“ Renascent Africa: Cultural Nationalism, Decolonisation, the Nationalist Movement, and Trans – Continental collaborations: The example of Nigeria and South Africa.”

The idea of a renaissance suggests new consciousness, new attitudes, and values that undergird a new era of human development. Africans seemed to have embraced that possibility, starting with the new generation that emerged in the interwar years, with the works of Nnamdi Azikiwe as the leading journalist in West Africa from 1935, inspired by Alain Locke’s theory of a “new Negro” in America on whose basis the “Harlem Renaissance” was staged. Azikiwe theorized a complimentary movement/moment of the “new African,” still under colonialism, but primed in that moment that Oswald Spengler was mourning the “decline of the West” for cultural rebirth. Azikiwe’s idea of a “renascent Africa” gave rise to the momentum of the anti-colonial, nationalist movements. By the 1960s, when African nations were getting free from European colonialism, Africa seemed indeed in ascendancy. Developments within Africa – the political collaborations between West Africa and South Africa, and the contacts between the writers and artists of the Mbari movement, and the writers and artists of what has been described as the “Sophiatown renaissance” in South Africa reflect a very subtle, but hardly examined, yet significant cultural and political development, whose contradictions, and complexity reveal powerful conjunctions, and then the ruptures and disjunctions that define Africa’s trans-continental attempt and challenges at a renaissance.

Project leader(s):
  • Obi Nwakanma (Department of English, University of Central Florida)

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