Writing Spatiality in West Africa: Colonial Legacies in the Anglophone/Francophone Novel (African Articulations, 4) (Volume 4) 9781847011909, 184701190X

Winner of the 2020 ALA Book of the Year Award - Scholarship Examines the ways in which space and spatial structures hav

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Writing Spatiality in West Africa: Colonial Legacies in the Anglophone/Francophone Novel (African Articulations, 4) (Volume 4)
 9781847011909, 184701190X

Table of contents :
Frontcover
Contents
Acknowledgements
Abbreviations
Introduction
1 Spatiality from Empire to Independence
2 Post-independence Disillusionment and Spatial Closures
3 Social Space Beyond the Public Sphere: Women’s Writing and
Contested Hegemonies
4 Cosmopolitanism, Migration and Neoliberalism in the Wake of
Structural Adjustment
Conclusion
Bibliography
Index

Citation preview

Lydie E. Moudileno, Marion Frances Chevalier Professor of French and Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity, University of Southern California

Madhu Krishnan is a Senior Lecturer in 20th/21st Century Postcolonial Writing in the Department of English at the University of Bristol. She is author of Contemporary African Literature in English: Global Locations, Postcolonial Identifications (2014) and Contingent Canons: African Literature and the Politics of Location (2018)

‘Madhu Krishnan’s Writing Spatiality is that rare book which appears once every so often. It leavens a superlative synthesis of material on spatial theory with insights from postcolonial studies then uses these to undertake superbly astute readings of Anglophone and Francophone West African literature from the 1950s to present times. The book is going to have a real impact well beyond African literature, on postcolonial studies and spatial theory more generally. A really terrific offering.’ Ato Quayson, Professor of English, New York University

WRITING SPATIALITY IN WEST AFRICA 

‘Elegantly written, intellectually engaging and innovative, this study uses an outstanding range of archival material and aesthetic projects to revisit the articulation of space and narrative in Anglophone and Francophone fiction. The result is a compelling case for the continued pertinence of spatiality and, in general, of geocritical approaches to African literature, from the “classical” 1950s novels to today’s digital age.’

Madhu Krishnan

Series Editors Stephanie Newell & Ranka Primorac

From the ‘imaginative geographies’ of conquest identified by Edward Said to the very real and material institution of territorial borders, regions and geographical amalgamations, the control, administration and integration of space are known to have played a central and essential role in the creation of contemporary ‘Africa’. Space continues to be a site of conflict, from separatist struggles to the distribution of resources to the continued absorption of African territories into the uneven geographies of global capitalism. In this book, Madhu Krishnan examines the ways in which the anxieties and conflicts engendered by these phenomena are registered in a broad set of literary texts from British and French West Africa. By placing these novels in dialogue with a range of archival material such as territorial planning documents, legislative papers, records of liberation movements and development projects, this book reveals the submerged articulations between spatial planning and literary expression, generating new readings of canonical West African texts as well as analyses of otherwise under-researched material.

WRITING SPATIALITY IN WEST AFRICA Colonial Legacies in the Anglophone/Francophone Novel Madhu Krishnan

www.jamescurrey.com

Writing Spatiality jkt aw press01.indd 1

Jacket front: Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, 1958. FR ANOM 30Fi49/19. © ANOM

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WRITING SPATIALITY IN WEST AFRICA Colonial Legacies in the Anglophone/Francophone Novel

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ISSN 2054–5673 s e r i e s e d i to r s

Stephanie Newell and Ranka Primorac e d i to r i a l a d v i s o r y b o a r d

David Attwell (University of York) Jane Bryce (University of the West Indies) James Ferguson (Stanford University) Simon Gikandi (Princeton University) Stefan Helgesson (Stockholm University) Isabel Hofmeyr (University of the Witwatersrand) Thomas Kirsch (University of Konstanz) Lydie Moudileno (University of Pennsylvania) Mbugua wa Mungai (Kenyatta University) David Murphy (University of Stirling) Grace A. Musila (University of the Witwatersrand) Derek Peterson (University of Michigan) Caroline Rooney (University of Kent) Meg Samuelson (University of Adelaide) Jennifer Wenzel (University of Columbia) The series is open to submissions from the disciplines related to literature, cultural history, cultural studies, music and the arts. African Articulations showcases cutting-edge research into Africa’s cultural texts and practices, broadly understood to include written and oral literatures, visual arts, music, and public discourse and media of all kinds. Building on the idea of ‘articulation’ as a series of cultural connections, as a clearly voiced argument and as a dynamic social encounter, the series features monographs that open up innovative perspectives on the richness of African locations and networks. Refusing to concentrate solely on the internationally visible above the supposedly ephemeral local cultural spaces and networks, African Articulations provides indispensable resources for students and teachers of contemporary culture. Please contact the series editors with an outline, or download the proposal form www.jamescurrey.com. Only send a full manuscript if requested to do so. Stephanie Newell, Professor of English, Yale University [email protected] Ranka Primorac, Lecturer in English, University of Southampton [email protected]

Previously published Achebe & Friends at Umuahia: The Making of a Literary Elite, Terri Ochiagha, 2015 A Death Retold in Truth and Rumour: Kenya, Britain and the Julie Ward Murder, Grace A. Musila, 2015 Scoring Race: Jazz, Fiction, and Francophone Africa, Pim Higginson, 2017

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WRITING SPATIALITY IN WEST AFRICA Colonial Legacies in the Anglophone/Francophone Novel

Madhu Krishnan

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James Currey is an imprint of Boydell & Brewer Ltd PO Box 9, Woodbridge Suffolk IP12 3DF (GB) www.jamescurrey.com and of Boydell & Brewer Inc. 668 Mt Hope Avenue Rochester, NY 14620-2731 (US) www.boydellandbrewer.com © Madhu Krishnan 2018 First published 2018 All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form, or by electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publishers, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review The right of Madhu Krishnan to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available on request from the British Library ISBN 978-1-84701-190-9 (James Currey cloth) ISBN 978-1-84701-194-7 (James Currey Africa-only paperback) The publisher has no responsibility for the continued existence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this book, and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate This publication is printed on acid-free paper

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Contents

Acknowledgements Abbreviations Introduction

vii ix 1

1 Spatiality from Empire to Independence

29

2 Post-independence Disillusionment and Spatial Closures

59

3 Social Space Beyond the Public Sphere: Women’s Writing and Contested Hegemonies

97

4 Cosmopolitanism, Migration and Neoliberalism in the Wake of Structural Adjustment

137

Conclusion

175

Bibliography Index

195 207

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Acknowledgements

The first spark for this study came when I was still finishing my doctoral research at the University of Nottingham many years ago. While the shape of the project has developed considerably from these earliest thoughts and ideas, I am grateful to my PhD supervisor, Máire Ní Fhlathúin, for acting as a sounding board in these early discussions, which eventually became the study before you. I had the extraordinary good fortune, following the completion of my doctorate, to find myself at the School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics at Newcastle University, where I spent a year working as a Teaching Fellow. During this time, discussions with Kate Chedzgoy, Jennifer Richards, James Proctor and Neelam Srivastava were central to determining the ultimate, comparative shape of this study, both in terms of its larger intellectual agenda and its organisation as a monograph. I was lucky to present some of the earliest research that makes up this book through seminars and meetings of the Newcastle Postcolonial Research Group. My thanks go to Janelle Rodriques, Tom Langley, Claire Irving, Marie Stern-Peltz, Joe Barton, Alex Adams and Laura Routley for offering these opportunities and providing meticulous feedback. The majority of this study has been drafted since my appointment to the Department of English at the University of Bristol, where I have been in post since 2013. I have been incredibly lucky to benefit from a vibrant and collegial intellectual culture at both the departmental and faculty levels during my time here, and I am thankful to all of my colleagues for continually providing opportunities for exchange, debate and discussion. I am particularly grateful to the Faculty of Arts for affording me a period of research leave in academic year 2015/2016 and supporting the many archival visits that serve as the basis for this project. It would not have been possible to execute the archival focus of this project without the generous funding of the British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant, which from 2014 to 2016 enabled me to visit archives in North America, Europe and Africa. I am further grateful to the many archivists and research librarians whose patience and meticulous attention enabled me to access a wide and fascinating range of material at the Public Records and Archives Administration Department in Accra, Ghana; les Archives nationales d’outre mer in Aix-en Provence, France; the Harry Ransom Center in Austin, Texas; l’Institut Mémoires de l’édition contemporaine in Caen, France; the National Archives in Kew, UK; the School of Oriental and African Studies Library in London, UK; the Bodleian Library in Oxford, UK; and the Hoover Institution

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viii

Acknowledgements

Library and Archives in Stanford, California. Additional background research was carried out at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, part of the New York Public Library system and Institut fondamental d’Afrique Noire in Dakar, Senegal. In all cases, I am grateful for the oversight, advice and assistance in securing permission to reprint and engage with archival materials. The first chapter of this study appears in an earlier version as ‘From Empire to Independence: Colonial Space in the Writing of Tutuola, Ekwensi, Beti, and Kane’ in Comparative Literature Studies, 54.2 (2017), 329–357 and is reprinted in this expanded, revised form with permission from the publisher. The first two pages of Chapter 4 reproduce material from an extended discussion of spatiality in Cole’s Open City, published as ‘Postcoloniality, Spatiality and Cosmopolitanism in the Open City’, Textual Practice, 29.4 (2015), 675–696 and reproduced with permission. I am particularly grateful to Ruth Bush, who read early drafts of much of the material here and has been both an invaluable source of information on the Francophone context and generous and constant interlocutor. I am also grateful to Kate Haines Wallis and Kirk Sides for our many discussions of contemporary African literature from across the continent, Ato Quayson for his pioneering insights on spatiality and literary production, Daria Tunca, Bénédicte Ledent, Nathan Suhr-Sytsma, Matthew Brown, Carli Coetzee, Cajetan Iheka, Christopher Ouma and Jeanne-Marie Jackson, among many, many others, for opening opportunities for me to present bits and pieces of this work. As any scholar who has written a book-length project knows, it is simply not possible to engage in intellectual work of this kind without a veritable army of conspirators and partners in conversation. There are far too many people to name, but I am extremely grateful to all of my colleagues around the world for their generosity of spirit and fearless feedback over the years. No author could ask for a better editorial team than Stephanie Newell, Ranka Primorac and Lynn Taylor. I am grateful to them, the anonymous readers and the entire team at Boydell & Brewer for the incredible passion which they have put into supporting this project and ensuring that it is absolutely the best piece of work that it could be. All too often, we as academics tend to underplay the invisible labour that enables us to do our work. In this respect, I am grateful beyond words for the support of my family: Krishnaswamy, Durgalakshmi, Sriram, Lori, Sathvika and Anand Krishnan, who never blink an eye when I ask to take over their homes with my papers, books and notes or talk their ears off about what I’m writing. I owe a special debt of gratitude to Jason Ellis, whose belief in my work means everything to me and whose emotional and material support has been essential to anything and everything I do, as well as our three beautiful cats: Georgia, Olive and Zelda, who are the best company any writer could ever want.

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Abbreviations

ADBG African Development Bank Group AEF Afrique-Équatoriale française ANOM Archives nationales d’outre mer AOF Afrique-Occidentale française BL Bodleian Library BRICS Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa CAE Country Assistance Evaluation CCFOM Caisse Centrale de la France d’Outre mer CFA (1) Colonies Françaises d’Afrique CFA (2) Communauté française d’Afrique CFA (3) Commission financière d’Afrique CPP Convention People’s Party DFID Department for International Development ECOWAS Economic Community of West African States EU European Union FAC Fons d’aide et de cooperation FDI Foreign Direct Investment FIDES Fonds d’investissements pour le developpement économique   et social FOCAC Forum on China–Africa Cooperation GDP Gross Domestic Product HIA Hoover Institution Archives HRC Harry Ransom Center IBRD International Bank for Reconstruction and Development IDA International Development Association IMEC Institut mémoires de l’édition contemporaine IMF International Monetary Fund LGA Local Government Authority LUA Land Use Act NA National Archives NCNC National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons NGO Non-Governmental Organisation ODI Overseas Development Institute ONU Organisation des Nations Unies PRAAD Public Records and Administration Department

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x

Abbreviations

SOAS UN UPC WReC

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School of Oriental and African Studies United Nations Union des populations de Cameroon Warwick Research Collective

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Introduction

In his now-canonical essay, ‘Of Other Spaces’, Michel Foucault opens by arguing: The great obsession of the nineteenth century was, as we know, history: with its themes of development and of suspension, of crisis and cycle, themes of the everaccumulating past, with its great preponderance of dead men and the menacing glaciation of the world. […] The present epoch will perhaps be above all the epoch of space. We are in the epoch of simultaneity: we are in the epoch of juxtaposition, the epoch of the near and far, of the side-by-side, of the dispersed.1

In the years since the publication of this sweeping assertion, few disciplines in the humanities seem to have taken Foucault’s words as seriously as postcolonial studies, here conceived of as a related cluster of scholarly perspectives in the humanities and social sciences, spanning literary criticism, political science, sociology, history and more. Indeed, since its legitimisation as an academic discipline with the 1978 publication of Said’s Orientalism,2 postcolonial studies has placed space, in all its many forms, as central to the project of colonialism and its afterlives. Viewing the efficacy of colonial conquest as one enacted through a ‘series of intrinsically spatial strategies’,3 space has become a primary category through which the full reach of imperialism’s work may be exposed, analysed and contested.4 In a certain sense, this is a statement that goes without saying: predicated on the physical and geographical conquest of the non-European world, colonialism, in its eighteenth- and nineteenth-century century instantiations, was fundamentally about the control of space and place, the rights of habitation and the economic deprivation of geographical locations. At the same time, there is another sense in which space has remained 1 Michel Foucault, ‘Of Other Spaces’, translated by Jay Miskowiec, diacritics, 16.1 (1986), 22–7 (p. 22). The essay was originally published in French as ‘Des espaces autres’ in 1967. 2 It should be noted that the characterisation of Orientalism as founding postcolonial studies, while arguably practically true, is not an assertion that Said himself would have supported. See Timothy Brennan, Wars of Position: The Cultural Politics of Left and Right (New York: Columbia University Press, 2006), p. 91. 3 Derek Gregory, Geographical Imaginations (Cambridge: Blackwell, 1994), p. 27; see also Sarah Whatmore, Hybrid Geographies: Natures, Cultures, Spaces (London: SAGE, 2002), p. 168. 4 Here, as elsewhere, I use imperialism to refer to the larger ideological systems driving colonialism, the practical instantiation of these concepts.

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central to the discipline, captured in Ato Quayson’s observation that ‘[e]ven when the term postcolonialism is being deployed exclusively for periodizing purposes […] the nature of what is highlighted insistently invokes spatializing processes’.5 Through its ‘projection of a series of sociopolitical dimensions upon geographical space’,6 the very ethos of postcolonial criticism remains inherently intertwined with spatial precepts. Space, as Soja reminds us, functions as more than simply an absolute container or matter of lines on a map. Rather, space and spatiality imply ‘a struggle that is not just about soldiers and cannons but also about ideas, images and imaginings, about competition for land and territory and the search for fundamental and egalitarian rights to inhabit space’,7 replete with resonances across the interconnected spheres of the mental, the material and the social realms of existence.8 Based upon the premise that it is precisely the manipulation of this multifaceted and all-encompassing function of spatiality that served to provide imperial powers with their ostensible mastery of colonised territories, both material and mythic,9 the field has thus foregrounded the social and political urgency of reimagining and reconstructing spatial formations in the post-imperial world. This book takes these remarks as its starting point, using the case study of novels written in and around West Africa from the 1950s to the present day as a means through which to explore and unpack both the significance of space to conceptions of the (post)colonial world and the extent to which literature itself is shaped by and constitutive of these forms of spatiality. Throughout this book, I attempt to explore the ways in which literary space, so often thought of simply as a presence, functions as a dynamic rendering of the colonial experience and its afterlives, acting as the agent through which literature unfurls, and connecting the text with the material world beyond in a co-constitutive engagement. At the heart of my inquiry in this book, then, are the ways in which the constitution of space in the literary text enacts a worlding of the (post)colonial world, while simultaneously registering the worlded nature of the text itself. Reading a range of works spanning the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, I explore themes and connections including the presentations of borders and demarcation of boundaries; the invocation of the right to space and to 5 Ato Quayson, ‘The Sighs of History: Postcolonial Debris and the Question of (Literary) History’, New Literary History, 43.2 (2012), 359–70 (pp. 363–4). 6 Quayson, ‘Sighs of History’, p. 364. 7 Edward W. Soja, ‘Foreword’, in Postcolonial Spaces: The Politics of Place in Contemporary Culture, ed. Andrew Teverson and Sara Upstone (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), pp. ix–xiii (p. ix). 8 Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space, trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 1991 [1974]), pp. 9–11. 9 John K. Noyes, Colonial Space: Spatiality in the Discourse of German South West Africa 1884–1915 (Abingdon: Routledge, 2006), p. 20.

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Introduction

3

habitation; the dynamism of movement across registers and modalities of space as a means of challenging spatial hierarchies; the interaction of urban, suburban and rural zones; the salience of gender, class and the sexual division of labour for the performance of space; and the multiple ways in which neoliberalism, cosmopolitanism and migrancy embed themselves within the striations of space in our present historical moment. I set these primary texts against a range of historical and archival material from Britain, France and West Africa in order to see what happens when we read literature alongside its political, social and economic materialities and exigencies. What articulations of correspondence appear across this body of work? What networks of influence – or resistance – show themselves? How does literature, as a material artefact comprising part of a far wider system, contribute to the production and performance of space across time?

Postcolonialism and space In Orientalism, Said foregrounds the construction and dissemination of the ‘imaginative geographies’ of colonialism as a central aspect of the West’s control of the Orient.10 Explaining in a later text that ‘imperialism after all is an act of geographical violence through which every space in the world is explored, charted, and finally brought under control’,11 Said’s work exposed the means through which the generation of colonial space functioned not just as a complement to imperial conquest, but as constitutive of it. Critically for my purposes in this book, space, for Said, was no mere matter of discourse, beginning and ending with its ‘imagined’ function. Rather, space, its governance, its control and its administration, forms part of a more complex system of material and political structurations. Based on this socio-historical foundation, as Sara Upstone aptly notes, in postcolonial studies the ‘right to space must be seen as key to the very real, often violent, material effects of colonisation. For the colonial gaze that forms a territory does not only this; it also creates an identity for the colonised.’12 Postcolonial studies has consistently positioned space as a central tenet of critical inquiry through a focus on theoretical formations including the nation, diaspora and liminality, and the importance of spatial formations in postcolonial literary texts has been well-rehearsed in the discipline. Indeed, even postcolonial literary studies, arguably (and erroneously) conceived of as the branch of the discipline least enchained to the material manifestations of imperialism in all of its facets may be said to partake in this spatial preoccupation, exemplified in the notion that the ‘modern postcolonial novel is […] the 10 Edward W. Said, Orientalism (London: Penguin, 2003 [1978]), pp. 49–73. 11 Edward W. Said, Culture and Imperialism (London: Vintage, 1993), p. 271. 12 Sara Upstone, Spatial Politics in the Postcolonial Novel (Abingdon: Ashgate, 2009), p. 4.

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product of the dispersal or migration of memory’.13 Given the assertion that displacement ‘is one of the most formative experiences of our century’,14 one intimately intertwined with its production of a ‘discontinuous state of being’ central to the (de)formation of postcolonial identities,15 spatiality has therefore been rightly positioned both as constitutive to the formation of a postcolonial subjectivity and as a site of conflict over the constitution of that same. In a study heavily indebted to Said, J K. Noyes describes the realisation that ‘colonization depends upon this expansion of boundaries in the name of knowledge’,16 positioning spatiality at the centre of a wider field of colonialist epistemology. Through the twinning of its metaphysical and material instantiations, colonial spatiality functions as a form of what French philosopher and sociologist Henri Lefebvre once termed abstract space. In his pioneering work on social space, Lefebvre writes that ‘[a]bstract space functions “objectally”, as a set of things/signs and their formal relationships: glass and stone, concrete and steel, angles and curves, full and empty’.17 Through this objectal preoccupation, abstract space ‘works in a highly complex way. It has something of a dialogue about it, in that it implies a tacit agreement, a non-aggression pact, a contract, as it were, of non-violence. It imposes reciprocity, and a communality of use,’18 paving an artificial unity over the contradictions below: As a product of violence and war, it is political; instituted by the state, it is institutional. On first inspection it appears homogeneous; and indeed it serves those forces which make a tabula rasa of whatever stands in their way, of whatever threatens them – in short, of differences.19

Characterised by a double function of commodification, both ‘impos[ing] a geometric grid of property relations and property markets on the earth’ and installing ‘economic grids of capital circulation’, as well as a ‘a heightened bureaucratization through space, which involves the installation of juridico-political grids by means of which social life is subject to systematic surveillance and regulation by the state’,20 abstract space serves to regulate, compartmentalise and dictate relations, passages and hierarchies of standing. Through its perpetual work of 13 Obi Nwakanma, ‘Metonymic Eruptions: Igbo Novelists, the Narrative of the Nation, and New Developments in the Contemporary Nigerian Novel’, Research in African Literatures, 39.2 (2008), 1–14 (p. 2). 14 Angelika Bammer, ‘Introduction’, in Displacements: Cultural Identities in Question, ed. Angelika Bammer (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1994), pp. xi–xx (p. xi). 15 Iain Chambers, Migrancy, Culture, Identity (London: Routledge, 1994), p. 2. 16 Noyes, Colonial Space, p. 4. 17 Lefebvre, Production of Space, p. 49. 18 Lefebvre, Production of Space, p. 56. 19 Lefebvre, Production of Space, p. 285. 20 Gregory, Geographical Imaginations, p. 401, emphasis original.

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Introduction

5

ordering, abstract space struggles to maintain its illusory homogeneity, without which it would crumble. Defined by its contradictory logic, characteristic of abstract space more broadly, colonial space, too, displays such a doubling effect, where the regulatory violence at its core strives for an illusion of sameness as the cornerstone of its conquering logic, captured in the observation that what colonial ordering obscures is a more chaotic reality. Exposing attempts at totalisation as fundamentally incomplete continually reveals an underlying fluidity to space. Colonial absolutism may be identified as a response to this natural openness. Ironically, the colonial enterprise seems to rely upon this multiplicity, even as it obscures it in its own justifications of territorial appropriation.21

As an expression of late capitalism, colonial space, like all forms of abstract space, relies upon the myth of unification as a means of occluding its more fundamental ambivalence as a system marked by contradictory imperatives and discontinuities. Despite the formal end of colonialism, postcoloniality, loosely defined as ‘a value-regulating mechanism within the global late-capitalist system of commodity exchange’,22 continues to reflect a formation inextricably shaped by the worlding of the non-occidental world.23 For some critics, this entails the necessity that the postcolonial writer face the call ‘to de-scribe space as the Other of colonialism’,24 an epistemic intervention that may give rise to a vision of the postcolonial world which exposes the mechanisms of control that seek to erase its discontinuities.25 By so doing, this line of thought continues, the postcolonial writer may expose the chaotic multiplicity upon which colonial space enforces its fixed homogeneity. Through this revelatory process, a postcolonial space is assumed to emerge, enacting a differential function that revels in plurality and difference. Yet, in its realisation, postcolonial space has often served less as a break with and more as a continuation of the workings of colonial spatiality because of its implication within the ongoing spatialisation – and worlding – of the once-colonised world via new forms of imperialism. Postcolonial literary space, too, may betray a range of striations, conflicts and resonances which move beyond a simple binary of oppression and resistance. While literature certainly may take a critical stance, that is, this is by no means a given. Across geographical locations and historical moments, moreover, the 21 Upstone, Spatial Politics, p. 8. 22 Graham Huggan, The Postcolonial Exotic: Marketing the Margins (London: Routledge, 2001), p. 6. 23 Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, A Critique of Postcolonial Reason: Towards a History of the Vanishing Present (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999), p. 114. 24 Peter Hitchcock, The Long Space: Transnationalism and the Postcolonial Form (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2010), p. 9. 25 See, for instance, Upstone, Spatial Politics.

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Writing Spatiality in West Africa

workings of (post)colonial spatiality have been far from uniform, reflected in its manifestation in literary writing. Operating beyond the boundaries of orthodox notions of statehood, the colonial state – and the imperial state within which it serves as a component – maintains a particularity irreducible to any attempt at generalisation. Through its inherent displacement and implicit diversity in its instantiations, colonial spatiality can only be accounted for through its contextualised specificity and its shifting location within larger spatial constructs and concordances; literature, too, may also be understood in these terms. Heeding Said’s lamentations at the dearth of ‘genuine historical research’ oriented towards ‘understanding, analyzing, and contending with the management of power and authority within culture’,26 in this book I attempt to tease out these very particularities of context and form by taking a comparative perspective not just to Anglophone and Francophone writing from West Africa, but to the diverse territories and regions within. While commonalities may emerge across the forms of colonial spatiality (re)produced across distinct geographies, these by no means function congruently; instead, each system, each social formation, betrays a specific form of spatiality which, along with its inhabitants, serves a co-constitutive function in the development of the sociality more broadly. In his reading of Orientalism, Timothy Brennan suggests that, as scholars, we must ‘place Orientalism in its worldliness, by which I do not mean its global reach or supposedly transgressive crossing of borders – as the word “worldly” is often used – but rather its materiality, its self-positioning within institutions’.27 In order to do so, Brennan argues, we must recognise Said’s own implication within the intellectual institutions dominant in America in the late 1970s, as well as his indebtedness to materialist and anti-colonial thinkers, notably Gramsci, Fanon and C.L.R. James, to understand the ways that his canonical work foregrounds ‘imperialism’s control of territory and conquest of land rather than its control over the locational spaces of discourse – Orientalism’s obvious focus’.28 By reorienting extant interpretations of Said’s work that emphasise the discursive in favour of a situated, worldly reading, Brennan’s analysis points towards the longer history undergirding postcolonial formations. It is particularly important in this respect to recall the extent to which the anti-colonial – and overtly political – texts upon which Said’s work draws and postcolonial studies stands served as fundamentally spatial calls for revolutionary action. Fanon, for instance, directly engages with the specifically spatial import of colonialism in his exposition of the colonised city:

26 Edward W. Said, The World, The Text, and the Critic (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1983), p. 173, quoted in Brennan, Wars of Position, p. 99. 27 Brennan, Wars of Position, p. 93. 28 Brennan, Wars of Position, p. 100.

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The ‘native’ sector is not complementary to the European sector. The two confront each other, but not in the service of a higher unity. Governed by a purely Aristotelian logic, they follow the dictates of mutual exclusion: There is no conciliation possible, one of them is superfluous. The colonist’s sector is a sector built to last, all stone and steel. It’s a sector of lights and paved roads, where the trash cans constantly overflow with strange and wonderful garbage, undreamed-of leftovers. […] The colonized’s sector, or at least the ‘native’ quarters, the shanty town, the Medina, the reservation, is a disreputable place inhabited by disreputable people. You are born anywhere, anyhow. You die anywhere, from anything. It’s a world with no space, people are piled on top of the other, the shacks squeezed tightly together. The colonized’s sector is a famished sector, hungry for bread, meat, shoes, coal, and light.29

Colonialism, for Fanon, was an essentially spatial project, one for which the realisation of its aims could only function through a total reorganisation of the spatial systems defining the colonised territory and world beyond. Traversing scales from the city, now carved into oppositional and irreconcilable native and European zones, to the country as a whole, its rural lands estranged in their revolutionary potentiality from the bourgeois spaces of its urban zones, to the world at large, space, in Fanon’s formulation, serves as the ground upon which colonial violence is realised, reproduced and resisted. Indeed, even the very phenomenological being of the subject under colonialism was one of spatial displacement, the immediacy of the colony pushed aside by the overwhelming puissance of the European point of reference.30 It is no coincidence that, in response, Fanon and his contemporaries drew upon a range of radical spatial revisionings that exceeded orthodox models of sovereignty and stretched beyond binary, Manichean terms of order.31 There is much that could be said about the issues that arise in these visions of anti-colonialist revolution, particularly through the romanticised vision of the countryside propagated throughout and vilification of the urban, a topic I will explore in greater depth in the second chapter of this study. At the same time, this brief detour into Fanon demonstrates the extent to which the project of liberation, as much as the project of conquest, was imagined as a spatial effort.

29 Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, trans. Richard Philcox (New York: Grove Press, 2004 [1961]), p. 4. 30 See, for instance, Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, trans. Richard Philcox (New York: Grove Press, 2008 [1952]). 31 In Africa and the World, for instance, Frederick Cooper demonstrates the extent to which alternative visions for independence and autonomy beyond the nation-state proliferated in the late colonial era. See Frederick Cooper, Africa and the World: Capitalism, Empire, Nation-State (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014).

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The political salience of these formulations is of no little consequence to this study. Spatiality, as broadly conceived within the remits of human geography and social theory, is a fundamentally political concept. From Lefebvre’s assertion that space is constituted ‘according to the society or mode of production in question, and according to the historical period’,32 and therefore functions as its lived, produced and reproduced instantiation, to Soja’s claim that ‘all social relations become real and concrete only when they are spatially “inscribed” – that is, concretely represented – in the social production of social space’, leading to the necessity for an ‘action-oriented and politicized ontology and epistemology for space’,33 space, in all its dynamism, is the very medium through which politics operates upon the social body. As Doreen Massey writes, ‘Space does not exist prior to identities/entities and their relations’, but instead is co-constitutive of them.34 Space functions as inherent to the world across scales, registers and modalities of being that collapse distinctions between ‘out there’ and ‘here’; ‘surface’ and ‘depth’; and ‘duration’ and ‘distance’. Rather than thinking of space as a backdrop or container upon or within which action occurs, space instead must be conceived of as a concrete abstraction, the medium through which these relations emerge and are (re)produced. Far from functioning as a static representation or flattening of life into an easily observable, objective two-dimensional surface, space itself may be conceived of as an event,35 ever-shifting and never under the closure of completion. In stark contrast to the notion of space as a ‘modern staging of the world-as-exhibition’, entailing a ‘cartography of objectivism’,36 space functions as a vital and dynamic category through which to understand the formation of the social world and all of its relations. Perhaps most important in this context, and indeed for this study, is the notion that space in this formulation is no longer expressed in terms diametrically opposed to time. Instead of opposing spatiality and temporality, this vision of space as the dynamic site of social (re)production inheres temporality within spatiality and vice versa. Rather, then, than suggesting that the ‘epoch of space’ entails the erasure of time, social space and its production necessitates a vision of space and time in which the two remain mutually constitutive and utterly entangled. Massey explains this necessity by arguing that time and space must be thought together: [...] this is not some mere rhetorical flourish, but […] it influences how we think of both terms; […] thinking of time 32 Lefebvre, Production of Space, p. 46. 33 Edward W. Soja, Thirdspace: Journeys to Los Angeles and Other Real-and-Imagined Places (Oxford: Blackwell, 1996), p. 46. 34 Doreen Massey, For Space (London: SAGE, 2005), p. 10. 35 Cf. Marcus Doel, Postmodern Geographies: The Diabolical Art of Spatial Science (Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh Press, 1999). 36 Gregory, Geographical Imaginations, p. 70.

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and space together does not mean they are identical (for instance in some undifferentiated four-dimensionality), rather it means that the imagination of one will have repercussions (not always followed through) for the imagination of the other and that space and time are implicated in each other; […] it opens up some problems which have heretofore seemed (logically, intractably) insoluble; and […] it has reverberations for thinking about politics and the spatial.37

Space, under this conception can be conceived of as what Massey calls a ‘discrete multiplicity’, imbued with temporality and in contrast to ‘static contemporaneity’,38 one that does not operate through a linearity, either topdown or bottom-up, but through a series of discontinuous and shifting circulations. This vision of spatiality is of no little consequence in the West African context in which this study is set. With the African continent more broadly comes a particularly pernicious example of the tendency, in Massey’s words, to turn space into time,39 a sleight of hand of globalisation that has persisted since the early days of European conquest and continues to impart its force today. In order to perceive the colonial landscape as ‘a neutral and empty space’,40 geographical difference more generally had to be subsumed to chronological, or temporal, difference: Different ‘places’ were interpreted as different stages in a single temporal development. All the stories of unilinear progress, modernisation, development, the sequence of modes of production … perform this operation. Western Europe is ‘advanced’, other parts of the world ‘some way behind’, yet others are ‘backward’. ‘Africa’ is not different from Western Europe, it is (just) behind. (Or maybe it is indeed only different from; it is not allowed its own uniqueness, its coeval existence).41

By evoking the myth that space ‘beyond Europe was henceforth before Europe’,42 that is, colonial conquest could be removed from its violent origins and re-constructed in benevolent terms of patronage and paternalistic care. The notion of an empty space left behind in time would provide a greater justification for the mining of resources – human and material – and divestment of lands.43 While this may be said to be the general spatial condition of colonialism more broadly, it holds particular potency with respect to the African continent owing to the long-standing status of the continent as negative foil or 37 Massey, For Space, p. 18. 38 Massey, For Space, p. 55. 39 Massey, For Space, p. 5. 40 Noyes, Colonial Space, p. 6. 41 Massey, For Space, p. 68. 42 Gregory, Geographical Imaginations, p. 27. 43 Lorenzo Cotula, The Great African Land Grab? Agricultural Investments and the Global Food System (London: Zed Books, 2013), pp. 8–11.

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inverse mirror within a Euro-American imaginary, a condition that has been described in detail elsewhere.44 In On the Postcolony, Mbembe identifies what he terms the two signs under which Africa unfolds in a global imaginary: the sign of the strange and the monstrous and the sign of intimacy.45 In both cases, we might interpret these as specifically spatial strategies intended to transform Africa, the physical place, the continent, into a signifier for arrested temporality characterised by its ‘unreality’.46 A non-space, the continent is thus worth only what could be extracted from its depths for European advancement. Conceived of as ‘a bottomless abyss where everything is noise, yawning gap, and primordial chaos’,47 the continent stands as the starting point on a teleological journey long since mastered by the West, simplistic and traditionalist at its core. Mbembe’s argument in his study is for a reassertion of historicism in studies of the continent, with a specific focus on the category of time as a means through which to enliven how we think about Africa. Recalling Massey’s directive that we must think time and space together, as co-constitutive and mutually implicated, Mbembe’s comments gesture directly towards the concomitant necessity to rethink spatiality in the African context; I thus argue here that his claims may equally be applied to a call for a rethinking of Africa through its spatial formations, recentring their salience with a view to erasing the temporal transformations that have rendered the continent as a spatial void. By reinvigorating conceptions of spatiality with their inherent temporality, we may find a means of detaching our examination of the continent from its pernicious history of stasis and confusion. Recalling its inherently dynamic multiplicity as a concrete abstraction, moreover, space becomes a means through which to revitalise the lived archive of the region, redressing its historical reduction under the twinned mythos that Mbembe describes and revitalising it in both space and time to its dynamic whole. Despite the urgency of these critical perspectives, the handling of space in both postcolonial and African literary studies has reflected a set of larger lacunae with the study of spatiality and, particularly, the role of imaginative literature in that practice. Soja argues that postcolonial studies in general and postcolonial spatial studies in particular have continued to be split in two different discursive worlds. One world thrives on spa 44 See, for instance, V.Y. Mudimbe, The Invention of Africa: Gnosis, Philosophy and the Order of Knowledge (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1988); V.Y. Mudime, The Idea of Africa (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1994); Ezekiel Mphahlele, The African Image (London: Faber and Faber, 1962). 45 Achille Mbembe, On the Postcolony (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2001), pp. 1–2. 46 Mbembe, On the Postcolony, p. 4. 47 Mbembe, On the Postcolony, p. 3.

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tial metaphors like mapping, location, cartography, and landscape, works primarily with fictional literatures, and excels at literate textual analysis; the other often tends to sublimate its overtly spatial emphasis, eschews metaphorical flair, and strives for solid materialist exposition of real politics and oppression.48

In its negotiation of spatiality, that is to say, much of postcolonial theorisation relies on what Lefebvre calls the twinned myths of transparency and opacity. On the one hand, space has historically been viewed as an ontologically given case of ‘natural simplicity’,49 ‘out there’ in the world where discourse may attempt to produce a reflection, but where it will remain unknown and unknowable. Through a literary recuperation, in this view, postcolonial literature may retrieve that essential space from its distortion at the hands of colonial violence. Simultaneously, postcolonial studies, through a focus on marginality, liminality and ambivalence, has produced a notion of space that is entirely metaphorical in nature, standing in for the tortured presence of postcolonial subjectivity. Here, space is reduced to the contradictory site of libidinal desire, revealed through psychic processes; framed as such, space is regarded as ‘innocent, as free of traps or secret places’.50 The literary text, under both of these perspectives, has little function beyond reflection or response. Seemingly manifesting Lefebvre’s own claim that as ‘codes worked up from literary texts are applied to spaces […] we remain [...] on the purely descriptive level’,51 both of these interconnected views reduce the text to a site of passivity, neglecting its productive, performative function as an aesthetic object and material artefact. Despite claims that ‘colonial literature […] is one of the many specific praxes which constitute imperialism’,52 the text itself remains estranged from the production of space, turned into a passive repository of meaning embroiled within alternately discursive and materialist visions of space. It is certainly not the case that spatial concepts have gone unnoticed by postcolonial studies in recent years. Studies including Rob Nixon’s Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor (2011), Elizabeth DeLoughrey and George Handley’s Postcolonial Ecologies: Literatures of the Environment (2011), Ato Quayson’s Oxford Street, Accra: City Life and the Itineraries of Transnationalism (2014), Elleke Boehmer’s Empire, the National and the Postcolonial, 1890–1920 (2002) and Anthony Carrigan’s Postcolonial Tourism: Literature, Culture and the Environment (2010) all demonstrate a careful and nuanced understanding of spatial precepts as engaged by and

48 Soja, ‘Foreword’, p. x. 49 Lefebvre, Production of Space, p. 29. 50 Lefebvre, Production of Space, p. 28. 51 Lefebvre, Production of Space, p. 7. 52 Noyes, Colonial Space, p. 7.

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through literature.53 Yet, these studies differ from my aims in this book through a focus on particular aspects of geography and spatial production rather than on space as a holistic system, on the one hand, and an emphasis on fine-grained specificity on the other. As the readings in this study will show, literature may not only engage in ‘creatively rethinking and retheorizing spatiality’,54 but forms ‘a vital part of lived experience, as part of the (social) production of (social) space, the construction of individual and societal spatialities’,55 made more manifest through each text’s demonstration of the active ‘role which literature has played in structuring the experience of the colony’ and its legacies.56 Indeed, as Noyes argues, ‘Spatiality is a vital category in any attempt to comprehend both the subjective and social functions of discourse. This is because it is a category which is basic to signification, subjectivity and social interaction alike.’57 Literary discourse, then, functions as a living archive of spatiality, both enlivening its workings and enlivened by its study, as part of a larger and interconnected system of representation, production, administration and constitution.

The West African context In this book, I focus on writing from West Africa from the post-World War II period to the present day. West Africa serves as a particularly salient region through which to examine the constitution of literary space and its entanglements with wider spatial movements both for its richness, as a site of literary production, and for the centrality of spatial precepts in the history of its own formation as a geographical entity. The French federation of West Africa, officially in existence from 1895 to 1960, was originally organised as a collection of France’s African territories west of Gabon, ruled by a single Governor General based in Senegal. French West Africa (Afrique-Occidentale française or AOF) was formally named in 1904, with Dakar as its capital. Throughout its existence, AOF was marked by a series of spatial imbalances: first through the disjuncture between the Four Communes of Saint-Louis, Dakar, Gorée and 53 Rob Nixon, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011); Elizabeth DeLoughrey and George Handley, Postcolonial Ecologies: Literatures of the Environment (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011); Ato Quayson, Oxford Street, Accra: City Life and the Itineraries of Transnationalism (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014); Elleke Boehmer, Empire, the National and the Postcolonial, 1890–1920 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002); Anthony Carrigan, Postcolonial Tourism: Literature, Culture and the Environment (London: Routledge, 2010). 54 Soja, Thirdspace, p. 14. 55 Soja, Thirdspace, p. 46. 56 Noyes, Colonial Space, p. 1. 57 Noyes, p. 10.

