African literature, metonymic gaps, and the Gandasation of metropolitan language in Jennifer Makumbi’s Kintu
African literature has its roots in the continent’s oral traditions, while its written mode started as an offshoot of European colonialism. The literature is characterised by paradoxes, one of which is linguistic dissonance. The linguistic incongruity draws attention to the illogicality of African literature ventilating indigenous episteme through exogenous tongues. Though the question of linguistic discordance in African literature is not new, it still generates ripples, and currently attracts tremendous interest of the present crop of African women writers who produce texts that conflate both indigenous and exogenous languages to possibly strengthen the conviction that one language is no longer the sole organiser of worldview. Jennifer Makumbi is one such writer. The Ugandan has succeeded in writing herself into global reckoning by telling a completely absorbing, canon-worthy epic. In her narration of a riveting multi-layered historiography of Buganda/Ugandan nation in Kintu (2014), the novelist bridges metonymic gaps between Luganda and English. She attenuates the expressive strength of English and projects Luganda as another veritable source of knowledge generation. In this article I examine how Makumbi bridges cultural and linguistic gaps in the novel. I employ metonymic gaps as a conceptual model to expound the deployment of indigenous knowledges in a Europhone African text. I mine the overall implications of this practice in African literature, and argue that Makumbi aggrandises Luganda epistemology to resist European heteronomy of African literary expression. Consequently, her text becomes a site of postcolonial disputations where marginal and minor literatures/cultures jostle for supremacy.
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