Tchibamba, Stanley and Conrad: postcolonial intertextuality in Central African fiction
Keywords:African fiction, Congo, Joseph Conrad, intertextuality, Paul Lomami Tchibamba
Paul Lomami Tchibamba (1914–85) is often described as the Congo’s first novelist. Previous research in French and English has depicted Tchibamba’s work as a straightforward example of ‘writing back’ to the colonial canon. However, this article advances scholarship on Tchibamba’s work by demonstrating that his later writing responds not only to Henry Morton Stanley’s account of the imperial subjugation of the Congo, but to Joseph Conrad’s questioning of colonialist narratives of ‘progress’. Drawing on recent theoretical work that examines intertextuality in postcolonial fiction, this article demonstrates that while Tchibamba is highly critical of Stanley, he enters into dialogue with Conrad’s exposure of colonial brutality. Bringing together comparative research insights from Congolese and European literatures, this article also employs literary translation. This is the first time that excerpts from two of Tchibamba’s most important responses to colonial authors have been translated into English. Also for the first time, Tchibamba’s novella Ngemena is shown to be a crucial postcolonial Congolese response to Heart of Darkness. Through close textual analysis of Tchibamba’s use of irony and imagery, this article’s key findings are that, while Tchibamba nuances Conrad’s disparaging portrait of a chief, he develops the ironic mode of Conrad’s An Outpost of Progress, and updates the journey upriver into the interior in Heart of Darkness. This article illustrates the complex and nuanced way in which Tchibamba interacts with his European intertexts, deploying close analyses of his responses to Conradian imagery.
Adelman, Kenneth Lee. “The Recourse to Authenticity and Négritude in Zaïre.” The Journal of Modern African Studies 13.1 (Mar 1975): 134-9. Print.
Ashcroft, Bill, Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin. The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures. London: Routledge, 1989. Print.
Badru, Pade. “Ethnic conflict and state formation in post-colonial Africa: A comparative study of ethnic genocide in the Congo, Liberia, Nigeria, and Rwanda-Burundi.” Journal of Third World Studies 27.2 (Fall 2010): 149-69. Print.
Boehmer, Elleke. Colonial and Postcolonial Literature: Migrant Metaphors. Oxford: Oxford UP 1995. Print.
Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness and Selections from the Congo Diary. Intro. Caryl Phillips. London: Random House, 1999.
Conrad, Joseph. An Outpost of Progress. New York: Krill, 2015. Print.
Fasselt, Rebecca. “(Post)Colonial We-Narratives & the ‘Writing Back’ Paradigm: Joseph Conrad’s The Nigger of the ‘Narcissus’ & Ngūgī wa Thiong’o’s A Grain of Wheat.” Poetics Today 37.1 (March 2016): 155-79. Print.
Fraiture, Pierre-Philippe. “Belgium and its Colonies: Introduction.” In Prem Poddar, Rajeev S. Patke, and Lars Jenssen, eds. A Historical Companion to Postcolonial Literatures: Continental Europe and Its Empires. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 7-11. Print.
Halen, Pierre. “Narratives of Empire: (Post)colonial Congo.” In Prem Poddar, Rajeev S. Patke, and Lars Jenssen, eds. A Historical Companion to Postcolonial Literatures: Continental Europe and Its Empires. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, pp. 42-47. Print.
Hochschild, Adam. King Leopold’s Ghost: A Study of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa. New York: Pan, 1998. Kindle.
Kadima-Nzuji, Mukala. La Littérature zaïroise de langue française (1945-1965). Paris: Kartala, 1984. Print.
Lothe, Jakob. Conrad’s Narrative Method. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1984. Print.
Lagae, Johan and Kim De Raedt. “Building for ‘l’Authenticité’: Eugène Palumbo and the Architecture of Mobutu’s Congo.” Journal of Architectural Education 68.2 (October 2014): 178-89. Print.
Loomba, Ania. “Colonialism/Postcolonialism.” New York: Routledge, 1998. Print.
Mélice, Anne. “Simon Kimbangu” in Prem Poddar, Rajeev S. Patke, and Lars Jenssen, eds. A Historical Companion to Postcolonial Literatures: Continental Europe and Its Empires. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, pp. 33-5. Print.
Riva, Silvia. Nouvelle histoire de la littérature du Congo-Kinshasa. Trans. Collin Fort. Paris: l’Harmattan, 2006. Print.
Tchibamba, Paul Lomami. La Récompense de la cruauté suivi de N’Gobila des Mswata. Kinshasa: Mont Noir: 1972. Print.
---. Ngemena. Yaoundé: Editions Clé: 1981. Print.
---. Ngando et autres récits. Paris : Présence Africaine 1982. Print.
---, interviewee, and Emongo Lomomba, interviewer. “Le Blanc-Belge au Congo: entretien avec Lomami-Tshibamba par Emongo L.” In Jean-Pierre Jacquemin and Emongo Lomomba, eds. Zaïre 1885-1985: cent ans de regardes belges. Louvain: Coopération par l'Éducation et la Culture asbl (CEC), 1985. Print.
---. Ah! Mbongo. Paris: L’Harmattan, 2007. Print.