Ama Ata Aidoo's Modernism and the Politics of Postcolonialism

Touria Khannous (Brown University, USA)

Written in the 1970s, Aidoo's novel Our Sister Killjoy emerges at a time of crisis in postcolonial Ghana, where the Euro-centric narrative of modernity as well as the narrative of national independence begin to be questioned by a new generation of African writers. I read Aidoo's critique as embodying an African "modernism," which questions colonialism and its capitalist legacy as well as African nationalism. I argue that Aidoo's modernism stands in direct opposition not only to what is characterized as Third world "postcolonialism," but also to European and American postmodernism, for Frederic Jameson's characterization of postmodernism as "the cultural logic of late or multinational capitalism" is exactly what Aidoo's modernism aims to contest, in forging a new vision for her nation and her fiction.

In her novel Our Sister Killjoy, Aidoo represents such dialectic through her protagonist Sissie's journey to Europe. Rejecting a linear or universal history, Sissie (Albeit Aidoo) analyzes Africa's developmental complexity and focuses on discrete but related problems: the betrayals of the African elite; brain drain; agglomerations of capitalism and transnational flows of capital. She also exposes the poignant realities of neocolonialism in Africa. The paper compares Aidoo's nationalist positions in the novel to Nkrumah's pan-Africanism and Frantz Fanon's theories of nationalism.

Postcolonial OV discourseov Casablanca Conference

Last modified: 7 May 2001