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Rufisque, whose residents, measured by birth in the communes and largely white or métis, were extended full citizenship rights under the French flag, and the rest of the territory whose populations were not extended such protections until the inauguration of the Union française; and later, through the imbalance which developed between the traditionally powerful territory of Senegal and its neighbours, particularly Côte d’Ivoire. In historical terms, AOF served as a key node in a variety of transnational spatial formations, not least of which included the trans-Atlantic networks produced through the slave trade, and its status, along with its neighbour, French Equatorial Africa (Afrique-Équatoriale française or AEF), as France’s most significant colonial holdings. These two federations were augmented from the end of World War I by the UN Trust Territories of Togo and Cameroon – territories not usually integrated under the heading of French West Africa but which, for the purposes of this study, I include here for reasons I outline below. British territories in West Africa, while far smaller in area and number, similarly held an outsized importance within larger imperial constructions, consolidated over the course of the nineteenth century under the name of the British West African Settlements, governed until 1888 by a governor-in-chief based in Sierra Leone and including the present-day territories of the Gambia, Nigeria and Ghana (formerly the Gold Coast). As in the French case, British West Africa was marked by spatial striations and tensions, ranging from the growth of returnee populations from Brazil and North America; the uneven spread of critical resources and mineral wealth across the region; and the uneasy integration of previously autonomous nations based across the largely Islamic north and missionary-driven south of the region. The world wars and subsequent aftermath effected a sea change in European colonial policy in the region. Indeed, the period around the two world wars saw shifts in administration ranging from the transferral of German colonial holdings in Togo and Cameroon to Britain and France as UN Trust Territories, to an overall reframing of imperial policy at a more general level. Scholarship of the post-war period has pointed to ‘the liberalising impact’ of the wars on colonial policy more generally,58 citing both the sacrifices made by African and other colonial troops in both conflicts, as well as a shift in world opinion, led both by American policy and global horror as the full extent of Belgium’s Congolese excesses became clear.59 While it is certainly true that any view of ‘decolonization as a simple consequence of the declining power of the colonial rulers in an international system dominated during the critical period by two

58 A.I. Asiwaju, West African Transformations: Comparative Impact of French and British Colonialism (Ikeja, Lagos: Malthouse Press, 2001), p. 34. 59 Asiwaju, West African Transformations, p. 60.

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Writing Spatiality in West Africa

anti-imperialist super-powers’ would be reductive at best,60 it is equally the case that the rise of a bipolar world system dominated by America and the USSR as new superpowers resulted in a paradigm shift in the older empires of Britain and France. Arriving at the apex of previous years of demographic change, the end of World War II inaugurated an era of increased urban growth, heightened developmentalist rhetoric and an inexorable move to the end of formal colonisation. From the African perspective, having sent numerous servicemen to fight in Europe’s war, only to find themselves treated as second-class citizens upon return, leaders used the shifts in power wrought by the war as a means of leveraging the increasing ferment of anti-colonial sentiment in order to agitate for increased autonomy.61 From the European perspective, the war and its divestments resulted in stark economic realities which crystallised sentiments that had been brewing over the previous decades. For France and Great Britain, the need for profitable markets, as a way of locating the dollar earnings needed to pay off war debts, became particularly acute in this period,62 leading to increased efforts at market control, regulation and stabilisation in the colonies. In many ways, this often resulted in a further imbrication between the colonies and metropole, as imperial ‘governments understood that if they were to use their African empires to strengthen their international influence they would have to commit resources of their own’.63 With a new need for both hard currency and profitable commodities so arising, the business of colonialism would take on a new edge. At the same time, the post-war period saw what Samir Amin has termed a ‘speeding-up of colonial exploitation’, resulting in the ‘transform[ation] [of] the area from the stage of being a primitive “reserve”, virtually outside the world market, into that of a true underdeveloped economy: dominated by and integrated into the world market’.64 Under the newly entrenched rhetoric of development and modernisation, moreover, policies would have to be shifted and potential European pitfalls minimised. In a situation in which the cost of colonialism might suddenly no longer pay for itself in its spoils, the colonial 60 John D. Hargreaves, Decolonization in Africa, second edition (London: Longman, 1996), p. 3. 61 It is important to note the extent of African participation in both world wars. Africans made up nearly 9% of the French army in France, for instance, and accounted for some 100,000 mobilised troops in French West Africa (see Hargreaves, Decolonization in Africa, p. 51). Equally, wartime economic measures had a particularly punitive effect on the colonies, struck by import restrictions, increasing demands on the production of raw materials, food shortages, command economies and more (see Hargreaves, Decolonization in Africa, p. 55). 62 Frederick Cooper, Decolonization and African Society: The Labor Question in French and British Africa (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), p. 203. 63 Hargreaves, Decolonization in Africa, p. 101. 64 Samir Amin, Neo-Colonialism in West Africa, trans. Francis McDonagh (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1973 [1971]), p. xiv.

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project itself was brought into question, with a range of differing policies implemented by the French and British, respectively, to reorient its aims.65 Despite the range of strategies implemented over the course of the post-war period, by the time the 1950s drew to a close, as Cooper argues, ‘both French and British officials were looking beyond the aura of normalcy and entitlement attached to imperialism toward a hard examination of the costs and benefits of colonial rule’.66 In the British context, this entailed a new focus on self-rule and political allegiances with ostensibly moderate leaders, a transformation functioning within the remit of developmentalist frameworks in which colonialism would be reconceived as part of a long transition enabling African autonomy. Foregrounding the needs of development and welfare agendas, the Colonial Office moved towards self-government as a manner in which to achieve these aims.67 By focusing on local governments and local particularities, British policy worked to ensure the suppression of radical pan-African sentiments in favour of a continued and favourable relationship between the former coloniser and newly emerging nation-states. Historical excavations of the post-war period note the extent to which ‘Great Britain emphasized the specificity of each colonial territory, making it harder to reform the inequities of colonial societies’.68 At the same time, the economic exigencies of World War II and its aftermath led to a situation in which colonial development was managed ‘on an imperial scale’, moving towards a more centralised system than previously sought.69 For the French, the years between and after the wars entailed a reconceptualisation of the French empire as the Union française, predicated on the notion of Greater France. As Gary Wilder writes: Following World War I, the persistence of the empire served as one of the few sure signs that France itself had survived the war in a recognizable form. Supposedly external and secondary colonial possessions curiously came to signify the durability of the self-contained French nation, especially in the context of disruptive sociopolitical transformations between the wars. Through a new discourse of Greater France, a large sector of public opinion regarded a revitalized empire as the guarantor of international prestige and economic prosperity. Colonies were reconceptualized as integral, if legally ambiguous, parts of the French nation. This emergent nationalimperial imaginary consolidated as postwar socioeconomic conditions further in-

65 Cooper, Decolonization, p. 176. 66 Cooper, Decolonization, p. 4. 67 Hargreaves, Decolonization in Africa, p. 4. 68 Frederick Cooper, Africa since 1940: The Past of the Present (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), p. 42. 69 Hargreaves, Decolonization in Africa, p. 100.

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tegrated metropolitan and colonial societies. Yet the very forces driving imperial interdependence also disrupted many of the empire’s underlying precepts.70

If the British attempted to develop an appearance of ostensible cooperation among states and territories, then the French Union and its successors, la Communauté française and La Francophonie, would represent a natural ordering of things through its reconfiguration of what Wilder terms the imperial nationstate. The inauguration of the Fourth Republic and, with it, the Union française, would bring African colonies in closer contact with the metropole, leading to the granting of full citizenship for all colonial subjects and participation, for a select few, in the National Assembly in Paris. Under the logic of Greater France, French-held African territories would no longer be seen as external to the metropole, but rather be administered and, most critically, conceived of as internal to the hexagon, revitalising the historically salient cultural dimension to French colonialism and dramatising the inherent and foundational contradictions between universality and particularity at the heart of the imperial nation-state. As historians of French colonialism have noted, this move, intended to buttress French control of the region, would inadvertently signal its obsolescence ‘as African social and political movements used the language of imperial legitimacy to claim all the social and economic entitlements of metropolitan citizens’.71 This in turn would lead to the eventual institutionalisation of devolution with the 1956 Loi Cadre, which shifted the locus of authority in most matters from the Parisian centre to Territorial Assemblies. Despite its ostensible move towards self-rule and internal autonomy, however, the Loi Cadre (and the reforms that followed) ultimately led to a number of political and economic problems for the territories it affected, especially those of a smaller size and, like Senegal, those which inherited a disproportionate burden of debt under the fragmentation and disintegration of the former federations of West and Equatorial Africa.72 By 1958 and the creation of the Commaunté française, territorial devolution would lead to the creation of a federation of ostensibly autonomous member states in Greater France, the realisation of which highlighted the often paradoxical ways in which the physical withdrawal of France from its colonies coincided with a heightened symbolic recentring and perpetuation of dependence (see Chapter 4). It is certainly not the case that the French and British zones of West Africa historically functioned entirely in isolation from one another, though critical claims that the two imperial powers were essentially interchangeable remain 70 Gary Wilder, The French Imperial Nation-State: Negritude and Colonial Humanism between the Two World Wars (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2005), p. 4. 71 Cooper, Africa Since 1940, p. 39. 72 Asiwaju, West African Transformations, p. 184; Amin, Neo-Colonialism in West Africa, p. xvii ; p. 158.

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debatable.73 While the philosophical grounding and political realisation of French and British colonialism certainly differed, however, there were nonetheless a range of interactions between the territories under each power’s control, as well as a set of mutual areas of cooperation and points of conflict. Politically, the rise of pan-African sentiment in this period, made particularly potent following Ghana’s transition to self-rule in 1951 and ascendency to independence in 1957, was acute, leading to events such as the 1953 West African National Conference held in Kumasi. Yet, despite an enthusiasm for pan-African connections as a means of redressing ‘the way in which colonial rule had erected barriers between African people’, these movements failed to entirely transcend ‘the obstacles to created and maintaining such links’.74 Primary documents indicate the extent to which inter-imperial rivalries sought to frustrate attempts at solidarity-building in this period, indicating an atmosphere of increased surveillance and fear from the imperial powers. During the early decades of the twentieth century, politically motivated migration across imperial contexts, notably from Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) and Côte d’Ivoire to the Gold Coast (now Ghana), were far from uncommon. These protest migrations, arising from frustration over political and economic policies in the less-liberal French zones, became a major source of diplomatic conflict between the two powers.75 Elsewhere, historically unified communities remained in close contact across state boundaries, as was the case in the parts of Yorubaland apportioned between Nigeria and Dahomey (now Benin) and the Niger/Nigeria frontier.76 While ultimately, differences in social policy, especially language, would fracture these communities as ‘the illogicality and artificiality of the new boundaries [...] manifested’, imperial powers were nonetheless obliged ‘to communicate with each other in order to cope with several common problems and interests’.77 The negotiation of spatial formations was a central concern in this context, realised in different manners across the two imperial formations. For Britain, this entailed the setting of regional boundaries, minority areas and the distribution of legislative power in colonised territories, with the drafting of constitutions and government structures a paramount concern. Under the ostensible goal of development, British authorities would work to maintain structures favourable to continued British profit and control in a situation in which individual territories, as unique entities with specific requirements, would form the locus of action. Insisting 73 Asiwaju, West African Transformations, p. 4; p. 95. 74 Tony Chafer, The End of Empire in French West Africa: France’s Successful Decolonization? (Oxford: Berg, 2002), p. 146. 75 Asiwaju, West African Transformations, pp. 82–97. 76 Asiwaju, West African Transformations, p. 134; p. 255; Amin, Neo-Colonialism in West Africa, p. 124. 77 Asiwaju, West African Transformations, p. 258.

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that ‘economic and social development was a necessary prerequisite to political progress’,78 the British, led by the Colonial Office and its bureaucrats, focused their energies on a project of welfare and production that leveraged old notions of local government to maximise relationships of patronage. In the Francophone context, meanwhile, debates ranged around the integration of colonised territories into the logic of a greater France, on the one hand, and around issues of federation, confederation and national sovereignty, on the other. While the bulk of this historical context will be examined in the chapters that follow, here, I would like to dwell briefly on two examples that shed light on the multilayered and often incongruous spatial dimension to the development of the region. The first of these is the referendum that led to the creation of the Communauté française in 1958. To better understand the stakes at play at the time, it is important to recall with Frederick Cooper that, in the era of late colonialism, a number of interrelated ‘historical trajectories shaped the possibilities and limitations that Africa faced at the time’,79 and that the ultimate ascendency of the nation-state as locus of political life, ‘a political form whose dangers were recognized by influential African political leaders at the time’,80 was by no means a given at any point. In the French context, this was made particularly significant by the extent to which late colonial leaders – both French and African – appeared to favour a range of other formulations of affiliation and organisation based on confederated associations and multiple affinities. These concerns became acute in the run-up to the 1958 referendum, in which colonised territories were given the option to vote either to join the new Communauté française, whose jurisdiction would include foreign and financial policy, defence and currency matters, or to opt for immediate independence, at the cost of French assistance and aid, as two competing visions for the Community battled. On the one hand, led by Senghor, was a call for a true confederation, in which France would be but one member, and in which the individual territories of French Africa would be mediated through the power blocs of AOF and AEF, a sort of counter-balance to French power. The other, ultimately more successful side, however, led by Côte d’Ivoire’s Houphouët-Boigny and fearful of what could become Senegal’s outsized share of the power under a confederal system, argued for direct links between territory and metropole without the intermediary presence of supra-national federations. It is of little coincidence that the federal system championed by Houphouët-Boigny would win out over Senghor’s vision of a United States of Africa, particularly once ‘[French President] de Gaulle realized that it would prove easier to protect French interests in Black Africa by a discriminating set of bilateral agreements than through 78 Cooper, Decolonization, p. 111. 79 Cooper, Africa and the World, p. 2; see also Wilder on the ‘imperial nation-state’. 80 Cooper, Africa and the World, p. 3.

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potentially unruly federations’.81 By the time of the referendum, government policy focused primarily on minimising the losses of empire through a programme focused on ‘devolving power to individual territories and weakening the federations of French West Africa and French Equatorial Africa’,82 both to buttress the French metropole as sole locus for cooperation and to reorient political movements to the nation-state as the unit for decision-making and progress. That only Guinea would vote for independence in the Referendum speaks to the success of France’s aims in this regard, made more manifest by the punitive economic retribution that Guinea subsequently faced. Ultimately, Senghor’s dream would be reduced to the more modest project of the Federation of Mali, originally encompassing Upper Volta (present-day Burkina Faso), Dahomey (present-day Benin), Senegal and Soudan (present-day Mali). Faced with vigorous anti-federal campaigning in the associated territories, only Senegal and Soudan would ratify its constitution, lasting a mere two months from June to August 1960. What the example of French West Africa in the last days of colonialism shows us is the centrality of spatial arrangements to the emerging project of independence. At no point along its trajectory were any of the outcomes givens. Indeed, at various points along its path to independence, the leaders of French Africa acted in ways that lend credence to claims that ‘African emancipation would take place through integration within a Greater France, rather than secession from it’, a belief that ‘endured in significant sections of the élite right up to, and beyond, political independence’.83 Indeed, even the notion of independence itself was far from uniform in this period, encompassing ideas of territorial autonomy, federation and confederation, and supra-national partnership rather than a simple focus on sovereignty as organised around the nation-state. The organisation of space, the legitimacy of spatial arrangements and the distribution of power and resources within space all played central, if not defining, roles to the development of the region in the final years before independence. As my next example will show, these concerns by no means disappeared with the formal end of colonisation and, indeed, by no means were limited to extra-territorial disputes. The present-day nation-state of Nigeria came into being as a conceptual entity in 1903. At the time of the unification of the Colony of Lagos and the Northern and Southern Protectorates in 1914 to the Protectorate and Colony of Nigeria and beyond, the spatial organisation and administration of the territory remained a central concern. Throughout the years to come, this division, initially political, would fossilise into a chasm that persists through to the present day. By 1951, under colonial guidance, the future leaders of Nigeria had 81 Hargreaves, Decolonization in Africa, p. 189. 82 Cooper, Africa Since 1940, p. 80. 83 Chafer, The End of Empire, p. 5.

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collaborated on a constitution, updated to promote a peaceful transition from colonialisation to self-governance over the following decade. The state, during this period, was split into the Federal Territory of Lagos and three regions, each of which was dominated by a particular ethnic group: the Northern Region by the Hausa-Fulani, the Western Region by the Yoruba and the Eastern Region by the Igbo, though minority groups remained scattered throughout all three. By 1964, a fourth region, the Mid-West, was carved from the predominantly Igbo areas of the Western Region in the area known as Benin. Through the instantiation of Native Authorities and ‘centralised chieftancy institutions’, both traditional and fabricated, British policies of indirect rule would lead directly to Nigeria’s characterisation as a ‘republic of a thousand kings’.84 Driving these developments were a series of constitutions that were adopted in 1947, 1951, 1954 and 1957. The first of these documents, popularly referred to as the Richards Constitution, was universally derided by the future leaders of Nigeria as a document created without indigenous consultation, and representative of the continued imposition of British will upon the Nigerian populations. The Richards Constitution, it is said, revamped the Legislative Council created by the 1922 Clifford Constitution to allow a majority of unofficial, Nigerian members for the first time. The Northern Region was included in the central legislature for the first time, increasing the unity of Nigeria. At the same time as the Richards Constitution promoted Nigerian unity, however, it also exacerbated regional identities, creating regional houses of assembly in each of the three existing regions […]. The Richards Constitution therefore became the first step towards a federated Nigerian state.85

Significantly for the administration of the territory, each region was administered under unique lines, with the more modernised South functioning under a system of warrant chiefs and indirect rule, while the North remained within its feudal system of emirs, allowing the British to work within its structures. Social, economic and political policy varied by region, too, with the more populous North lagging behind in development and education. As Cooper writes, ‘This structure has the perverse effect of encouraging first a winner-takes-all quest for elector power within each of the […] regions, and then competition between regions for power at the federal level.’86 In 1957, the Western and Eastern Regions were given self-rule, followed shortly, in 1959, by the Northern Region. On 1 October 1960, Nigeria became an independent state in the British Commonwealth, taking Queen Elizabeth II as titular head. Three years later, on 84 Asiwaju, West African Transformations, p. 169; p. 178. 85 Toyin Falola and Matthew M. Heaton, A History of Nigeria (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), p. 148. 86 Cooper, Africa since 1940, p. 69.

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1 October 1963, Nigeria became an independent republic and constituted the greatest achievement of British colonialism in Africa. Despite its promise at independence, the Nigerian nation-state soon fell prey to a series of national crises, beginning with a split in the leadership of the Yoruba-dominated Action Group party, the fixed censuses of 1962–63 and culminating with widespread violence after the largely rigged Federal elections of 1964 and Western Regional elections of 1965. The tensions sparked by these events escalated through 1966, a critical year leading to the Nigerian–Biafran War (1967–70). It is by no means an exaggeration to characterise that war – which remains a watershed in the development of the Nigerian nation – as an essentially spatial conflict. Based upon the declared secession of the Republic of Biafra from the south-east of Nigeria – a region, not without coincidence, rich in oil and mineral resources – the conflict drew upon the various means through which spatiality functions at local, regional, national and supra-national levels, from the alienation of ethnic minorities within Biafra,87 to the neo-imperial split among European powers in their support for either side. In the days leading up to the war, moreover, in an attempt to counterbalance the ethnic rivalries and regional imbalances driving the conflict, the Federal Government declared the creation of twelve states from the four regions. In the years following the conflict, from 1976 to 1991, an additional twenty-four states would be created, making a total of thirty-six. The spatial concerns outlined in the examples above were not unique to either region, nor did they disappear with the end of formal colonialism, and space continues to be a central category through which daily life at the individual, collective and national levels operates in West Africa. Space, its allocation and its administration have been paramount concerns since at least the Berlin Conference of 1884–85, which partitioned the continent through a series of arbitrary and artificial borders. In the decades that have followed, these borders have become a lived reality, often with highly contested results. With the increased pressure on the region from land reform and the international land grab, urbanisation, regional and minority movements and the ongoing penetration of multinational – and increasingly a-national – conglomerates and commerce in the area, the ongoing production of space, along with the conflicts therein – the right to space, the right to the city, the right to life – continue. Equally, the newly independent states of West Africa suffered both from the inheritance of financial burdens, devolved from the imperial centre, and their sudden integration into the world economy as genuinely underdeveloped states, the results of which

87 Axel Harneil-Sievers, Jones O. Ahazuem and Sydney Emezue, A Social History of the Nigerian Civil War: Perspectives from Below (Ogete, Enugu: Jemezie Associates, 1997), pp. 15–16.

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Writing Spatiality in West Africa

continue to reverberate in the present day.88 In the twenty-first century, with the new fervour with which neoliberal ideologies have spread, and the disastrous outcomes of structural adjustment and austerity-based programmes, which are only now becoming clear, these concerns have continued to play a central role in the region. It is surely no coincidence that the post-structural adjustment era has seen a startling rise in the presence of fundamentalisms and secession movements on the continent, as well as a renewed force of international intrusion in the name of intervention. Equally, the recent influx of Chinese investment in the continent marks another series of shifts to social space whose ramifications on the natural and built environments we are only beginning to understand. The past thirty years, moreover, have seen an unprecedented brain drain, as the once bi-directional movement of students and skilled workers between Africa and Europe has become overtaken by a one-way diasporic flow that has resulted in the migration of more Africans since 1990 to the United States than during the slave trade, an unprecedented loss of intellectual, cultural and social capital on the continent.89 At the same time, the so-called African Renaissance has brought with it a heightened sense of Afropolitanism, or continent-specific cosmopolitanism, indicating an opening in the global imaginary for African possibilities in ways that revitalise notions of affiliative belonging beyond the nation-state.

West African literary histories As the case of West African writing demonstrates, literature has been far from passive in its articulations with spatiality. The region remains one of the most productive areas of the continent in terms of literary production and has been so since the early days of Europhone African writing, including landmark moments like the publication of Achebe’s Things Fall Apart in 1958, Camara Laye’s L’enfant noir in 1953 and the 1948 publication of Senghor’s Anthologie de la nouvelle poésie nègre et malgache de langue française. Indeed, the importance of West Africa to African, postcolonial and world literary traditions can be dated further back, ranging from the fourteenth-century Sundiata epic, from presentday Mali, to the eighteenth-century slave narratives of Olaudah Equiano, to early twentieth century indigenous writing including the Yoruba tales of D.O. Fagunwa. In the modern era, J.E. Casely Hayford’s 1911 Ethiopia Unbound, hailing from present-day Ghana, is often considered to be the first African novel published in English, and Senegalese Bakary Diallo’s 1926 Force-Bonté the first African novel to be published in French. Given the importance of West Africa to both the French and British empires, this literary productivity is perhaps 88 Amin, Neo-Colonialism in West Africa, p. 49; p. 274. 89 Louis Chude-Sokei, ‘The Newly Black Americans: African Immigrants and Black America’, Transition, 113 (2014), 52–71 (p. 59).

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unsurprising. Indeed, throughout the years of direct colonialism, both powers placed a particular emphasis on educational policy, though with different motivations and different ends. While French education focused largely on the inculcation of the elite classes – termed the évolué – into the norms, ideals and values of French society, with a strict focus on French-medium education and curriculum, British educational policy sought a greater element of nativisation, instructing in English in tandem with vernacular languages and geared specifically to each territory in kind, a situation that has resulted in a greater reputation for linguistic flexibility in Anglophone African writing than its Francophone counterparts. While this is not entirely the case, as I will discuss in the chapters to come, it remains true that educational policy across the two imperial contexts resulted in the generative productivity of each respective literature today. A definitive comparative history of Anglophone and Francophone African writing would be impossible within the limitations of a single book-length study. To redress this methodological problem, I have selected texts for this study that function as touchstone works in their respective literary traditions, speaking to larger contemporary concerns and exhibiting wider preoccupations. Equally, each of the texts included in this study has garnered some significant international acclaim, operating, through the transnational literary market, to shape the global vision of Africa, as a space both imagined and real, in significant ways. It is not my intention here to suggest that the texts included in this study are the only French- and English-language novels of import produced from West Africa since World War II. Rather, I use these works as a means through which to open up to the wider spatial concerns, precepts and preconceptions that undergird the production and performance of space as realised in this project. Certainly, it is the case that numerous other primary texts could have been selected for inclusion in this study. My choice in defining the corpus under examination here, however, was driven by the range of thematic and stylistic preoccupations shared across their number: the recurrence of themes of mobility and movement; the traversal of seemingly incongruent spatial ecologies through the registration of a series of entanglements across superficially discrete zones of the rural and urban, the metropolitan and the peripheral; the centrality of landscape and the built environment to plotting and story; the integration of the production and reproduction of space; the multifocality through which the trilectics of space as lived, conceived and perceived emerge; and so on. It is also important to note that I have sought to organise the texts in this study on chronological, rather than thematic or geographical lines. Again, this has been a deliberate choice. Given that my aim in this the project is to place works written in specific places and times in conversation in order to unpack larger preoccupations around space and the institutions and subjects through which it emerges, such a grouping of texts is best placed to avoid the scholarly foible of imposing premature conclusions. I have chosen to focus predominantly

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Writing Spatiality in West Africa

on the novel form for two reasons. Over the course of the twentieth century, the novel has become by far the dominant form through which West African literature is circulated, produced and consumed through the global literary market. Indeed, despite the dominance of poetry and drama in the early decades of the century, the post-war period saw a veritable explosion in the production of the novel form from the region, which has continued to the present day. Beyond its hegemonic position among literary forms, moreover, the novel has historically occupied a salient spatial dimension in its realisation, particularly in its long-standing relationship with the formation of the nation, as concept.90 Heeding both Christopher Miller’s call for impure methodologies that ‘blend disciplines together in a hybrid approach befitting the complexity of cultural questions in Africa and their translation into Western understanding’ and Kadiatu Kanneh’s assertion of ‘the necessity of approaching literary texts as a nexus for the rearticulation of – culturally and socially mediated – ideological material’,91 I have attempted in this study to read across the archive as widely as possible. Examining a range of material spanning legislative records and procès verbal from the French National Assembly, records from the British Colonial Office and Commonwealth Relations Office, first-person accounts of missionary and personal travel to West Africa, financial records, aid plans, news media and popular press clippings, surveillance reports, memos and minutes of community groups and special interests fora, scholarly material, and more, I have attempted to use these diverse sources to reconstruct the spatial worldliness within which these literary texts have functioned and against which they set themselves. In his introduction to Kristen Ross’s study of Rimbaud and the Paris Commune, Terry Eagleton highlights the need to avoid a determinist reading of literature against spatiality. The present book takes this as its inspiration, as it attempts to locate the literary text within and against a broader vision of space and spatiality not by a series of deterministic claims, but through the ‘articulations’ through which these texts speak to and from a larger spatiality that ‘inscribes itself in the very force fields of [the] texts’ in question.92 To do so, my approach in this 90 See Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, revised edition (London: Verso, 1991); chapters in Nation and Narration, ed. Homi K. Bhabha (London: Routledge, 1990). A strong rebuttal to arguments tying the rise of the novel to the rise of the nation in the African context is invoked in Eileen Julien, ‘The Extroverted African Novel’, in The Novel, Volume 1: History, Geography and Culture, ed. Franco Moretti (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006), pp. 667–700. 91 Christopher L. Miller, Theories of Africans: Francophone Literature and Anthropology in Africa (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 1990), p. 5; Kadiatu Kanneh, African Identities: Race, Nation and Culture in Ethnography, Pan-Africanism and Black Literatures (London: Routledge, 1998), p. 1. 92 Terry Eagleton, introduction to Kristen Ross, The Emergence of Social Space: Rimbaud and the Paris Commune (London: Verso, 2007), p. x.

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study is broadly materialist, though not in the dogmatic sense in which that term is all too often (unfairly) used. Throughout this study, I attempt to uncover articulations and shared concerns across a range of material, including literary texts, legislative records, NGO reports, missionary manuals, publication data, marketing reports, and more. By so doing, my aim is to simultaneously weave together and tease apart the dense networks of affiliations and correspondences among political, social and artistic modes of spatial production. My aims, then, are roughly threefold: (1) to articulate a comparative history of Anglophone and Francophone literary production in West Africa over the past sixty years, with a particular emphasis on the development of the novel form; (2) to develop a notion of postcolonial spatiality which accounts for the role of imaginative literature in the production of space; (3) to uncover continuities between the constitution of space in literature and larger movements in spatiality. By so doing, this book highlights the continuities and discrepancies that function across literary, political, social and editorial visions of space and synthesise these visions to produce a holistic account of postcolonial spatiality. By placing these areas in dialogue with one another, it redresses conceptions of the literary text as a passive repository of meaning, instead highlighting its productive role in the formation of a dynamic spatiality. It is my hope that my methodology in this study will both open new avenues for the study of postcolonial literatures more broadly, as well as the study of space more specifically, but also revitalise methods for comparative literary research, an area that has long been neglected in the primarily monolingual (and anglophone-dominated) sphere of postcolonial studies. This study spans from the post-World War II period to the present day. It begins with an examination of the performance of space in literature during the period of transition from empire to nominal independence, focusing particularly on the territories of Nigeria, Senegal and Cameroon. These territories all held significant positions within their respective imperial formations, with Nigeria considered to be the ‘giant’ of Africa, and Britain’s most-significant sub-Saharan African holding, Senegal the historic seat of imperial power for French West Africa, and Cameroon – not technically a colony, but rather a UNmandated trust territory – both at the cusp of West and Equatorial Africa and severed between British and French control. It is because of this position and the strategic relevance so garnered by Cameroon that I depart from many scholars who view it as a territory apart from the larger bloc of Afrique-occidentale française and, indeed, West Africa. Yet, Cameroon itself serves as a microcosm for the spatial entanglements that defined the region: split between the Britishadministered territories of Northern and Southern Cameroons and the Frenchcontrolled remainder of the territory, its spatial liminality became particularly clear following the contested 1961 plebiscite, which saw the northern parts of the British-held territory joining Nigeria, while the Southern Cameroons joined

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the newly independent former French republic. Even further, the two-decades long conflict between the Union des populations du Cameroun (UPC) and French forces, so close on the back of disastrous outcomes for French power in Indochina and Algeria, would go on to hold a particularly potent position in the French imperial imaginary. In the first chapter of this book, I consider four of the most widely read (if not always critically acclaimed) novels from the period: Amos Tutola’s The Palm-Wine Drinkard, Cyprian Ekwensi’s People of the City, Mongo Beti’s Mission terminée and Cheikh Hamidou Kane’s L’Aventure ambiguë. These novels, which portray strikingly diverse visions of West African life on the cusp of self-rule and independence, nonetheless display a range of spatial preoccupations that betrays a greater anxiety around social formations in the waning days of imperial rule. Despite their shared anxieties, the four novels examined in Chapter 1 all share a sense of hope, either for alternative possibilities or for the radical potentialities of protest. Yet, by the end of the 1960s and beginning of the 1970s, this sense of hope had eroded, leaving in its place a sense of disillusionment and disaffection. In Chapter 2, I examine this shift, reading first the heavily revised second edition of Ekwensi’s novel before moving into an examination of Ousmane Sembène’s Xala, Ayi Kwei Armah’s The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born – perhaps the definitive text of post-independence disillusionment from the region – and Ahmadou Kourouma’s Les soleils des independances, significant as the first novel widely recognised to be published in a form of ‘rotten French’. In my readings of these texts, I explore the shifts in power and possibility that contribute to the closing off of alternative visions of space, focusing on the social, economic and political stagnation of the West African region. In Chapter 3, I turn my attention to the spatial dimensions of gender and women’s writing. While figures such as Flora Nwapa were writing as early as the 1960s, women’s writing in West Africa, both in English and French, did not fully enter the literary scene until the mid-1970s. By the 1980s, many of the most important and influential literary works from the region were those written by women. These texts are significant for their foregrounding of the gendered dimension of colonial conquest and its afterlives, complicating any attempted binary of oppression and resistance. Cooper has noted how, throughout the late colonial years, women’s civic participation and particular needs were often neglected by colonial policy.93 For Susan Z. Andrade, the result of this exclusion was the development of what she terms ‘the nation writ small’, a gendering of domestic and interior spaces that functions not in isolation from larger spatial movements but as an allegorical commentary that traverses orthodox

93 Cooper, Africa since 1940, p. 120.

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notions of the private and public spheres.94 Focusing on Mariama Bâ’s Une si longue lettre, Ama Ata Aidoo’s Changes: A Love Story, Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood and Calixthe Beyala’s C’est le soleil qui m’a brûlée, this chapter explores the articulation of gender and space against the backdrop of the international division of labour and the twinned processes of housewification and feminisation. The disillusionment and protest registered throughout the 1970s reached its crescendo in the 1980s with the institution of harsh regimes of austerity ostensibly intended to develop African economies. IMF-mandated structural adjustment programmes had a particularly acute set of consequences on the continent, consequences that are only revealing the full extent of their damage today. Chapter 4 moves to the contemporary era of post-structural adjustment to consider space and spatiality through two seemingly divergent, but potentially imbricated, motifs that have become predominant in the twenty-first century, that of migration, on the one hand, and neoliberalism, on the other. Through an analysis of cosmopolitanism, neoliberalism, migration and return in Okey Ndibe’s Foreign Gods, Inc., Teju Cole’s Open City, J.R. Essomba’s Le Paradis du nord and Fatou Diome’s Le ventre de l’Atlantique, I examine the extent to which the supposedly open potential of mobility and globalisation has functioned through a vision of postcolonial spatiality that serves less as a break with than a continuation of colonial spatial formations. Across these chapters, I consider the ways in which the literary text both emerges from a particular spatial context, while simultaneously functioning as a constitutive node in the larger production of that space across registers and scales ranging from the local to the global, in ways that often confound our orthodox understandings of what African literature is and what it does in the context of a global literary market today.

94 See Susan Z. Andrade, The Nation Writ Small: African Fictions and Feminisms, 1958– 1988 (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011).

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Spatiality from Empire to Independence

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The years immediately preceding formal independence in West Africa were notable both for the frenetic pace of spatial negotiations and for an explosion of literary writing emanating from the region, consecrated in the metropolitan publishing houses of London and Paris. The confluence of these two factors was of no little consequence for the development of West Africa as a (post)colonial space. Characterised by a range of anti-colonial movements that traded upon the right to space, as well as last-gasp imperial policies intended to protect European interests through a continued mastery of space, the 1950s and early 1960s marked an apex in the development of alternative and lateral ways of thinking through the soon-to-be independent region. In this chapter, I focus on four touchstone novels written in that period: Nigerian Amos Tutuola’s The Palm-Wine Drinkard (1952); his countryman Cyprian Ekwensi’s People of the City (1954/1963 revised edition); Senegalese Cheikh Hamadou Kane’s L’Aventure ambiguë (1961, but originally written in 1951); and Cameroonian Mongo Beti’s Mission terminée (1957). Heeding Wilder’s caution that texts must be neither fetishised nor sociologised but instead read in order ‘to elaborate the political and discursive fields that made […] colonial and anticolonial politics intelligible’ and from which they spring,1 this chapter reads these four novels alongside a range of legislative, economic and non-governmental documents in order to examine how space, as a social system and process, is elaborated within. In this chapter, as elsewhere in this book, my aim is not to suggest that either the aesthetic or materialist aspects of each text supersede the other. Rather, my aim is to consider how these two sides of the literary function together, allowing each work to operate simultaneously as artistic objects and as cultural artefacts that arise out of a set of specific socio-political conditions in a manner that extends beyond a simple model of response or resistance. These four texts share a preoccupation with the spatial in their respective narrative forms, emerging through the repeated occurrence of journeys and quests; the contrast between bounded and open spaces; and the interaction between spatial formations and the development of subjectivities. Equally, these novels demonstrate the highly distinct literary modes through which these concerns develop, foregrounding both the diversity of spatial formations and the specifically aesthetic nature 1 Wilder, French Imperial Nation-State, p. 21.

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of space’s literary performance across locations and contexts. Taken together, they show the relative extent to which the interpenetration of space across its various registers (local, national, imperial) by its co-constitutive and multiple appearances differed across colonial contexts and locations. Publicity materials and records surrounding the 1952 publication of The PalmWine Drinkard by Faber and Faber position it not as a product of its contemporary realities, but as an ethnographic artefact illuminating the experience of a timeless African interior. Editorial correspondence, marketing materials and author profiles refer to the text as a ‘terrifying but quite fascinating’ work that will ‘burst upon an astonished world unheralded and unrecommended’,2 lauding its exposition of ‘the common West African mind’.3 This form of rhetoric has followed both the novel and its author through their afterlives, with perpetual characterisations of the latter as ‘a true primitive’,4 a ‘natural storyteller’ exuding an ‘uncorrupted innocence’,5 who lives in a ‘hinterland’ of ‘shack-shanties’ and ‘rusting brown tin that roofs the mud-walled houses that crowd together as if seeking comfort in closeness’,6 a place where human life is reduced to the smells of open fires and only dust ‘swirl[s] lazily in the hot tropical sun’.7 Despite the continued assertion of ‘the cult of the primitive’ in the paratextual accompaniment to the novel,8 a move that endorses the transformation of space into time previously discussed in the introduction to this study, the material history of both the novel and its author suggests otherwise, indicating a far more complex layerings of space emerging from the socio-political exigencies of late colonial Nigeria. As I traced in the introduction, the 1950s were a time of tremendous spatial negotiation in the region. On the macroscopic level, the drafting and redrafting of successive constitutions delineated the geographical distribution of power and resources, while on the microscopic level, rural development plans, ethnic minority zones, family planning schemes and various initiatives around social hygiene shifted its everyday landscape. At the time that The Palm-Wine Drinkard was written, Tutuola served as a messenger in the Nigerian Depart 2 Richard de la Mare, quoted in Bernth Lindfors, Early West African Writers: Amos Tutuola, Cyprian Ekwensi and Ayi Kwei Armah (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2010), p. 30; Peter Sautoy, quoted in Lindfors, Early West African Writers, p. 31. 3 Letter from Faber and Faber to Daryll Forde, quoted in Lindfors, Early West African Writers, p. 21. 4 New York Times Book Review, in Critical Perspectives on Amos Tutuola, ed. Bernth Lindfors (Washington, DC: Three Continents Press, 1975), p. 15. 5 New Yorker book review, in Critical Perspectives on Amos Tutuola, p. 17. 6 ‘Amos Tutuola: Neglected Palmwine Drinkard’, Sunday Tribune Magazine, 11 February 1986; Edward A. Gargan, ‘From a Nigerian Pen, Yoruba Tales’, New York Times, 23 February 1986. 7 ‘Author Interview: Amos Tutuola’, BOOKS, April 1988, pp. 15–19. 8 Charles R. Larson, The Ordeal of the African Writer (London: Zed Books, 2001), p. 5.

