n Journal of the African Literature Association - Philip Quaque’s letters to London, 1765–1811 / Arts of being Yoruba: divination, allegory, tragedy, proverb, panegyric - book review

Volume 13 Number 3
  • ISSN : 2167-4744
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Studies of African literature have for some time been concerned with the interaction between indigenous African cultures and the languages that came with colonial conquest. Debates having to do with what is “African” and what is not have always accompanied academic discussions in African literary and cultural criticism. Against this background, the first noteworthy thing about Adeleke Adeeko’s Arts of Being Yoruba is that the book speaks to these issues without being bogged down by them. In my view, debates about cultural expressions and imaginative uses of language in Africa often become circular because they are posed abstractly in terms of cultural contamination or retrieval. Adeeko shows us that instead of remaining stuck on this reified level, it is more promising to try to see what we might learn if we take indigenous languages seriously enough to follow them at work in the world.

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