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Irreducible Africanness and Nigerian Postcoloniality From Drama to Video

Taiwo Oloruntoba-Oju


In the article by Biodun Jeyifo titled “Ideology and Tragic Epistemology: The Emergent Paradigms in African Drama” first presented in 1977 and published in 1985, he used the term “irreducible ‘Africanness’” to depict the African aesthetic matrix and to foreground a then prevalent critical perception of the requirement for authentic African aesthetic practice, particularly in the department of drama. The article represents one of the numerous points of intervention by Jeyifo in the debate around aesthetics, ideology and regionalism. The term was deployed almost immediately and with considerable affirmation after its publication (See Obisesan 1987, among others). But the application of the term was inherently problematic even back then and even within the cited context. Jeyifo himself proceeded in the article to relate the main illustrative text of this ‘African’ aesthetic matrix, namely Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman, to western epistemological paradigms, particularly the ‘Aristotle-Hegel-Marx continuum,’ which impliedly cast a doubt even then on the possibility of attaining the essentiality inherent in the term ‘irreducible Africanness.’

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West Africa Review. ISSN: 1525-4488 (online).
Editors: Adeleke Adeeko, Nkiru Nzegwu, and Olufemi Taiwo.

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