|dc.description.abstract||This study is an attempt to examine the use of realism in three African novels by different
authors from different countries, which are set at different phases of independence. Sembene
Ousmane's God's Bits of Wood, is set in Senegal and is a pre-independence novel. On the other
hand, Petals of Blood by Ngugi wa Thiong'o, is a Kenyan post-independence novel. Pepetela's
Mayombe is set in Angola during the resistance struggle. What these novels share, though, is the
use of realism. It is the use of realism, I argue, that enables these authors to capture the political
realities of their respective countries. However, each author's employment of realism remains
The first chapter engages with the foundational theory of this study. Georg Lukacs'
argument on realism will be the point of reference. I attempt to illustrate certain
observable characteristics of realism through the examination of this argument found in
The Meaning of Contemporary Realism (1956). Lukacs' notions on naturalism, critical
realism and socialist realism will be closely examined. But, before that discussion, I will
demonstrate the importance of realism in arriving at the "novel" form, which is
distinguished from previous literature (for example literature of the Middle Ages).
Chapter Two establishes Ousmane's God's Bits of Wood as a socialist realist text. The
possible influence of Zola' s Germinal on God's Bits of Wood is examined. The argument
being that certain elements of Germinal are resonated in God's Bits of Wood, yet they
each still retain their uniqueness. Zola's naturalist style is also evident in Ousmane's
novel. But it is in the area of ideology that the two novels differ. God's Bits of Wood is a
working class novel that successfully employs socialist realism.
Ngugi wa Thiong'o's Petals of Blood is the subject of the third chapter. This chapter
reflects on Ngugi's use of the socialist realist principles to convey the social and political
climate of post-independence Kenya. However, his formulaic use of socialist realism is
questioned as it gives rise to a novel that reads as didactic. The Marxist ideology that
informs this novel is altogether too obvious.
The fourth chapter is an examination of Mayombe by Pepetela. This is a very significant
novel in regard to Angolan history. This novel successfully deals with the complexities of
the resistance movement. The employment of realism is obvious, however, the kind of
realism employed is difficult to categorize. The emotional and psychological trauma of
war is illuminated. Although a socialist perspective is evident, a formulaic use of socialist
realism is avoided. Pepetela seems to be more interested in engaging in discussion of
issues surrounding independence, such as tribalism and power hunger.
It is then evident that these authors use realism to attain a simulacrum of reality.
However, it is the author's specific perspective that shapes the text that is produced.||en