Numerous traits possessed by West African mythic tricksters - traits familiar to audiences of Ananse the Spider, Tortoise, Leuk the Hare, or Kwaku Babone (the wonder child) - are exhibited by modern West African literary characters. The resistance of modern tricksters to social injustice, political domination, and neocolonial corruption plays a pivotal, even heroic, role in twentieth-century novels and plays that have helped establish their authors' international reputations. These authors, including Amos Tutuola, Chinua Achebe, Mongo Beti, Ousmane Sembène, and Wole Soyinka, have deployed trickster characters to explore, question, or undermine colonial and neocolonial norms and structures of power. The Ghanaian novelist B. Kojo Laing continues in this line of authors who draw on the trickster figures of oral tradition, but, as with his predecessors, devises unique adaptations. Notably, the creativity of the central trickster character of Laing's Woman of the Aeroplanes (1988), Kwame Atta, is expressed not through music or art, as in the case of many other trickster characters, but, rather, through his genius as an inventor, giving him a vital function in a novel that is both "metaphysical [. . . ] and [. . . ] attuned to material reality." Employing various postmodern devices, Laing suggests in Woman of the Aeroplanes that historical legacies of domination may be confronted and transcended by means of personal and political freedom. The author also imagines pathways to equality and esteem between former colonizing and colonized societies, and the central pathway is surprisingly straightforward for a rather kaleidoscopic narrative: mutually advantageous commerce between societies.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cultural Studies
- Sociology and Political Science
- Literature and Literary Theory