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ment of Labour in Lagos, far from the uncompromised primitivity so claimed for him and far closer to the material realities of 1950s Nigeria; like its author, the novel, too, develops a spatiality striated with the impositions of development, most obviously through its repeated references to bombs, telephones, dance halls, cigarettes and a British-imposed money economy measured in pounds, shillings and pence. Commentators have described these features as ‘giv[ing] sharpness and immediacy to his imagery’, creating ‘a bizarre dream effect’.9 Yet, read through the novel’s performance of space, these references function more directly to locate the text within a far-reaching system of social production with its attendant claims towards participation in a vision of modernity. Compounded by the relativising, and by extension homogenising, force of what is often called ‘colonial modernity’,10 the novel’s most potent performance of spatiality comes through its invocation of what David Harvey terms absolute space, that ‘pre-existing and immoveable grid amenable to standardized measurement and open to calculation’,11 realised in the text through the perpetual appearance of borders, boundaries and demarcations that tightly enforce the right to space. In one early episode, for instance, the Drinkard finds himself charged with finding and capturing Death for a wealthy old man who promises he knows where the Tapster has gone. Heading in the direction of Death’s home, the Drinkard’s narration points to the transgressive nature of his act as a violation of spatial order: ‘Then I began to travel on Death’s road, and I spent about eight hours to reach there, but to my surprise I did not meet anybody on this road until I reached there and I was afraid because of that.’12 Juxtaposing its emptiness with the Drinkard’s fear and surprise to find himself alone, the road, operating as a synecdoche for social space more broadly, betrays its implication into a regime of spatiality predicated on totalising rules of usage and movement, where the crossing of a boundary or flouting of its immutable laws can only result in terror. Elsewhere, the stratification of space allows the Drinkard and his wife to enact a series of narrow escapes, first from the ‘long white creatures’ 9 Gerald Moore, ‘Amos Tutuola: A Nigerian Visionary’, in Critical Perspectives on Amos Tutuola, ed. Bernth Lindfors (Washington, DC: Three Continents Press, 1975), pp. 49–57 (p. 52); Eldred Jones, ‘The Palm Wine Drinkard: Fourteen Years On’, in Critical Perspectives on Amos Tutuola, ed. Bernth Lindfors (Washington, DC: Three Continents Press, 1975), pp. 109–13 (p. 111). 10 Here, I follow Frederick Cooper’s warning against the use of over-arching and essentially empty terms such as ‘colonial modernity’, choosing, instead, to focus on the historicised forms of claims-making towards the world and its worlding that such terminology implies but can efface. 11 David Harvey, Spaces of Global Capitalism: Towards a Theory of Uneven Geographical Development (London: Verso, 2006), p. 121. 12 Amos Tutuola, The Palm-Wine Drinkard (London: Faber and Faber, 2014 [1952]), p. 8. Further references in-text.

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who ‘were bound not to trespass on another’s bush’ (41), later the ‘mountain creatures’ who ‘must not cross the river at all’ (120), and eventually from the Bacchanalian thrall of the Faithful Mother’s home, enclosed within a white tree (66–72), in order to arrive at last in Deads’ Town, where ‘both white and black deads were living […], [though] not a single alive was there at all’ (102). In each case, space is demarcated by absolute borders, immovable and mappable as a series of discontinuous zones only to be inhabited by the chosen few. Space, in these reckonings, amounts to little more than a grid of relativised compartments intended for specific purposes and open only to particular populations. Even Deads’ Town, which, as Achebe reminds us, is significant for its defiance of the rules of space during an era in which ‘Whites and Blacks lived in trim reservations or squalid townships separated by a regulation two-mile cordon sanitaire’,13 remains under the rule of a superseding law of order in which ‘everything that [deads] were doing there was incorrect to alives and everything that all alives were doing was incorrect to deads too’ (102). The constant invocation of absolute boundaries in the novel foregrounds the very intractability of spatial conceptions under coloniality, both compartmentalising populations and enacting a doubly layered form of abstraction in which ‘an appearance of separation’ seeks to efface what is in reality ‘an ambiguous continuity’.14 Though demarcated as spaces of difference through the normative ordering of colonial spatiality and its regulation of the rights of habitation, the spatiality of The Palm-Wine Drinkard simultaneously constructs space as a unilateral appearance in order to efface the productive force of its heterogeneity. By engaging in an illusory ‘instrumental homogeneity’ as a means of ‘mak[ing] a tabula rasa of whatever stands in [its] way’,15 the novel participates in the dual imperatives of colonial spatiality as a form of abstract space, simultaneously serving as an ordering and an enclosure of difference. The demarcations of borders and boundaries was of a specific importance in the late days of British rule in Nigeria, as Achebe’s remarks above indicate. Beyond the microcosmic managing of the right to space, a larger series of conflicts developed across the deployment of boundaries and borders on the regional and national scales. These tensions emerged during the 1950s across a range of constitutional reforms that would dictate the timeline for self-rule and eventual independence as well as the balance of powers across each of Nigeria’s three major regions and the federal government. While historical narratives of the period refer to the reforms leading to self-rule as having occurred

13 Chinua Achebe, Hopes and Impediments (New York: Anchor Books, 1988), p. 86. 14 Lefebvre, Production of Space, p. 87. 15 Lefebvre, Production of Space, p. 285.

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in an atmosphere of conviviality and optimism,16 primary source documents from the period indicate otherwise, portraying a situation of rivalry, conflict and failed alliances throughout the decade, across regions, political parties and ethnic groupings. At the heart of these developments was a struggle over the jurisdiction and apportioning of space, exacerbated by a political system with a strictly geographical distribution of power.17 In his President’s address at the fifth annual convention of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC), the dominant political party in Eastern Nigeria, for instance, Nnamdi Azikiwe laments his party’s ‘failed alliance’ with the Western Region’s Action Group party, citing disagreements between the two parties on the timeline for self-rule. Later in that same speech, Azikiwe calls for national and pan-African unity in a specifically spatial strategy, decrying ethnic violence and vowing both to strengthen the municipal status of Nigeria’s smaller cities and ‘to distribute on a more equitable basis necessities of life’ across disparate zones.18 Elsewhere, internal NCNC memos call for the creation of the Mid-West state as a means of ‘eradicating the pains of ills of the Action Group’, while firmly opposing the integration of Lagos within the Western Region.19 By the late 1950s, debates centred on the relative threat of fragmentation, on the one hand, and the concomitant dangers of centralisation; opposing parties would call for regional selfgovernment; the creation of new states as a counterbalance to regional power; a devolved federal system; and a highly centralised national authority.20 Across all of these proposals, the right to space, its physical allocation and its delimitations as a function of power and authority remained central concerns. Within regions, too, were enacted a series of divisions and spatial arrangements organised by ethnic identity, most prominently through the creation of ‘minority areas’, intended to produce for each populace its own particular place.21 In a context of increased devolution of authority, with colonial governments ‘focusing on 16 See for instance, Falola and Heaton, A History of Nigeria; James S. Coleman, Nigeria: Background to Nationalism (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1971); Richard L. Sklar, Nigerian Political Parties: Power in an Emergent African Nation (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2004). 17 See, for instance, Hargreaves, Decolonization in Africa, p. 77; pp. 133–7. 18 Bodleian Library (BL), GB 162 Micr.Afr.608, Papers of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons and other papers relating to the politics of the Western Region of Nigeria, NCNC Report on the Fifth Annual Convention Held at Enugu, from January 6–10, 1954, National President’s Address. 19 Ibid., Memorandum dated 4 October 1957 from the Association of the NCNC Constituency Secretaries. 20 Ibid., Extraordinary Meeting of NCNC Leaders, 15 April 1957; ibid., N.C.N.C. SPECIAL CONVENTION, APRIL 19, 1957. 21 School of Oriental and African Studies Library (SOAS Library), PP MS 35, Papers of Dr. Robert Benjamin Ageh Wellesley Cole, Final Press Communiqué, Nigeria Constitutional Conference, 1958.

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educated Africans, bringing them into local government and involving them in development projects, using them as the key agents to bring social change to rural areas’,22 the increased stratification of space into particular regions, locales and subdivisions speaks to a larger anxiety around the distribution of space and its conception as fundamentally social. Emerging from this background, the repeated assertion of bounded and collectively identified spaces in Tutuola’s novel seems hardly surprising, and yet demonstrates the extent to which larger conceptions and formations of spatiality permeate the text in ways that move beyond simply reflecting or refracting context. Despite its seeming capitulation to the strictures of colonial space, The PalmWine Drinkard’s performance of space suggests that something more complex percolates under its surface. Throughout the novel, space is figured in dynamic terms, subverting the illusion of stasis perpetuated by colonial conceptions and the accompanying rhetoric of stabilisation. Space shifts and morphs, as locations stretch and reposition themselves, simultaneously colluding with and confounding its subjects. In one famous scene, the Drinkard describes his frustration upon approaching Deads’ Town: ‘But as we were looking at the town from a long distance, we thought that we could reach there the same day, but not at all, we travelled for 6 more days, because as we nearly reached there, it would still seem to be very far away to us or as if it was running away from us’ (96–7). Unaware that ‘anybody who had not died could not enter into that town by day time’ (97), the Drinkard is left bemused by the incongruence between the appearance of space and its lived realities, strategically unravelling its own monolithic surface. Space creates vastly different subjectivities and collectivities, evidenced in the distinctions between the Red people of Red Town, the creatures of Wraith Island and the beautiful people of the Faithful Mother’s hall, each of whom bear characteristics reflecting their environment while together contributing to its realisation. Despite the intractability of the novel’s spatial demarcations, moreover, the Drinkard remains somehow immune, always able to transgress its laws and by so doing to revise its norms. Rewriting space through his movements, the narrative calls attention both to the arbitrary nature of its rules and to its own mutability as a site of conflict, despite surface appearances. Drawn together by the Drinkard’s crossing of their boundaries, the discrete spaces of the novel become one, but a one that is many. Space is blown open at its borders through the Drinkard’s tactical practices to reveal a radical multiplicity, one ‘without unity since it is already open to difference, deferral, iteration, transformation, and perversion’.23 Read in correspondence with the spatial formations of its time, then, The Palm-Wine Drinkard emerges as a novel less detached from the rhythms of contemporary life than may at 22 Cooper, Decolonization, p. 214. 23 Doel, Postmodern Geographies, p. 32.

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first seem evident. Far from serving simply as embellishments or incongruous points of humour, the irruptions of coloniality in the novel, when approached through a spatial reading, indicate a landscape of conflict, conquest, frustration and rebellion. Articulated in a fantastical idiom, replete with references to indigenous mythology and vernacular culture, The Palm-Wine Drinkard performs a productive spatiality in which any appearance of totalisation functions under threat from a more generative chaos within. My discussion of Tutuola began with a consideration of the extratextual apparatus that mediated the reception of his work. Certainly, the reactions to Tutuola’s manuscripts documented in the Faber and Faber archives and contemporary press indicate the extent to which his was a novel received under a set of hegemonic norms and conventions with respect to Africa’s place in a global imaginary, and particularly its educative backwardness for its Western interlocutors. I would be remiss to end my discussion of The Palm-Wine Drinkard without mention of the extent to which more specifically editorial intervention marked the novel’s spatial instantiations. Upon learning of Faber and Faber’s acceptance of his manuscript, Tutuola, as is now widely known, wrote to the publishers to request that they correct his ‘WRONG ENGLISH’ and make any changes that might positively impact the book’s profitability.24 Faber’s response assured Tutuola that ‘it would be a great pity to make [your writing] conform to all the rules of grammar and spelling’, instead offering to correct any ‘copying errors, accidental omissions, confusions or inconsistencies’ while ‘leaving intact all those expressions which, though strictly speaking erroneous, are more graphic than the correct expressions would be’.25 Despite Faber’s ostensible claims, critics remain split on the extent to which editorial changes impacted upon the manuscript. Gail Low, following Wade Elliott Rowland, for instance, argues that ‘Faber and Faber’s (varying) interventions in the editing and packaging of the text helped enhance The Palm-Wine Drinkard’s literary reputation as an exotic African artefact’, a reference to Rowland Elliott’s claim that, far from ‘correct’ Tutuola’s ‘wrong English’, Faber and Faber’s editorial decisions often compounded it in the name of an a priori notion of primitive authenticity.26 Arguing that ‘the final version of The Palm-Wine Drinkard does not preserve the integrity of Tutuola’s manuscript’,27 the latter goes on to demonstrate how the changes made to Tutuola’s manuscript, spanning the 24 Lindfors, Early West African Writers, p. 22. 25 Lindfors, Early West African Writers, p. 23. 26 Gail Low, Publishing the Postcolonial: Anglophone West African and Caribbean Writing in the UK 1948–1968 (London: Routledge, 2011), p. 9; Wade Rowland Elliott, ‘Messengers of the Text: Faber and Faber and The Palm-Wine Drinkard’, Library Chronicle, 27.3 (1997), 103–23. 27 Rowland Elliott, ‘Messengers of the Text’, p. 112.

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unnecessary, the arbitrary and the interpretative, resulted in a text stripped of authorial authenticity in order to legitimate metropolitan biases, which saw the African mind as childlike and simple. Significantly, a number of the changes made to Tutuola’s manuscript bear directly upon its performance of space. In passages such as the following, prepositional alterations reorient space in its relativity: ‘One day, when I was still among the human-beings I set one trap in a bush which was very far away to [from] any river, even a pond did not [be] near there atal, then I set one fish-net inside a river which was far away to [from] any bush, even a piece of land did not [be] near there atal’ (75). Shifting the locus of orientation on its axis, these small edits result in a sea change in the passage’s spatial register. As Rowland Elliott rightly observes, the editorial changes to this passage confuse the original version’s sense of absence through the insertion of ‘be’, a non-grammatical presence in the text, and the erasure of ‘atal’, an amplifier of the scene’s emptiness.28 Taken together, these changes shift the flow of space, reorienting its locus and realigning the agency with which it is produced and productive. Space is fixed in a static relativity, measured out by the familiar demarcations of river and bush as boundary lines and ultimate authority. Lost in this shift is a sense of space as dynamic in its emphases and movements, replete at once with its own fullness in multiplicity and a simultaneous absence. This is far from the only incident where small editorial alterations result in an evacuation of space’s dynamism. Elsewhere we encounter the deletion of what are seen as extraneous prepositions in examples such as in ‘they were living in one place in somewhere in this world (5). Here, too, the embeddedness of the human within space, the interactional embeddedness of the human within the social through spatiality, falters, replaced by a fossilisation of the human somewhere into mere setting. A similar effect arises in alterations such as ‘Now we could not travel the roads unless inside [from] bush to bush’ (34), a deletion that appears to efface the porosity of space as more than a simple surface for human movement. Throughout these and other changes appears a sense in which space is flattened, its dynamism rendered static, and the human element de-emphasised in favour of a rendering of space that foregrounds its Euclidean status. That this should be the case in a narrative so frequently marketed as part and parcel of a timeless and primordial Africa is of little coincidence, and yet, the ultimate appearance of a dynamic and porous space within the novel attests to the strength of Tutuola’s original vision. At first reading, there appear to be few lines of correspondence between The Palm-Wine Drinkard and People of the City beyond the shared nationality of their authors and their dates of publication. Indeed, the stark contrast that presents itself between both novels has been the object of some critical attention. 28 Rowland Elliott, ‘Messengers of the Text’, p. 113.

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A 1958 review published in the influential journal Black Orpheus, for instance, states that: Amos Tutuola may be the first West Africa to have published a novel in English, but his marshy world of fantasy and nightmare, of ghosts and spirits, is very different from the one described in Cyprian Ekwensi’s ‘People of the City’. Ekwensi is a pioneer because he is the first West African to write a modern novel about contemporary life. This is the beginning of a new literature and almost certainly of greater interest to West African readers than Tutuola’s mixture of fantasy and tradition. Posterity will thank Tutuola for recording a phase of West African life before it disappears for ever. Judgment may be harsher on Mr. Ekwensi in the final analysis, but now, in this day and age, he has something important to contribute. This is the first time that we have seen life in the Big City from the West African point of view; no European could have the same particular insight of knowledge of Lagos life – for what other city could this be? No European could have quite the same spontaneous affection for the warm teeming mass of humanity spilling out into the city streets.29

Resounding across critical readings of the two novels is a contrast between the folkloric, mythic poetics of Tutuola and the forward-looking, incisive portrait of Nigerian city life at the cusp of self-rule in Ekwensi’s work. Where one may be read through its ethnographic exploration of tradition, the other, it follows, may be read as a commentary on the impact of colonial modernity upon West Africa and its populations. Indeed, as much as the paratextual apparatus surrounding Tutuola insists upon his depiction as a rural subject, innocent and naïve in his primitivity, that around Ekwensi focuses on his identity as a cosmopolitan polyglot at ease in all of Nigeria’s major regions, a modern citizen with a ‘penchant for the ways of the city’.30 Yet, as my discussion so far has already indicated, when read below the surface, a more subtle range of articulations appear across the two texts, marking the extent to which each engages with the discourses, symbols and materiality of late coloniality in 1950s Nigeria. In both The Palm-Wine Drinkard and People of the City, that is to say, we see the extent to which the dynamics of social change impinge upon the polyvalent co-constitution of subjectivity in/and spatiality. According to Ekwensi’s unpublished autobiography, People of the City was written over the course of a fortnight during the author’s journey on the MV Accra, from Lagos to Liverpool in 1951.31 Patched together from a series of short stories written for radio broadcast, the novel was first published in London in 29 ‘Book Reviews’, Black Orpheus, October 1958. 30 Ernest Emenyonu, ‘The Man, Cyprian Ekwensi’, in The Essential Ekwensi, ed. Ernest N. Emenyonu (Ibadan: Heinemann Educational Books, 1987), pp. 1–8 (p. 3) 31 Cyprian Ekwensi, ‘In My Time: The Autobiography of an African Writer’, unpublished manuscript, Harry Ransom Center (HRC), Charles R. Larson Papers, 8.2.

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1954 by Andrew Dakers and, after the author’s return to Nigeria in 1956, heavily edited, revised and republished in 1963 as the fifth volume of Heinemann’s African Writers Series.32 The novel is organised around the exploits of Amusa Sango, crime reporter for the West African Sensation newspaper, band leader at the All Languages Club and bachelor extraordinaire, as he navigates the rapidly shifting landscape of late colonial Lagos, the hub of modern African life. As Juliet Okonkwo argues, the city serves as ‘the symbol of the new life’, becoming the locus around which ‘the restricting village environment’ could give way to a vision of colonial modernity ‘offering opportunities for the development of the individual both socially and materially’.33 At the time of the novel’s publication, the promises of the late colonial city had not gone unnoticed; by 1948, major cities in West Africa experienced a yearly growth in population of 6.03%, which rose to 8.03% by 1960, vastly outstripping global averages and inaugurating a frenetic pace of urban growth that continues to the present day. Lagos, in particular, was heavily affected by patterns of internal migration, reaching nearly one million inhabitants by the post-independence era.34 Rehearsed across the urban zones of West Africa, the sheer force of internal migration resulted in a paradoxical situation in which urban growth, a prerequisite for economic development, nonetheless engendered large-scale impoverishment under its weight.35 People of the City explicitly highlights the tensions so predicated in Sango’s many ruminations on life in a city where ‘everyday the trains bring more and more people from the provinces’, lured in by its promises only to discover a place where ‘people [...] live ten to a room’,36 overcrowded and suffering from the misery of rising prices and diminishing hope. Indeed, official statistics state that by 1950 the typical dwelling housed on average twelve individuals, a number that continued to rise in the coming decades.37 Intensified by official policies that resulted in a ‘pattern of a continuing denudation of the rural areas’,38 the spectacular growth of the city in the immediate pre-independence period marked a watershed in the development of the nation more broadly. 32 The vast majority, if not all, of critical commentary on People of the City is on this revised edition. Here, however, my readings will focus on the original edition of the novel, which contains several significant episodes, characters and motifs absent from the Heinemann imprint. I will return to the revised edition in the next chapter. 33 Juliet I. Okonkwo, ‘Ekwensi and Modern Nigerian Culture’, Ariel: A Review of International English Literature, 7.2 (1976), 32–45 (p. 35) 34 SOAS Library, PP MS 46, 53.4:94, Andrew Hake Papers, Introduction to the Urban Problem in Tropical Africa, 1966. 35 Ibid. 36 Cyprian Ekwensi, People of the City (London: Andrew Dakers, 1954), p. 86. Henceforth cited in-text. 37 SOAS Library, PP MS 46, 53.4:94, Andrew Hake Papers, Introduction to the Urban Problem in Tropical Africa, 1966. 38 SOAS Library, CA/A/6/4, Christian Aid, Nigeria 1961–68, Port Harcourt Revisited.

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Despite official attempts at stabilisation, the attempt to create a reliable workforce by ‘break[ing] up the mass [of the population] into units differentiated by occupation, seniority, and income, and thus into a structured working class, clearly separated from peasants and urban riffraff ’,39 the Lagos of People of the City and the varied spatial practices of its inhabitants nonetheless remain beyond the grasp of centralised authority. Describing the masses of young men and women who flock to the city each year, forgoing their filial responsibilities in favour of material decadence, Sango repeatedly bemoans the transformation of the populace into a mass of ‘brutal and reckless’ individuals (20), ‘content to live on in […] vanity’ (32). The city, for all of its promises, offers little, becoming a place of corruption and despair, where only the individualistic and the greedy prosper under its ‘overwhelming materialism’.40 Exemplified in the figure of Bayo, an old friend who Sango describes as a modern-day African flâneur of a type existing ‘in every city in the world [...] present at every social gathering where one might drink free beers or gnaw free legs of chicken’ (25), the city is made up of the ‘young, handsome, strong, idle and penniless’ (25). As one missionary report from the era observes, this is a population for whom ‘the briefest taste of the most uninspiring form of urban life is enough to whet their appetites for more and at once anything seems better than the tight discipline of the family and the dreary monotony of village life’.41 In the novel, it is described as a space left bereft by a system of British rule intent upon divesting the country of the products of its own labour, a situation exacerbated by post-war debt and the concomitant need for commodities capable of earning hard currency,42 foregrounded in the increasing dissonance between developmentalist rhetoric and the physical space of the city: In half an hour, Sango’s van was at the railway crossing. The gates just shut them out... Sango fumed; got out. It was always like this. You were in a hurry on some important assignment, and the gates would close. Some day this city would have roads and railway crossings on different planes, as they did in sensible cities. Now, why had the gates been shut? Was a goods train coming? If so, it might be exciting to stand by, watching the trains thunder past, draining the city of groundnuts, cocoa, hides, skins, tin, cotton, darting towards the wharf where the city bade good-bye to the country’s products. (51)

39 Cooper, Decolonization, p. 19. 40 Emmanuel N. Obiechina, Culture, Tradition and Society in the West African Novel (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975), p. 102. 41 SOAS Library, CA/A/6/4, Christian Aid, Nigeria 1961–68, The Church in Urban Nigeria, 4. 42 Cooper, Decolonization, p. 203.

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A producer of raw goods fit for the sole purpose of metropolitan consumption, the Lagos of People of the City is striated by the exigencies of the colonial pact, Britain made visible in its denudation of the city, its own bustle and vitality rendered marginal within a system of imperial spatiality. Where traces of human compassion remain, these exist only as islands of resistance overwhelmed by a sea of cowardice and avarice. Yet, there remains a sense in which the city of Ekwensi’s novel is not an entirely irredeemable space as much as one whose arrested greatness has led its inhabitants to a state of desperation. Despite its ills, it remains a space in which the possibility of kinship retains its force, created by the tumultuous movements and discrepant trajectories of its inhabitants, what one commentator has described as its potential ‘to create a common area where all can understand and sympathize with one another’.43 Early in the novel, Sango muses on this symphonic forging of the city as a social space uniting individuals from disparate walks of life: The noise of the city came through his concentration. The city was wakening. The sounds of ’buses, hawkers, locomotives, the grinding of brakes, the hooting of sirens and clanging of church and school bells had all become a part of his life that went unnoticed here in Molomo Street. (17)

Cutting across social classes and modalities, the world outside of his room permeates Sango’s consciousness, simultaneously providing the rhythm against which his daily life is carried out and embedding itself within it unnoticed, as an unremarked counterpoint to his individual existence. Lefebvre writes that the city is a space dictated by two often-contradictory logics, one based upon ‘fantasies or phantasmagorias’ and the other ‘rational, state-dominated and bureaucratic’.44 Yet, through its implication in Sango’s life, the spatiality of the city in Ekwensi’s novel demonstrates a third logic, foregrounding the undecidability of its own ‘intensity’ as a constant presence.45 Forming a dense fabric in which the individual threads of hawker, driver, school and church are somehow both perceivable as single strands and coextensive with one another, the city’s reverberations guide its inhabitants across distinct registers, patterns and speeds, creating itself from their movements. The city space that so emerges is thus both relational in its implication with these daily lived histories and practices and radically pluralistic.

43 Okonkwo, ‘Ekwensi and Modern Nigerian Culture’, p. 37. 44 Lefebvre, Production of Space, p. 231. 45 Ash Amin, Doreen Massey and Nigel Thrift, Cities for The Many Not The Few (Bristol: Policy Press, 2000), p. 8.

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Extant criticism of the novel complains that its characters are ‘are mere urban types’, stereotypes led into destruction by a villainous city,46 living only in ‘the service of unbridled, and inordinate ambition to achieve prosperity’.47 While there is certainly an extent to which the Lagos of People of the City provides support for these claims, a more carefully considered reading of the novel in correspondence with its contemporary spatiality offers the possibility of another reading in which the city is defined by the very density of its social fabric, created by and constitutive of its inhabitants’ subjective experiences. Throughout the novel, it is the city and its denizens that propel Sango’s own movements, engendering his wry observations of the city. ‘Always in the right place at the right time’ (21), Bayo, a constant presence in Sango’s life whose eventual death motivates his brief turn to political activism, represents the new urbanism and provides Sango with a vantage point from which to reflect on the nature of city life from afar. For Sango, Bayo is not entirely irredeemable, separate, in his way, from the heartless, materialistic decadence the novel derides. Though presented in variously dandy-esque terms, and always in the midst of some get-rich-quick scheme, Bayo nonetheless remains in Sango’s eyes a character worthy of intrigue, one who ‘kept in touch with the very pulse of the city’ (25), unafraid of its stratified hierarchies and at ease in its heterogeneous zones. Described as ‘an intelligent good-looking young man who had no faith in self-application’ (30), Bayo represents the city’s promise and its hope as much as he does its degeneracies. Equally central to the text is Fento, a school friend-turned-clerk working in the magistrate’s office, through whom Sango’s social consciousness as a future citizen of Nigeria is given voice. Upon learning that Fento is in the habit of taking bribes, Sango pleads with him not to forsake the social responsibilities that come with his position, exhorting him to remember that ‘In a few years we’ll have self-government. The British will hand over all power, and then you’ll be a very responsible man. Who knows? Is this how you’ll discharge your responsibility?’ (41). Despite his desire for material prosperity, Fento is won over by Sango’s words, albeit ‘reluctantly’ (42), his ‘eagerness to impress his school-mate with his honesty’ (59) prevailing over avarice. Through these characters, Sango is able to express his commitment to social responsibility, his conviction that it is only through collective cohesion that the city’s potential as a space of liberation may be realised. Embodying both the freedom of the city, its possibilities as the site of radical remappings, and its dangers as a corrosive influence, Bayo and Fento represent the tension through which the Lagos of the novel emerges, its constant movements and 46 Obiechina, Culture, Tradition and Society, p. 103; Ernest N. Emenyonu, Cyprian Ekwensi (London: Evans Brothers, 1974), p. 37; p. 43. 47 Okonkwo, ‘Ekwensi and Modern Nigerian Culture’, p. 40.

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permutations as enabling as they are oppressive. Equally, it is through his interactions with both men that Sango develops his relationship with the city and, by extension the nation-to-be, in a register beyond the superficial. Centred on Molomo Street, governed in equal measure by the hierarchical, materialistic rule of Lajide the landlord and the vernacular, lived existence of the people of the street, this city is a space of contradictions, dramatised in the contrast between the vitality of its social interconnections and the rigidity of its authenticated practices, or implicit and explicit rules of order, illuminating the gap between the city as planned and the city as lived. On one level, the city functions as a bifurcated space, always under threat from the absolute and the conceived, organised through the proliferation of borders, zones and regions open only to the chosen few and highly regimented in the name of (re)productive labour, embodying what Harvey characterises as ‘the spatial concentration of power’.48 The people of the city, crowded ‘in the gutters, in forgotten lorries, in the railway stations, in the market stalls, under stress in the parks’ (93), stand in opposition to the elite masses to whom they must live in thrall. Landlords, business owners and politicians alike map a different sort of city-space, one cut across by private automobiles and trips to exclusive shops ‘display[ing] the latest lines from Bond Street, Paris and New York’ (116), operating less in concert with the people of the city around them than with the lines, trajectories and enclaves of multinational commerce. Even the city’s central meeting point, significantly named Lugard Square, recalls the violence of Lefebvre’s abstract space, becoming the site of rival rallies, meetings of occult societies and public demonstrations, built upon the divisive foundations of colonial violence. At the same time, another city, a vernacular city constructed through the spatial practices of its inhabitants and the spaces of representation inaugurated by their interactions, remains potent. Exemplified in the All Languages Club, a place with ‘no bars – social, colour, political or religious’ (75), this is a city of productive transgression, a space where the vitalising promises of self-rule, though mediated by their predication under British authority, remain felt (91–2). Connecting the seemingly disparate spaces of the city and the nation, Sango’s misadventures throughout the novel map out an alternative rationale for space in which its multiplicity is foregrounded in spite, or because, of the continued assertion of its absolutism. Able to navigate through the city’s streets, from the offices of The West African Sensation to the Magistrate’s Court to the inclusive space of the All Language Club and external space of the Eastern Greens and beyond, Sango’s movements across and beyond the city represent the underlying continuum through which space’s relational force pulsates. Performing a subversion of the codes and practices of the stabilised colonial city conceived of by imperial 48 Harvey, Spaces of Global Capitalism, p. 235.

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planners, People of the City enlivens instead a vernacular city, forced through the symphonic rendering of individual, and often incongruent, spatial strategies. Unfortunately, by the time of the publication of Ekwensi’s heavily revised second edition in 1963, which I will discuss in detail in the next chapter, many of these stronger social bonds and connections in the novel would be erased, reflecting the encroaching spectre of post-independence disillusionment and its reorienting of the once-symphonic streets of Lagos. Despite their differences The Palm-Wine Drinkard and People of the City share a number of features, both explicit and implicit, driving forward each novel’s performance of space. Each text develops through an episodic form that dramatises the compartmentalisation of space under absolute boundaries, while simultaneously imbuing this absolutism with an underlying and contradictory dynamism. Both texts unfurl a proliferation of absolute spatial demarcations, mediated through the relativising force of colonial modernity and yet somehow transformed into a relational multiplicity through the transgressive movements of a singular protagonist. Both texts, in their own ways, leverage their imaginative possibilities to gesture towards other, incongruous but not incompatible, visions of space coextensive with what appears initially to be the intractable and homogenising force of late colonial spatiality. By contrast, both Mission terminée and L’Aventure ambiguë develop a spatiality more rigidly enforced, in which an apparent intractability reproduces itself through the fossilisation of relations under a monolithic (re)mapping of the centre and periphery binary. While neither text develops the regimentation of specific boundaries and spatial demarcations in quite the same manner as The Palm-Wine Drinkard and People of the City, both present a vision of space in which the totalising force of a homogenising, abstract system nonetheless serves as an overdetermining spectre, notable less for its compartmentalisation of space through an absolute gridding and more for the utter singularity of its force. Despite what Nnolim calls ‘the journey motif ’ in each,49 these Francophone texts remain imbued with a kind of stasis that obscures the radical potential of space as a site of productivity, particularly at its margins. Though different in form and register, Beti’s and Kane’s novels share a number of characteristics in their spatial arrangements that set them apart from their Anglophone counterparts. Both end with death, either literal, in the case of L’Aventure ambiguë, or figurative in the case of Mission terminée. Both novels, too, present a vision of French West Africa in the late days of colonialism in which any hope for manoeuvering beyond the dictates of the colonial order remains obscure, felt at best as a shadow or trace realisable only at the moment of annihilation.

49 Charles E. Nnolim, ‘The Journey Motif: Vehicle of Form, Structure, and Meaning in Mongo Beti’s Mission to Kala’, Journal of Black Studies 7.2 (1976), 181–94 (pp. 183–4).

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During the late colonial period, particularly following World War II and the inauguration of the Union française, imperial policy in French Africa operated along contradictory lines. An alleged drive towards modernisation and development, ostensibly intended to raise standards of living for the rural majority, increase the production of export goods – particularly lucrative cash crops – and enable peasant communities to engage with capital markets through the development of commerce,50 functioned in tandem with a larger pattern of deliberately uneven development. Cities and visibly productive regions would thus be treated as a world entirely different from and utterly unconcerned with the rural world surrounding them, resulting in what has been characterised as a spatial ‘disequilibrium’.51 Reports from a 1952 UN Mission to the Cameroon Trust Territory, for instance, note the lacks of ‘sufficient contact’ between educated legislators and the ‘mass of villagers, the Cameroonian peasants whose evolution has not followed, by force of circumstances, the same rhythm’.52 As the same document notes, a spatially bounded form of development was perceived as the only solution to this situation, functioning through ‘a system of representation which is no longer territorial but regional, cantonal’ in nature.53 It is this perceived chasm between the urban and rural that undergirds the satirical humour at the heart of Mission terminée. The novel, which recounts the exploits of Jean-Marie Medza, an educated young Cameroonian, as he undertakes a journey into the territory’s interior to retrieve his cousin’s errant wife, plays with the relative divisions wrought across the various spheres of the sociality to produce a critical exposition of French colonialism. Significantly, the actual journey that Medza undertakes is not one of great distance, functioning within the ethno-national and linguistic territory of the Beti people. Rather, the distance that Medza supposes he will travel stems from the psychological and physical distancing wrought under French colonialism, manifesting in part from his own alienation as an évolué, or educated subject. It is particularly relevant that Medza undergoes his journeys not by train, the symbol of colonial modernisation, but first by dilapidated bus and, later, bicycle and on foot, reflecting the heightened sense of fragmentation wrought by the underdevelopment of infrastructural improvements focused less on ostensible claims for social development and welfare and more on maximising economic productivity and revenue. As one commentator from the time notes, 50 Hoover Institution Archives (HIA), Folder 2.6, William D. Moreland Papers, An Experiment in Modern Agricultural Methods in Africa. 51 Martin Atangana, The End of French Rule in Cameroon (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2010), p. 25. 52 Archives nationales d’outre mer (ANOM), FM 1AFFPOL/930, Cameroun (1952), Documents ayant servi à l’élaboration des rapports à l’ONU sur le Cameroun, p. 33. 53 Ibid.

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there was no real development planning between 1945 and 1960, and even less concern was given to planning Cameroonian agriculture. It was more a matter of using a few fixed ideas, of dividing the aid assured by France to Cameroon through the Social and Economic Development Investment Funds (FIDES) created by the French law of April 30, 1946

and by so doing, yoke the colonial territory into long-term debt to the metropole.54 Split between an imbalance across the Southern and Northern regions of the country and, within the former, the more prosperous coastal areas and interior hinterlands, the uneven development of Cameroon in this period served to exploit customary practices to engender greater revenue for the metropole, with concentrations of reform around the ‘fertile crescent’ emanating from Douala.55 Despite the prevalence of a rhetoric of colonial rule predicated on the need for development – records from FIDES from the end of World War II to 1956, the conclusion of the second four-year plan, show a total expenditure of 28,912,354,245 CFA – several parts of the territory failed entirely to benefit from plans for infrastructural and social development.56 Opening with the scene of Medza’s disgraced departure from the colonial school, Mission terminée develops from the start as a text permeated by the abstract violence of this form of colonial rule. That the colonial school should take a central role in the novel is of no little consequence, foregrounding the specifically political import of the so-called cultural mission of French colonialism. As one internal report from the time argues, a majority of intellectuals and quasi-intellectuals (students and civil servants in particular) are ‘anti-white’ because they do not accept the colonial fact. This refusal comes in large part from a feeling of frustrated human dignity due to what they perceive as the poor behaviour of many whites. Their desire for independence is more sentimental than rational.57

Based on the desire to counter this affective rejection of the fact of colonialism, the process of acculturation produced by a French-based education held a significant role in the containment of anti-colonial agitation through the 54 HIA, Box 1, Claude E. Welch Papers, Assemblée territoriale du cameroun, session budgétaire de mars–avril 1957; HIA, Joanny Guillard Typescript, Changements de l’agriculture au cameroun oriental 1945–1960. 55 Atangana, End of French Rule in Cameroon, p. 28. 56 HIA, Box 1, Claude E. Welch Papers, Assemblée territoriale du cameroun, session budgétaire de mars–avril 1957. Indeed, the ‘gift’ of FIDES, half of which took the form of loans from the Caisse Centrale de la France d’Outre mer (CCFOM), often proved to be a curse, tying the developing nations of French Africa into long-term relationships of debt and dependency on the metropolitan centre. 57 ANOM, FR ANOM DPTC37, Incidents, attentats (1953/1959), Note sur les evenements actuels au Cameroun, 31 December 1956.

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production of a comprador class of native informants inculcated into French normativity. Medza himself embodies this phenomenon, trapped between an encroaching bitterness and a feigned jocularity he describes as a ‘drôlerie’,58 resulting in a split self whose value is engendered by a colonial system that absorbs and domesticates all sentiments of resistance in order to assure its maximum efficiency. Initially reluctant to undertake his mission to Kala, it is only on musing over the benefits of undertaking ‘une aventure tout de même assez facile, parmi des populations naïves – ce qui est le souhait et même le vœu de tous les aventuriers’ (32) [‘an easy adventure, among comparatively simple people – the wish of every adventurer’ (15)] that Medza submits to the wishes of his cousin. The paucity of developmentalist rhetoric, and its human cost, is emphasised in Mission terminée in a scene as Medza recalls a haunting image from his youth: Tout jeune encore, j’étais allé me promener avec des garçons de mon âge dans la petite ville de Vimili. Pleins d’entrain et de gaîté, nous traversions l’hôpital. En face de cet établissement même, et sur le trottoir opposé, des miliciens faisaient démolir par la main-d’œuvre pénale les cases en pisé du personnel, habitations mal conçues – trop étroites et trop hautes – pour les matériaux dont elles étaient faites. Leur démolition se révélait périlleuse pour ces jeunes gens sans équipement, sans expérience, des paysans qui n’étaient peut-être entrés en prison que la veille.

[…]

Tout se passa très vite, les murs s’écroulèrent en faisant un bruit sourd, sinistre ; et aussitôt, nous entendîmes un indicible gémissement de bête écrasée : un homme n’avait pas eu le temps de se mettre hors de portée des murs. (75–6) [When I was a little boy, I had been playing in the streets of Vimili one day with other boys about my own age. Full of cheerful bounce, we went scampering past the hospital. Right opposite this hospital, on the other side of the road, a convict gang was pulling down some clay-brick buildings under military supervision. The buildings were badly constructed – too narrow and far too high – and were being demolished for their material. It was a dangerous job for workers who lacked both experience and proper equipment – country boys most of them, who might have been gaoled only the week before. […] It all happened in a flash. The walls came down with a dull roar and crash; and instantly we heard the indescribable shriek of a trapped animal. One of the men had not got clear in time. (45–6)]

58 Mongo Beti, Mission terminée (Paris: Buchet/Chastel, 1957), p. 14; Mongo Beti, Mission to Kala, trans. Peter Green (Aylesbeare: Mallory, 2008), p. 1. All English translations are taken from this version. Henceforth cited in-text.

