African nation was a colony of Britain. On March 6, 1957, Armah’s land became the first colonial African country to win the sovereignty struggle. Around this time, Armah was a student at the Achimota College, a secondary school in Accra, Ghana’s capital and in 1959 he won a scholarship to the Groton School in Massachusetts, a prestigious boarding school for boys whose alumni include President Franklin Roosevelt as well as numerous Wall Street titans. From there, Armah went on to Harvard University, where he earned a degree in sociology. His first published short story appeared in 1964 Harvard Advocate issue.

Armah also lived in Algeria and worked as a translator for Revolution Africa magazine in 1963 before coming back to take a job as a scriptwriter for Ghana Television. He also taught English at the Navrongo School in Ghana’s city of the same name in 1966 before leaving for Paris to edit JeuneAfrique (“Young Africa”), a French-language weekly news magazine, for the year. He also taught at the University of Massachusetts and then settled in Tanzania in 1970. After 1976 he taught at the National University of Lesotho, a country located within South Africa. He continued to produce essays for various journals, including Black World and West Africa, on literary and political topics, while working on his third novel, Why Are We So Blest.

As one of the renowned Ghanaian novelists, Armah attained international renown for his fiction in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Despite his fame Armah maintained an intensely private life and rarely gave interviews and distanced himself from discussions of his craft. His Selected writings include: The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born, Houghton 1968, Fragments 1970.Why Are We So Blest 1972, Two Thousand Seasons, 1973 and The Healers, 1978.

1.9 Definition of Terms

Corruption: Corruption is a form of dishonesty or unethical conduct by a person entrusted with a position of authority, often to acquire personal benefit. It involves the misuse of power for personal gain, which can manifest in various forms such as bribery, embezzlement, nepotism, or favoritism.

Colonialism: Colonialism refers to the establishment, maintenance, acquisition, and expansion of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. It involves the subjugation of one group of people by another, often with the aim of economic exploitation, political control, and cultural dominance.

Post-colonial: Post-colonial refers to the historical period after colonialism, but it also denotes a critical perspective that challenges the cultural, political, and economic legacies of colonialism.

African Literature: African literature refers to the literary works produced by authors from Africa or those of African descent. It encompasses a wide range of genres, styles, and themes that reflect the diverse cultures, histories, and experiences of the African continent and its diaspora.

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