Narrated histories in selected Kenyan novels, 1963-2013

Yenjela, David Wafula (2017-03)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2017.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis explores the novel‘s potential to interrogate, reimagine and reflect on the histories of nations, particularly the Kenyan nation. It engages with selected Kenyan novels written in both English and Kiswahili for a period of fifty years of post-independence Kenya in a quest that reveals the novels‘ contributions in imagining, shaping, and reflecting on the nation‘s histories. The temporal space under focus — 1963 to 2013, provides a sufficient canvas that enables identification of shifts and continuities, transformations and regressions, and how novelists make sense of the changing times. The task of approaching Kenya‘s narrated histories through the two dominant national languages, Kiswahili and English, is productive since it taps into not only histories that are language oriented, but also various narrative patterns resultant from the Kiswahili and English literary traditions in Kenya. Furthermore, as opposed to focusing on one novelist‘s portrayal of the nation, the thesis explores texts from a range of novelists from different generational and geographical locations. This offers diverse insights into Kenya‘s histories as it is anchored on the belief that an assembly of various ―artistically organized‖ (Bakhtin 262) voices from carefully chosen novels offers a richer portrait of Kenyan novelists‘ conversations with their histories. The thesis foregrounds how novelists ―reflect, and reflect on, extant perspectives in understanding reality by creating new maps of existence through ideas that not only generate, but also transcend existing possibilities and ways of apprehending those possibilities‖ (Adebanwi 407). Reflections on the nation‘s represented histories presuppose a quest for transformation of values, policies, and laws that govern society. This is the motivation of re-imagining and reconfiguring troubled, often suppressed, histories of Kenya, which at times erupt in form of violent conflicts, as seen for instance in the 2007/2008 post-election violence. In an attempt to understand contemporary Kenya‘s gender and socio-economic inequalities, ethnic tensions, particular regions‘ quests for secession on various grounds, and state malpractices on the one hand, and certain individuals‘ sacrificial campaigns for a transformed society on the other, the thesis charts through the precolonial, colonial, and post-independent Kenyan continuum. The thesis focuses on selected novels‘ subject and themes and comments on style and structure where into or supports the argument being advanced. Through this approach, the thesis emphasises interrogation of inhibitive structural and perceptual foundations by reading novels that engage Kenya as a contact zone, Kenya‘s state histories, socio-political histories embedded in romance novels, and the urban novel‘s engagement with impoverished but resilient urbanites. Overall, the thesis convenes a reflection on the interface between Kenyan histories and artistic engagements with these histories.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie tesis ondersoek die potensiaal van die roman se ondervra en besin oor die geskiedenis van die Keniaanse nasie. Dit betrek met geselekteerde Keniaanse romans geskryf in beide Engels en Kiswahili vir 'n tydperk van vyftig jaar van pos-onafhanklikheid Kenia in 'n strewe dat bydraes die romans 'in verbeel openbaar, vorming, en besin oor die geskiedenis van die land. Die tydelike ruimte onder fokus - 1963-2013, bied 'n voldoende doek wat identifisering van skofte en kontinuïteite, transformasies en regressies stel, en hoe skrywers sin maak van die veranderende tye. Die taak van die naderende Kenia se verhaal geskiedenis deur die twee dominante nasionale tale, Kiswahili en Engels, is produktief, aangesien die fokus is op taal gerig en geskiedenis. Verder, in teenstelling met die fokus op die uitbeelding van die nasie een romanskrywer se proefskrif ondersoek tekste uit 'n verskeidenheid van skrywers uit verskillende generasies en geografiese plekke, wat verskille insigte bied in Kenia se geskiedenis. Dit is geanker op die oortuiging dat 'n vergadering van verskeie "kunstig georganiseerde"(Bakhtin 262) stemme uit versigtige kese van romans bied 'n ryker beeld van gesprekke Keniaanse skrywers saam met hul geskiedenis. In die tesis, word dit uitgelig hoe skrywers "weerspieël, en besin oor, bestaande perspektiewe in die verstaan van werklikheid deur nuwe kaarte van bestaan te skep deur die idees wat nie net genereer nie, maar ook om te bowe bestaande moontlikhede en maniere van diegene se moontlikhede"(Adebanwi 407). Refleksies op die land se verteenwoordig geskiedenis veronderstel 'n soeke na transformasie van waardes, beleid en wette wat die samelewing regeer. Dit is die motivering van voorstelling en weer instelling ontsteld, dikwels onderdruk, geskiedenis van Kenia, wat by tye uitbars in die vorm van gewelddadige konflikte, soos gesien byvoorbeeld in die 2007/2008 pos-verkiesing geweld. In 'n poging om die huidige Kenia se geslag en sosio-ekonomiese ongelykhede, etniese spanning, bepaalde streke te verstaan 'n soeke na afstigting, en die staat wanpraktyke aan die een kant, en sekere individue se opofferend veldtogte vir 'n getransformeerde samelewing aan die ander kant, die proefskrif dokumenteer verbindings tussen koloniale en pos-onafhanklike Kenia met die klem op die behoefte om striemende strukturele en perseptuele fondasies te ondervra. Dit lees romans wat Kenia betrek as 'n kontak sone, Kenia se staat geskiedenis, sosio-politieke geskiedenis ingebed in romanse en die stedelike roman se betrokkenheid met verarmde maar veerkragtig stedelinge. Algehele, die tesis belê 'n besinning oor die wisselwerking tussen Keniaanse geskiedenis en artistieke betrokkenheid by hierdie geskiedenis.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/101185
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