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In this scene, the innocence of Medza’s youth, embodied in his childlike glee to be roaming the streets of his small hometown with his peers and playmates, is itself crushed and destroyed along with the doomed young man. Alluding to the perpetuation of forced labour and the hated indigénat, or retributive justice system, throughout French West Africa prior to 1946, the scene of destruction that Medza recalls positions the development of the city, a stand in of sorts for the nation as a whole, as an act of brutality. Reducing the very labourers on whom it depends, untrained, unskilled and unaware, to mere ‘beasts’, stripped of humanity and devoid of dignity under constant, punitive surveillance, the alleged modernisation agenda is transformed into an exposé on the limits of the civilising mission, highlighting the contradictory dual imperatives at its heart. The very fabric of the city, its built environment, ill-suited to purpose, ‘too narrow and far too high’, interiorises the violence upon which it is founded, enveloping the corpse of what had once been another ‘paysan’ and is now little more than waste. The very literal death upon which the modernisation of the town is predicated foregrounds the always-present imperial presence, France located firmly within the very materials that create its infrastructure. Even Medza, an évolué ostensibly protected from the more punitive face of the regime, cannot erase his own implication. It is of no little coincidence that this memory appears shortly after Medza’s arrival in Kala, one, too, which he ‘[s]’en souviendrai[t] toute [sa] vie pour une raison qu[‘il] devai[t] pressentir, sans pouvoir la tirer au clair’ (78) [‘would remember for the rest of his life for a reason he could sense without being able to bring to light ‘(47)]. Punctuated by the eruption of this long-ago scene, that is, Kala, too, is shown to bear the striations of its imperial constitution. Despite his belief that, as an urban évolué among rural paysans, his adventure would be one of superiority and mastery, Medza finds in Kala a space beyond his comprehension: C’était un village immense, long de plus de deux kilomètres, dont les cases s’alignaient comme chez nous des deux côtés d’une très large chaussée. Mais ici, c’était une fausse chaussée, puisqu’il n’y avait pas de route  : simplement, au sortir de la forêt et à la lisière du village, le sentier sur lequel j’étais venu s’élargissait. Kala, étiré, avec ses cases coquettes et peu distants les unes des autres, avec cette espèce d’avenue qui le traversait, avec toute cette immense forêt qui l’entourait et dans laquelle il semblait s’être creusé comme le lit d’un ruisseau au pied d’un précipice, me produisit une impression à la fois de sauvagerie et de sécurité, la même que l’on doit éprouver sur une île martelée de vagues et dont on sait pourtant qu’elle ne sera pas submergée. A la nuit tombée, il y régnait une animation qui évoquait les faubourgs indigènes des villes. (50) [It was a huge village, nearly two miles long, its houses ranged along either side of a wide street. This street was rather deceptive; it led to no through road at all. All that happened was that between the edge of the forest and the village the track by

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which I had travelled broadened out considerably. Kala gave me a simultaneous impression of savagery and security: it was as though one was on a small island, pounded by heavy seas, and yet safe from drowning. The neat huts and bungalows were well spaced out down their long avenue; yet the whole place was encircled and overshadowed by the immensity of the forest, like a gully at the foot of a high cliff. As darkness fell, the street became as busy and animated as any town’s native quarter. (27)]

Regardless of his scrutiny, Medza’s observations of Kala fail entirely to locate the village’s geography within a meticulously planned regime of strategic development operating at the intersection of social, economic and political concerns. The French acquisition of Cameroon following the end of World War I was of great significance; as reports indicate, the inclusion of the territory into the French empire both consolidated French interests in West Africa, while guaranteeing continued economic, political and social control, heightened through Cameroon’s position on the cusp of French West Africa and French Equatorial Africa, France’s two major blocs of power on the continent.59 French rule during this period was predicated on a regime of surveillance and terror, what the Committee of African Organisations would later refer to as a ‘widespread policy of repression and extermination’,60 intended ostensibly to flush out sympathisers from the radical leftist Union des populations du Cameroun (UPC), whose demands included immediate and full independence and the reunification of the British and French Cameroons.61 Characterised by censorship, surveillance and requests for collusion with British authorities in operating cross-border raids in search of exiled UPC leaders, the period leading to Cameroonian independence was one of frequent and often appalling violence, particularly in the populous Sanaga Maritima, Bamiléké and Mungo regions of the south and west of the territory.62 Contiguous with these regions, the South-Central lands of the Beti described in the novel became sites of particular interest because of the deepseated French fear that support for the UPC might spread to this region.63 In the midst of this climate of anti-colonial agitation and French repression, a 59 ANOM, FM DPCT/57, Représentations et relations diplomatiques (1954/1959), La France au Cameroun, 1954. 60 SOAS Library, MCF/10/24, Movement for Colonial Freedom: Cameroon, Rape of Cameroons, p. 3. 61 ANOM, FR ANOM DPTC37, Incidents, attentats (1953/1959), Note sur les evenements actuels au Cameroun, 31 December 1956. 62 ANOM, FM 1AFF-POL/3441-A, Entretiens Quadripartites sur les Problèmes Africains; ANOM, FM DPCT/57, Représentations et relations diplomatiques (1954/1959), Au sujet “Cameroun britannique,” 7 October 1955; ANOM, FR ANOM DPCT38, faits et événements (1957), presse camerounaise 1956–1959; ANOM, FR ANOM DPTC37, Incidents, attentats (1953/1959), Désordres et violences au Cameroun. 63 Atangana, End of French Rule in Cameroon, p. 21.

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series of spatial measures were undertaken to better control the movements of populations and their potential exposure to the UPC’s radical ideology. Among these were ‘the abolition of periodic markets, the closure of roads for the transportation of passengers, and the imposition of curfews at night in rural areas’,64 as well as the imposition of a ‘relation of villages along the roads and railways’ in which villages were ‘grouped and placed under the strict control of military posts’.65 In direct contravention of claims that Cameroonian ‘novels published during the fifties do not bear the direct marks of that struggle [between the UPC and the French]’,66 Beti’s description of Kala performs a dual function located squarely in the bounds of this conflict, developed through Kala’s contradictory positioning as a space both savage and secure, empty of human life in the one instant only to come alive with the commercial animation of any town’s native quarter in the next. Both radical in its resistance to suppression, the shadows of the immense forest pointing to the possibility of another life in the maquis, and utterly subjugated in its regimented intensity, open for surveillance along a broad track with no through road for escape, Kala performs a series of spatial imperatives betraying its location in a larger regime of spatiality. On its surface, the social space of the village, like its physical instantiation, appears to lend credence to the myth of rural primitivity, amplified by Medza’s own sense of self-importance when faced with a people who he views as mere ‘bushmen de l’arrière-pays’ (31) [backwoods bushmen (14)]. Yet, during the period in which the novel is set, this was far from the truth. Internal documents from the time highlight the necessity of convincing the Cameroonian peasant ‘to participate, through the intermediary of people he knows, in the gestation of matters he knows: those of his village and subdivision’.67 Citing the ‘incomprehension on the part of indigenous groups who do not see that it is in their interest to follow the advice given to them’, official recommendations focus upon the need to ameliorate the ‘traditional mistrust of the peasant towards all innovation’, recommending a programme of development and education.68 Indeed, throughout imperial records lies a foundational contradiction between a desire for development through collective training and action and a more pressing need to inculcate the less-developed interior populations into a system of private ownership and cash-based commerce,69 resulting in a system lacking in any coherent sense of planned development and operational largely through 64 Atangana, End of French Rule in Cameroon, p 61. 65 Atangana, End of French Rule in Cameroon, p. 90. 66 Gerald Moore, Twelve African Writers (London: Hutchinson, 1980), p. 193. 67 ANOM, FM 1AFFPOL/930, Cameroun (1952), Documents ayant servi à l’élaboration des rapports à l’ONU sur le Cameroun, p. 2. 68 Ibid., p. 137; p. 481. 69 Ibid., p 374.

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French aid under FIDES. Throughout his stay in Kala, Medza slowly learns the paucity of his preconceptions, as he is forced to reckon with a space that is less discrete from his own experience and far more tightly wound into a layered system of colonial and imperial spatiality based upon a vertical, or top-down, authoritarian, form of spatial stratification. From the village’s chief, who, in the ease with which he exploits ‘ses sujets, ne connaissant guère ou même point les dispositions de la Constitution d’octobre 1946’ (179) [‘his subjects, who have little idea (if any) of the terms of the 1946 Constitution’ (116)], deliberately parallels the chief of Medza’s own village, ‘sûr de n’être jamais révoqué par cette administration à laquelle il obéissait comme un robot idéal, redouté de tous’ (34) [‘sure of never being called back by this administration, whose orders he obeys like a robot, dreaded by all’ (17)], to his own uncle, whose invocation of ‘la communauté du sang’ (126) [‘community of blood’ (81)] stands as little more than a means of acquiring the livestock gifted to Medza for his own use, the inhabitants of Kala, like the space in which they function, betray their implication into the logic of Greater France. Far from the rural idyll that he pictured, Medza is instead forced to acknowledge Kala as a shifting social space, his initiation into which drives the text. Melding references to the Constitution of 1946, which abolished forced labour and granted full citizenship rights to all subjects of the French Union, to the universalist invocation of a community of blood, ironically echoing imperial rhetoric conceiving of the French Union as a community of brothers as one ‘of paternity, not fraternity’,70 to the ironic allusion to what was an increasing rhetoric of fear and paranoia during the Cold War, as the villagers enthusiastically embrace his stories of Russian peasant life over his tales of New York glamour, Medza’s increasingly cynical observations of Kala uncover its location within a strictly regimented imperial system, while concomitantly highlighting the means through which local subjects, even those ‘backwards bushman’ so reviled by Medza on his arrival, might manipulate the terms and conditions of this system for their own ends in a relation of antimony. By the novel’s end, despite his ostensible embrace of the villagers’ way of life as a corrective to the imposed normativity of his French education, Medza finds himself unable to remain in Kala, now revealed as a space fabricated from the workings of French puissance. Abandoning the village to return to his father’s home for a final confrontation with his authority, Medza’s story ends with his consignment to a life of endless wandering, a perpetual state of exile that he describes as ‘[u]ne vie d’errance sans fin’ (250), punctuated by women, imprisonment and torture. Described as ‘a psychological time-warp’,71 in which all possible avenues of resistance to colonial rule are disabled, the conclusion 70 Wilder, French Imperial Nation-State, p. 33. 71 JoAnne Cornwell, ‘Neurosis and Creativity: Two Early Novels by Mongo Beti’, The French Review, 60.5 (1987), 644–52 (p. 645).

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to Medza’s journey exposes the overdetermining force of a colonial spatiality impossible to exceed and avoidable only through entrance into a spatial limbo. Indeed, while some critics have argued that this conclusion marks an aesthetic failure to the novel,72 a spatial reading of the text binds it more closely with a larger centrifugal stasis underwriting the socio-political evolution of French West Africa. With the 1956 Loi Cadre, materialised under the Statute of Cameroon in that territory, came a shift towards territorialised legislative authority and increased devolution away from the metropole.73 Yet, even at this late stage, internal documents point directly to a reassertion of French power in claims that these reforms would serve neither as a ‘condemnation’ of French imperial structures nor ‘a glorification of British politics in Africa which have not resulted to the present day in particularly remarkable results’.74 Within a mere few years, African leaders and colonial officers alike would characterise the Loi Cadre, with its purported commitment to devolution, as little more than a form of lip service that failed ‘to respond to the hopes placed upon it’.75 By positioning itself as the sole locus of unification or cooperation French power and French influence became entrenched anew under the Manichean order of (post)colonial conquest. Likewise, through the homogenising influence of the French centre under the continued auspices of the ‘colonial pact’,76 the alternative potentialities of social space would be subsumed by the workings of a hegemonic power bent on its perpetual recentring. While Cameroon’s status as a UN Trusteeship territory placed it in a somewhat unusual position within the bounds of the Union française, the spatial dynamics realised in that territory rehearsed themselves to varying degrees across French West Africa. In Senegal, at the heart of the federation, tensions around space emerged particularly through the struggle to maintain horizontal lines of pan-African allegiance against the strictures of a vertical French authority. Set in this context, L’Aventure ambiguë tells the story of Samba Diallo, a child of the Diallobé aristocracy located in the far north of the territory. The novel chronicles the existential crisis that follows Samba as he moves from the Koranic school of his village to a metropolitan education

72 Nnolim, ’The Journey Motif ’, p. 192. 73 ANOM, FM DPTC//5, 1952/1957, Organisation des institutions dans les Territoires de la France d’outre-mer (dont statut du Cameroun), Association pour l’étude des problèmes de l’Union française, Bulletin No. 99, April 1956. 74 ANOM, FM 1AFFPOL/2263/3, 1946/1958, Sénégal, Pacte Colonial – Socialisme – Fédération, 1954. 75 ANOM, FP 1000APOM/912, Comité central français pour  l’OM, Compte rendus de conférences 1959–1960. 76 ANOM, FM 1AFFPOL/2263/3, 1946/1958, Sénégal, Pacte Colonial – Socialisme – Fédération, 1954.

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in the city of Louga,77 eventually arriving in Paris to read for a philosophy degree. Kane himself once described the novel as ‘comme une sorte de journal intime’, like a personal diary, drawing explicit links between his own experiences and that of his protagonist in what has been characterised as a work of autofiction.78 Ending with Samba’s return to the land of the Diallobé and subsequent death at the hands of the fool, or last ardent believer, L’Aventure ambiguë enacts a series of conflicts around the relative (im)possibility of collective affiliations in the face of colonial encroachment. Kane has been lauded for his ‘dramatization of the conflicts affecting traditional African elites on the eve of decolonization’,79 fashioning a text in which Samba’s ‘quest for identity is the quest for his […] society’s identity’.80 Elsewhere, Samba’s story has been likened to a synecdochal tale, which can be read either as ‘a commentary on the paradoxes of cultural conversation in the face of the hegemony of mainstream European cultural norms’ or as ‘an allegory of the subjective experience of a generation of African intellectuals’.81 Densely philosophical in its register, the novel takes the form of a series of extended dialogues, with few temporal and spatial markers delineating its boundaries. Throughout, precolonial African tradition is rendered through the idiom of Islam, a narrative move that ‘allows the novel to examine colonialism both as a fatal clash of two value systems, contingent upon history, and as a deeply disruptive collision between two fundamentally opposed metaphysics’.82 The use of Islam, introduced in the eleventh century, as a synecdoche for Diallobé self-identification creates something of a spatial mise-en-abyme in the novel, through which the struggle for survival can only be staged upon the detritus of earlier erasures and conquests. Fusing together the aristocratic traditions of the Diallobé with the hierarchical organisation of Islam, the novel indicates the overarching power of new spatial and social formations as means of effacement. By so rendering the space of the Diallobé, the novel, despite its seeming estrangement from the materiality of its time, betrays its position within.

77 J.P. Little, ‘Autofiction and Cheikh Hamidou Kane’s L’Aventure ambiguë’, Research in African Literatures, 31.2 (2000), 71–90 (p. 75). 78 Little, ‘Autofiction’, p. 73. 79 Marc Caplan, ‘Nos Ancêtres, les Diallobés: Cheikh Hamidou Kane’s Ambiguous Adventure and the Paradoxes of Islamic Negritude’, Modern Fiction Studies, 51.4 (2005), 936–57, 979 (p. 938). 80 Joanna Sullivan, ‘Redefining the Novel in Africa’, Research in African Literatures, 37.4 (2006), 177–88 (p. 184). 81 Nicholas Brown, Utopian Generations: The Political Horizon of Twentieth-Century Literature (Princeton. NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005), p. 59. 82 Kanneh, African Identities, p. 32.

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The land of the Diallobé is figured as a vast, empty land characterised by decay, as its remote tranquillity – what is described as the Diallobé people’s ability to stand ‘plus proche de la mort’ [‘closer to death’] and, by extension, closer to ‘un regain d’authenticité’ [‘something like an aftermath of authenticity’] – falls under the weight of an encroaching metropolitan centre.83 Caught in this conflict, the land becomes a place of poverty whose inhabitants ‘chaque jour un peu plus, s’inquiétaient de la fragilité de leurs demeures, du rachitisme de leur corps’ (44) [‘each day became a little more anxious about the stability of their dwellings, the unhealthy state of their bodies’ (29)]. Marked by its own waste, the country of the Diallobé can only be temporary, its centuries-long tradition a teleological journey to an inevitable destruction. Confinement, both metaphorical and physical, defines the novel, emerging through the recurrent appearance of bounded, interior spaces punctuated by scenes of futile wandering and aimless movement. The tension at the centre of this simultaneous detachment and embedding is most clearly seen through the figure of the Teacher, a man described as singular in his devotion to his vocation but who, despite the influence he wields, refuses to offer a directive to the conflicted people of the Diallobé: Dans la case silencieuse, le maître seul était demeuré. Les disciples s’étaient envolés avec le crépuscule, à la quête de leur repas du soir. Rien ne bougeait, sinon, au-dessus du maître, le froufrou des hirondelles parmi les lattes enfumées du toit de chaume. Lentement, le maître se leva. Le craquement de toutes ses articulations nouées par les rhumatismes se mêla au bruit du soupir que lui arracha son effort pour se lever. […] Son corps, chaque jour davantage, accentuait sa fâcheuse propension à rester collé à la terre. (40) [Only the Teacher had remained in the silent cabin. With twilight, the disciples had taken flight in quest of their evening meal. Nothing stirred except, above the teacher, the swallows fluttering among the smoke-blackened lattices of the thatched roof. Slowly, the teacher rose. The crackling of all his joints, stiff from rheumatism, made a sound which was mingled with the sigh wrested from him by the effort to get up […] More every day, his body emphasized this sorry propensity to remain glued to the earth. (27)]

Entrapped within a ‘smoke-blackened’ hut on the margins of village life, left only with his ‘crackling joints’ and ‘grotesque misery of [a] body’ now ‘glued to the earth’ and barely capable of performing the physical act of prayer, the Teacher’s 83 Cheikh Hamidou Kane, L’Aventure ambiguë (Paris, Julliard, 1961), p. 161; Cheikh Hamidou Kane, Ambiguous Adventure, trans. Katherine Woods (New York: Melville House, 1963), p. 134. All English translations are taken from this version. Henceforth cited intext.

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encroaching stasis serves as a synechdochal representation of the suffocating confinement of the Diallobé more broadly, conceived as bound to the land and its soil, and smothered under its own weight in an intractable position. Yet, for the Teacher and his fellow leaders, the knowledge that a flight to tradition would do little to teach the children of the Diallobé ‘à lier le bois de bois… pour faire des édifices de bois…’ (21) [‘to join wood to wood – to make wooden buildings’ (8)], is not enough to justify a wholesale acceptance of the colonial fact: Cependant, la question est troublante. Nous refusions l’école pour demeurer nousmêmes et pour conserver à Dieu sa place dans nos cœurs. Mais avons-nous encore suffisamment de force pour résister à l’école et de substance pour demeurer nousmêmes ?’ (21) [‘Nevertheless, the question [of sending our children to the new school] is troubling. We could refuse to send them in order to remain ourselves and to conserve God’s place in our hearts. But do we have enough force to resist the school, and enough substance to remain ourselves?’ (9)].

Seemingly figured as a spiritual struggle, the battle for Samba’s soul may thus be equally read as embodying the struggle over spatiality, as the mythic system of the Diallobé is slowly overwhelmed by the encroachment of imperialism’s abstract logic. Financial and legislative records from the 1940s and 1950s indicate the growing importance of the far north of Senegal to French imperial aims, made more urgent by a general sense that production in the territory failed to be profitable.84 A 1951 internal report, for instance, calls for the construction of a railway line to support the trade of goods during the milking period in the area between Saint Louis and Louga,85 a region elsewhere noted for its rapid population growth over 1950 and 1951.86 More generally, records from FIDES during the 1950s show a heavy investment in the development of agriculture and animal husbandry in the north of the country, resulting in a need for more highly developed infrastructure and the installation of cultural and community centres.87 With the development of export lines in the region, the north of Senegal would become a more significant factor in the economic modernisation of the country as a whole, having previously been relatively neglected compared to the large 84 ANOM, FR ANOM 4101COL915/8, Sénégal (1941/1954), Gouvernement Géneral de l’Afrique Occidentale Française, Territoire du Sénégal, Rapport Économique, 1951. 85 HIA, Folder 2.3, William Moreland Papers, Railroads. 86 ANOM, FR ANOM 4101COL915/8, Sénégal (1941/1954), Gouvernement Géneral de l’Afrique Occidentale Française, Territoire du Sénégal, Rapport Économique, 1951. The combined urban population of Dakar, Kaolack and Louga, according to this report, rose to 327,440 inhabitants by the end of 1951 from 263,784 in 1950. 87 ANOM, FR ANOM 191COL40/309, Programmes Sénégal et Soudan français (1953/1958).

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port cities of Saint Louis and Dakar. The failure during the era to form a true confederation of West African states as a counterbalance to French authority, moreover, exacerbated the intensity of French developmentalist rhetoric, recentring the metropole in various ways. Located in this shifting landscape, the land of the Diallobé finds itself with few defences. Even the Koranic school, the ‘foyer ardent’ or glowing hearth of unworldly purity, can only exist at a distance of some remove from the village proper, confined to a marginal position in this shifting landscape in which its physical detachment functions in uneasy concord with its spiritual centrality as the most potent location in which the truest virtues of Islam may be encountered. It is in response to this situation that the Most Royal Lady is able to claim that ‘nous acceptions de mourir en nos enfants et que les étrangers qui nous ont défaits prennent en eux toute la place que nous aurons laissée libre’ (58) [‘we [the Diallobé] should agree to die in our children’s hearts and that the foreigners who have defeated us should fill the place, wholly, which we shall have left free.’ (42)] Like the fields which, in order to grow fecund again, must be burned, the children of the Diallobé, in the Most Royal Lady’s estimation, must be burned down and buried so that they may survive for another year, enacting another conquest towards a new normativity, gesturing towards the earlier erasure of indigenous practices by Islam and echoing the larger sentiment that ‘decolonization could take place through closer integration with the métropole rather than through secession from it’.88 Equally, the Most Royal Lady’s drive to send Samba to the colonial school indicates the complex forms of claims-making towards the world created by a system in which one form of capitulation (to colonialism, with its implications of cultural erasure) might serve as a counterbalance to another form of oppression (Islam, with its rigid patriarchal structures). Under this logic, horizontal affiliations and collective unity fail to resonate against an overwhelming centre with its promises of development and modernisation. With a continuation of a centre-andperiphery model of spatial arrangements, the promise of localised, vernacular and alternative affiliations erodes, leaving behind only a certain intractability. Paris, for Samba, provides no relief, its own spatiality thoroughly interpenetrated with the lassitude of the land of the Diallobé, itself marked by a constant French presence. Describing his ennui as he navigates the half-empty streets of the Quartier Latin, ‘engourdi’ (140) [‘benumbed’ (114)], ‘dans un état de demisomnolence’ (140) [‘half-asleep’ (114)], Samba finds in the metropole little more than another space of erasure, its deadened streets giving no relief and its interior spaces suffocated under the weight of his misery. Paris becomes a space where time stops, and the body is reduced to mere parts, feet dragging down the road one by one. It is of no little significance that the deadening atmosphere 88 Chafer, End of Empire in French West Africa, pp. 12–13.

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of Paris is described in terms not dissimilar to the land of the Diallobé before, distinguished only by its bodily penetration and spiritual vacuity. Even the moments of brief solace found in the family home of Pierre-Louis give way to a deeper existential void, providing neither belonging nor fullness, made more horrific through their dismantling of the spatial distinctions that had allowed for a tenuous mystification under purity in Samba’s homeland. Returning to the land of the Diallobé only to find himself caught in a stultifying limbo, Samba, by the novel’s end, is left utterly bereft, trapped in an existence in which he has no choice but to ‘devenu les deux. […] une nature étrange, en détresse de n’être pas deux’ (162–3) [‘become the two […] a strange nature, in distress over not being two’ (135)]. No longer a believer and now an unwilling embodiment of the ‘new man’ of French colonialism, even the landscapes of the nation of the Diallobé become foreign to him on his return: À la horizon, le soleil couchant avait teint le ciel de pourpre sanglante. Pas un souffle n’agitait les arbres immobiles. On n’entendait que la grande voix du fleuve, répercutée par ses berges vertigineuses. Samba Diallo tourna son regard vers cette voix et vit, au loin, la falaise d’argile. Il se souvint qu’en son enfance il avait longtemps cru que cette immense crevasse partageait l’univers en deux parties que soudait le fleuve. (183) [On the horizon, the setting sun had dyed the heavens with a tone of blood-stained purple. Not a breath of air stirred the motionless trees. The only sound to be heard was the great voice off the river, reverberating from its dizzily steep banks. Samba Diallo bent his gaze toward this voice, and saw the clay cliff in the distance. He remembered that in his childhood he had believed for a long time that this immense crevasse divided the universe into two parts, which were united by the river. (154)]

The land, once the source of his spiritual growth and fraternal connection, is now another empty space, motionless and devoid of all signs of life, save the bloodstained traces of its own destruction. All that remains, for Samba, are his memories of childhood, a time where he once believed in a unity enabled by division in a ceaseless, riverine flow. Awakened to a world that is no longer united in its multiplicity, Samba is left existing under a single totality, a system in which, by ‘not being two’ all that is left is the logic of the one, the centre and the same. Kane has argued that ‘this is not a hopeless ending’ because, with the death of Samba Diallo, comes ‘the proof that there is a real conflict’,89 indicating the extent to which death functions both as ‘a celebrative instance’ and ‘an annihilation’.90 Yet, the conclusion to L’Aventure ambiguë does not allow any resolution to this contradiction to gesture towards itself, nor does it allow for any sense of a sociality beyond the vestiges of an intractable conflict between an 89 Kane, quoted in Caplan, ‘Nos Ancêtres’, p. 945. 90 Kanneh, African Identities, p. 35.

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overdetermining and encroaching centre and failing periphery. Space, through its overwhelming presence, proves a stultifying force, where even the crumbling remnants of Samba’s childhood can do no more but reinforce the abstract violations of coloniality. Colonial space has been described more generally as a form of spatial homogenisation in which it ‘appears to be fixed, territorial boundaries unquestionable’.91 Yet, when taken together, Kane’s and Beti’s novels, along with Tutuola’s and Ekwensi’s, demonstrate that colonial space, abstract space and any other such ordering functions in a manner that is far from uniform and far from regular. Through its inherent displacement and implicit diversity in its instantiations, colonial spatiality can only be accounted for through its contextualised specificity and its shifting location within a larger spatial construct. While commonalities may emerge across the forms of colonial spatiality (re)produced in Nigeria, Senegal and Cameroon, these by no means function congruently, predictably, or under the dictates of a teleological mode of ordering. Instead, each novel demonstrates a spatiality that emerges through its own specificity, both as a self-contained territorial unit and as part of a system of simultaneous and overlapping ecologies. Equally, these novels demonstrate the extent to which spatial formations function through a holistic system of social, political and economic movements, means and ends. Far from serving as a mere container or backdrop for action, that is, space in these four novels is alive, itself a shifting phenomenon and driver of subjective development and action. Space shapes and is shaped, as its rhythms, pulsations and the conflicts therein drive forward in an ever-changing movement. Much has been written about the distinct systems through which British and French imperialism operated. The majority of these discussions highlight the difference between Lugardian indirect rule in the Anglophone sphere of interest, on the one hand, and what has been termed ‘the salience of the cultural dimension’ in French systems of control, on the other.92 While the extent to which the lived realities of colonialism actually differed across the French and British contexts remains debatable, it is nonetheless the case that certain distinctions and certain concordances emerge, both between and within imperial systems. In the Anglophone case, the status of colonies as external to the metropole, in contrast to the internal vision of Greater France, results in what appears to be a greater productivity in horizontal spatial imaginings. Yet, as exemplified in the distinctions in idiom, subject and style between The Palm-Wine Drinkard and People of the City, these spatial concordances are realised in vastly different manners and with distinct, if not unrelated, results. Both Mission terminée and L’Aventure ambiguë, moreover, serve as important critiques of the workings of 91 Upstone, Spatial Politics, p. 3. 92 Chafer, End of Empire in French West Africa, p. 13.

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late coloniality in the French empire. While neither text offers an optimistic picture for its respective protagonist, each, by exposing the stultifying workings of spatial formations upon the colonised territory, highlights the urgency of alternative paradigms for the production of social space and, within, through and upon it, social subjectivity. Though lacking the linguistic and narrative experimentation of their Anglophone counterparts, these novels gesture towards the radical possibilities constrained within a monolithic vertical ordering by their very absence.93 Equally, all four of these novels illustrate the means through which literature extends beyond a merely descriptive function. By engaging, consciously or not, with the movements, conflicts and debates undergirding the spatiality of their time and place, each text works through its productive function, alternately as critique and exposé. Perhaps most importantly, all four of these works comprise part of a larger, alternative archive of resistance and of contrapuntal spatial imaginings, a fact made more resonant by the status of each work’s author as an active participant within spatial systems, both as artists and, in some cases, statesmen and activists. Literary writing, as demonstrated here, is far from passive, instead engaging with, intervening in, and constituting new possibilities for the larger production of space on the cusp of empire and independence.

93 It is equally important to note here the differences in effect between the French and English languages in these texts. In contrast to the British, whose educational system included primary-language tuition and was generally altered according to its geography, French education under colonialism remained highly centralised, based strictly upon a metropolitan curriculum. Guided by these assimilationist principles, this educational philosophy resulted in a linguistic development, in French West Africa, which lacked the range of inventive flexibility of its Anglophone counterparts. Where pidgin and creole forms appeared in Anglophone West African writing from an early date, no French equivalent would be found until the publication of Kourouma’s Les soleils des indépendances. That novel, which I will discuss in the next chapter, was initially rejected for publication in France on the grounds of its ‘improper’ French and was only eventually published by Le Seuil following its successful release by a Quebecois publisher.

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Post-independence Disillusionment and Spatial Closures

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In this chapter, I move from the period spanning the last days of formal colonisation and nominal independence to the post-independence period of the 1960s and 1970s. In so doing, I take up one of the key themes from the previous chapter through a focus on the proliferation of development agendas in West Africa in the period following World War II. Globally speaking, the period between the 1950s and 1970s was marked by a transformation in the large-scale global geographies of capitalism, characterised by ‘deindustrialization and regional decline, gentrification and extrametropolitan growth, the industrialization of the Third World and a new international division of labor, intensified nationalism and a new geopolitics of war’, not as discrete phenomena but as ‘symptoms of a much deeper transformation’ that spanned continents and regions.1 While it is certainly the case that these tendencies began to manifest well before the post-independence period, it is equally true that, with the continued integration of ostensibly independent new territories into the landscape of the global economy, the development of capitalism as ‘a world-system that is also, uniquely and for the first time, a world system’ reached new heights of intensification.2 Indeed, when taking into consideration of ‘capitalisation’ of the world and the ‘worlding’ of capital,3 the post-independence years, as numerous scholars of political economic history have noted, was a time of particular entrenchment and intensification. At the same time, patterns of migration and urbanisation were changing, with natural growth augmented by rural–urban drift, which, in contrast to the circular migration of previous eras, was largely one-way in character.4 In the West African context, this period is particularly significant for the rapid rate of urban growth across the region, coupled with a strong emphasis on nationally determined modernisation plans aimed at the growth of the economy within a world-capitalist system; the amelioration of social welfare as a means of redressing rural–urban drift; and the reproduction of a stable and 1 Neil Smith, Uneven Development: Nature, Capital and the Production of Space, third edition (London: Verso, 2010 [1984]), p. 1. 2 Warwick Research Collective (WReC), Combined and Uneven Development: Towards a New Theory of World-Literature (Liverpool: University of Liverpool Press, 2015), p. 8, emphasis original. 3 WReC, Combined and Uneven Development, p. 15. 4 Carole Rakodi, ‘Religion and Social Life in African Cities’, in Africa’s Urban Revolution, ed. Susan Parnell and Edgar Pieterse (London: Zed Books, 2014), pp. 82–109 (p. 86).

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disciplined labour force. Despite the proliferation of four-, five- and ten-year plans in the countries of the region targeted towards these goals, however, few of these aims were ever realised on any large scale, giving rise to the phenomenon of ‘post-independence disillusionment’.5 It is of particular import that the post-independence years in West Africa were characterised by a form of development that cannot be reduced to simple teleological patterns of agriculture, industrialisation and urbanisation;6 instead, coeval instantiations of multiple forms of spatiality emerged and entangled simultaneously, driven by the embedding of the newly independent states in a (neo)imperialist world(-)system. In this chapter I set my readings of Ayi Kwei Armah’s The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born (1968), Ousmane Sembène’s Xala (1973) and Ahmadou Kourouma’s Les soleils des indépendances (1968) against this background, orienting them through the twinned spatial concepts of uneven development and extraversion.7 These three texts, often read as embodying the alienation with which the lost promises of independence were met, may equally be read as explicit critiques of the realignment of West Africa’s geographies within a world-capitalist market following the end of direct colonialism in the region. The process, loosely described as the ‘development of underdevelopment’,8 marks not a break with the spatial precepts of colonialism, as such, but rather a course correction by way of intensification, and springs from hegemonic conceptions of devolution and independence, expressed in the words of one report from the period not as ‘a crisis of authority, but [rather] the gradual substitution of one form of authority for another form’.9 By way of entry into this discussion, I return to a text that I discussed at some length in the previous chapter, Cyprian Ekwensi’s People of the City. As Ekwensi recounts in his unpublished autobiography, ‘In My Time’,10 the original version of the novel was composed from a series of short stories written for broadcast on Nigerian radio throughout the 1940s, lightly altered over the course of a few days to form a cohesive single text published by Andrew Dakers in 1954. In 1963 a new edition of the novel appeared as book five of the Heinemann African Writers Series, revised under the guidance of the press’s editorial team after Ekwensi’s 5 Cf. Derek Wright, ‘African Literature and Post-independence Disillusionment’, in Cambridge History of African and Caribbean Literature, vol. 1, ed. F. Abiola Irele and Simon Gikandi (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), pp. 797–808. 6 Henri Lefebvre, The Urban Revolution, trans. Robert Bononno (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2003 [1970]), p. 28. 7 Cf. Smith, Uneven Development; Jean-François Bayart, ‘Africa in the World: A History of Extraversion’, African Affairs, 99.395 (2000), 217–67. 8 WReC, Combined and Uneven Development, p. 13. 9 ANOM, FR ANOM 61COL2160/5, Côte d’Ivoire, Mission Monguillot et Galbrun, Les services de l’état en Côte d’Ivoire, 1957. 10 HRC, Charles R. Larson Papers, 8.2.

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return to Nigeria following a period of study in London. A number of significant differences appear across the two versions of People of the City, ranging from the deletion of characters and scenes to their drastic reduction in length and appearance. Taken as a whole, the force of the revisions to Ekwensi’s novel produces a markedly different constitution of (post)colonial Nigerian space in the city. A full accounting of the scope of revisions and alterations between the two editions of the novel would not therefore be possible in the context of this chapter; in what follows, instead, I focus on three key examples that illustrate the force of the changes in the later, and now-canonical, version of the text. The first of these examples is a passage from early in the novel which I discussed at some length in the previous chapter, describing Sango’s frustration as he attempts to sit and write in his room. In the 1963 edition of the text, the passage proceeds as follows: There comes the dreaded city noise, Amusa. You live with it so you don’t notice it any more. Sounds of buses, hawkers, locomotives, the grinding of brakes, the clanging of church and school bells… The city was awakening.11

Where in the earlier text the city functions as a backdrop to Sango’s life, articulated through the productive interpenetration of public and private space that draws Sango into a larger collectivity, here, the city and its attendant audio ephemera register as an assault on his personhood, a violation of the sanctity of the private sphere by an unwanted and ‘dreaded’ public with no space for collaboration. Public space is simultaneously severed from the private sphere and turned into something to be endured rather than embraced. Gone is the symphonic rendering of social space apparent in the older version of the text, replaced instead with a spatial system that only alienates in its degradation of the sovereignty of the individual, who remains discrete from its workings. That this should be so is no mere stylistic matter; rather, the revisions to this passage indicate the entrenchment of an abstract spatiality driven by the earliest stirrings of the neoliberal capitalist rhetoric of the autonomous, rational individual in the market, echoing larger shifts in the perception of selfhood and responsibility that arose in the early years of independence. As one report from the era notes: Bringing men together physically, the town separates them mentally. Urbanization demands of the countryman that he rid himself of his collective mentality and become a responsible individual with the initiative and freedom of action of one seeking success for himself and for the family so closely linked biologically with him. Bad working conditions, and unemployment before social security, poor wages in

11 Cyprian Ekwensi, People of the City (London: Heinemann, 1963), p. 7, emphasis original. Henceforth cited in-text.

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the absence of workers’ demands, slums and demoralization marked the beginnings of industrialization and over-rapid urbanization in many parts of the world.12

Between 1901 and 1960, the population of Lagos increased from 41,800 to 380,000, transforming the Western Region from a predominantly rural geography into one in which 46% of the population lived in the city.13 An increasingly young population, coupled with this urban growth, resulted in a situation in which social welfare became an ever more-pressing problem.14 It is of course the case that urban migration was by no means unique to the post-war period and that significant population shifts from rural zones to the large cities of the territory were a feature of its demographic movements for far longer. Yet, the nature of urban growth in the decades following World War II, and especially after independence, took on a new potency, driven less by a bifocal movement between town and country and more by a push–pull dynamic in which the exhaustion of land and resources, coupled with the development of the city, functioned to more firmly orient a one-way trajectory into the city. These shifts were accompanied by fears about the erosion of tradition kinship ties, as the responsibilities traditionally assumed by family, clan and village, previously maintained in the urban zones through the circular movement of populations, began to lose their potency under the ‘diversity of interests, distance and daily contact with other civilizations [which] strain family ties’.15 Arising simultaneously with the development of industrialised commerce in the region, the anxieties articulated in primary documents around the effect of urban growth ‘on family and tribal responsibility, juvenile delinquency and labour migration’ betray a contradictory logic in which the rise of the individual, as fulcrum of society, is simultaneously decried as a source of social degeneration.16 While documents from the Colonial Office written in the period between the two versions of People of the City betray a constant anxiety around boundary changes and territorial redistributions as gateways to fragmentation, moreover, the city itself remained a site of intensified developmentalism. From 1954, the year of publication of Ekwensi’s first edition, to 1956, for instance, a number of 12 SOAS Library, PP MS 46, 53.4:93, Andrew Hake Papers, Workshop on Urbanization Problems in Africa, Social Welfare and Urbanization in Africa, 1962. 13 Ibid. 14 Ibid. It is also important to note that increased social welfare services – particularly around healthcare – were themselves responsible for urban growth through the reduction of mortality rates (see Sean Fox, ‘Urbanization as a Global Historical Process: Theory and Evidence from sub-Saharan Africa’, in Africa’s Urban Revolution, ed. Susan Parnell and Edgar Pieterse (London: Zed Books, 2014), pp. 257–83). 15 SOAS Library, PP MS 46, 53.4:93, Andrew Hake Papers, Workshop on Urbanization Problems in Africa, Social Welfare and Urbanization in Africa, 1962. 16 National Archives (NA) CO 859/223/1 Urban Social Surveys in Africa, Extract from a despatch from the Governor’s Deputy, Nigeria, to the Secretary of State, 29 July 1950.

