PREFACE [chapter]

2019 Poetry, Prose and Popular Culture in Hausa  
In writing this book in English I am conscious of the problems of cultural translation that beset my every move. One person's mental map of another culture is necessarily idiosyncratic and, since many readers of this book will not be familiar with the Hausa language, to a great extent I am clearly asking them to take my word for it. Nevertheless, while the emphases and preoccupations may be mine, I hope it will become clear, through extensive citation of the wide-ranging and substantial work by
more » ... my Hausa-speaking colleagues, that the picture, even if not the shading, is one shared, to a greater or lesser extent, by a considerable body of scholars in Nigeria and abroad. So why am I writing this book? Apart from the exigencies of my position on the treadmill of late twentieth-century industrial academe, I have three prime motivations. The first is to bring together disparate pieces of teaching, writing and understanding that I have deployed over some years in teaching Hausa literature. During that time I have tried to bring out the features of the various literary genres ofHausa and to describe and analyse the relationships between oral and written forms, the effects of the colonial and postcolonial experience, continuities and disjunctures as lit~rary genres have developed over time, and the relationships between literary forms and the intellectual and political texture of Hausa society. My second motivation arises from a sense that a debate is taking place about post-colonial literature and society in Africa in which writing in English about writing in English or French is pursued without any acknowledgement that a whole other world of debate has been going on vigorously and at length in African languages. Since it is not in English it cannot be listened to by critics, writers and commentators who do not themselves know those languages. Yet writing in African languages is a potent political totem in that first debate, whether it is Ngugi promoting writing in Gikuyu (Ngugi wa Thiongo 1986), or Chinweizu and Madubuike (1985) attacking what they see as obscurantism in Nigerian writers writing in English. In their seminal book The Empire Writes Back (1989), Ashcroft, Griffiths and Tiffin propose the term 'post-colonial literatures' because 'it points the way towards a possible study of the effects of colonialism in and between writing in English and writing in indigenous languages' (Ashcroft, Griffiths and PREFACE ix
doi:10.1515/9781474468299-001 fatcat:s3yz5kpivnhhlhvyg3jwbavzrm