ISBN 9789956551477
Pages 512
Dimensions 229 x 152 mm
Published 2021
Publisher Langaa RPCIG, Cameroon
Format Paperback

Being and Becoming African as a Permanent Work in Progress

Inspiration from Chinua Achebe’s Proverbs

edited by Francis B. Nyamnjoh, Patrick U. Nwosu, Hassan M. Yosimbom

This book is a timely addition to debates and explorations on the epistemological relevance of African proverbs, especially with growing calls for the decolonisation of African curricula. The editors and contributors have chosen to reflect on the diverse ways of being and becoming African as a permanent work in progress by drawing inspiration from Chinua Achebe’s harnessing of the effectualness of oratory, especially his use of proverbs in his works. The book recognises and celebrates the fact that Achebe’s proverbial Igbo imaginations of being and becoming African are compelling because they are instructive about the lives, stories, struggles and aspirations of the rainbow of people that make up Africa as a veritable global arena of productive circulations, entanglements and compositeness of being. The contributions foray into how claims to and practices of being and becoming African are steeped in histories of mobilities and a myriad of encounters shaped by and inspiring of the competing and complementary logics of personhood and power that Africans have sought and seek to capture in their repertoires of proverbs. The task of documenting African proverbs and rendering them accessible in the form of a common hard currency with fascinating epistemological possibilities remains a challenge yearning for financial, scholarly, social and political attention. The book is an important contribution to John Mbiti’s clarion call for an active and sustained interest in African proverbs.

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“The contributors of this book invite us through Achebe to see proverbs as nuggets that open a window to a multidimensional understanding of existence, especially in a world rendered flexible and interconnected by various forms of mobility and encounters with people of diverse geography, and with different ways of being and doing. Achebe was particularly good at using proverbs to share how intelligent his Igbo community have been throughout their history in taking advantage of the promise of such encounters with other peoples and other worlds without losing sight of who they are as a people.” 

Elias Kifon Bongmba, Harry and Hazel Chair in Christian Theology and Professor of Religion, Rice University, USA

“Drawing inspiration from Chinua Achebe’s work – in itself a remarkable archive of Igbo proverbs – this book is a tapestry of insights into the centrality of proverbs as a multifaceted archive of African thought on what it means to be human, to be in relation, and to nurture communities that unconditionally uphold the wellbeing of the human, the natural environment and the spiritual realms. [….] While these chapters approach African proverbs from fields as diverse as communication, linguistics, popular music and literary studies, collectively, they attest to the rich canvas of human experience that Achebe’s own writing honoured.

Grace A. Musila, Associate Professor in the Department of African Literature , University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

About the Editors

Francis B. Nyamnjoh

Francis B. Nyamnjoh joined the University of Cape Town in August 2009 as Professor of Social Anthropology from the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA), Dakar, Senegal, where he served as Head of Publications from July 2003 to July 2009. He has taught sociology, anthropology and communication studies at universities in Cameroon and Botswana, and has researched and written extensively on Cameroon and Botswana. In October 2012 he received a University of Cape Town Excellence Award for “Exceptional Contribution as a Professor in the Faculty of Humanities”. He is recipient of the “ASU African Hero 2013” annual award by the African Students Union, Ohio University, USA. He is: a B1 rated Professor and Researcher by the South African National Research Foundation (NRF); a Fellow of the Cameroon Academy of Science since August 2011; a fellow of the African Academy of Science since December 2014; a fellow of the Academy of Science of South Africa since 2016; and Chair of the Editorial Board of the South African Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) Press since January 2011. His scholarly books include: Africa’s Media, Democracy and the Politics of Belonging (2005); Insiders and Outsiders: Citizenship and Xenophobia in Contemporary Southern Africa (2006); “C'est l'homme qui fait l'homme”: Cul-de-Sac Ubuntu-ism in Côte d'Ivoire (2015); and #RhodesMustFall: Nibbling at Resilient Colonialism in South Africa (2016).

Patrick U. Nwosu

Patrick U. Nwosu (PhD) is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Religions, University of Ilorin, Nigeria

Hassan M. Yosimbom

Hassan M. Yosimbom holds an MA in Comparative Literature (2000) from the University of Buea, Cameroon; and a PhD in African Literature (2016) from the University of Yaoundé 1, Cameroon