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high-profile slum clearance operations proliferated across the city, nominally intended to target areas of the city that ‘apart from being a disgrace to the capital of Nigeria […] constitute an ever-present danger as a reservoir of disease and serious fire risk’;17 these measures were in turn augmented by new housing projects, land reclamation schemes, coastal development plans and communications improvements which, taken together, exemplify the tendency of capital to invest itself in fixed spaces through which spatial practices are ordered, oriented towards the maximisation of profit and the (re)production of its own logic. It is no coincidence, in this context, that the favoured solutions to the perceived ‘urban problem’ were for social programmes organised around encouraging ‘people to participate more fully in the solution of their social problems’,18 displacing responsibility from the sociality, more broadly, to the individual actor. These contradictions emerge in Ekwensi’s revised novel, as the struggle for self-determination and freedom is rendered both as the cause of the avarice and malice destroying the city and as a virtue under assault from the sheer density of social space, with its increased stratifications and administrations. The increased fragmentation of space, realised through an effacement of its implication within overlapping scales of imperial and global relationality and obscured under an encroaching solipsism, appears again as a consequence of my second example of the revisions to the novel. Here, we focus on the passage, also discussed in the previous chapter, in which traffic holds Sango at a railway junction. The revised passage is truncated from the 1954 edition to read in its entirety: In half an hour he was at the railway crossing. The gates had just closed in front of him. Sango fumed and got out. It was always like this. The gates are always closed when he was in a hurry. (p. 18)

Despite its setting in the pre-independence era, the revised version of this passage bears no traces of the colonial origins of the railway system and its role in the systematic despoliation of the land. Recalling Neil Smith’s observation that ‘not only does capital produce space in general, it produces real spatial scales that gives uneven development its coherence’,19 the erasure of imperial and global scales of commerce in this passage is telling. In this shift, from the macro to the micro, the revised text effectively severs Sango from the larger contexts in which he is embedded, flattening, if not erasing entirely, the uneven 17 NA, CO 554/1246, Future Arrangements for Development Finance in Lagos Nigeria, 1955–1960, Lagos Executive Development Board, Proposals 1955–60. 18 SOAS Library PP MS 46, 53.4:93, Andrew Hake Papers, Workshop on Urbanization Problems in Africa, Draft recommendation submitted by the delegation of Ghana and the delegation of the Federation of Rhodesia & Nyasaland. 19 Smith, Uneven Development, p. 7.

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geographies within which the text speaks while enacting the ‘internal differentiation of global space’ that seemingly cleaves discrete zones from the totality in order to better efface the work of exploitation.20 While the earlier version of the novel enlivens the observation that as ‘dependence on the industrialised countries of Europe and North America as markets for primary produce and suppliers of manufactured goods is not in the country’s interest and that until this dependence is removed or at least reduced Nigeria will not be really “independent”’,21 the multifocal (inter)dependencies of the global capitalist system are submerged in this newer version. Even more relevant here is the extent to which dependence manifested through an explicit and planned system of uneven development in which the asymmetrical production of specific sites located, varyingly, at regional, national and global scales underscores the entrenchment of abstract spatial orderings that simultaneously erase themselves from view. Where the older text of People of the City directly acknowledges Nigeria’s location on the margins of an unequal system of global capitalism, an imperial supplement whose truest value arises from its ability to augment metropolitan profit, the revised version radically decentres the territory, cutting it off from the overlapping spatial scales that mediate its evolution to mask its increasingly marginalised position. Rather than attributing the closure of the railway tracks to the increased post-war need to maximise economic productivity through the exportation of raw goods, Sango instead is merely able to see in the inconvenience a personal slight. Again shifting its operational locus from the collective to the individual, space is defined by the logic of capitalism realised through a form of bourgeois rationalisation. Before concluding my discussion of the revisions to People of the City, I would like to pause for a moment to consider what is perhaps one of the most surprising changes between the two editions of the novel, the dramatic reduction in the role allotted to Bayo. Bayo’s diminishment in the second version of the text, written during a time when anxieties crystallised around the ‘dangers inherent in chronic unemployment among educated and, even worse, halfeducated youths’ and ‘the universal problem of finding employment for people drifting from rural to urban areas’,22 may seem at first incongruous. Yet, recalling Quayson’s observation of the link between free time and ‘the necessity for recycling or reinvention of the self ’,23 a spark through which urban subjects learn to

20 Smith, Uneven Development, p. 120. 21 NA, DO 177/29, Nigeria Development Conference, Lagos 1961, Letter to Eric A Midgley, Commercial Relations & Exports Department, Board of Trade, from United Kingdom Trade Commissioner, 26 September 1960. 22 Ibid. 23 Quayson, Oxford Street, p. 245.

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‘do something or die trying’,24 it is equally possible to read the excision of the young flâneur from the revised version of the novel as reflecting a generalised narrowing of the horizons of possibility through which space is ordered and itself orders social life. Where productive labour – and productive activity more broadly – function as the underpinning not only of nature but of human nature itself, their refusal gestures towards a revolutionary break with the structures that constitute the terms and conditions of human life. As Smith argues, in a gloss on Marx, ‘the labor of natural beings pulls in the different facets of nature binding them into a whole’,25 a consequence of the fact that ‘consciousness as such is the natural product of productive human activity, and of the social relations into which human beings enter with one another in order to produce’.26 If productive activity stands as the basis on which not just society, but nature and the very concept of human nature are based, then idleness contains within it the possibility of dismantling the systems of exchange and value through which labour is circulated, and thus the very foundations on which society is built. Recalling Lefebvre’s observation that ‘every society – and hence every mode of production with its subvariants (i.e. all those societies which exemplify the general concept – produces a space, its own space’,27 this process is one of a fundamentally spatial nature. As I argued in the previous chapter, space in People of the City retains the possibility of alternative logics realised through the tactical movements of walking in the city and embodied most dramatically in Bayo, the man of the streets and man of the people. Through his marginalisation in the 1963 edition, the newer text betrays a spatial schema far more closed, where the radical potential of spontaneity and encounter is constricted by the weight of an ever-looming system of social stratification, the ludic, informative and symbolic functions of space – particularly on the streets – foreclosed and its role in the production of ‘a common’ erased.28 That a number of similarities are maintained across the two versions of the text – including Sango’s sojourn to the Eastern Greens; the intractability of the city’s housing problem; and Bayo’s tragic demise at the hands of his lover’s brother – by no means negates the force of spatial discontinuity between the two texts, each with its distinct logic. Rooted within a larger national policy committed to rapid industrial development, the development of Lagos more broadly may be read as part of a larger stratification of city space, simultaneously integrated into the global economy as a site of investment and capital gains, while both devolved from the country at large

24 Quayson, Oxford Street, p. 249. 25 Smith, Uneven Development, p. 56. 26 Smith, Uneven Development, p. 55. 27 Lefebvre, Production of Space, p. 31. 28 Lefebvre, Urban Revolution, p. 18.

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– unique in its splendours and its ills, as evidenced in Ekwensi’s portrayal of life in the city – and singularly pressed in its material resources and limitations. Spatial conflict was no rare occurrence in the Nigeria of the 1960s. Beginning with a split within the leadership of the Action Group party and the fixed censuses of 1962–63 and culminating with widespread violence after the largely rigged Federal elections of 1964 and Western Regional elections of 1965, the early years after independence were characterised by a struggle for power and representation based on the geographic distribution of resources and influence across the country. By the middle of the decade, the nation-state itself stood at the precipice of fracture, with the declaration of the Republic of Biafra, carved out from the south-east region, and subsequent protracted war. The precarity of Nigeria’s future is felt in the last scenes of People of City, as Sango and his new wife set out for a sojourn in the Gold Coast, characterised as a period of apprenticeship after which the young couple, metonymically representing the new generation of citizens, might return to realise their full potential.29 This ending, often critically derided as a ‘deus ex machina’,30 positions the conclusion of both versions of the text at a moment of transition, on a threshold, rather than with closure.31 We do not, that is, see Amusa and his young bride carry out their promise to leave and eventually return, nor are we given any clues as to what fate may await the two; instead, we only have the promise of a future yet to come, a future that has not yet, and perhaps might never, come into being, but the anticipation of which is all-permeating. This sense of the ‘not yet’, or that which has to be but has not been, permeates Ayi Kwei Armah’s 1968 classic of post-independence disillusionment, The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born. The Beautyful Ones centres on a few weeks in the life of its protagonist, known only as ‘the man’, a junior railway clerk in the Railway and Harbours Administration in the economic centre and port municipality of Sekondi-Takoradi, culminating with the real-life coup of 24 February 1966, which removed Kwame Nkrumah and his Convention People’s Party (CPP) from power. Armah’s novel is intensely spatial in its execution: lauded for its ‘ability to integrate character and setting’,32 throughout the novel’s course, 29 Of note in this context is that the revised edition excises Sango’s speech anticipating the Gold Coast’s ‘opportunity developing along the lines of freedom of expression, encouragement of talent (music especially)’ (237), what might be seen as a minimalisation of the rhetoric of free choice and possibility. 30 This view is held, for instance, in the analyses of the novel provided by Emenyonu, Larson and Lindfors, among others. 31 That both versions were originally published at the cusp of large-scale socio-political change (self-rule in the one and the Nigerian–Biafran War, in the other), is of no small importance here. 32 Ode S. Ogede, ‘Achebe and Armah: A Unity of Shaping Visions’, Research in African Literatures, 27.2 (1996), 112–27 (p. 118).

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the man engages in a series of interminable walks across the city as one of its sleepwalking dead, moving passively though his life in a post-independence Ghana rife with corruption for the few and destitution for the many, traversing its decrepit spaces and ruminating on the ruin into which its promise has fallen, constituting the extraverted, uneven spaces of the young nation within a postcolonial global economy in which independence is more alibi than aspiration. Attaining a large measure of self-rule in 1951 and full independence in 1957, Ghana, as nation and symbol, stands as a vanguard of the principles of anticolonial activism and the promises of independence, guided by a charismatic leader whose rhetoric foregrounded the political urgency of pan-African solidarity as a redress to colonial intrusion. Under Nkrumah the country played a decisive role in the promotion of pan-African sentiments, variously as a leader within the Casablanca Group and the Union of African States, comprised of Mali, Guinea and Ghana and founded with the mission to ‘hasten the process of complete decolonisation in Africa’ with a commitment to non-alignment and national liberation,33 and as frequent host of pan-African caucuses and meetings, including the West African National Conference, held in Kumasi in 1953, the 1958 meetings of the Conference of Independent Governments of Africa and All-African People’s Conference and the 1962 meeting of African Freedom Fighters. Crossing imperial divides, the territory served as the prime site of reception for protest migrations from Upper Volta and Côte d’Ivoire, a reaction to harsh French policies around labour and judicial retribution, and is invoked with startling regularity within the archive of anti-colonial resistance. Despite its rhetorical force as a symbol of liberation, Armah’s Ghana, by contrast, is a nation in stasis, defined from its opening lines by the twinned processes of differentiation and equalisation that determine its spatial precepts: The light from the bus moved uncertainly down the road until finally the two vague circles caught some indistinct object on the side of the road where it curved out in front. The bus had come to a stop. Its confused rattle had given place to an endless spastic shudder, as if its pieces were held together by too much rust ever to fall completely apart.34

Here, as throughout the novel, space is characterised by an equilibrium defined by uncertainty, constituting a veneer of uniformity rendered as slowness and indecision. Light, that medium which might be seen to cut through this existential morass, can only be vague, uncovering only as it immediately occludes. The bus, part of a system once planned in the hopes that it might ‘prove popular and 33 NA, DO 153/14 Ghana–Guinea–Mali Union, Joint Communiqué Issued after the Summit Conference of the Union of African States, 1961. 34 Ayi Kwei Armah, The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born (London: Heinemann, 1968), p. 1. Henceforth cited in-text.

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raise useful revenue for the town’, boasting a fleet ‘painted in cheerful colour or colours’ and benefiting from ‘the civilising influence of well designed bus stop notices, seats, shelters and lettering’,35 is in reality little more than a rusted tin just about capable of shuddering its halting way through the overcrowded city. Under siege from within by its own rust, the bus serves as spatial metaphor for the static struggle that characterises the Ghanaian city of Armah’s novel, attacked by a rot that emanates from the inside out, paradoxically held together by its own destruction in a dialectical act of fragmentation and homogenisation. In his reading of the novel, John Lutz suggests that ‘In keeping with the system of production and its effects upon human subjectivity, [the] process of rationalization fragments individual subjects […] creating a subjective experience of living in a monotonous, eternal present’.36 The cyclical nature of this process – paradoxically both dynamic in its fragmentation and static in its monotony – is registered through the play of deterioration and unification enacted by the ever-present spectre of rot, rust and detritus. Imbued with a uniformity in stillness, which indicates neither serenity nor safety but the tedious weight of unmoving hierarchical barriers, space encroaches in its weight, giving no outlets for relief even as it hides its own traces. Over the course of The Beautyful Ones a set of motifs appear built on this dialectical play of deterioration and unification, ranging from the decrepit banister of the Block, subject to a logic in which ‘it was in the nature of the wood to rot with age. [...] it was the rot which imprisoned everything in its effortless embrace’ even at the same time that the wood ‘would always win’ (12–13), to the decomposing spectacle of the lagoon, a place marked by the fetid squalor of death (124), to the very fabric of the city itself, a space seemingly held together not by its vitality but by the deterioration of its inhabitants, figured in spit, mucus, shit and filth. In direct contravention of assertions by town planners calling for the adequate provision of hygiene facilities and septic tanks to ‘satisfactorily deal with local needs’,37 Armah’s Sekondi-Takoradi is a city under threat by the weight of its own excretions. Filtering what has been termed Armah’s ‘grotesque vision’ through an ‘excremental postcolonialism’, that is, the novel, as Esty argues, ‘reveals the problems of uneven development and neocolonial

35 Public Records and Archives Administration Department (PRAAD), ADM.26/5/46, Draft Town Planning Scheme for Takoradi and Sekondi, 1944, p. 14. 36 John Lutz, ‘Pessimism, Autonomy, and Commodity Fetishism in Ayi Kwei Armah’s The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born’, Research in African Literatures, 34.2 (2003), 94–111 (pp. 98–9). 37 PRAAD, ADM.26/5/45, Report of Committee appointed to consider and make recommendations on matters affecting the proposed amalgamation of Sekondi and Takoradi into one municipality, April 1944, p. 20.

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corruption in the public sphere’.38 Here, as throughout the novel, then, we see a spatial system in which the constant struggle between fragmentation under the deterioration of a disease that comes from within is forever held at bay by a fragile productivity, a tenuous sense in which this very decomposition signals the unifying structures of spatial being as the sole means of its constitution and a literalisation of the processes of differentiation and equalisation that define the spread of an abstracted, accelerated capitalist spatiality. At the same time this process, rendered through the idiom of rot, is itself naturalised, transforming the dialectical movements of destruction and stasis at the core of independent Ghana’s spatial structures from a work of human history into part of an unassailable, universal nature; in so doing, the novel foregrounds the vacuity of this notion of benign causality removed from responsibility, holding it forth as another fictive rendering of human society. Developed through its portrayal of the city in the throes of Passion Week, the week prior to the monthly distribution of pay, in which the harshest effects of post-independence austerity are felt among the masses crowded in an underresourced urban zone, The Beautyful Ones gives voice to the degeneration of social spaces that defines postcolonial urban life, realised through the laying to waste of material geography. Though once hailed as a socio-economic role model for all of Africa, by the 1960s the ‘early miracle of the Gold Coast [had] long ago spent itself, and the growth of the economy had already reached its limit on the eve of Ghana’s independence’.39 Largely exacerbated by a situation in which ‘the only [economic] policy considered [to ameliorate conditions] was to speed up the classical development of infrastructure, with financing from the surpluses of the Cocoa Marketing Board’,40 resulting in a single-commodity economy dependent on global cocoa prices, Ghana’s economic prospects, tied to foreign investment and aid, deteriorated over the early years of independence. Records show a sharp increase in public debts forecasted in the 1964–65 budget, citing a fall in the GNP growth rate from 7% in 1955–61 to just 1% in 1964. Combined with a population growth of 12% in the four years from 1960 to 1964 and unprecedented rates of urban migration, the result of Ghana’s economic mismanagement was particularly felt by its middle classes and working poor within the towns, who faced a rise in the consumer price index of 31% from July 1964 to 1965.41 Coupled with wages ‘firmly kept down by Government 38 Joshua D. Esty, ‘Excremental Postcolonialism’, Contemporary Literature, 40.1 (Spring 1999), 22–59 (p. 22; p. 36). 39 Amin, Neocolonialism in West Africa, p. 41. 40 Amin, Neocolonialism in West Africa, p. 48. 41 NA, DO 221/95 Ghana Budget 1964–65, report sent to Vincent E. Davies, Commonwealth Relations Office, from SJ Gross at the British High Commission Accra, 21 September 1965.

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policy’, the result was a steady ‘decline in the standard of living of the ordinary town worker’ over the course of the 1960s.42 As one letter from the period describes it, this was a time in which ‘the Ghanaian worker, who used to live on tick as from the third week in the month, is now forced to go to the money lender in the second week’.43 At the same time, ambitious development plans required major improvements to infrastructure, agriculture and urban planning. In this context, it is particularly notable that the 1964–65 budget called for a continued rapid expansion of social services and attendant reduction in consumption expenditure, making visible the gap between the rhetoric of development and its material effects, astutely satirised by the image early in The Beautyful Ones’ pages of overflowing, decrepit trash bins exhorting citizens to keep their country clean. The space of The Beautyful Ones is fabricated through the man’s movements across the city, sometimes by bus but primarily on foot. Walking, moving through the city on foot, is by its very nature an act of connectivity, an act of continuity, which, in the previous chapter’s discussion of Tutuola and Ekwensi, I described as mapping alternative geographical horizons of possibility; yet, for Armah’s man, walking is never realised as such, its movements abstracted from interpersonal connectivity into a composition of alienation. Filtered through the man’s perpetual movement, the city coheres into a totalising spatiality that is somehow simultaneously outside of the strictures of space-time, unravelling the synchronicity of colonialist developmentalism in its static revisions of the city. Walking, an act once characterised by Michel de Certeau as an inherently liberatory spatial tactic in its reimagination of the rules of space, instead coalesces the excremental realities of the city, unifying them under a single regime that is driven by a distinctly postcolonial form of alienation and which funnels all attempts at alternative paradigms into the narrow confines of a futile wasteland in an echoing of the larger (re)doubling of space in its abstract violence seen throughout the novel. Where happenstance, spontaneity and the unforeseen encounters of city life enable the radical tactical possibilities of walking,44 the man’s repeated walks remain, by contrast, mired in a stasis in which no such improvisational manoeuvring is possible. In one early passage, describing the man’s meandering lunchtime walk, driven by his lack of money with which to purchase food and need to somehow occupy himself, space is described in 42 NA, DO 221/95 Ghana Budget 1964–65, ‘Ghana: the 1965 Budget’ report. 43 NA, FCO 38/150 Ghana: Political Affairs (Internal), Letter from Richard W. Newsam, British High Commission Accra, to Donald C. Tebbit, Commonwealth Office, 13 January 1968. 44 See, for instance, arguments around spontaneity and walking, as well as the street as Commons, posited in Lefebvre, Urban Revolution, pp. 18–19 and David Harvey, Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution (London: Verso, 2012), p. 73.

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terms that emphasise the failure of the colonial vision of modernity to imbue its structures with its purported symbolic meaning: Thinking of the endless round that shrinks a man to something less than the size and the meaning of little short-lived flying ants on rainy nights, the man followed the line of the hard steel tracks where they curved out and away from inside the loco yard and straightened out ahead for the melancholy piercing push into the interior of the land. On the gravel bed beneath the metal the mixture of fallen ashes and stray lumps of engine coal and steamed grease raised somewhere in the region of his throat the overwarm stench of despair and the defeat of a domestic kitchen well used, its whole atmosphere made up of malingering tongues of the humiliating smoke of all those yesterdays. Out ahead, however, the tracks drove straight in clean shiny lines and the air above the steel shook with the power of the sun until all the afternoon things seen through the air seemed fluid and not solid anymore. (22)

Reverberating with the echoes of Marx’s observation that, with capitalism, all that is solid melts into air, the built environment of Sekondi-Takoradi belies its fragmentation under integration into a global commodities market. The play of built development and emptiness resonant here echoes throughout the novel, collapsing into what might be described as ‘a vast terrain of accumulation by dispossession’,45 and described later in that same walk as the lack of pain the man experiences, subject to ‘a slight giddiness accompanying the clarity of his starved vision’ as he regards ‘the little scratched-out farms of Northern migrant workers’ and ‘the unconquerable filth beginning to cake together in places’ along the track. Echoing the earlier refrain that ‘the wood will win’, the man passively watches as the overwhelming decay of the land overtakes the most promising symbols of colonialism’s hope, the tracks of the railway ‘slimed’ by mud and the bridges and embankments ‘something in the nature of an afterthought’ balanced among filth and decay, capable only of an illusory order and cleanliness ‘which had nothing to do with the thing it came out from’ (22–3), the encroaching spectre of the lagoon that once stood on this land sometimes reappearing in the shape of heavy rains and dredged-up earth. Elsewhere, the man encounters the sounds of abjection in a baby’s deep cough and its mother’s manual evacuation, with her own mouth, of its clogged membranes (35), and still later, in the stench of ‘carbide lamps and electric cutters’ under attack from ‘decaying oil’ and ‘grease that will never come off ’, the stench of ‘living things from their beginnings to their ends’, and the fetid smells of ‘crushed tomatoes and rotten vegetables’ in ‘markets abandoned to the night’, filled with ‘eddies from the open end of some fish head on a dump of refuse’ and the smells of rubbish ‘so old it has become more than mere rubbish’, ‘fused with the earth 45 Harvey Rebel Cities, p. 54.

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underneath’ (39–40). Any possibility of a not-yet, of a utopian future, remains remote, entrapped within the confines of an all-encompassing spatial order that refuses its admission in favour of an unrelenting homogeneity described by one critic as ‘embedded in daily spatial practices and infused in the bodily and affective representational spaces’ of Armah’s Ghana.46 Sekondi-Takoradi holds an important place within the larger (neo)imperial spatial schema within which the novel is set. An exploratory report commissioned in the 1920s lists Sekondi-Takoradi as ‘the only locality likely to provide a site for the construction of a deep-water harbour that would meet the needs of the Colony’, going on to recommend that ‘the projected deep-water harbour is to be the central terminal base of the Colony’s railway system and that it is in contemplation to take up the development of the latter concurrently with the construction of the former’.47 From the time of its construction in the 1920s until the commissioning of Tema Harbour, located just outside of Accra, in the 1960s, Takoradi Harbour functioned as the primary gateway into and out of the territory. One report, drafted as part of a town planning scheme in the mid-1940s, characterises Takoradi as ‘the only modern port in the Gold Coast [which] handles practically the whole of the imports and exports of the Colony as well as all passenger traffic’;48 another, written shortly after World War II, cites the Harbour’s ‘direct bearing on the dollar earning capacity of this Country and therefore, of solvency of the sterling area’,49 an indication of its centrality in imperial, national and territorial spatial scales of production. By the end of the 1950s, the Harbour was projected to earn profits of above £20,000 per year, making its administration a central facet of the newly independent government’s economic forecasts and plans.50 The subsequent railway lines, connecting Takoradi to Kumasi and turning Sekondi-Takoradi into the gateway of the Colony, were accompanied by proposals for the development of a town and expanded town site.51 Transforming from a fishing village of some 55 inhabitants at the turn of the century to a 46 Stefan Kipfer, ‘Fanon and Space: Colonization, Urbanization, and Liberation from the Colonial to the Global City’, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 25 (2007), 701–26 (p. 711). 47 PRAAD, ADM.5/3/17, Gold Coast Report by Messrs. Stewart and McDonnell, Embodying recommendations for the construction of a deep sea harbour and railway terminus at Takoradi, 24th September 1920, p. 4. 48 PRAAD, ADM.26/5/46, Draft Town Planning Scheme for Takoradi and Sekondi, 1944, p. 13. 49 NA, CO 852/1093/2, Colonial Railways: Gold Coast, Telegram No. 319 from Gold Coast OAG to Secretary of State for the Colonies, 31 March 1952. 50 Ibid. 51 PRAAD, ADM.5/3/17, Gold Coast Report by Messrs. Stewart and McDonnell, Embodying recommendations for the construction of a deep sea harbour and railway terminus at Takoradi, 24th September 1920, p. 26.

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metropolis of 25,000 five decades later, Takoradi was particularly affected by the growth of production and implication of the territory into the global capitalist economy, embodying the ‘progressive integration and transformation of absolute spaces into relative space’, determined not by nature or history as much as accumulation.52 By the mid-1940s, planners and officials alike began work on the eventual amalgamation of Takoradi, site of the harbour, with Sekondi, its twin town and railway terminus. A meticulously administered space from the beginning, with carefully laid-out residential and business districts organised to maximise efficiency for the railways and harbours, Sekondi-Takoradi became a key absorber of itinerant labour and rural drift. Despite hopes, at the time of its building, that the area would benefit from its location, described as ‘a picturesque and healthy one with the prevailing steady and gentle breeze blowing over it fresh from the ocean’,53 within a mere few decades the frenetic pace of growth in the area resulted in the spread of inhumane conditions, compounded by a rising cost of living in which shelter and food were particular pressure points.54 Coupled with natural population growth and the lack of adequate housing provisions, overcrowding was a constant problem for the municipality, leading to slum conditions and the spread of infectious disease throughout the area.55 With little useable land between Sekondi and Takoradi, and with approximately two-thirds of leased land held on speculation and left undeveloped,56 housing was a particular crisis point in the municipality; despite repeated plans and efforts to ameliorate its conditions, however, the development of the municipality embodied the sentiment that ‘planning law was used to assert the interests of a small minority, often not of the city’s residents but of representatives of colonial power’.57 That planning documents for the twinned towns should repeatedly cite the importance of avoiding ‘the waste of human resources and lives that has disfigured English urban life’, with its sprawling suburban waste lands and diminished civic ties, arguing instead for a town’s ‘identity as a thing designed for a 52 Smith, Uneven Development, p. 113. 53 PRAAD, ADM.5/3/17, Gold Coast Report by Messrs. Stewart and McDonnell, Embodying recommendations for the construction of a deep sea harbour and railway terminus at Takoradi, 24th September 1920, p. 28. 54 PRAAD, ADM.5/3/41, Report on the Enquiry into the Cost of Living in the Gold Coast, held in January 1942. 55 PRAAD, ADM.26/5/45, Report of Committee appointed to consider and make recommendations on matters affecting the proposed amalgamation of Sekondi and Takoradi into one municipality, April 1944. 56 Ibid., p. 41. 57 Stephen Berrisford, ‘The Challenge of Urban Planning Law Reform in African Cities’, in Africa’s Urban Revolution, ed. Susan Parnell and Edgar Pieterse (London: Zed Books, 2014), pp. 167–83 (p. 167).

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purpose’, planned to the last detail,58 is of no small consequence, indicating the extent to which planning decisions and the administration of space in the colonial peripheries were directly linked to urban development in the imperial centre, both social and economic in its registration of value and meaning. These very arguments were deployed to persuade officials that, in the African context, individual ownership of land must in all cases be avoided as ‘contrary to the interests of the people’ and as something that ‘would eventually make town planning next to impossible in the Gold Coast, and would in our opinion constitute a breach of faith to the African people’.59 At the same time, official plans for the provision of housing for labourers and employees of the government alike failed to take hold in the face of continual overcrowding. The continued – and increased – importance of Sekondi-Takoradi to the (neo)imperial economy, heralded by a multi-million-pound extension to the Harbour opened in 1953, intended to increase its operating capacity from 1,000,000 tonnes annually to 3,000,000,60 coupled with the rapid deterioration of living conditions and public provisions in the area, points to the acceleration of differentiation and fragmentation under capitalist spatiality, the town itself unable to keep up with its intense growth, a requirement of the national, imperial and global markets, instead collapsing under its own weight. Despite attempts at a ‘spatial fix’, defined as ‘the material fixing of infrastructure that facilitates capitalism’s overall transactional processes’ throughout its existence,61 the physical space of Sekondi-Takoradi, determined by, and determinant of, its social patterns of movement and inhabitation, were a constant site of tension and contestation, resulting in the eventual dereliction of the harbour, once at the centre of the territorial–national–imperial economy, by the early 1970s and its effective replacement by the newer Tema Harbour in the early 1960s. Despite municipal plans that portray Sekondi-Takoradi as a space of productivity and leisure, carefully organised and administered to maximise its (re) productive capacities, the city space of Armah’s novel is unrecognisable in such a manner. Instead, the Sekondi-Takoradi of the novel is a place of abjection and alienation, defined by its overcrowding, befoulment and utter stratification between the heights of the Atlantic-Caprice, stomping ground for the privileged few, and the teeming masses, destitute and filthy in the morass below. O’Connell argues that, ‘By placing [the man] in the employ of the national train company, Armah highlights the connection between the railway as the overdetermined 58 PRAAD, ADM.26/5/46, Draft Town Planning Scheme for Takoradi and Sekondi, 1944, p. 3. 59 Ibid., p. 2. 60 NA CO 554/474, Reports on Extensions at Takoradi Harbour, ‘Helping Gold Coast Trade’, Glasgow Herald, 20 April 1953. 61 Quayson, Oxford Street, p. 64.

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signifier of colonial conquest and its continuing resonance as a symbol of the reconquest of the postcolonial nation-state by the nationalist bourgeoisie.’62 Indeed, in the colonial era, few symbols held the potency of the railway in terms of the projection of a vision of colonial modernity and capitalist development. During the late colonial era, the railways and harbours of the Gold Coast, in particular, were of particular significance for the economic potential in the transport of raw goods out of the country for manufacturing in Britain. Colonial Office records from the late 1940s and early 1950s describe aspirational plans to extend the railways into the remote Northern Territories of the region in order to open new markets for colonialist exploitation of resources, bypassing swatches of infertile land in order to capture flows of livestock and limited agricultural produce.63 These plans would never come to fruition, hampered by the already-overburdened status of existing railways and lack of financial viability of traversing these large swathes of underpopulated and infertile land, buttressed by French colonial holdings, and yet continued to hold an important place in the imperial imaginary in a post-World War II context. Yet, the railways of The Beautyful Ones are a far cry from this image of a connected nation, triumphantly announcing the arrival of a new era. Rather, the railways of Armah’s novel suggest a deepening of the oppositions of a colonial ordering oriented towards exploitation over enrichment. On the man’s arrival at the Block, home of the Railway and Harbours Administration, early in the novel the structure is described as caked with the same layers of rot that characterise the city more broadly: ‘For years and years the building had been plastered at irregular intervals with paint and with distemper, mostly of an official murk-yellow color’ (11). Though built only in 1927, as per its inscription, the Block nonetheless speaks to the pace through which the encroachment of ruin permeates the postcolonial spaces of the city in its intensified and contradictory logic. Despite the importance of the railways, their condition by the early years of independence had deteriorated such that serious consideration was given to their closure. A 1971 report, for instance, states that 58 of the 179 engines owned by the Railway Administration were undergoing repairs, and that many of the existing engines were over sixty years old and far from fit for purpose.64 Compounded by a series of factors, including the inability of the railways to provide adequate passenger services, the increasing efficiency of shipment by road and 62 Hugh Charles O’Connell, ‘A Weak Utopianism of Postcolonial Nationalist Bildung: Rereading Ayi Kwei Armah’s The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born’, Research in African Literatures, 48.4 (2012), 371–83 (p. 370). 63 NA, CO 96/814/7, Gold Coast Railways and Harbours, Railway Extension to Northern Territories, Colonial Office Report on a Preliminary Economic Survey of the Northern Territories of the Gold Coast, 1950. 64 ‘Ghana: What future for Railways?’, West Africa, Week ending 22 October 1971, p. 1230.

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the unreliability of telephone services for signalling, with vast swathes of wires missing or cut,65 profits plummeted, falling from NC 943,383 in 1959/60 to a loss of 2,425,180 by 1970.66 Over-trafficked and hampered by a lack of material infrastructure and the necessary raw components to maintain their state, the railway, once a symbol of colonial modernity and capitalist progress, had become nearly obsolete, a condition exemplified in Beautyful Ones’s depictions of the dereliction of the Block. Though often attributed by British officials to inter-tribal rivalry and the rise of trade unions, the decline in the railways service more aptly gestures towards the paucity of the developmentalist rhetoric that heralded its construction and expansion. This contradictory situation is embodied in the Block, where [o]n certain nights […] the loneliness was made a bit more bitter by the distant beat of bands on the hill creating happiness for those able to pay money at all times of the month, to pay money and to get change for it – the men of the Atlantic-Caprice. Sometimes also the sudden blast of car horns coming briefly and getting swallowed again forever, each particular sound going somewhere very far away. […] Then the mocking rattle of the Morse machine mercifully breaking now and then into the frightening sameness of the lonely time. (15)

The promises of modernity become little more than a path to alienation, dramatising the differential-hierarchical workings of space at the scale of the novel, cutting off the man and his colleagues from the world around them by its continual embedding and re-embedding into the lingering spatial structures of imperial determinism. Surrounded by broken infrastructure – dead telephones, ‘the same old things not working’, lines upon lines dead (16) – the Block embodies the contradictions and striations of its lingering colonialist paradigms, now absorbed into an extraverted economy. Dominated by goods trains and the abstraction of capitalist logic under a veneer of social rhetoric, the railway crystallises the contradictory impulses of Armah’s Ghana. Even the brief moments of respite in which the man gives into his abstraction, almost able to ‘forget himself and almost everything else, concerning himself with the job alone, doing everything that was necessary’, lost in the ‘kind of beauty to the growth of the daily maze on the graph sheet, and a satisfaction in seeing the pencilled lines crossing the time and station lines, red lines for passenger trains, lead pencil lines for goods trains, blue for manganese’ (155) fail to provide any great relief, their promises thwarted.

65 Ibid. 66 NA, OD 30/293, A Memorandum on the Ghana Railway, from Kenneth Cantlie to John Cordle, 27 February 1972. It should be noted that the Ghanaian cedi was revalued in 1967, accounting for some of this shift.

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Despite the overwhelming sense of spatio-temporal stasis presented throughout the novel, The Beautyful Ones ends on a moment of regeneration, dramatising the 24 February 1966 coup that removed Nkrumah from power. For the man, the day of the coup is one of unsettling silence, the stillness of the city compounded by a new emptiness. On returning to his home, the man discovers Koomson, an old school friend turned corrupt minister, now ousted from power and in fear for his life. Describing the ‘foul smell’ of ‘rotten menstrual blood’ (163) permeating from the fallen Party man, the novel’s climax describes the man’s frantic attempts to deliver his former friend to safety. It is not my intention here to dwell at any length upon this scene, which has attracted the attention of numerous critics and scholars in extant readings of the novel.67 Rather, my interest is in the motif of ‘rebirth’, which appears in the conclusion of Armah’s novel, and becomes most evident at the moment in which the man and Koomson make their dramatic escape through the latrine hole behind the man’s home in a journey characterised by disgust, vomit, shit and desperate resignation. Describing the man’s relief as he makes his exit, his body rushing out to air that ‘was sweet again, even so near the hole’ (169), the scene of Koomson’s escape deliberately parodies the physical exigencies of childbirth, registering Koomson’s belaboured struggle through shit, pain and fear alongside the man’s own role – active, for the first time in the narrative – as midwife and doula, coaching, exhorting and physically pushing him through. Rushing out into a sweetness of air that even the nearness of shit cannot taint, the man and Koomson are reborn, or so it would seem, into a new world defined by a new spatial ordering. The expression of sweetness so near to rot lays the foundations of a new world order, one where the ‘Party man’ is toppled from his perch at the heights of the Atlantic-Caprice, reduced to ‘walking along the latrine man’s circuit through life’ (170) and at the mercy of the boat keeper who, mere hours before, had been his supplicant. Yet, this reading would fail to recognise the cyclical effect of spatiality in the novel. At the time, the 1966 coup was met with little resistance from the greater Ghanaian population. Indeed, tired of excessive government corruption, seemingly intractable rises in the price of daily goods and stagnation of wages, and the failed promises of social development in the name of increasing international dependence, the population’s initial reaction to the coup was largely positive. A letter from the British High Commission in Accra to the Commonwealth Office, dated from roughly the same time in which Beautyful Ones was being published, notes that 67 See, for instance, Esty, ‘Excremental Postcolonialism’; Lutz, ‘Pessimism’; Glen Retief, ‘Homoeroticism and the Failure of African Nationalism in Ayi Kwei Armah’s The Beautyful Ones’, Research in African Literatures, 40.3 (2009), 62–73; Patricia Yaeger, ‘Introduction: Dreaming of Infrastructure’, PMLA, 122.1 (2006), 9–26.

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when the N.L.C. first came into power they were concerned to establish their image, not only in Ghana but in Africa as a whole, as being a liberal and progressive government despite the fact that they were a military/police regime. They were, therefore, careful to emphasise by word and action that, in contrast to the bad old days under Nkrumah, Ghanaians could now expect justice from an impartial and independent judiciary and have freedom of speech and a free press.68

Set in this context, the man and Koomson’s emergence into this new, sweeter air may be read not only as sounding the birth of a new Ghana, but of a new Africa and, indeed, a new transnational spatial schema, in which the dependencies and excesses of the past may be replaced by a studied, just and newly free social structure. Soon, however, the promises of the new government betrayed themselves as less a break with the systems of the past – particularly, corruption, tribalism and an economic dependency whose end result was most catastrophic for the everyday citizen – than a continuation under a new guise. For the Western bloc, the coup was characterised as a victory of ‘moderate’ powers over Nkrumah’s supposed ‘radicalism’, an indication, perhaps, of the less than revolutionary aims and outcomes of the new government. Within a year, ostensibly driven by regional and ethnic motivations, an attempted coup occurred on 17 April 1967. By 1968, the year in which Armah’s novel first appeared, budget reports and development plans explicitly cite ‘the level of unemployment and the rate of migration to the cities’ as the ‘principal objects’ of the Two Year Development Plan for 1968–70,69 referencing in particular the lack of water and medical facilities across the country.70 By 1968, the end of a two-year ‘stabilization’ period, the Ghanaian economy remained in a dire state, in receipt of aid from the UK alone of £12 million between 1963 and 1968,71 and with few, if any of the pressures of the past removed. The Beautyful Ones captures this sense of the entrapment of neoimperialist, capitalist space, its constant ability to absorb that which seeks to threaten it and to make it in its own image anew. Changed only at the surface level, a cosmetic shift effecting little deeper reorientation, the man’s Ghana remains entrapped within the abstract structures of ordering that defined its existence as a colony. As much as ‘space is produced according to the spatial properties of this set of productive forces’ it is equally the case 68 NA, FCO 38/150, Ghana Political Affairs (Internal), Letter from British High Commission, Accra to Donald C. Tebbit, West and General African Department, Commonwealth Relations Office, 13 January 1968. 69 NA, FCO 38/169, Ghana: Internal Economic Situation, Economic Report for Quarter Ended 30 September 1968. 70 Ibid., letter from British High Commission James D. Miller to Commonwealth Office V.E. Davies, Summary of the Comments made by Brigadier A.A. Afrifa, NLC Member and Commissioner for Finance, at a Press Conference on 7 March, 12 March 1968. 71 NA, FCO 38/176, Loan for Aid and Development from UK to Ghana, 1968.

