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Reading Ayi Kwei Armah’s Two Thousand Seasons as an Intertext


Ayi Kwei Armah (1939-) is a Ghanaian novelist who has written so far seven novels, famous among which are his irst The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born (1968). Two Thousand Seasons (1973) comes fourth in order of appearance, but it is the irst where Armah plunges into Africa’s millennial past. The Healers (1979), Osiris Rising (1995) and KMT in the House of Life (2002) all span a given period related to African history, the last two even go as far as Ancient Egypt with its heliographic scripts, but Two Thousand Season in a number of respects remains an unparalleled book in Armah’s oeuvre. This article answers what it means to write a historical novel while the initial intention is to evoke the frustrations of an unhappy present. Armah has started his novelistic career with a book – The Beautyful Ones – that carefully examines the postcolonial reality in his home country. In order to bypass the unhappy state of affair of the present, Armah sought to undo the damaging effects of master-narratives through a mythical construction of Africa’s millennial existence. For him, what caused pitfalls from political independences – as evocatively dramatized in The Beautyful Ones; Fragments; Why Are So Blest? – is Africans’ trust and sometimes belief in the stories made and circulated by essentially non-Africans. In other words, the reductive clichés, and generalized stereotypes have furnished the imperial powers with the necessary verbal tools in terms of a ‘discourse’ whereby these powers have been able to carry on and perpetuate its control and manipulation. In this connection, Armah’s Two Thousand Seasons can be read as a text wrestling against other texts in the battle of representing Africa. The present study, thus, details on which texts Two Thousand Seasons draws upon, in what way and towards which end?


Intertextuality; African History; Colonial Occupation; Cultural Representation; Millennial Past


Fouad MAMI

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