Wanasema — 1985

Conversations with African Writers

Edited by Donald Burness

“…The best of Wanasema’s conversations…illuminate the Burness approach, in which what we get is…a sense of immediacy and engagement, a feeling of the liveliness of the social and artistic energies that come together to make the writer and his or her work become what they do become…Wanasema thus contributes to the growing body of archival material out of which a richly textured biographical, textual, and literary history of African literatures can eventually be written. The Burness conversations are very much recommended both in and of themselves and for the variety that they bring to a continuing understanding of the varieties of African experiences.”

L.A. Johnson — Choice

There is a tendency to regard African literature as a homogenous product. Certainly it is true that African writers have created a vibrant, modern literature. Nevertheless, they come from specific societies and reflect vastly differing worlds.

Wanasema attempts to show some of the many faces of African literature. Dramatists, poets and novelists speak in these pages. They write in French, English, Portuguese, Arabic and indigenous languages. Some are Christian; others are Muslim. A variety of subjects are discussed, including the status of women, history, religion, politics, dress and education.

Taken together, the interviews in Wanasema suggest that Western students of Africa would do well to learn the languages of Africa. They suggest, too, taht there is a need to investigate further the relationship between Islamic North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa, and finally, that oral literature continues to be a vast marketplace for scholars. This book should interest African Studies specialists, of course, but also those whose concerns include literature, history and contemporary events in the non-Western world generally.


Don Burness teaches English at Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, New Hampshire.

Cover of 'Wanasema'

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