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that a change in superficial nomenclature without a change in the underlying systems of production results in a stagnation that can be read as little more than a sedimentation of forms.72 This oppressive dynamic is aptly captured in the continued spectacle of bribery at the end of The Beautyful Ones’ pages and the novel’s last lines, which follow the man as ‘[h]e walked very slowly, going home’ (183). These lines have been subject to a range of interpretations, read alternately as embodying a renewed sense of possibility in the nation-state, ‘participat[ing] in the affirmation of an enduring human passion for singular development and social justice’ and a form of ‘romantic redemption’ between protagonist and wife;73 signalling an ironic failure, the appearance of a new bus at the novel’s conclusion marking ‘a futile renewal, another attempt to cover decay with shiny surfaces’;74 or as embodying ‘a simple and profound uncertainty’.75 Focusing primarily on the appearance of the bus in the final passages of the novel, these analyses neglect the import of its last words, imbued with the inevitability of the spatial practices that dictate social life in the unchanged nation. Far from marking a break with the spatial systems of the past, that is, the spatial structures that dominate Armah’s novel reinscribe themselves in its final moments, returning the man to his perpetual wanderings across a city-space fabricated by the movements of the walking dead, deliberately echoing the opening pages of the novel. In direct contravention of claims that the novel forcibly uncouples the private and public,76 this conclusion re-emphasises the totality of space, felt in an inconsistent and uneven register across scales and locations, in its administration not just of spatial practices and representations, but the very bodily affectivity of the sociality. Much has been written about the ‘not yet’ of The Beautyful Ones and the novel’s simultaneous invocation of a messianic space-time never to be and foreclosure of the same. If Armah’s novel has become paradigmatic in its portrayal of post-independence disillusionment, however, it is by no means singular in its invocation of the truncated possibilities of political change. Like The Beautyful Ones, Sembène Ousmane’s Xala develops a class-based critique of the perils of national consciousness, in Fanonian terms, in the post-independence state, here deploying a satirical idiom that registers the incongruent unity of space in the post-independence nation-state through an absurdist fantasy of popular vengeance. If in the previous chapter my readings suggested that Francophone 72 Smith, Uneven Development, p. 118. 73 Lutz, ‘Pessimism’, p. 110; Jarrod Dunham, ‘The Fanonian Dialectic: Masters and Slaves in Ayi Kwei Armah’s The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born’, The Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 47.2 (2012), 281–94 (p. 283). 74 Stewart Crehan, ‘Phantasy and Repression in The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born’, Research in African Literatures, 26.4 (1995), 104–20 (p. 106). 75 Esty, ‘Excremental Postcolonialism’, p. 41. 76 Esty, ‘Excremental Postcolonialism’, p. 43.

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texts, in contrast to their Anglophone counterparts, displayed a more pernicious rootedness in the vertical spatial strictures of colonialist modes of ordering, Xala registers a spatial order that is far more mutable in its horizons and displays an elastic range of competing visions of spatial ecologies. Indeed, in contrast to both the revised edition of People of the City and The Beautyful Ones, where the once-flexible spaces of the independence-era crumble under a rigid enforcement of the spatial logic of global capitalism, Xala displays a spatial ordering far more porous in its invocation of its internal contradictions and potential for oppositional visions. The novel centres on the travails of El Hadji, a member of a group of elite hommes des affaires [business men], who on the night of his marriage to his young third wife is struck by a xala, or curse, that renders him impotent. Satirical in its force as a Fanonian–Marxian critique of the neoliberal (under)development of Senegal in its first decade of independence, Xala calls upon an ‘irreal’ aesthetic idiom to register the agonistic process of spatial stratification and gesture towards the buried, though not yet foreclosed, possibilities of alternative modes.77 Extant criticism of the novel focuses on its dramatisation of Senegalese city life on the cusp of modernity and tradition, with readings lauding the novel as ‘an excellent introduction to this African city still struggling to conciliate the two civilizations it has inherited’,78 positioning its protagonist as a symbol of the incomplete ‘synthesis’ of cultures,79 who ‘represents, experiences, and eventually articulates the impotence of his class’.80 While there is certainly something to be said for the ways in which Xala dramatises the overlapping force of distinct spatial ecologies, however, my readings below focus not on the novel as exemplifying a staid binary between ‘tradition’ and ‘modernity’, but rather examines the ways in which these seemingly-opposed registers coalesce into an uneven totality riven by the ongoing imperatives of capitalist spatiality, felt through the legacies of colonialism and the unfinished process of decolonisation. In previous chapters, I have touched to some extent on the path through which Senegal gained its independence from France, first as part of the shortlived Fédération du Mali, along with present-day Mali, then known as Soudan, and later, as an independent republic. Central to my argument about the constitution of space in Xala is the extent to which Senegal’s independence was won at the cost of the possibility of large-scale confederation and West African 77 WReC, Combined and Uneven Development, p. 51. 78 Martin O. Deschênes, ‘Xala by Ousmane Sembène; Clive Wake’ (review), World Literature Today, 52.1 (1978), 166 (p. 166). 79 Eli Park Sorensen, ‘Naturalism and Temporality in Ousmane Sembène’s Xala’, Research in African Literatures, 41.2 (2010), 222–43 (p. 226). 80 Josef Gugler and Oumar Cherif Diop, ‘Ousmane Sembène’s Xala: The Novel, the Film, and Their Audiences’, Research in African Literatures, 29.2 (1998), 147–58 (p. 147).

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cooperation as envisioned by Senghor in the years leading to the collapse of French colonialism. Pan-African unity held a significant position within antiimperialist discourse throughout the years leading to formal independence. Even the institution of the Communauté française, predicated on territorial devolution, was reframed in late anti-imperialist discourse in the language of collaboration and unity, governed by ‘the rules of interdependence of peoples, established in autonomous states at the heart of the Community’,81 and decided upon by a population who ‘took note and acted with loyalty and unanimity to bring about the logical consequences’ as the only means of combating the influence of Britain and the Cold War powers, whose force individual states would not be able to withstand.82 Citing the ‘unification of black Africa and disappearance of artificial borders’ as the means for ‘entering with France into a confederation of free and equal people’,83 and the only way to avoid the tendency to fragmentation and competition encouraged by the existing structures,84 p ­ olitical rhetoric by Senghor and his peers around the time of the dissolution of the French Union repeatedly emphasised the critical importance of pan-African formations for the project of decolonisation. The tensions that surrounded competing impulses to confederal unity and territorial sovereignty come to light in a 1959 speech to the Grand Conseil de L’Afrique-Occidentale française by President Modibo Keita, leader of Soudan. Lambasting a recent upsurge in xenophobic attacks across French West Africa, Keita explicitly pleads for a denunciation of territorially bounded nationalisms in order to ‘bring body and life to what the colonial regime had built [in its ensemble of economic and human connections] and which accelerated the development of an African consciousness through the establishment of the Federation of French West Africa’.85 Yet, attempts at a genuine political and economic form of pan-Africanist solidarity routinely failed, hampered by nationalist rivalry and French propaganda, described by one political leader as ‘justified by nothing if not the systematic intention to intervene in the internal affairs of States’ and elsewhere described 81 ANOM, FR ANOM 61COL2289/6 Essemblées et Conseils AOF, Grand Conseil de L’Afrique Occidental Française, Session Extraordinaire, Discours du Président Modibo Keita, Janvier 1959. 82 ANOM, FR ANOM 61COL2257/4/3 Vie politique, 1957/58, Congrès de Cotonou 1957/1958, PRA Conference Presse 19 Octobre 1958 de M. L. Senghor. 83 ANOM, FR ANOM 61COL2257/4/2, AFP SPECIAL OUTRE MER, No. 3612, UNION FRANCAISE, INDEPENDENCE IMMEDIATE, RECLAME LE CONGRES DU P.R.A., 27 and 28 julliet 1958. 84 ANOM, FR ANOM 61COL2257/2, L’évolution institutionelle de l’Afrique noire française, Extrat du No. 614 du 24 Mai 1958 de ‘Perspectives’. 85 ANOM, FR ANOM 61COL2289/6 Essemblées et Conseils AOF, Grand Conseil de L’Afrique Occidental Française, Session Extraordinaire, Discours du Président Modibo Keita, Janvier 1959.

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as driven by the realisation that ‘twelve small nations would be more likely to stay close to France than two large ones’.86 France was not alone in its interventions, and indeed a larger pattern of imperial intervention can be regarded as a major factor in the flaccidity of pan-Africanist movements.87 As Fanon once described it, ‘African unity, a vague term, but nevertheless one to which the men and women of Africa were passionately attached and whose operative function was to put incredible pressure on colonialism, reveals its true face and crumbles into regionalisms within the same national reality.’88 The consistent failure with which attempts at confederation, once thought ‘a necessity’ for ‘establish[ing] the conditions of sufficient equality without which no authentic Community can be designed, only a new, disguised form of the colonial empire’, consistently fell indicates the potency of bilateral centralisation, coalescing around France as (neo)imperial centre, and the speed with which the open potentialities of decolonisation collapsed under the hegemonic norms of the nation-state as spatial locus.89 Put more plainly, pan-Africanism and confederation were ways of imagining alternative political futures in which a different geopolitical mapping might prevail, one in which true liberation from the colonial yoke would manifest through the medium of alternative forms of inter-territorial collaboration. The global capitalist system underpinning imperialism, by contrast, relied on the production of centres and peripheries across varying spatial scales. PanAfrican confederation, with its reimagination of the consolidation of space, power and ordering, therefore presents a radical challenge, demanding new modes of alignment beyond global capitalism’s boundaries and thus a demand for new modes of production. Driven largely by neoimperial interests and the machinations of the former colonial masters, the failure of pan-Africanism may thus be read as a symptom of the entrenchment of global capitalism, dependent on the continuation of old forms of domination under new names. With the potential of pan-African confederation to reorganise spatial structures and lines of influence in the region thwarted, the newly independent 86 ANOM, FR ANOM 61COL2230, Communauté française, affaires diverses, 1944/1961, Rapport Politique présenté par M. Doudou Guèye à la conference des partis fédéralistes, 24 Mars 1959; Patrick Manning, Francophone Sub-Saharan Africa 1880–1995 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), p. 146. 87 One report from the British Colonies Information Service, for instance, explicitly makes clear how ‘the aspirations of pan-Africanism could prove to be of advantage’ as a ‘natural defense against [...] external influences, particularly from the Soviet Union and the Arab Republic, to which African countries will increasingly be exposed’ (NA, FCO 141/13687, Nigeria: West African Colonies Information Service correspondence, Africa: The Next Ten years, 1959–1960). 88 Fanon, Wretched, p. 106. 89 ANOM, FR ANOM 61COL2230, Communauté française, affaires diverses, 1944/1961, Rapport Politique présenté par M. Doudou Guèye à la conference des partis fédéralistes, 24 Mars 1959.

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nations of French West Africa remained entangled in radically asymmetrical bilateral relationships with the (neo)imperial metropole, economically dependent on France under the auspices of the Fonds d’aide et de cooperation (FAC), the successor to the colonial-era FIDES programme discussed in the previous chapter. Like its predecessor, FAC was largely financed by African taxes rather than French largesse and further promoted ‘arrangements on trade which served the interests of France by guaranteeing the African countries as markets for French goods’.90 Despite the changed nomenclature, records from FAC betray a relationship of continuity, rather than reform. A 1960 study, for example, locates Senegalese proposals for aid within ‘a long-term development plan’ initiated in 1958 and created under the counsel of the French government.91 Despite the political realignment forged by the end of formal colonisation, such observations indicate the extent to which economic systems of dependence and subordination remained largely unchanged, at best reinforced by their now-submerged character underneath the veneer of political independence. This state of affairs is given voice in the opening scenes of Xala, which describe the pageantry surrounding the inauguration of the first African president of ‘la Chambre de Commerce et d’Industrie’, the nationalist bourgeoisie who have inherited the powers of state from their colonial masters. Couched initially in the language of liberation, these opening lines reveal the ongoing puissance of colonialist paradigms now funnelled through a language of nationalism mediated by the logic of global capitalist modernity: La nomination d’un des leurs à ce poste de Président de la Chambre de Commerce les faisait espérer. Pour ces hommes réunis ici, c’était plus qu’une promesse. Pour eux, c’était la voie ouverte à un enrichissement sûr. Un accès aux affaires économiques, un pied dans le monde des finances, et enfin, la tête hautement levée. Ce qui hier était un rêve pour eux, aujourd’hui se réalisait. L’acte de ce jour aurait toute sa portée dans les jours à venir. Son importance méritait cette libation…92 [The nomination of one of their own to this post of President of the Chamber of Commerce made them hope. For the men gathered here, this was more than a promise. For them, this was the open path to sure enrichment. Access to economic affairs, a foot in the world of finances, and finally, a head held high. What was yes-

90 Manning, Francophone Sub-Saharan Africa, p. 124; p. 125. 91 ANOM, FR ANOM 191COL33/250, Afrique occidentale/Afrique équatoriale: Sénégal et Congo, programme FAC (Fons d’aide et de cooperation), Études générales, Comité Directeur du Fonds d’Aides et de cooperation, République du Sénégal, Programme F.A.C. 1960. 92 Ousmane Sembène, Xala (Paris: Présence Africaine, 1973), p.  8. Henceforth cited intext. English translations are my own.

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terday just a dream today realised itself. Today’s act would carry them through all the days to come. Its importance merited this libation…]

As it unfurls, this passage foregrounds the entrenchment of the ostensibly free nation within an uneven landscape of (neo)imperialism. Using the messianic language of hope and promise for a future untold, the dreams of independence recounted in this passage only register through the idiom of commerce, making plain national consciousness’s existence only as a ‘crude, empty, fragile shell’;93 liberation, that is, arises not through political revolution but through economic control, where pride comes with finance and the ‘dream’ of independence is reduced to its measure in monetary riches. The (re)doubled language of this passage, and the contradictory orders that it interlays and entangles, become further complicated with the revelation that, for all their bluster, these hommes des affaires are little more than middlemen, an ‘underdeveloped bourgeoisie’ in Fanonian terms.94 In their 1958 manifesto, the radically anti-colonialist Mouvement Africain de Libération Nationale writes that ‘the industrial sector, which has been a taboo area for colonial territories to the present day, must be an object of particular care’.95 This statement captures the necessity, for true decolonisation, that the colonised take control of the means of production, gaining agency through the active control of industry. This is far from the case for the hommes des affaires of Xala, who are instead revealed as mere salesmen, mediating agents for their former masters, lacking any and all productive capacity. As is the case in so many of the novels that I have discussed, Xala most potently renders its configuration of space through the motif of traversal, following El Hadji’s many journeys across the city of Dakar and its environs as he travels between his three wives’ villas, his office and the residences of the many healers who he consults in a search for a cure. The recurrence of traversal across my readings is no coincidence; as Quayson has written, ‘the traversal from one location to another also registers the movement between different ethical domains. […] the switch between spaces is also a switch between different notions of the relationship between the real and the esoteric, or between forms of causality that are not entirely reducible to human expediency or even understanding’.96 By moving through and across disparate places, that is, literary traversals register the multiplicity of space and its productive function. It is worth noting at this stage that urban transport – and urban traversals – were of no small interest in the planning and development of Dakar. The lack of an ‘organised urban transport network’ in the city was recognised as being ‘a serious lacuna’ 93 Fanon, Wretched, p. 97. 94 Fanon, Wretched, p. 98. 95 ANOM, FR ANOM 61COL2257/4/2 Vie Politique 1957/1958, Manifeste du mouvement africain de libération nationale, 1958. 96 Quayson, Oxford Street, p. 215.

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in its organisation as early as 1954.97 Citing the need for an organised traffic plan, which would enable essential journeys between the city’s commercial centres and its residential ones, while connecting the developing suburbs of the presqu’il du Cap Vert, of which Dakar marked the farthest eastern point, to the industrial heart of the city,98 early plans for transport in the city lend credence to the view of urban space as ‘divided between spaces of production and spaces of reproduction leading to the local concentration of specific activities and land uses’.99 Echoing the urban planning projects of Haussmann (Paris) and Moses (New York), projects that enabled ways of ‘thinking about the urban process’ and defining ‘ways[s] to absorb surplus product’ through the spatial arrangements of the city,100 visions for Dakar and its environs demonstrate a sensitivity to the role of space in the reproduction of capitalist norms. This is a dynamic that echoes across Xala, presenting a fragile spatial edifice that eventually crumbles as the carefully administered discrete spaces of El Hadji’s Dakar coalesce around his increasingly frantic search for a cure. Central to the spatial traversals of the novel is El Hadji’s Mercedes, a private refuge which, as Eli Park Sorensen notes, ‘becomes a shelter for El Hadji, a private space where he can allow himself to feel helpless and desperate (which he is not allowed in public or in front of his family)’.101 It would be easy, taking this reading, to interpret El Hadji’s constant retreat to his car in a light similar to the stratification of modes of transportation in The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born, in which economic privilege manifests in a form of mobility, able to step beyond the rigidly enforced stratification of the city. Yet, the spatial arrangements that dictate El Hadji’s daily life fail to provide this manner of utopian refuge so unproblematically. While taking on board Park Sorensen’s observation that the car is the only space to which El Hadji can claim any sort of identification – midway through the novel, for instance, he bitterly laments his lack of fixed address, as he shuttles perpetually between his three wives’ villas with no place of his own – it is equally important to note the contingency upon which that identification is based and its implication in the economic ordering of postindependence Senegal. Put plainly, as we discover by the end of the novel, the Mercedes is not, and has never been, a straightforwardly private space and is 97 ANOM, FR ANOM 93COL13, Ministère des Colonies, Inspection Générale des Travaux Publics, XIX Siècle-1965, letter dated 2 April 1954 from the haut commisaire de la république gouverneur général de l’Afrique occidentale française to Monsieur le ministre de la France d’outre-mer. 98 Ibid., NOTE COMPLEMENTAIRE pour la Direction du Contrôle (Groupe d’études de la réorganisation administrative de l’A. O. F.) (à l’attention de Monsieur l’Inspecteur de la France d’Outre-Mer CARLE), 18 September 1954. 99 Smith, Uneven Development, p. 183. 100 Harvey, Rebel Cities, p. 9. 101 Park Sorensen, ‘Naturalism and Temporality’, p. 228.

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available to El Hadji only on credit, under the tenuous balance of his continued payments. By the end of the novel, the Mercedes has been repossessed owing to non-payment of the associated fees, returned to le Crédit Automobile, reverted to its true ownership, and exposed as another form of ‘fictitious capital’.102 This situation repeats across a number of spaces that act as temporary refuges for El Hadji in the novel, including his ‘bureau’, or office, and the hotel room in which he takes solace in the midst of his xala. In each case, the appearance of private space can only be superficial and remains contingent on El Hadji’s continued ability to participate in the exploitative economic transactions that allow him access to these spaces unavailable to the impoverished masses that surround them. As soon as his position within the capitalist economic systems of independent Senegal is compromised, El Hadji, too, is expelled. The use of a private vehicle implies a form of hierarchical social isolation, in which the chaos of the streets outside may be covered over by the fabricated tranquillity within, a form of escape from the heterotopic spontaneity of the street as place of animation and encounter and a refusal of the common.103 In his reading of Xala, Park Sorensen argues that ‘the world we encounter in Xala seems [...] to be incomplete’, explaining that ‘The villas are all located in expensive, urban areas, screened off, and protected from the misery and poverty of the rest of the city, of which we hear very little (except only marginally), thus isolating El Hadji’s world from the surrounding realities – the beggars, and the ongoing oppression.’104 Like the villas, El Hadji’s car, too, functions as a buffer, ostensibly allowing him to traverse the spaces of the city without ever fully entering them, to navigate without needing to participate. Yet, the car is by no means consistent in its ability to prevent El Hadji from having to enter the larger sociality; at two key moments in the novel the car fails entirely. In both cases, El Hadji is forced out to travel on foot and by horse-cart, left exposed and driven into the social spaces that his life is organised to avoid. Perhaps unsurprisingly, both of these episodes occur during scenes in which El Hadji heads into the hinterlands surrounding Dakar, attempting to meet with traditional healers in search of a cure for his xala. These landscapes, set beyond the modernised image of the city, with its tarred roads and shopping districts, are described in terms that foreground their difference: crammed with homes ‘en bois, semi-dures, recouvertes de tôles, de toiles goudronnées, de feuilles de carton, le tout maintenu par des cailloux, des barres de fer, des essieux, des jantes de roues de toutes marques’ (91) [‘made of wood, semi-permanent, covered with sheets, tarpaulins, cardboard, all held by pebbles, iron bars, axles, wheel rims of all brands’]; populated by ‘bambins, pieds nus’ (91) [‘barefoot toddlers’] and ‘une longue file de femmes 1 02 Harvey, Rebel Cities, p. 39. 103 Lefebvre, Urban Revolution, p. 18. 104 Park Sorensen, ‘Naturalism and Temporality’, p. 226.

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portant sur la tête des bassines, des seaux en matière plastique, revenaient de la borne-fontaine de l’autre côté de la zone, du côté de la vraie ville’ (91) [‘a long line of women carrying plastic buckets on their heads, returning from the fountain on the other side of the village, the side of the real town’]; battered by the sun, ‘[l]es effluves de chaleur, montant en vapeur vers un ciel vide, torturaient ses yeux non accoutumés’ (120) [‘the scent of heat, rising in vapours up to an empty sky, tormenting their unaccustomed eyes’]; places that ‘n’avait ni boutique, ni école, ni dispensaire, ni aucun point d’attraction’ (121) [‘had neither shop, nor school, nor dispensary, nor any other attraction’]. These descriptions render the village beyond the city as a space of wilderness, part of a historical discourse in which the countryside ‘is not just the antithesis of civilization; it is barren, terrible; even sinister, not just the home of the savage but his natural home’,105 a complete and utter effacement of the progress of the town and a total naturalisation of intrinsic spatial difference. Set in a post-independence context in which medium- and long-term economic plans focused on rural development schemes aimed to maximise productivity through the geographical distribution of cash crops and application of a top-down agricultural policy,106 emphasising the incommensurability of the town and the countryside, the depiction of the city’s hinterlands as an atavistic space comes as no surprise. Taken together, it would be tempting to read these moments as a juxtaposition of competing visions of modernity and its spatial orderings. On a surface level, this is precisely the force of these passages, placing the urbane hauteur of El Hadji in an incongruous position against the seemingly archaic and traditional world of the village and suggesting an interpretation based on the clash of incongruent spatial ecologies. Indeed, it is precisely this dynamic that occupies Jameson in his nuanced reading of the novel: Here, then, more emblematically than virtually any other text I know, the space of a past and future utopia – a social world of collective cooperation – is dramatically inserted into the corrupt and westernized money economy of the new postindependence national or comprador bourgeoisie. Indeed, Ousmane takes pains to show us that the Hadj is not an industrialist, that his business is in no sense productive, but functions as a middle-man between European multinationals and local extraction industries. To this biographical sketch must be added a very significant fact: that in his youth, the Hadj was political, and spent some time in jail for his nationalist and pro-independence activities. The extraordinary satire of these corrupt classes (which Ousmane will extend to the person of Senghor himself in The Last

1 05 Smith, Uneven Development, p. 20, emphasis original. 106 ANOM 191COL33/250, Études générales, Comité Directeur du fonds d’aide et de cooperation, République du Sénégal, Programme F.A.C., 1960.

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of the Empire) is explicitly marked as the failure of the independence movement to develop into a general social revolution.107

While broadly in agreement with Jameson’s claim that the novel, through its insertion of these brief biographical details, highlights the paucity of the nationalist movement to translate into true revolution, what is elsewhere characterised as ‘the poisoned gift of independence’,108 when examined on a spatial register another set of meanings begin to emerge from the intrusion of these apparently idyllic village scenes within a novel so otherwise occupied with bourgeois urban space. At the same time that the village is described as a world apart, the symbols of sameness permeate its realisation whether in the plastic of the women’s buckets, the technology of the water pump, the improvised football of the children or the measurement of the space in terms of its negation from the shops and services of the city. That El Hadji’s visit to Serigne Mada, the healer who eventually cures him, ends with the transfer of funds through payment by cheque is itself indicative of the interpenetration of space which these passages betray, emphasised in the return of his xala – which, critically, befalls him both times in the city – at the healer’s hand when his cheque bounces. Far from functioning ‘outside time’,109 that is, these spaces remain tightly inscribed within a single system forged through its apparent incongruity, resonating with an increasing sense of totality, which anticipates neoliberal late capitalist spatiality across the long twentieth-century. What Jameson describes as the opposition ‘between capitalism and the older collective tribal form of social life’ produced by El Hadji’s increasingly frantic traversals of the city may be read not as a Manichean binary,110 but as a relationship of interdependency between these seemingly discrete spatialities that gives lie to the allegedly benign claims at the heart of these visions of ‘modernity’ and ‘tradition’. Without diminishing the historical import of the ‘subservience of rural hinterlands to urban networks, which was set in the colonial period and continued in the postindependence phase’,111 the dynamic at play in Xala is more complex than a binary opposition may suggest; what we see, that is, is not a stark urban–rural split but an indication of the mutual constitution of these coeval zones through the production of post-independence space under uneven capitalist development. Moreover, these moments manifest the tendency of capital to ‘convert these external, relatively underdeveloped spaces into places of production and accumulation’ through the development of the ‘urban fabric’, in Lefebvre’s terms, through which the 107 Fredric Jameson, ‘Third-World Literature in the Era of Multinational Capitalism’, Social Text, 15 (1986), 65–88 (p. 81). 108 Jameson, ‘Third-World Literature’, p. 81. 109 Park Sorensen, ‘Naturalism and Temporality’, p. 231. 110 Jameson, ‘Third-World Literature’, p. 83. 111 Smith, Uneven Development, p. 64.

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borders of urbanisation ‘corrode [] the residue of agrarian life’.112 In his analysis of Fanon’s reading of colonial space, Stefan Kipfer identifies a situation in which ‘the (weak and brittle) hegemony of colonialism is predicated on processes of spatial segregation that exist as segregation in colonial cities and on forms demarcating city and countryside through colonial administration’,113 ultimately enacting a form of spatial compartmentalisation. Here, I would add, by way of Xala’s rendering of space as a totality, that the perpetuation of this apparent segregation in the post-independence period serves to belie the twinned processes of differentiation and equalisation on which the uneven geographies of (neo) imperial capitalism are borne; the appearance of segregation by no means negates the presence of a larger totality whose erasure, as Raymond Williams once wrote, serves ‘to promote superficial comparisons and to prevent real ones’.114 It is instructive here to turn from Xala to another example of the literature of post-independence disillusionment from the Francophone world. Ivorian Ahmadou Kourouma’s Les soleils des indépendances is a touchstone novel in the canon of Francophone African writing, notable for the controversy with which it came into publication.115 In many ways, Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire represent opposite poles within the French imperial schema: Senegal, the traditional political centre of French West Africa, versus Côte d’Ivoire, its post-war economic powerhouse; Senghor’s Socialist Party versus Houphouet-Boigny’s Rassemblement Démocratique Africain; Senegal’s support of African confederalism versus Côte d’Ivoire’s preference for bilateral arrangements with France; Senegal’s participation in the Fédération du Mali versus Côte d’Ivoire’s Conseil d’Entente; and more. Indeed, the two territories’ economic trajectories serve as mirrors of sorts, with Senegal’s early prosperity in decline by the early 1970s and Côte d’Ivoire transforming from a largely rural and undeveloped economy in the early 1950s to the largest economy in former French West Africa, ‘well integrated’, as Amin writes, ‘into the world capitalist system’.116 At the same time, as a brief diversion into Kourouma’s novel shows, the underlying spatial

1 12 Smith, Uneven Development, p. 18; Lefebvre, Urban Revolution, p. 4. 113 Kipfer, ‘Fanon and Space’, p. 709. 114 Raymond Williams, The Country and the City (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1973), p. 54. 115 Kourouma was unable to find a publisher for Les soleils in France, largely due to his unorthodox experimentations with language (for instance, a reviewer of the manuscript from La Seuil refers to it as ‘irrecoverable’ owing to its ‘elementary French mistakes’ (Institut mémoires de l’édition contemporaine (IMEC), SEL 3641.1, Kourouma, manuscript report dated 18 April 1966)). The novel was originally published in Montreal by a Quebecois publishing house; it was only after its huge success that it was picked up and published by the very French publishers that had previously rejected it. 116 Amin, Neo-Colonialism in West Africa, p. 66.

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precepts of the two territories remain to a degree linked by their shared origin as French colonial holdings. Les soleils des indépendances is located in the immediate aftermath of political independence, giving voice to this period of transition and rapid integration through development. The novel is set in large part in the capital of the Ebony Coast, easily recognisable as a lightly fictionalised rendering of Abidjan, the capital of Côte d’Ivoire. Throughout its course, the novel follows the unravelling of Fama, a malinké prince displaced by the exigencies of independence and now left to make ends meet as a beggar in the city, and his barren wife Salimata, a victim of female genital mutilation and rape who supports her husband through her work as a food vendor at the city’s docks. From its opening lines, Les soleils captures the segregation and despoliation that characterise life in the city, describing the teeming streets of ‘le quartier nègre’ [‘African quarter’], physically separated from the sterile, white serenity of ‘le quartier des Blancs’ [‘European quarter’], with its skyscrapers and manicured streets, by a large lagoon. This is a city where the sun literally ceases to shine on the native quarter, ‘pour se concentrer sur les blancs immeubles de la ville blanche’ [‘in order to concentrate on the white buildings of the white men’s town’],117 a space of segregation, the prosperity of one zone entirely dependent on the degradation of the other: ‘les immeubles, les ponts, les routes de là-bas, tous bâtis par des doigts nègres, étaient habités et appartenaient à des Toubabs. Les Indépendances n’y pouvaient rien ! Partout, sous tous les soleils, sur tous les sols, les Noirs tiennent les pattes ; les Blancs découpent et bouffent la viande et le gras’ (20) [‘The buildings, bridges and roads over there, all built by African hands, were lived in by Europeans and belonged to them. Independence couldn’t do a thing about it! Everywhere, under every sun, on every soil, Africans hold the beast’s feet, while the Whites carve it up and wolf down the meat and fat’ (11)]. Making explicit the observation that, under the uneven spread of global capitalism, the development of one place requires the exploitation of another, the spaces of Kourouma’s novel foreground the harsh inequities upon which the alleged freedoms of independence lie. Abidjan, as a city, was particularly moulded by this tendency in its built manifestations. As one report dated from the 1960s notes, ‘the feature of Abidjan which calls for immediate attention is how the colonial set up was preserved after independence’, split between the prosperous Plateau peninsula, where Europeans ‘keep the monopoly of business and housing’, ‘luxurious estates of nearby Cocody’ and the crowded African quarter of Treichville.118 In 117 Ahmadou Kourouma, Les soleils des independances (Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1993 [1968]), p. 20. English translations taken from Ahmadou Kourouma, The Suns of Independence, trans. African Adams (New York: Africana Publishing Company, 1981), p. 11 . Henceforth cited in-text. 118 SOAS Library, PP MS 46, 53.4:94, Andrew Hake Papers, Workshops on Urbanization, ‘Introduction to the Urban Problem in Tropical Africa’.

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his notebooks, British anti-colonialist activist Leonard Barnes describes the segregation of the city in stark terms: It is everything an African city ought not to be, (a) a mere creature of French big business, (b) auspicious waste at top, wild want of care for those at bottom. There is nothing African about it. Yes, all the menial work of keeping the town ship-shape is done by many thousands of African petit personnel; but it works in the setting of a purely European value system, just as any petit personnel would in the same setting, whether it were African or not. In this sense they have been deAfricanised. Yes, again, the nominal dirigeants are African by race. But the policies they pursue are those which seem proper to French big business.119

Two observations reappear as common refrains in writing on and around Côte d’Ivoire throughout the 1960s and early 1970s: its continued dependence on France (what is derisively referred to as its desire to be little more than another French département, ‘having failed to take a single step since independence’120) and the starkness of its segregation, both between the countryside and the city and within the city itself. A report published in 1961 in the New Times, for instance, describes how despite growing economic prosperity from the coffee and cocoa trades in the late 1950s and 1960s ‘the rain of francs fell almost exclusively on the capital, Abidjan’, itself split into two parts, one ‘a jumble of cement, glass and plastics’, the other ‘a jumble of wooden and tin shacks, the domain of dirt and disease, of grief and poverty’.121 Indeed, Kourouma’s novel echoes this state of affairs, its repeated depiction of a divided capital city, ‘des toits de tôle grisâtres et lépreux’ (26) [‘leprous, greyish tin roofs’ (15)] of the native quarter held in opposition to the plateau, ‘haut et princier avec des immeubles, des villas multicolores écartant les touffes des manguiers’ (46) [‘aloof and regal with its tall buildings and many-coloured villas set among clumps of mango-trees’ (29)], counterposed with depictions of a nation similarly divided. As we see when Fama first attempts to return to his village for his cousin’s funeral, to take his rightful birthright, such a space is not so easily traversed: Après un virage finissait la route bitumée. On entrait dans la piste et la poussière, la poussière en écran qui bouchait l’arrière, la poussière accrochée en grappes à tous les arbres, à toutes les herbes de la brousse, aux toits des cases ; les routes en arrachaient, l’échappement en refoulait et la poussière tournoyait épisse à l’intérieur de la camion-

119 SOAS Library, PP MS 9/59, Leonard Barnes, 28 notebooks: African countries, ‘Ivory Coast’. 120 Ernest Biakka, ‘Le grand tournant de l’histoire de la Côte d’Ivoire’, Le nouveau réveil, No. 1, December 1963. 121 Miroslaw Azembski, ‘Report on the Ivory Coast’, New Times, 4 October 1961, No. 40, pp. 26–8 (p. 26).

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nette, remplissait yeux, gorges et nez. L’auto avançait sur la piste peine de crevasses, s’y précipitait, s’y cassait et ses secousses projetaient les passagers les uns contre les autres, les têtes contre le toit. Serrer les dents devenait obligation ; en parlant dans le remue-ménage on se tranchait la langue. Un voyage de cette espèce cassait l’échine d’un homme de l’âge de Fama. (92) [After a curve, the surfaced road came to an end. From here on it was just a dirt road, with dust screening off the rear view, dust clustering in all the trees and grasses of the bush, and on the roofs and huts; the road flung it up, the exhaust spewed it out, and dust hovered inside the lorry, filling eyes, throat and nose. As the lorry bumped along the uneven road, the passengers were constantly being flung against each other, their heads hitting the roof. You had to tighten your jaws; if you talked, with all this rattling about you might bite off your tongue. A trip like this was backbreaking for a man of Fama’s age. (63)]

Yet, Les soleils is notable for the extent to which it undermines any reading of this segregation as anything but a case of interdependency and continuity. Fama does indeed traverse the land; in the city black fingers build what white bodies enjoy; and the lagoon, traversed by pirogues, ferries and bridges, cleaves the city, in both senses of the word, its grey nothingness mediating as the continuity between the two sides of black and white. Part of a plan by the departing colonialists, ‘to gain the support of the local bourgeoisie in order, with its help, to preserve their influence and their economic positions’,122 the spatial segregation of the territory, like that of its capital city, speaks to the effort, on the part of capital, to produce difference as a means of reproduction. Yet, Kourouma’s novel refuses this Manicheanism. Instead, the novel foregrounds the continual interdependency of space, its co-constitution across scales and locations through economic, social and political means. This is most strongly evidenced in the scenes that follow Fama’s return to the capital, where he becomes entrenched in the politics of his natal village, despite his physical displacement. Indeed, it is this involvement that leads, eventually, to his imprisonment and subsequent death upon release. That Fama’s death takes place on the bridge that separates the Ebony Coast from the Socialist Republic of Nikinai, a breakaway province in Fama’s natal region, is itself of no little significance, demonstrating the ultimate violence of abstract spatial control. Resounding with this critique of fragmentation and spatial segregation, Les soleils, like Xala, thus demonstrates the paucity of independence as another version of colonialist despoliation. Returning to Xala, what becomes evident in the novel’s rendering of social space is the extent to which seemingly competing spatial systems not only interact but more forcefully enable their mutual constitution across linked but 122 Azembski, ‘Report’.

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uneven scales of order, absorbed into the unity of imperialist–capitalist space. Midway through the novel, for instance, we find one of the few detailed descriptions of El Hadji’s place of work, a ‘vaste hangar qu’il avait loué à un LibanoSyrien’ [‘vast hangar that he had rented from a Lebanese-Syrian’] which holds within it a veritable stable of artefacts attesting to the despoliation of global capitalism, including ‘sacs de riz (en provenance du Siam, du Cambodge, de la Caroline du Sud, du Brésil)’ [‘sacks of rice from Thailand, Cambodia, South Carolina, Brazil’], ‘de produits de ménage, de denrées alimentaires (importées de France, de Hollande, de Belgique, d’Italie, du Luxembourg, d’Angleterre, du Maroc)’ [‘household products and foodstuffs imported from France, Holland, Belgium, Italy, Luxemburg, England, Morocco)’] and ‘des ustensiles en matière plastique, en étain, en fer blanc’ (105) [‘utensils made of plastic and tin’]. Moving from sites of global imperial violence in Southeast Asia, the southern United States and Brazil to the shiny commodities of Luxembourg and France, El Hadji’s inventory reflects the exploitative dynamics of import–export policies in the former colonies once described by Fanon.123 El Hadji, rather than recognise the extent to which the physical constitution of his office betrays the manner in which ‘the “world” is one, integrated if not of course united’,124 views the building as another cloister from the world around him, lamenting those moments when its finds its way in nonetheless: El Hadji Abdou Kader Bèye était affreusement déprimé. Il contemplait la porte de son bureau sans rien voir du mauvais travail des tâcherons. Le vacarme de la rue lui parvenait, coupant ses considérations. Les bribes monotones du chant d’un mendiant, juste de l’autre côté de la rue, l’irritaient. Il revenait à lui comme un noyé retrouve l’air. (53) [El Hadji Abdou Kader Bèye was frightfully depressed. He stared out of his office door without seeing the terrible work of the day labourers. The noise of the street reached him, cutting short his reverie. Snatches of a monotonous beggar’s song, coming from the other side of the road, irritated him. He came back to himself like a drowning person finds air]

Blinded to the true import of his position, both physically and metaphorically, El Hadji is unable to recognise the divisions of labour upon which his fragile edifice of prosperity is founded. The very circuits of exchange that undergird his existence are, quite literally, inconceivable to him, their multiple scales flattened under his inability to see either their global reach or their localised expression in the ‘mauvais travail des tâcherons’. Yet, placing both within the single space of the office, the novel makes clear that the menial labour of the dayworkers is 1 23 Fanon, Wretched, p. 100. 124 WReC, Combined and Uneven Development, p. 5.

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by no means apart from the large-scale movements of commodities and global exchange of the international economy; instead, these intertwine and constitute one another across scales of value and being. The only noise that can penetrate El Hadji’s wilful ignorance is that of the mendicant singer, described elsewhere as a neighbourhood fixture, earning money with his songs and accepted, ‘comme les murs sales, les vieux camions transportant de la marchandise’ (54) [‘like the dirty walls and the old trucks transporting merchandise’] by all except El Hadji. That it is the patron who is unable to recognise the value and the integration of this figure, not without reason likened to the fetid walls of the city’s crumbling infrastructure or the old trucks that move its goods in and out, is itself an indication of the utter alienation with which El Hadji, like the rest of the national bourgeoisie to which he belongs, functions, ignorant of the vicissitudes of everyday life. By the end of the novel, the consequences of this alienation become obvious, as the mendicant reveals himself as the true cause of El Hadji’s xala, his vengeance and retribution for the latter’s theft of his ancestral land: – Notre histoire remonte bien longtemps. C’était un peu avant ton mariage avec cette femme-ci. Tu t’en souviens plus ? J’en étais certain. Ce que je suis maintenant est de ta faute… Te rappelles-tu avoir vendu un grand terrain situé à Diéko (Jéko), appartenant à notre clan ? Après avoir falsifié les noms claniques avec la complicité des hautsplacés, tu nous as expropriés. Malgré nos doléances, nos preuves de propriété de clan, devant les tribunaux nous fûmes déboutés. Non content de t’être approprié notre bien, tu me fis arrêter et jeter en prison. Pourquoi ?... (184) [– Our story began long ago. It was a little bit before your marriage to this woman here. You don’t remember? I’m certain of that. What I am now is your fault. Do you remember a large piece of land situated at Diéko (Jéko), belonging to our clan? After falsifying clan names with the complicity of higher-ups, you stole our land. Despite our grievances, our proof of clan ownership, we were rejected by the tribunals. Not content with having stolen our wellbeing, you had me arrested and thrown into prison. Why?...]

