Memory, innocence and nostalgia: other versions of African childhood in two African texts

by Theresah Patrine Eninn

01 Jun 2022
Journal of the British Academy
Digital Object Identifier
Number of pages
17 (pp. 265-281)

Abstract: There are a number of memoirs/autobiographies and biographies by African writers on their childhoods in Africa. However, many of these texts tend to focus mostly on the child protagonist’s experiences of colonialism, slavery, war, death and deprivation. This article moves away from these narratives of deprivation and trauma, focusing on other versions of African childhoods where the child lives a carefree life devoid of danger and scarcity of resources. Using Camara Laye’s The Dark Child and Wole Soyinka’s Aké: The Years of Childhood and doing a textual analysis of the content, themes and characters, this article argues that these texts can be read as recollections of nostalgia and memories of a carefree time in the life of two African children, a time that the narrators reminisce upon through the act of retelling in order to revisit the joys and innocence of those days.

Keywords: Memory, nostalgia, African childhood, innocence, The Dark Child, Aké: The Years of Childhood.

Article posted to Journal of the British Academy, volume 10, supplementary issue 2 (Searching for the Everyday in African Childhoods).

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