Telling Africa’s Past in Literature: Whose Story Is It Anyway?
Post-colonial African historiography, a field that has attracted African intellectuals of uncommon brilliance and industry, has been preoccupied with correcting the pseudo-history that colonialism privileged, the UNESCO History of Africa series being a fitting monument to their effort. The question of authenticity and reliability is of crucial importance in exploring Africa's past, more so than, say, in researching the past of Europe or China. The temptation to falsify has dogged African creative writing right from its inception, bedeviling the products of the earliest African fiction writers. Thomas Mofolo qualifies by any standards as a pioneer of African literature, if not the pioneer, and his career is a fitting testimony to the determining role of the Christian enterprise in the development of literacy and literature in sub-Saharan Africa. The British Broadcasting Corporation must have been pleased with their choice of Gates to do the expose on the African past and the African world.