Explaining that his wrath began when El Hadji divested his family of their ancestral land, using a loophole in land tenure laws, the mendicant promises his vengeance. Illustrating the ways in which old colonial rules were melded with ‘traditional’ laws made concrete under colonialism in a manner in which only the ‘worst of two inappropriate [...] systems’ remained,125 this scene exposes the hollow rhetoric of independence with finality. Promising to end El Hadji’s 125 Edgar Pieterse and Susan Parnell, ‘Africa’s Urban Revolution in Context’, in Africa’s Urban Revolution, ed. Susan Parnell and Edgar Pieterse (London: Zed Books, 2014), pp. 1–17 (p. 12).

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torment only if he gives himself to precisely those people of the city his life to date has been organised to ignore, the mendicant forces El Hadji to submit, allowing them entry into the home of his first wife, Adja Awa Astou, the sole spouse to remain with him throughout his xala and his last refuge. The novel ends with El Hadji’s humiliation, while his family cowers in fear in front of an abject spectacle as les miséreux crowd in, each waiting for their turn to hurl saliva and vitriol upon the man. With this ending, the degradation of space is exorcised and displaced onto El Hadji by the beggar’s attack. The myth of a purifying and hierarchical compartmentalisation upon which the spatial practices of the new bourgeoisie rely are riven apart. Through this intrusion into the once-tranquil private sphere of power, the novel reveals the ultimate instability of this neocolonial, post-independence space and the perilous position which, through its violent fragmentation, it can only ever dream of controlling. Concluding in this manner, Xala makes plain what has been under its surface throughout, in the interpenetration of coeval spatial logics under uneven development: the implication of global capitalism as a force of destruction and marginalisation, even for those made central within its peripheries, and the impossibility of maintaining the contradictory imperatives of capitalist, abstract space without violence.

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Social Space Beyond the Public Sphere: Women’s Writing and Contested Hegemonies

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In this study so far, gender has functioned as a counterpoint to the constitution of space that emerges across the texts I have been discussing. From the Drinkard’s courtship of his wife and her subsequent companionship in The Palm-Wine Drinkard to the Faithful Mother’s house in that same text; from the progressivist rationale for the ‘new school’ put forth by La Grande Royale as a counter to the patriarchal structures of the Diallobé in Kane’s L’aventure ambiguë to the centrality of sexual conquest and redemption by Beti’s Medza; from the manner in which women – both through the ‘fallen’ characters of Aina and Beatrice One and the ‘redemptive’ love of Beatrice Two – serve as what Stratton once termed ‘an index of the changing state of the nation’ in both versions of Ekwensi’s People of the City to the gendered division of labour in Les soleils des indépendances;1 gender has been pivotal to the larger workings of spatiality in each text. In order to unpack the ways in which gender, constructions of sexuality and the development of the family have been constituted through the production of colonial and postcolonial space, this chapter turns its attention to the interconnected functions of productive and reproductive labour in the creation, evolution and maintenance of spatiality. Focusing particularly on the gendered dimension through which the international division of labour emerges, I begin by revisiting the construction of spatiality as inherently mediated by a series of sexual divisions and then turn my attention to a selection of writing published from the 1970s to 1990s by prominent women writers: Mariama Bâ’s Une si longue lettre (1979); Ama Ata Aidoo’s Changes: A Love Story (1993); Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood (1979) and Calixthe Beyala’s C’est le soileil qui m’a brûlée (1987). By so doing, I aim in this chapter to recuperate the historical potency of gender as a site through and upon which space is administered and gesture towards the lateral and alternative visions encoded therein. In The Nation Writ Small: African Fictions and Feminisms, 1958–1988, Suzan Z. Andrade identifies space as central to the ways in which women’s writing – and writing about women – has been conceptualised and received. As she 1 Florence Stratton, Contemporary African Literature and the Politics of Gender (London: Routledge, 1994), p. 112.

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argues, ‘readers of novels continue to experience and interpret the public and private realms of human life as separate, despite the fact that feminism and Marxism have taught us that they are linked’,2 construing the former as a domain of uniquely male experience and relegating women’s subjectivity to the latter. Indeed, as my discussions in this chapter will make clear, the private and the public, so conceived, are not merely linked in the emergence of spatiality; rather, they function as inextricably interwoven, co-constitutive elements of a single, shifting and uneven spatial regime. In her claim that contemporary world systems and spatial structures are predicated on a gendered division between the world ‘out there’ and domestic life ‘in here’ Andrade echoes Maria Mies’s study of women in the international division of labour, which argues that the proliferation of the capitalist world(-)system has only been possible through a series of binary divisions, which separate the male and female, the public and private, the centre and its peripheries. Here, the ‘double-faced processes of colonization and housewifization’ function so as to render the labour of certain populations – women, colonised peoples, the economic underclasses – disposable through a ‘strategy of dividing the economy up into “visible” and “invisible” sectors’ such that the inherent dependence of the former on the latter is occluded from sight.3 At its root, this is a form of mystification that seeks to efface the ineffable productivity of reproductive labour: this general production of life, or subsistence production – mainly performed through the non-wage labour of women and other non-wage labourers as slaves, contract workers and peasants in the colonies – constitutes the perennial basis upon which ‘capitalist productive labour’ can be built up and exploited. Without the ongoing subsistence production of non-wage labourers (mainly women), wage labour would not be ‘productive’. In contrast to Marx, I consider the capitalist production process as one which comprises both: the superexploitation of non-wage labourers (women, colonies, peasants) upon which wage labour exploitation then is possible. I define their exploitation as superexploitation because it is not based on appropriation (by the capitalist) of the time and labour over and above the ‘necessary’ labour time, the surplus labour, but of the time and labour necessary for people’s own survival or subsistence production.4

Predicated on a separation of the world into the realm of culture and the realm of nature, reproductive labour is no longer ‘seen as the conscious interaction of a human being with nature, that is, a truly human activity, but rather as an

2 Andrade, The Nation Writ Small, p. 1. 3 Maria Mies, Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale: Women in the International Division of Labour, third edition (London: Zed Books, 2014 [1986]), p. 4; p. 17. 4 Mies, Patriarchy and Accumulation, p. 48, emphasis original.

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activity of nature’,5 and therefore devalued as another natural commodity freely available to all. Yet, such a view utterly ignores the fundamental dependence with which productive labour exists in reference to reproductive labour, the very foundation of its existence and its enabling condition. Indeed, as Smith has noted, probably no metaphor is as prevalent or as deep-seated as the femininity of nature. It’s striking that the treatment of women in capitalist society parallels the treatment of nature. As external nature, women are objects which mankind attempts to dominate and oppress, ravage and romanticize; they are objects of conquest and penetration as well as idolatry and worship. […] But women can never be wholly external since in them resides fertility and the means of biological reproduction. In this sense they are made elements of universal nature, mothers and nurturers, possessors of a mysterious ‘female intuition’ and so on.6

The process of feminisation under which women are relegated to marginal social positions therefore functions internally to the larger processes of differentiation and equalisation that guide the administration of abstract space in its quest for maximum accumulation. Even in its more positive form, this is a process of mystification in which, as bell hooks reminds us, even the tendency to equate women with ‘the will to nourish and affirm the lives of others’ serves at its core to reinforce hegemonic, patriarchal norms,7 leveraging the ideological cleavage between ‘pure nature’ and ‘rationalised culture’ to simultaneously instrumentalise and erase women’s (re)productive labour. The notion that capitalist systems and structures are predicated upon a radical severing of the private from the public is of course no recent observation. In The Production of Space, Lefebvre argues that Social space contains – and assigns (more or less) appropriate places to – (1) the social relations of reproduction, i.e. the bio-physiological relations between the sexes and between age groups, along with the specific organization of the family; and (2) the relations of production, i.e. the division of labour and its organization in the form of hierarchical social functions. These two sets of relations, production and reproduction, are inextricably bound up with one another: the division of labour has repercussions upon the family and is of a piece with it; conversely, the organization of the family interferes with the division of labour. Yet social space must discriminate between the two – not always successfully, be it said – in order to ‘localize’ them.8 5 Mies, Patriarchy and Accumulation, p. 45. 6 Smith, Uneven Development, p. 26, emphasis added. 7 bell hooks, Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center, second edition (London: Pluto Press, 2000), p. 127. 8 Lefebvre, Production of Space, p. 32, emphasis original.

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In these statements, Lefebvre expands upon the thesis he developed in the wake of World War II, arguing that, with the rise of bourgeois, capitalist society comes a compartmentalisation of space previously unknown: Bourgeois society reasserted the value of labour, above all during the period of its ascendancy; but at the historical moment when the relation between labour and the concrete development of individuality was emerging, labour took on an increasingly fragmented character. At the same time the individual, more and more involved in complex social relations, became isolated and inward-looking. Individual consciousness split into two (into the private consciousness and the social or public consciousness); it also became atomized (individualism, specialization, separation between differing spheres of activity, etc.). Thus at the same time a distinction was made between man ‘as man’ on the one hand and the working man on the other (more clearly among the bourgeoisie, of course, than among the proletariat). Family life became separate from productive activity. And so did leisure.9

For Lefebvre, the seeming separation of these interrelated spheres – that of work, private life and leisure time – is both the sign and symptom of the greater alienation of human existence under a system of capitalist accumulation and estranged labour that obscures their natural dialectical relationship. This form of severing, moreover, produces a system in which the individual is simultaneously atomised from their society, while rendered more dependent upon that social formation for the satisfaction of their needs. The individual’s ‘private’ consciousness is complemented by a ‘public’ consciousness; they interact and support one another. The ‘private’ consciousness refers across to the ‘public’ consciousness and vice versa; the one is meaningless without the other. For the ‘private’ individual, the public consciousness contains the most basic social elements that individualism can adapt to; and at the same time it is laden with deceptive words, mystifying ideas and images. In the ‘public’ consciousness the ‘private’ consciousness finds justifications, ready-made explanations, compensations. Individual life oscillates between the one and the other. [...] The private man never really asks himself ‘how he lives’, for he thinks he knows it in advance: he thinks that he owns life like just one more possession; he believes that happiness can be held in the hand, the pounds, shillings and pence of that great capital asset, life.10

Lefebvre’s comments are important for understanding the extent to which this mystification of space, through its compartmentalisation, differentiation and administration by the logic of capital, has penetrated across every facet of social 9 Henri Lefebvre, Critique of Everyday Life: The One-Volume Edition (London: Verso, 2014 [1991]), p. 53. 10 Lefebvre, Critique, p. 215.

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being. At the same time, his comments, written in the context of post-war France, require modification both to be fully relevant to the colonial situation and to capture the specific mechanisms through which the public/private split of capitalist mystification functions with regard to gender and the sexual division of labour. Here, for instance, it is important both to recall Fanon’s assertion of the circular causality of the accumulation of wealth under the colonial situation,11 as well as Mies’s lucid observation that ‘the line dividing the “private” from the “public” is necessarily the same line that divides “private” unregulated male violence (rule of might) from regulated state violence (rule of right)’.12 Equally as pressing is the historical fact of combined and uneven development, a process through which distinct and discrete geographies developed in highly specified – and often oppositional – manners, linked by the dialectic of progression and retrogression but separated through material circumstance and reality. To combat the tendency to reproduce spatial mystifications in the realm of the literary, Andrade suggests a practice of reading that is indebted to Jameson’s conception of national allegory. This is a form of reading that ‘allows one to elucidate new meanings in the domestic sphere of life and in intimate relations between people. The domestic, where women historically have set their novels, offers as sharp an analytic perspective on collectivity and national politics as does the arena of political action.’13 It thereby serves as a means of rectifying the view that women’s writing did not function as ‘part of the national narrative’ while simultaneously dismantling the public/private divide.14 Central to many of my discussions in this chapter, therefore, is Andrade’s observation that the severing of the public and the private is not merely a function of capitalist ideologies, but is itself enshrined at the heart of nationalist discourse in the (post)colonial world through its ‘confirmation of a separate “domestic sphere”’ whose origins lie in the colonialist administration of gender.15 At the heart of the colonial project, that is, was a total reconstitution of society at all levels. While it is certainly the case that the success of this endeavour varied vastly across spatial constellations, with particularly felt effects in cities and so-called ‘productive’ zones, it is equally the case that colonialism shifted the ways in which gender, as a social formation, operated across scales and geographies with distinct ramifications for the post-independence era. Heeding Geraldine Moane’s claim that ‘colonization aided in the systematic accumulation of capital, linked the sexual division of labour to the global division of labour, and enabled

11 Fanon, Wretched, p. 5. 12 Mies, Patriarchy and Accumulation, p. 27. 13 Andrade, The Nation Writ Small, p. 1. 14 Andrade, The Nation Writ Small, p. 5. 15 Andrade, The Nation Writ Small, p. 21.

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the further elaboration of ideologies of white and male superiority’,16 it is therefore essential to map out the landscape of these ideological and material shifts around gender in order to comprehend the full extent of the reorganisation of social space more broadly. In the southeast of what is present-day Nigeria, for instance, Ifi Amadiume has shown the ways in which the imposition of colonial structures based upon a certain hegemonic vision of Victorian norms led to the ‘legitimiz[ation of] a new sexual politics based on a very rigid gender ideology which […] men were able to manipulate effectively in their monopolization of power in the public spheres during the post-independence period’.17 In her study of Nnobi, one town in the region, Amadiume identifies the persistence of what she terms the ‘traditional Igbo dual-sex social systems [which] were mediated by the flexibility of gender constructions in the Igbo language and customs’ during the pre-colonial period.18 Under such systems, women retained a certain level of social and economic independence, realised through their control of market trade. As she writes Except for palm-wine and yam, which were sold by men, most marketing was done by women, so that most of the cash passed through female hands from the sale of either their own or their husband’s goods. Following the principle of the sexual division of labour and gender division of crops, women kept their own profit and what was considered theirs; nothing considered as female and nothing belonging to women was sold by men. But women marketed most of what was considered to be male and as belonging to men, and kept some of the profit. The control of goods and cash by women was a result of their monopoly of market space. This accorded with the Nnobi ideology of female industriousness, economic self-help, and selfsufficiency of the matricentric unit and also was supported and reinforced by the gender ideology which demarcated male and female space.19

Through their combined control of the market economy and with it the subsistence economy, women were given ‘easy access to markets and cash’,20 resulting in a level of independence in daily life and social formations. Despite the prohibition on female land ownership,21 women retained a monopoly over the production of foodstuffs, save yam, and the existence of a system of female titles, along with the inherent flexibility of an ideological system in which sex and gender were decoupled, allowing for the existence of male daughters and 16 Geraldine Moane, Gender and Colonialism (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1999), p. 34. 17 Ifi Amadiume, Male Daughters, Female Husbands: Gender and Sex in an African Society (London: Zed Books, 2015 [1987]), p. 140. 18 Amadiume, Male Daughters, Female Husbands, p. 17. 19 Amadiume, Male Daughters, Female Husbands, p. 39, emphasis added. 20 Amadiume, Male Daughters, Female Husbands, p. 39. 21 Amadiume, Male Daughters, Female Husbands, p. 25.

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female husbands, granted women a certain measure of autonomy. It would, of course, be an error to view such pre-colonial systems as gynocentric utopias; indeed, in Nnobi itself, traditional spatial structures perpetuated a gendered hierarchy in which men remained dominant.22 Yet, and in line with Mies’s observation that ‘modernization and capitalist development have only deprived women workers of their traditional rights, without giving them the new rights of a “proletarian”’,23 it remains the case that the imposition of the colonial order marked a fossilisation of possibility for women through their systematic marginalisation. As Amadiume observes, overwhelming evidence shows that women in Nnobi and in Igboland in general were neither more comfortable nor more advantaged from an economic point of view under colonialism. They had lost their grip on the control of liquid cash; men had invaded the general market, and women were becoming helpless in their personal relations with husbands. But, most important of all, pro-female institutions were being eroded both by the church and the colonial administration.24

Their social and economic power undermined, women were transformed into mere dependants through the imposition of ideological systems that saw the equality of the sexes as a sign of backwardness.25 The changes wrought by colonialism to the women of Nnobi serve as an example of what Mies terms housewifization. This is the process through which women and the reproductive labour in which they partake are systematically stripped of value through a process of capitalisation, which figures women as dependants, ‘hid[ing] behind the figure of the husband, called “breadwinner”, with whom the woman, called “housewife”, has to deal directly and for whom she is supposed to work out of “love”, not for a wage’.26 At the same time, this leverages a notion of ‘flexibilization’, which ‘push[es women] into a whole range of unqualified, low-paid, insecure jobs which they have to do on top of their housework, which, more than ever, is considered their true vocation’.27 Citing 22 Amadiume, for instance, describes the structural inequities reproduced through the physical layout of the compound: ‘The family compound was conceived of and planned as private from the outside. There was a compound wall and an entrance gate to mark this division. Within the compound, the front section can be said to be public in comparison to the rest. It was there that all the prestigious activities such as naming ceremonies, marriages and lineage meetings took place. The women’s section was, on the other hand, physically and ideologically linked to the backyard. The expression for going to the toilet was “going to the back of the house”’ (Amadiume, Male Daughters, Female Husbands, p. 92). 23 Mies, Patriarchy and Accumulation, p. 129. 24 Amadiume, Male Daughters, Female Husbands, p. 132. 25 Mies, Patriarchy and Accumulation, p. 93. 26 Mies, Patriarchy and Accumulation, p. 32. 27 Mies, Patriarchy and Accumulation, p. 16.

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Wallerstein’s observation that ‘those who breed manpower sustain those who grow food who sustain those who grow other raw materials who sustain those involved in industrial production’, Mies’s remarks foreground the ways in which this process is one which is inherently tied to – and indeed, concomitant with – the process of colonisation and its attendant spatialities.28 Here, the changes in the sexual division of labour which are taking place under the impact of this new strategy of integrating all Third World countries and areas into a global market system are such that men may gain access to money, new skills, technology, wage-labour, and productive property. Women, on the other hand, are increasingly defined as ‘dependents’, that is, housewives, irrespective of the fact that in many cases – as, for instance, in Africa – they still play the most crucial role in subsistence production.29

Moreover, the process of housewifization forms the central pillar around which the concept of ‘integrating women in development’ has been built,30 and against which its identification of women as the index for ‘modernisation’ and ‘productivity’ might be measured. Throughout the colonial archive, there emerges an identifiable trend in which women are positioned as synecdochal representatives of a nation’s civility, markers of its trajectory on the apparently universal teleology into development. The memoirs of one British officer, posted in Cameroon in 1960, for instance, highlight the author’s shock at visiting the French-controlled regions of the territory and his resulting shame at the relative underdevelopment apparent in the parts of Cameroon under British trusteeship. Notably, this is registered in an idiom that explicitly links claims to women’s ‘modernity’ with the territory’s own, indicated in remarks that ‘one could not but help reflecting on the difference between the British and French colonial attitudes, when the wife of the Prefect of Doula came into the room beautifully dressed in the latest fashion’.31 Similar sentiments recur across the colonial archive, appearing as early as the turn of the twentieth century, evidenced in missionary reports that place women at the centre of the so-called civilising mission, one going so far as to state that ‘one of the greatest obstacles to [missionary] work lies in the terrible blight fetishism has cast upon the women. We are face to face with the most peculiar and sad fact that the women are our deepest and most determined foes.’32 28 Mies, Patriarchy and Accumulation, p. 71. 29 Mies, Patriarchy and Accumulation, p. 115. 30 Mies, Patriarchy and Accumulation, p. 118. 31 BL, GB 162 MSS.Afr.S.2033(1), Memoirs of British supervision of plebiscite in Southern Cameroons, 1960–1960. 32 SOAS Library, MMS/17/01/02/081, Methodist Missionary Society, ‘The Annual Report, 1905’.

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It is perhaps unsurprising, then, that much of the focus on ‘rural training’ and ‘social development’ would focus explicitly on the control and administration of reproductive labour as a necessary precondition for the control of productive labour and accumulation of its fruits. For the latter, this emerges in the articulation of the desire, as one 1951 paper on the establishment of a rural training centre in southern Nigeria, states, ‘to help young people become better farmers and homemakers’,33 while, for the former, this may be seen in the existence and proliferation of urban social centres whose missions ‘concentrate heavily on maternal and child welfare’, ‘teach[ing] mothers how to care for their babies and inculcate[ing] rudimentary ideas of hygiene’. Noted for their curricula focused on domesticity, with ‘classes in dressmaking, cooking, housekeeping, and house decoration […] designed to improve family living conditions’,34 the proliferation of training programmes in both the rural and urban zones of West Africa indicates an explicit recognition, on the part of colonial powers and their postindependent successors, of the need to extend their socio-political ideologies into the less-visible realm of the domestic sphere. In both cases, what emerges is a simultaneous acknowledgement of the dependence of productive labour on its reproductive corollary, and a desire to maximise influence within the family sphere such as to best engender a productive work force. In this context, the generalised observation that women’s ‘unpaid or low paid labour as farm workers, as factory workers, as housewives had […] been the base of what has been called modernization in developing countries’,35 rendered invisible through its framing as a form of subsidisation of male labour, aptly captures this more far-reaching dynamic. As Cooper notes, during the late colonial era and period of reform immediately preceding independence, What was critical to the reformers was the social reproduction of the labor force: that the new generation be brought up adequately nourished and familiarized with urban and industrial environments so that its members would be more productive and predictable than their fathers. Stabilization, as the new policy was called, implied that women should leave their villages to join their husbands near their places of work, and take up the reproduction of the labor force – under the watchful eyes of nurses, teachers, and bureaucrats.36

33 BL, GB 162 MSS.Arf.S.1779(1), George Norman Herington Papers, Papers on Rural Education in Nigeria from G.N. Herington, 1933–65; see also NA CO 544/756, Revised Plan of Development and Welfare for Nigeria 1951–56. 34 SOAS Library, PP MS 46, 53.4:93, Andrew Hake Papers, Workshop on Urbanization Problems in Africa, Social Welfare and Urbanization in Africa, 1962. 35 Mies, Patriarchy and Accumulation, p. 118. 36 Cooper, Decolonization, p. 2.

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In a situation in which ‘men would produce, and women would reproduce’,37 women became the site upon which larger anxieties around the need to forge and manipulate an ‘African personality’ to best maximise its productivity were realised. From more implicit references to the ‘psycho-political order’ upon which African society must be built,38 to more explicit references to the forms of social engineering that might fix populations in their proper place – whether rural or urban – and create conditions under which they would ‘participate, at the centre of new structures, in the creation of public wellbeing’,39 and ‘actively participate in the realisation of [these] programmes’ through an entrenched form of ‘human investment’,40 women and the reproductive labour in which they participate remained at the forefront of developmentalist concerns. Captured in the declaration that ‘the future of Africa depends in large measure on the African women. More sensitive than the African man to the needs of the home, she takes a lively interest in anything that can, directly or indirectly, improve family living conditions,’41 this is a body of rhetoric that betrays a tension between a desire to perpetuate so-called ‘traditional’ structures, now oriented as a means of continuing the division of space and power, and the drive to the accumulation of capital through women’s active participation in the labour force. Within this matrix of anxiety emerges a clear need to benefit from the exploitation of the latter, while leveraging the former to render it invisible. As one report from the International Labour Organisation notes, in the process of economic development, African women must not lose status and respect they have won for themselves through the responsibilities they have assumed in the family and community life. It will, therefore, be necessary to ensure that, as economies become more industrialised, there is no deterioration of the position of women as workers but rather an increasing improvement of their position through measures aimed at enabling them to assume still greater responsibilities in relation to economic, social and cultural development of their countries.42

37 Cooper, Decolonization, p. 366. 38 ANOM, FM 1AFF-POL/2257/1, Perspectives d’avenir de l’Afrique Noire. 39 ANOM, FR ANOM 191COL47/352, Républic du Sénégal, F.A.C. 1960, Développement des productions. 40 ANOM, FR ANOM 191COL47/352, Fédération du Mali, Republique du Sénégal, Loi Sénégalaise no 60.014 du 13.1.1960 pourtant création, au Sénégal, de Centres d’Expension Rurale. 41 NA, CO 859/1518, African Advisory Committee Resolution on the Working Conditions of Women and Young Workers in Africa, International Labour Organisation, ILO 2-I, 27 March 1962. 42 NA, CO 859/1518, ‘The Environment and Conditions of Work for African Women, ILO Paper AF.A.C./II/1.

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Claiming that ‘a great deal of the wind of change has blown men forward but left the women sheltered behind walls of tradition’, reports such as this cite women as ‘essential to Africa’s future’ because of their importance ‘for the well-being of the Africans and for marriage, families and the up-bringing of children’.43 Parallel to the anxiety around the erosion of traditional kinship and community structures with modernisation, then, is an anxiety around the changes to women, who, now ‘without an occupation ceases to be an asset to her menfolk and instead acts as a drag, thus preventing standards from rising; she also lags personally behind her male contemporaries and thus impedes efforts to improve the standards of living of the country’.44 Claiming the ‘enormous amount of good work [that] is being done by government departments, fundamental education centres, and other bodies to teach women home crafts and home economics outside schools’, citing areas including ‘hygiene, health, nutrition, cooking, sewing, etc., house improvement, but also how to reduce the work involved in performing household tasks’,45 the explicit aim presented in these documents is to maximise the ability of women to participate in income-generating activities while at the same time maintaining the reproductive activities upon which these are built. A brief return to two of the novels analysed in the previous chapter illustrates the mechanisms through which gender underwrites the constitution of literary space and its worlding of the (post)colonial world. In both The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born and Xala, the appearance, maintenance and contestation of a division between the realms of the private and the public, the domestic and the political, the female and the male, is illustrative of the larger movements with which gender identities and spatial configurations were manipulated in the middle decades of the twentieth century in West Africa, with considerable bearing on the discussions of women’s writing that form the crux of this chapter. The centrality of the reproductive foundation to the development of space and spatiality in post-independence Ghana is signalled in the title of The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born. Figuring the nation as a space yet to attain the promises embedded in the utopian potential of a different figure, a new sort of rebirth, the interrelated notions of fecundity and waste permeate through the novel. From the man’s repugnance for his wife Oyo’s Caesarean scars to the novel’s climactic scene, in which the man acts as midwife for Koomson, coaching and pushing him through his rebirth in shit, the dialectal play of rot and birth resounds in Armah’s narrative. Yet, even beyond these more explicit references to the interconnectivity of reproduction and production in the forging of Ghana as an 43 Ibid. 44 NA, CO 859/1518, ‘The Report: International Labour Organisation, African Advisory Committee, ‘The Employment and Conditions of Work of African Women’, 1962. 45 Ibid.

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ostensibly postcolonial space, the novel resonates with the import of gendered dualities and divisions in its constitution of spatiality. Central here are two interrelated strands: the ways in which domestic space, on its surface apparently severed from the stagnation of life outside, functions in a manner that foregrounds the interpenetration of the public and private sphere through the man’s increasing ennui, laying waste to the mystifications of capital that purport to sever the two; and, equally, the home as an entry point into a larger critique of the recursive patterns of oppression, differentiation and homogenisation that run rampant across the country writ large. Though occupying significantly less space than their male counterparts, moreover, women, throughout The Beautyful Ones’ pages, function as the foundation upon which its critique is forged. Built upon the man’s weary resignation to ‘the reproach of loved ones’ (35), the very alienation at the heart of the novel manifests itself upon the bodies and persons of its female characters, the dereliction of the national landscape encapsulated in the hissing of a prostitute described merely as ‘the mass of [a] wig’ and ‘the bright circle of an earring’ (36), the decadence of its rulers in Estelle, Koomson’s wife, ‘a sharp voice’ (36), neat wig and vacuous emptiness animated by little other than her reverence for European fashions and commodities and the self-perpetuating nature of this materialism encoded in the narrative’s depiction of Oyo, enraptured, in the words of one critic, by ‘her and her mother’s materialistic pursuit of “the gleam”’.46 Indeed, throughout the novel, it is Oyo’s disappointment, and Oyo’s resentment, which appears to drive the man on his repeated wanderings through the desolate landscapes of Sekondi-Takoradi, marking the sedimentation of a national disillusionment within the allegedly discrete boundaries of the domestic sphere and vice versa. That it is Oyo who first accuses the man of acting as a chichidodo, a bird which ‘hates excrement with all its soul’ but ‘only feeds on maggots’, a beneficiary of that which it detests (45), offers the potential for a reading in which it is only through the eyes of those for whom the cleavage of the public and private, the submerged and the visible, is made impossible through their own positioning at the unread margins of both that the true interdependencies that mediate social space in its formation of subjectivities across all scales are possible. Optimistic readings of novel cite Oyo and the man’s reconciliation following the coup as a sign of a potential regeneration, arguing that it marks ‘the ultimate gratification of the desire for recognition’ that motivates the novel,47 opening itself towards the potential for a new ethics of love and reciprocity. At the same time, these very conclusions recentre anew the instrumentalisation of women, their bodies and their labour. In Xala, too, gender and sexuality reinscribe the mediated and encoded norms engendered by the administration of space, while simultaneously 46 Retief, ‘Homoeroticism’, p. 66. 47 Dunham, ‘Fanonian Dialectic’, p. 292.

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signalling its internal contradictions, encapsulated again in its very title, the curse of impotence. In the previous chapter, I discussed the extent to which ElHadji’s quest is amplified by his constant trajectories across Dakar, moving from villa to villa, between home and office, without a space of true refuge. Indeed, even the three wives’ villas emphasise the fragmentation of space, the modern splendour of second wife Oumi N’Doye functioning, despite its superficial resemblance, in stark contrast to the concertedly traditionalist refuge of first wife Adja Awa Astou, and both utterly divorced from the frustrated materialism of the home controlled on behalf of third wife N’Goné by Yay Bineta. As Andrade argues, the incompatibility of these spaces functions as an allegorical rendering of the fragmentation of post-independence Senegal, where ‘polygyny stands syncecdochically for larger social problems – namely, the tendency for one group to betray another’,48 emphasised in the dialectical play of (superficial) homogenisation and (ideological) fragmentation that these homes represent. For Andrade, the travails experienced by women characters in the novel must therefore be ‘explicitly linked to Sembène’s critique of class and colonialism [as well as] the sharp irony of the [book and] film’s title and the protagonist’s frantic quest’.49 Each wife thus functions as an index of sorts for the newly emerging nation-state, embodying, on the one hand, the piety of traditionalism and belief and, on the other, the materialist consumerism of so-called colonial modernity and, still further, the exploitation of the young by their elders. The best hope for the future that the novel can offer is rendered through Rama, the eldest daughter of Awa Adja Astou, whose political vision radically realigns the systems of valuation championed by her father, markedly manifested in her commitment to Wolofisation and materialised in her quest for a refusal of his patriarchal values. Yet, even the radicalism of young Rama, shown through her devotion to the creation of an indigenous and autonomous public sphere rooted in mutual responsibility and collective affiliations, might be read as a foil of sorts of the generation of El-Hadji and their failed promises towards independence. Rama remains witness to her father’s humiliation at the novel’s end, suggesting that any utopian promise remains written in the future anterior, estranged from the material realities of post-independence Senegal and vulnerable to the encroaching horror that occurs at the total penetration of the protected private sphere by the full ruination of the city’s detritus, re-emphasising the dialectics of progress and retrogression that mediate its formation. Conventional histories of West African literature note the preponderance of male writers in the early decades of its consecration as a global market category. Names like Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Camara Laye and Ferdinand Oyono repeatedly appear in these genealogies. Yet, it is not entirely the case that the 48 Andrade, The Nation Writ Small, p. 91. 49 Andrade, The Nation Writ Small, p. 93.

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early decades of Europhone West African literatures were so entirely dominated by men. Flora Nwapa’s Efuru, for instance, was published in 1966 and has since come to function as something of an Ur-text in the canon of African women’s writing, while Ama Ata Aidoo published her first play, The Dilemma of a Ghost, in 1965. In the Francophone context, women’s writing followed something of a later trajectory, with the publication of Aminatta Sow Fall’s Le Revenant in 1976. While it is possible to locate these earlier antecedents, it remains true that women’s writing in the African context did not reach its apex until the later years of the 1970s and 1980s. In this chapter, I focus my readings on a collection of novels that were central to the development of West African literature more broadly during this period; approaching these texts, my focus is on the ways in which each registers a series of anxieties around the interpenetration of incongruent spatial ecologies in the era of decolonisation and independence. Each of these texts, moreover, demonstrates an increased sensitivity to social stratification that functions not merely along class lines, but across different, and sometimes contradictory, axes of articulation. While the earlier chapters of this study drew heavily on archival material to reconstitute the play of spatiality in the latter decades of empire and early years of independence, moreover, both this and my next chapter take a broader view of the constitution of space, and particularly its (dis)continuities over time. Since its publication by Dakar’s Les Nouvelles Editions Africaines in 1979, Mariama Bâ’s Une si longue lettre (So Long a Letter in its English translation) has become among the most frequently taught African novels in the world, appearing on syllabi in both its original French and English translation. The enduring popularity of the novel can be attributed to its nuanced and precise rendering of grief, loss and betrayal, expressing a brand of African feminism avant la lettre in its critical take on polygamy and the patriarchal dispossession of women in post-independence Senegal. The novel takes the form of a series of addresses by its protagonist Ramatoulaye, a recently widowed school teacher living in Dakar, who, five years before the time of narration, had been abandoned by her husband of twenty-five years for a young second wife, once a close friend of their eldest daughter. While frequently read as epistolary in form – a ‘si longue lettre’ from Ramatoulaye to her best friend and confidante, Aissatou, a divorced mother of four now working as an interpreter in the United States – the novel can equally be read through its play on the forms of the mirasse and the apostrophe,50 a formal interplay that parallels its constitution of interlayered spatial ecologies more broadly. In what follows, I take my cue from Andrade’s lucid observation that ‘the stakes of Lettre are not fully visible until one examines its interlocking structure of erotics and politics’.51 Expanding on 50 Andrade, The Nation Writ Small, p. 79. 51 Andrade, The Nation Writ Small, p. 76.

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this observation, my readings focus on the particularly spatial nature of the novel’s complex structure, highlighting the ways in which it mutates across varying scales and registers of production to articulate a series of conflicts at the centre of the project of African independence and women’s positioning therein. On its surface, the formal structures of Une si longue lettre do not appear to lend themselves to a broad-based spatial analysis. Indeed, both the mirasse and the apostrophe function as largely enclosed forms of address, indicating a preoccupation with temporality and interiority seemingly at odds with the production of space more broadly conceived. Yet, through its formal play, the narrative weaves a sweeping history of postcolonial Senegal in the second decade of independence, which resonates across scales of pan-African, regional and global development, dramatising both the reverberations of combined and uneven development on the newly emerging nation-state and the specific inflections of the gendered division of labour to its work of differentiation and homogenisation. Indeed, it is through the interlocking play of its seemingly discrepant structures that the novel enables the emergence of a multifaceted and sometimes-contradictory spatial complex, recalling and making visible Massey’s claim that space ‘can be seen as constructed out of the multiplicity of social relations across all spatial scales, from the global reach of finance and telecommunications, through the geography of the tentacles of national political power, to the social relations within the town, the settlement, the household and the workplace’.52 Exemplary in this regard is a passage that appears relatively early in the narrative, in which Ramatoulaye reminisces about the teacher-training college where she and Aissatou once studied: Aïssatou, je n’oublierai jamais la femme blanche qui, la première, a voulu pour nous un destin « hors du commun ». Notre école, revoyons-la ensemble, verte, rose, bleue, jaune, véritable arc-en-ciel  : verte, bleue, et jaune, couleurs des fleurs qui envahissaient la cour ; rose : couleur des dortoirs aux lits impeccablement dressés. Notre école, entendons vibrer ses murs de notre fougue à l’étude. Revivons la griserie de son atmosphère, les nuits, alors que retentissait pleine d’espérance, la chanson du soir, notre prière commune. Le recrutement qui se faisait par voie de concours à l’échelle de l’ancienne Afrique occidentale française, démantelée aujourd’hui en Républiques autonomes, permettait un brassage fructueux d’intelligences, de caractères, des mœurs et coutumes différents. Rien n’y distinguait, si ce n’étaient des traits spécifiquement raciaux, la Fon du Dahomey et la Malinké de Guinée. Des amitiés s’y nouaient, qui ont résisté au temps et à l’éloignement. Nous étions des véritables sœurs destinées à la même mission émancipatrice.

52 Doreen Massey, Space, Place and Gender (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1994), p. 4.

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[Aissatou, I will never forget the white woman who was the first to desire for us an ‘uncommon destiny’. Together, let us recall our school, green, pink, blue, yellow, a veritable rainbow: green, blue and yellow, the colours of the flowers everywhere in the compound; pink the colour of the dormitories, with the beds impeccably made. Let us hear the walls of our school come to life with the intensity of our study. Let us relive its intoxicating atmosphere at night, while the evening song, our joint prayer, rang out, full of hope. The admission policy, which was based on an entrance examination for the whole of former French West Africa, now broken up into autonomous republics, made possible a fruitful blend of different intellects, characters, manners and customs. Nothing differentiated us, apart from specific racial features, the Fon girl from Dahomey and the Malinke one from Guinea. Friendships were made that have endured the test of time and distance. We were true sisters, destined for the same mission of emancipation.]53

Seen through the lens of Ramatoulaye’s memories, the school distinguishes itself as a specifically pan-African zone, dislocated from the exigencies of territorial rivalry in favour of a utopian vision of inter-ethnic unity. In contrast to the tendency to retrospectively view the fragmentation of West Africa into discrete states and territories as an inevitable consequence of political independence. discussed in previous chapters, the construction of the school-space offers an alternative vision for African liberation, which realises the now-lost dream of a confederated and unified Africa while simultaneously foregrounding its internal fault lines. While acknowledging Andrade’s claim that ‘reading for the figure of nation in Lettre discloses an evident but relatively undiscussed engagement with macro-politics, which begins with the family but extends beyond it’,54 it is my assertion in this chapter that, in so doing, Une si longue lettre enables a retrospective encounter with the foreclosed possibilities inherent in the structuration of space at the cusp of and in the immediate aftermath of independence, signalling alternative orderings through which to make the world. Dwelling specifically on what Ramatoulaye characterises as the ‘Privilège de notre génération, charnière entre deux périodes historiques, l’une de domination, l’autre d’indépendance’ (53) [‘privilege of our generation to be the link between two periods in our history, one of domination, the other of independence’ (25)], Une si longue lettre thus foregrounds the ambivalence of Senegal’s post-independence history through this re-enlivening of the past and its lateral ordering of spatial ecologies. In Africa and the World, Cooper argues that the leaders of Africa’s independence movements sought to leverage a range of affiliations that spanned beyond 53 Mariama Bâ, Une si longue lettre (Paris: Serpent à Plumes, 2001 [1979]), pp. 37–8. English translations are taken from Mariama Bâ, So Long a Letter, trans. Modupé Bodé-Thomas (Harlow: Heinemann, 1981), pp. 15–16. Henceforth cited in-text. 54 Andrade, The Nation Writ Small, p. 76.

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the nation-state model, and that the dissolution of the grand federations of West and Equatorial Africa into a group of discrete nation-states was by no means inevitable. Discussing Senghor, for instance, Cooper notes his desire ‘for a combination of horizontal and vertical “solidarity”: horizontal, of Africans with each other, the only way to acquire the political strength to challenge the colonial powers, and vertical, of French Africans with European France’.55 Highlighting in particular how ‘Africa has been reimagined in different ways over the years’,56 these comments foreground the extent to which the seeming teleologies of modernity and development, predicated on the integration of a single – and singular – spatial system organised around the centre–periphery logic of combined and uneven development, are themselves retrospectively cast through academic and disciplinary tendencies. In this context, what is striking about Une si longue lettre’s depiction of the school is the extent to which these now-forgotten and multiple visions of African solidarity reassert their vitality as sites of potential actualisation articulated through a specifically feminine form of collective identity predicated on a form of networked internationalism that functions beyond the binaries of centre/periphery and north/south.57 The school, a space of technicolour dreams, discipline and an intensity described as ‘intoxicating’ and ‘full of hope’, is characterised by its absolute lack of boundaries, its spatial parameters left open. ‘True sisters’, friends who ‘have endured the test of time and distance’, the girls at the school are notable for their difference, positioned here not as a threat to be eradicated through the careful administration of discrete zones and territories, but as a strength that enables ‘a fruitful blend of different intellects, characters, manner and customs’. The narrative’s references to the deliberately multiethnic, internationalist demographic of the school thus gesture towards the desire, articulated by leaders of the independence movement in the years immediately preceding the end of formal colonisation, to resist the ‘awakening of tribal hatreds’ in ‘disunified’ states,58 which were ‘prepared in the long run by colonization [based on the stratification of] customary and even religious feudalities, […] oriented towards the destruction of the new-born Federation, of which it is difficult to explain why it really aroused so much anxiety among those who pretended to be in good faith’.59 Ramatoulaye’s memories of the school thus transform; no longer merely the wistful memories of a woman scorned and abandoned, this vision of the school 55 Cooper, Africa and the World, p. 7. 56 Cooper, Africa and the World, p. 8. 57 Cf. David Featherstone, Solidarity: Hidden Histories and Geographies of Internationalism (London: Zed Books, 2012). 58 ANOM, FM 1AFF-POL/2257/4/3, Congrès de Cotonou 1957/58, PRA Conférence Presse 1958. 59 ANOM, FR ANOM 61COL2230, Conférence Fédéraliste, 24 3 59, Dakar, Résolution de la conférence des federalistes reunie à Dakar le 24 Mars 1959.

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equally offers a path through which to make contact with the alternative histories and spatialities that once presented themselves to West Africa, alternatives that retain their inclusive potentialities through the participation of the girls of the school in their forging. By so doing, the novel radically recasts the function of nostalgia. Far from perpetuating the ‘(idealized) notion of an era when places were (supposedly) inhabited by coherent and homogenous communities’,60 Une si longue lettre offers a picture of the past in which plurality is itself a form of coherence, an expression of ‘the will for reunification’ that once motivated the drive towards independence.61 Set and written two decades after the frustration of this desire, the narrative thus enlivens the ‘mystique of unity’ awoken by the material realities of spatial fragmentation.62 At the same time as it reawakens the alternative trajectories that were once posed for West Africa, destabilising, by so doing, the seeming inevitability of the teleological narrative of global development and capitalist integration, Une si longue lettre captures the anxieties around competing visions of modernity and development. As Ramatoulaye, reminiscing on the mission of her headmistress, recalls: Nous sortir de l’enlisement des traditions, superstitions et mœurs ; nous faire apprécier de multiples civilisations sans reniement de la nôtre ; élever notre vision du monde, cultiver notre personnalité, renforcer nos qualités, mater nos défauts  ; faire fructifier en nous les valeurs de la morale universelle ; voilà la tâche que s’était assignée l’admirable directrice. (38) [To lift us out of the bog of tradition, superstition and custom, to make us appreciate a multitude of civilizations without renouncing our own, to raise our vision of the world, cultivate our personalities, strengthen our qualities, to make up for our inadequacies, to develop universal moral values in us: these were the aims of our admirable headmistress. (16)]

Couched at first in a language of tradition and modernity that reinforces the illusion of a singular ordering of space and universal march to progress under assimilation,63 the headmistress’s mission, read at another level, suggests a sense of multiplicity enacted through the simultaneity of discrepant ecologies. ‘To make us appreciate a multitude of civilisations without renouncing our own’, to be many in the one, this reading suggests a radical counter to the monolith of development discourse, while equally posing a challenge to its retrospective 60 Massey, Gender, p. 146. 61 ANOM, FR ANOM 61COL2230, Conférence Fédéraliste, 24 3 59, Dakar, Résolution de la conférence des fédéralistes reunie à Dakar le 24 Mars 1959. 62 ANOM, FR ANOM 11COL1018/3613, Mali, Fédération, Politique intérieur, 1959–1960, Semaine en Afrique Occidentale, 6 4 59, Une interview de M. Léopold Senghor. 63 See, for instance, Chafer, The End of Empire, p. 29.

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application in the post-independence period by the former leaders of the anticolonialist cause. Tobias Warner, in his cogent reading of the novel, suggests that this scene reinforces ‘imperialism’s humanist alibi’,64 placing the concepts of tradition and modernity in a binary relationship where it is only the latter that might engender the forms of female empowerment so often read into the novel. While acknowledging the ambivalence of the headmistress’s aims so conceived, I suggest, by contrast, that an interpretation that foregrounds its commingling of discrepant, yet interactive, spatial ecologies offers another potential reading. Moreover, this articulation of desire unmasks the status of these very concepts – tradition and modernity – as alternate and competing modes of making claims onto the world. Emphasising the mutability and interconnectivity of their constructions, the vision articulated in the school under this reading indicates both ‘the intricacy and profundity of the connection of space and place with gender and the construction of gender relations’65 – the school, as a woman’s school, allowing for an alternative spatio-temporal vision of West Africa beyond that of the masculinist, nationalist narrative – and offers a method for viewing colonial education not through the lens of ambivalence,66 but as a multifaceted, multifocal crystallisation of the potential for a mode of liberation. At the same time, the fault lines already written into the school as a space of entanglements come to the fore, mirroring and dramatising the fault lines always already written into abstract space itself. Able to function on a plane beyond ‘le[s] débat[s] à la recherche de la voie juste [qui ont secoué] l’Afrique occidentale’ (53) [‘the debate[s] over the right path to take [that] shook West Africa’ (25)], Ramatoulaye’s memories thus capture the internal contradictions of the landscape against which ‘les options profondes de l’Afrique nouvelle, pour promouvoir la femme noire’ (38) [‘the profound choices made by New Africa for the promotion of black women’ (16)] were made. By so doing, it recentres a specifically gendered space, a woman’s space, as the locus of a radical and revolutionary alternative whose loss mirrors and drives the loss of the promises of independence more broadly. The spatial juxtapositions and fabrication of Ramatoulaye’s memories are thus of great significance to the ways in which the narrative reconstitutes the period immediately preceding independence from a retrospective position that imbues its descriptions of the built environment and landscape of Dakar with a new significance. In one series of scenes, for instance, set on Ngor beach, in Dakar’s north (an area known for its alleged traditionalism compared to the more Europeanised districts of Plateau and Fann), ‘de[s] vieux pêcheurs barbus’ 64 Tobias Warner, ‘How Mariama Bâ Became World Literature: Translation and the Legibility of Feminist Critique’, PMLA, 131.5 (2016), 1239–55 (p. 1242). 65 Massey, Gender, p. 2. 66 See, for instance, Chafer, The End of Empire, pp. 93–8.

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(47) [‘old bearded fishermen’ (21)] and ‘des enfants nus et morveux’ (47) [‘naked and snotty children’ (21)] attend to their daily needs with a utopian sense of freedom unencumbered by the demands of productivity and administration, ‘raccommod[ant] les filets, sous les benetenniers’ (47) [‘repair[ing] their nets under silk-cotton trees’ (21)] and ‘jou[ant] en toute liberté’ (47) [‘play[ing] in complete freedom’ (21)] against a backdrop of ‘le sable fin’ (47) [‘fine sand’ (21)] and ‘[des] petites flaques bleues pleine de ciel et de soleil’ (47) [‘small pools of blue water’ (21)] dotted by ‘des pirogues, peintes naïvement’ (47) [‘naively painted canoes’ (21)]. In the previous chapter’s discussion of Xala, I emphasised the extent to which the pastoral idiom of that earlier text functioned to subtly deconstruct the binary vision of tradition and modernity, reading, in the moment of El Hadji’s arrival at the village of Sereen Maida, the striations of development that cut through the scene and challenge any teleological or oppositional vision, while simultaneously suggesting the perpetuation of a totalising or unifying system of asymmetrical distribution of resources, equalisation and differentiation made material. Given Andrade’s lucid positioning of Une si longue lettre not simply as a progenitor text of African women’s writing but also as a successor to Sembène,67 that Bâ’s novel should similarly invoke a sense of utopian pastoral tranquillity is perhaps unsurprising. Yet, unlike Xala, where the use of the pastoral is set off by El Hadji’s own absolutist vision of Senegalese society and his inability to decipher its multiaxial interconnections, in Une si longue lettre the use of the pastoral serves instead to underscore the fissures already written into the moment of independence, reinforcing the retrospective utopian failure that its depiction of the school encapsulates. Here, the so-called pastoral idyll of pre-capitalist and unalienated labour in Dakar is immediately subverted through a narrative that emphasises its penetration by and capitulation to capitalist accumulation. Juxtaposing the gentle fishermen and frolicking children with the crowded beaches of a public holiday – an explicit reference to the role of the state in the institutionalisation of so-called private, affective modes of affiliation – the pastoral space transforms under the dictates of state-mediated patriotic collective feeling into a crowd, a rush, dominated by ‘de nombreuses familles, assoiffées d’espace et d’air pur’ (47) [‘numerous families thirsty for space and fresh air’ (22)] in an overcrowded city whose built landscape functions at the service of productivity. A paper presented at the 1966 Workshop on Urbanization held in Addis Ababa, which I quoted at some length in the previous chapter, notes the ways in which Dakar ‘in relation to Africa, or even to Senegal, occupies an unduly eccentric position but that very position gives the town an importance that is not merely national or continental, but world-wide’. As ‘the strategic junction 67 Andrade, The Nation Writ Small, p .75.

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of communication lines between Europe and South America as well as between North America and Africa’,68 Dakar both encapsulates the uneven progress of developmental projects and the multiply articulated integration of the seemingly isolated spaces of West Africa into a global economy. Soothed by ‘la caresse bienfaisante de la brise iodée et la tiédeur des rayons solaires’ (47) [‘the benevolent caress of the iodized breeze and warmth from the sun’s rays’ (22)], accompanied by children who ‘bâtissaient et démolissaient les châteaux de leur imagination’ (47) [‘would build and demolish the castles of their imagination’ (22)], the idle tranquillity of the beach scene thus bears its mediation by the administered dictate to maximise the (re)productivity of the city, and through the city the territory, the region and the continent, itself. Even the fisherman, at first symbolic of the fantasy and mystification of the pre-capitalist era, transform, now men who ‘revenaient de leur randonnée laborieuse’ (47) [‘return from their laborious outings’ (22)], returns described as an escape from torment marked by ‘leurs habits trempés’ (48) [‘soaked clothes’ (22)] and sweaty, exhausted faces, integrated into the spatial complexes of capitalist development through their implication in Senegal’s fishing industry, one of its major natural resources and export products. Even those most seemingly discrete and distant spaces, the farm in Sangalkam, along the route to Rufisque, a space of ‘cocotiers’ (49) [‘coconut trees’ (23)], ‘grenades’ (49) [‘pomegranates’ (23)], ‘mangues lourdes à porter’ (49) [‘heavy mangoes’ (23)] and ‘papayes’ (49) [‘pawpaws’ (23)], can only emerge through their relative position in a landscape marked by accumulation and divestment, production and reproduction, requiring a ‘discipline’ as the basis of its existence, which is likened to the burden of Ramatoulaye’s generation who ‘[en] debout, dans nos classes surchargés […] étions une poussée du gigantesque effort à accomplir, pour la regression de l’ignorance’ (50) [‘[standing] in front of our over-crowded classes […] represented a force in the enormous effort to be accomplished in order to overcome ignorance’ (23)]. Despite its seemingly cloistered location, Une si longue lettre thus develops a sense of the multiplicity of spatial scales which define Ramatoulaye’s life, a synechdoche of sorts for the larger condition of women of her generation and class, emphasising the position of gender as a fundamental power structure through which concepts of modernity, development and progress are inflected.69 A similar sensibility repeats itself across the archive of the late twentieth century from both the Anglophone and Francophone zones of the region. Ama Ata Aidoo’s Changes: A Love Story, for instance, offers something of an updated take on the inflections of gender that define space and the play of (re)productivity seen in Bâ’s novel. Published in 1991, the novel follows the travails of Esi, an 68 SOAS, PP MS 46, 53.4.94, Andrew Hake Papers, Workshops on Urbanization, Introduction to the Urban Problem in Tropical Africa. 69 Massey, Gender, p. 235.

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independent career woman working for the Department of Urban Statistics, who leaves her schoolteacher husband after he rapes her, eventually entering into a relationship with a charismatic young travel agent, Ali, and becoming his second wife. Like Une si longue lettre, Changes plays with the seeming opposition between the constructed spheres of tradition and (post)coloniality, unmasking the interpenetration of spatial ecologies and systems of (re)production that at first appear discrete. By so doing, it uncovers the abstraction with which the gendering of space functions, offering no alternatives but suggesting a critique nonetheless. Ostensibly ‘a slice from the life and loves of a somewhat privileged young woman and other fictional characters – in Accra’,70 according to Aidoo’s own prefatory note to the novel, Changes is in many ways a study in the gendered dimension of the international division of labour. Set largely in Accra in the early 1990s, Changes contends with the earliest ramifications of Ghana’s capitulation to the neoliberalisation of the world market. Amplified by a series of successive coups and counter-coups, the despoliation of the Rawlings era and the devastating impact of structural adjustment policies aimed at a privatisation and liberalisation of the national economy that would open the country to the predatory policies of international finance, the novel might be read as an extension of the fatalistic pessimism captured in Armah’s The Beautyful Ones, in which the hope for the future remains not yet born and seemingly more remote than ever in a world in which, with each successive government, ‘the programmes that had been initiated by the old regime were being wound up or sold off to private individuals […] as though they were perishable goods at the end of a market day’ (78). Read from a spatial perspective two significant elements of the novel emerge, each of which concords in its own way with the constitution of sex, gender and spatiality begun in Bâ’s novel: the dialectic of progress and retrogression that defines combined and uneven development under the international division of labour; and the gendered axes along which abstract, neocolonialist spatiality divides itself in order to submerge its work of violent cleaving. In a manner reminiscent of the fishermen of Ngor of Bâ’s novel, in Changes Accra, and with it Ghana, is conceived of as a location both implicated in the larger international division of labour and its creation of uneven global landscapes, and as itself internally differentiated through the interplay of over- and under-development within its boundaries. Here, too, it is in the shadows of the coast that this becomes apparent, embodied in the Hotel Twentieth Century, an ultra-modern palace of luxury whose ‘blazing’ lights cast a shadow on the fishing village on top of which it is built. Juxtaposing the middle-class travails of the hotel’s patrons with the fretting of the fisherman, the one worried about business deals and 70 Ama Ata Aidoo, Changes: A Love Story (Harlow: Heinemann, 1991), Author’s Note. Henceforth cited in-text.

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romantic affairs and the other ‘wondering was whether the government would fulfil its promise to help them get motorised boats and better nets, and when the Minister of Power would stop increasing the price of kerosene; and that night out at sea, would it be warm?’ (38), the novel foregrounds the interdependence of the most overtly exploited with those who profit from their labours: ‘In fact, all that the fishing community knew of that facility were the huge pylons that stood in their vegetable patches, and the massive cables passing over the roofs of their homes as these bore the electricity to the more deserving members of society. Like users of hotel lobbies’ (52). Here, then, the narrative encapsulates the notion that ‘“evolution” for some means “devolution” for others; “humanization” for some means “dehumanization” for others; development of productive forces for some means underdevelopment and retrogression for others’.71 Emphasising the chasm between the ‘users of hotel lobbies’ and the human detritus of the fishing community in their shadows, that is, the novel simultaneously highlights their continuity in spatial terms of juxtaposition and dependence. Foregrounding the sheer incongruence of their access to one another, the fishing community utterly unable to even imagine the luxury accessible to those inside the hotel, populations for whom the notion of better nets, kerosene prices and nights at sea stand as equally alien thoughts, the narrative emphasises the sheer asymmetry of this relationship, predicated on ‘the logical flaw’ at the heart of development discourse, the fact that ‘in a contradictory and exploitative relationship the privileges of the exploiters can never become the privileges of all’.72 If space is striated, divided, fragmented and yet, in a queer turn, equalised and rendered continuous through the divisions of class, Changes makes apparent the extent to which a parallel form of class-cleaving occurs along the axis of gender, represented through the spatial traversals and scaling experienced by Esi and Ali. For Esi, space undergoes a process of constriction throughout the novel, shifting from an open, global orientation to an increasingly discrete and confined scale of domesticity, eventually leading her to a state of nothingness and ‘desolation’ (194). At the beginning of the novel, Esi is described as an independent, career-driven employee of the Department for Urban Statistics in Accra. The owner of her own car, able to hold her own against the ‘taxi drivers [who] shouted the usual obscenities about “women drivers”’ (3) and carry herself around the city, despite her car’s age and unreliability, Esi is the portrait of a modern African woman, committed to her nation but global in her perspective, commanding the respect of her colleagues and attending conferences in ‘Geneva, Addis, Dakar one half of the year; Rome, Lusaka, Lagos the other half ’ (12). Defined not solely by her reproductive function – mother only to one child and non-desirous of more, aberrant of the social norms governing 71 Mies, Patriarchy and Accumulation, p. 76. 72 Mies, Patriarchy and Accumulation, p. 76.

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middle-class women’s behaviour – Esi initially appears to be a character defined through the spatial flows and registers enabled by her productive ability, her role as wage earner and breadwinner. As a worker, first and foremost, Esi finds the city, the continent and the world open to herself, its spaces interchangeable and accessible. Yet, despite this appearance of escape through endless mobility, Esi’s freedom remains partial, her choices limited through her subjection to a process of housewifization that answers not to the actually apparent needs and demands of her material circumstances but to the potent and symbolised position that she occupies in a system of labour, (re)production and subjection within which she remains subordinate. Indeed, despite Esi’s ambition and success, we learn early in the novel that her professional horizons have been determined by her husband’s less prestigious position as a teacher, her own labour, despite its economic centrality, rendered secondary. Equally, as a wife and mother of one, Esi’s own womanhood is called into question by the judgements of her in-laws, her achievements registered as a burden to the domestic unit. The extent to which women face a form of hyperexploitation, or superexploitation, under patriarchal, neoliberal capitalism is emphasised throughout the novel more generally and takes on its starkest effects when, early in its pages, Esi decides to leave her husband. Indeed, that this action, the action which instigates the very narrative in which it appears, is itself motivated by an act of profound violence, rape, foregrounds the extent to which the spatial structures and governing systems of post-independence Ghana function through the interplay of direct and indirect, structural and intimate, forms of violence against women, the so-called private violence of the bedroom the second face of the regulated violence of the state. This is a violence that reverberates through the asymmetries that define the city – and by extension the country – in its built environment, the violence that enables a fishing community to literally cower in the shadows of a hyper-luxurious hotel, and the same violence that leaves Esi lying wounded and exposed, wondering to herself, ‘what does one do with this much rage? This much frustration? This much deliberate provocation so early in the morning, and early in the week?’ (13). Her anger at ‘an exploding pitch’, Esi is left ‘completely naked’ and ‘uncomfortably wet’ (14), subject to the further humiliation of the uncertainty with which her decision to leave Oko is met: ‘But marital rape? No. The society could not possibly have an indigenous word or phrase for it. Sex is something a husband claims from his wife as his right. Any time. And at his convenience’ (16). Placing the structural/public in a dialectal relationship with the intimate/private, Changes emphasises the ways in which the devaluation and naturalisation of women serves both as a corollary to the fragmentation effected by class-based divisions and as the foundation upon which the structuration of the neoliberal, post-colonial economy is built. By the end of the novel, Ali’s movements nearly unceasing, Esi lives as a virtual prisoner in her house, confined to the so-called private sphere and granted

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access to the world largely through a series of material goods, items of luxury capital with little use beyond their exchange-value, gifted to her by Ali: He brought her gold bangles from the Gulf States and succulent dates from Algeria (or was it Tunisia?). He brought her huge slabs of chocolates from Switzerland, and gleaming copper things from Zambia and Zimbabwe. He brought her shimmering silk from People’s Republic of China, the Koreas and Thailand. Indeed, he virtually made a collector of the world’s textiles out of Esi as her wardrobe literally overflowed with different types and colours. From West Africa itself she got gorgeous adires from Nigeria, as well as other fabrics from Mali, Sierra Leone and the Gambia. There were all various shades of blue extracted from the wild indigo plant and either put on comfortable coarse traditional weave, or on imported fabrics of programmed softness and perfected sheen. From the Soviet Union, Ali brought Esi some very special amber-inlaid wrought iron jewellery as well as the cutest matroshkas for [her daughter] Ogyaanowa. Then, since he seemed to have made it a policy to bother with only Japanese electronics, he brought her from other technologically-advanced environments, their ethnic goods and local crafts. Or if they were manufactured goods, then they would be peculiar to the place and unrivalled anywhere else in the world: household linen and native American jewellery from the United States, beer mugs from Bavaria. Through the gifts, Esi saw the entire world from her little bungalow. What she did not seem to see much of was the skin of the man behind the phone calls and the gifts. (188–9)

For Esi, then, even the appearance of access to space gradually contracts over the course of the novel, her movements across the city constrained by her anxieties over her relationship with Ali, ‘a son of the world’ (27) for whom space opens itself, transforming into a homogenous, smooth space of traversals and flows. For Ali, by contrast, Bamako was home. Then, having settled that question for the convenience of his heart, he had proceeded to claim the entire Guinea Coast, its hinterland and the Sub-Sahel for his own. In any case, since he had learned that his grandfather’s house had stood on the exact spot where Burkina Faso, Ghana and Togo met, he had assumed the nationalities of Ghana, Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali, Nigeria and Togo. Naturally, he carried a passport to prove the genuineness of each. (29)

In narrative terms, Ali’s freedom develops in a dialectial tension with Esi’s loss thereof, tying the two together in a literalised evocation of the progression–retrogression dyad. Defining citizenship as male in its manifestations, legitimised in the many passports of Ali, the narrative further foregrounds the implication of capital and the inherent fluidity of its march to conquer, positioning Ali’s globality first as a consequence of his father’s career as a trader – a trafficker in goods, middleman to the capitulations of export-oriented productivity and a

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literal racketeer in the divestment and exploitation of Africa as purveyor of raw goods and luxury items for the metropolitan masses – and later as a travel agent, a merchant without a product and gatekeeper of global mobility, dependent on the whims of the leisured classes and movements of people driven by financialisation. This is a condition in which the fluidity of capital, realised through Ali’s movements along the corridors of the global elite classes for whom he serves, is flattened through the interchangeability of once-discrete places that are now little more than a series of easily exchangeable commodities. With the erasure of women from the public world of free labour, free wages and free capital allpenetrating, moreover, this is a form of fluidity that produces space through its reinforcement of hierarchical modes of access and accessibility. Both Changes and Une si longue lettre contend with the issue of convergence in a post-independence, capitalist world order and the (lack of) space offered to women therein. In the older text, this is poignantly captured in the image of women as dwellers on the margins of national life, unable to participate in ‘[les] decisions qui orientent le devenir de notre pays’ (115) [‘the decisions concerning the development of our country’ (63–4)], underrepresented in the structures of public life, and yet central to their very foundation, having ‘hissé plus d’un homme au pouvoir’ (115) [‘raised more than one man to power’ (64)]. Defending women their legally defined ‘droit au travail impartialement attribué et justement rémunéré’ (115) [‘right to equal well-paid employment, to equal opportunities’ (63)] in an argument with a former suitor, reappeared after Moudu’s death, Ramatoulaye is instead told that ‘[l]a femme est la racine première, fondamentale de la nation où se greffe tout apport, d’où part aussi toute floraison. Il fault inciter la femme à s’intéresser davantage au sort de son pays. Même toi qui rouspètes, tu as préféré ton mari, ta classe, les enfants à la chose publique’ (116–17) [‘Women are the nation’s primary, fundamental root, from which all else grows and blossoms. Women must be encouraged to take a keener interest in the destiny of the country. Even you who are protesting; you preferred your husband, your class, your children to public life’ (64)]. Significant to this exchange is, as Warner notes, the ways in which the novel ‘is deeply interwoven with a set of legal reforms introduced in 1973 known collectively as the Family Code’,73 cited in this same conversation by Ramatoulaye in an explicit recognition of the specifically administrated nature of so-called domestic, libidinal and intimate space. Consigned to the very structures of enclosure that entrap Esi in Aidoo’s novel over a decade later, enclosures upon which the convergences of capitalist fluidity are built, Ramatoulaye is driven, again, to the margins. Yet, it is not entirely the case that this marginal position bears within it no room for agency. Recalling bell hooks’s vision of the margins as ‘a profound 73 Warner, ‘How Mariama Bâ’, p. 1245.

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edge’, a space of ‘radical possibility, a space of resistance’, which ‘offers to one the possibility of radical perspective from which to see and create, to imagine alternatives, new worlds’,74 the productive possibilities inherent in Ramatoulaye’s hard-fought independence begin, albeit slowly, to emerge through the growing ease with which she navigates her life alone, fixing door latches, arranging household maintenance and learning to manoeuvre within ‘la minceur de la liberté accordée à la femme’ (99) [‘the slender liberty granted to women’ (54)]. Still more apparent is the alternative vision for the future articulated by Daba, Ramatoulaye’s eldest daughter: Je ne veux pas faire de politique, non que le sort de mon pays et surtout le sort de la femme ne m’intéressent. Mais à regarder les tiraillements stériles au sein d’un même parti, à regarder l’appétit de pouvoir des hommes, je préfère m’abstenir. Non, je n’ai pas peur de la lutte sur le plan de l’idéologie ; mais dans un parti politique, il est rare que la femme ait la percée facile. Le pouvoir de décision restera encore longtemps aux mains des hommes, alors que la cité, chacun le sait, est l’affaire de la femme. Je préfère mon association où il n’y a ni rivalité, ni clivage, ni calomnie, ni bousculade : il n’existe pas de postes à partager ni de places à nantir. La direction varie chaque année. Chacune de nous a des chances égales de faire valoir ses idées. Nous sommes utilisées selon nos compétences dans nos manifestations et organisations qui vont dans le sens de la promotion de la femme. Nos recettes aident des œuvres humanitaires ; c’est un militantisme aussi utile qu’un autre qui nous mobilise, mais c’est un militantisme sain qui n’a de récompense que la satisfaction intérieure. (137–8) [I don’t want to go into politics; it’s not that I am not interested in the fate of my country and, most especially, that of women. But when I look at the fruitless wranglings even within the ranks of the same party, when I see men’s greed for power, I prefer not to participate. No, I am not afraid of ideological struggle, but in a political party it is rare for a woman to make an easy break-through. For a long time men will continue to have the power of decision, whereas everyone knows that polity should be the affair of women. No: I prefer my own association, where there is neither rivalry nor schism, neither malice nor jostling for position; there are no posts to be shared, not positions to be secured. The headship changes every year. Each of us has equal opportunity to advance her ideas. We are given tasks according to our abilities in our activities and organizations that work towards the progress of women. Our funds go towards humanitarian work; we are mobilized by a militancy as useful as any other, but it is a healthy militancy, whose only reward is inner satisfaction. (77–8)]

74 bell hooks, Yearning: Race, Gender, and Cultural Politics (Boston, MA: South End Press, 1990), pp. 149–50.

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Here, then, is an alternative vision of society, one in which the very foundations of colonialist, capitalist violence are decentred and unmoored, rather than rebuilt and reinforced; here, that is, is a vision of society in which the dialectic of violence might be undone through a total restructuration, a forging of an alternative civic public and civil society predicated not on exploitation but cooperation, not on divestment but collectivism and not on the Manichean dualities that underwrite the fluidity of capital but on a holistic association that reimagines the very shape and parameters of the world in perpetuity. At the same time, this is a vision of the world in which the existing structures for participation and empowerment are rejected in favour of a total re-visioning of society from ‘the special vantage point’ unique to the marginal location occupied by Daba and her peers,75 creating not so much the ‘new man’ once envisaged by Fanon but, rather, a new woman. In what remains of this chapter, I turn my attention to Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood, published in 1979. Like Une si longue lettre, Joys, too, has become something of a paradigmatic text in discussions around West African women’s writing. Unlike Bâ’s novel, however, Joys turns its gaze to the past, using its setting in the early decades of the twentieth century to critique the ways in which the intersection of coloniality with indigenous patriarchal structures results in an amplification of women’s exploitation across all levels of society. Centring on the character of Nnu Ego (Igbo for ‘twenty bags of cowries’, a princely sum her father declares her worth), daughter of village chief and big man Agbadi and his lover, the independent male daughter Ona, Joys foregrounds the ways in which notions of compulsory motherhood, structures of reproductive labour and the ossification of gender and sex systems through the encroachment of colonialism collude in order to entrap women within a system of violent, patriarchal abstraction. Drawing on multiple scales and registers of social space – and emphasising their interconnectedness as elements of a single, asymmetrically loaded system – the novel uses its twinned settings of rural Ogboli and rapidly developing Lagos to dramatise the scale and pace through which the transformation of women from earners to dependants was effected, gesturing beyond its historical frame to produce a larger critique of the gendered dimensions of the international division of labour. By so doing, it locates women as the site upon which the larger absorption of the colony into a capitalist world-system of accumulation and exploitation is able to penetrate and emphasises the spatial entanglements through which this occurs. The Joys of Motherhood centres on two primary locations: Nnu Ego’s natal village of Ogboli, located in the south-eastern Ibuza district, and the city of Lagos. Filtered through Nnu Ego’s focalisation, these are two spaces that appear 75 hooks, Feminist Theory, p. 16.

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to function as diametric opposites, the collectivist, pre-capitalist pastoralism of the one standing in contrast to the individualistic, alienated wage labour system of the other in a narrative dichotomy that appears on its surface to confirm the binary division between static notions of tradition and modernity, pre-colonial, agrarian, absolute space and colonialist, capitalist abstract space. Early in the novel’s pages, for instance, Nnu Ego reacts with disgust upon first meeting her new husband in Lagos, comparing him unfavourably to his brother, still a resident of the village: This type of man, thought Nnu Ego as she watched [her new brother-in-law], did not belong to a soft place like this. He belonged to the clear sun, the bright moon, to his farm and his rest hut, where he could sense a nestling cobra, a scuttling scorpion, hear a howling hyena. Not here. Not in this place, this square room painted completely white like a place of sacrifice, this place where men’s flesh hung loose on their bones, where men had bellies like pregnant women, where men covered their bodies all day long. Yes, he would go back to where his people had lived for five, six, seven generations without any change at all.76

For Nnu Ego, Ogbali is a place that exists outside of time, unchanged, static and still over ‘five, six, seven generations’, its quantities and qualities transparent and known. Characterised not by the dynamism of the humanity that enlivens it, the village is instead distilled into a series of concurrent synecdochal images, each imbued with the tranquillity of nature and each so naturalised such as to imagine its mastery, its submission: the clear sun, the bright moon, the nestling cobra, scuttling scorpion, howling hyena. These images operate as a metonymic list through which the village itself is forged not from the toils of culture, labour and humanity – the farm, notably, is quickly elided into its ‘rest hut’ – but rather, from the open spaces of nature, ripe for conquest and mastery, indicating a lush and savage idyll that functions outside of history and gesturing towards the very discursive apparatus which renders Africa as a primitive space not yet corrupted by the influences of modernisation. In contrast to the city, a place of unnatural sacrifice in which the laws of nature and the laws of reproduction are perverted and twisted, where men live locked in struggle with their bodies and their selves, subject to toil and coercion, the village is a place of reproductive harmony, a holistic and absolute space in which the exigencies of labour cannot dare to pass, subordinate to the truest expression of natural order. Nnu Ego’s vision of a binaristic spatial order, albeit one that has been inverted, thus hearkens to a deeper set of implications around the continent, knowledge and reason that plays against the nature/culture dichotomy. Writing

76 Buchi Emecheta, The Joys of Motherhood (New York: George Braziller, 1979), p.  46. Henceforth cited in-text.

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on the impossibility of a rational encounter with ‘Africa’, a token or signifier in the global imaginary, Mbembe argues that the continent is never seen as possessing things and attributes properly part of ‘human nature.’ Or, when it is, its things and attributes are generally of a lesser value, little importance, and poor quality. It is this elementariness and primitiveness that makes Africa the world par excellence of all that is incomplete, mutilated, and unfinished, its history reduced to a series of setbacks of nature in its quest for humankind.77

Imbued with the oppositions through which culture is cleaved from nature, reason from the irrational, production from reproduction and civilisation from savagery, Nnu Ego’s observations thus appear to reinforce the penetrative puissance of colonialist mystifications of space, harnessing its divisions in an inverted logic in which the nostalgic past is spatialised in the image of the village. Echoing across the early sections of the novel, this is a vision of the village as a spatial structure predicated on a pre-colonial vision of the untouched agrarian economy and collective good, a romanticised vision of past free from hardship, alienation or woe in which the fullness of labour renders it a form of fulfilment. Here, that is, is a land where men go out to farm yam, while women farm household crops; extended families, comprised of multiple wives and children, live together in harmonious compounds filled with huts and people, and society functions through its absolutism, a form of pre-capitalist space once described by Lefebvre as ‘made up of fragments of nature’ and ‘the bonds of consanguinity, soil and language’.78 The village is later described as a place in which the fruits of labour remain possessed by the worker, whose pleasure in the process of cultivating the earth enables a rich and fulfilling life not short of leisurely evenings spent looking at the stars and defined both by genuine love and by a ‘family awareness which the illiterate farmer was able to show his wives, his household, his compound, [and which] had been lost in Lagos, for the job of the white man, for the joy of buying expensive lappas, and for the feel of shiny trinkets’ (52). Where the village encapsulates a fantasy of disalienated, pre-capitalist labour, the city stands as a space of corruption, undone by its location within a market-based cash economy and its attendant commodity fetishism. Yet, it is important to distinguish between Nnu Ego’s simplistic vision and the novel’s own constitution of space as a dynamic complex. Ogboli’s origin story, for instance, develops a picture of the village as a contested, shifting and striated space, far from the static and timeless idyll imagined by Nnu Ego:

77 Mbembe, On the Postcolony, p. 1. 78 Lefebvre, Production of Space, p. 48.

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Agbadi was from Ogboli, a village of people who, legend said, had lived in that part of what is now Ibuza before the Eastern Ibo people from Isu came and settled there with them. The Ogboli people allowed the founder of Ibuza to stay, and bestowed titles on him and his descendants. They also inherited most of the widows of the newcomers. This was the arrangement for a long time, until the people of Ibuza grew in number and strength, and those of Ogboli somehow diminished. It is still not known why this was so, though some claim that many of them emigrated to neighbouring towns like Asaba. But that is by the way. The Ibuza people, who came from the eastern part of Nigeria, fought and won many civil battles against their hosts. They won their freedom of movement to the extent that they started crowning themselves and refused to send their wives to the Ogboli people again. (10–11)

Recalling Cooper’s arguments around the dialectic of territorialisation and deterritorialisation, a view that foregrounds the multiplicity of space over time,79 this vision of pre-colonial Ogboli undoes the illusory image of it as existing outside of historical time. Instead, Ogboli is rendered a multiethnic, multidimensional space, subject to conflict, change and contestation – measured, not coincidentally, through the index of reproduction – in a direct challenge to the romantic concept of pre-colonial society as an untroubled monolith. The extent to which the history of Ogboli is characterised by movement, migration and integration strikes a fatal blow against the notion of the pre-colonial era as static and still, challenging the idea that history began with colonisation. Located in a territory characterised by its growth through trading, missionary involvement and the return of populations enslaved in Brazil, Ogboli, too, emerges as a hybridised space, a space that lays rest to the myth of homogeneity and insular purity of a past defined by a singular and ‘authentic’ tradition. Equally, that Ogboli is now imagined through a conceptual vocabulary retrospectively mapped into and onto Nigeria, a twentieth-century invention, attests to the ways in which space and time remain co-constituted and interlinked, underlining the malleability of space and subjectivity over the longue durée of history. Peppered with references to young men, too lazy to ‘face farm work’, who ‘went to the coast to work, leaving the land which their parents and great-great grandparents had worked and cared for’ in order to sell their labour ‘on ships, the railway, road-building’ (37), the narrative explicitly positions Ogboli as part of a larger spatial system, already irrevocably changed and constantly subject to change, integrated into a complex of de- and re-territorialisation predicated on accumulation and production. 79 See Frederick Cooper, ‘What is the Concept of Globalization Good for? An African Historian’s Perspective’, African Affairs, 100.399 (2001), 189–213. Chapter 4 contains an extended discussion of the concepts of territorialisation and deterritorialisation introduced here.

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Beginning from a point of spatial dynamism and entanglement, then, the novel develops a complex genealogy of the development of space in southern Nigeria in which the asymmetry of inter-dependency brought with colonialism functions not as a break with, but as another movement in a long historical process. The territory of Nigeria was already, by the time in which Joys is set, the object of great importance in British colonial discourse, the heart of debates over the best use of its natural resources and the best (meaning the most sustainable and least labour- intensive) means for its indefinite governance under British influence. In one letter from Lord Lugard to A.S. Goldsmith, for instance, the former governor lays out his plans for the territory’s railway as a central means of integrating it into British control and maximising its productivity as an exporter of much-needed raw materials, highlighting his hopes for ‘the construction of the Eastern Railway to the coal-mines and ultimately to Kajunda, which I thought should be the railway junction for the Lagos, Baro, and the Port Harcourt railways, and any extension further North’ and later lamenting the suspension of these projects. The same letter, moreover, cites the ‘very large sum [that] was spent on the Ikoyi township, and the extension of the railway works at Idda and Ebutte Meta’.80 As early as the 1920s and 1930s and throughout the period spanning the transition to self-rule and independence, correspondence from colonial officials demonstrates a preoccupation with modernisation and productivity, citing the need for ‘urgent development work’ to generate qualified labour and ensure its reproduction through the training of a class of indigenous leaders,81 movements that the novel’s depiction of Ogboli in the early years of the twentieth century slyly references. Gesturing towards the irrevocable changes to the built environment wrought over the first half of the twentieth century and its refashioning of the scales of space, then, the description of Ogboli articulates the anxieties that ruled around land, its use, its cultivation, its productivity and its administration. Not coincidentally, these same anxieties resound across the colonial archive, seen in the preoccupation that ‘the construction of roads and railways, the introduction of modern commerce and industry and the cultivation of cash crops [have created a situation in which] customary tenure could no longer be applied because it completely failed to meet the needs of the changed environment’.82 With this view of Ogboli in mind, then, the novel presents the village and city not as oppositional zones, but as two nodes in a single matrix. Its opening passages, which follow Nnu Ego’s bewildered flight from her home upon 80 BL, MSS.lugard box 57 file 1, West Africa: Lugard’s influence, 1927–44, Letter dated 5 February 1935 from Lugard to A.S. Goldsmith. 81 See, for instance, BL, MSS.lugard box 57 file 2, West Africa: Indirect Rule, 1932–44, Letter dated 9 September 1944 from Abubakocy Imam to Lugard. 82 HIA, Box 1, Bernhardt M Jensen Papers, Notes and papers regarding agricultural development in Northern Nigeria, On land tenure in Nigeria, 7 November 1960.

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discovering the crib death of her first son, dwell upon the traumatised woman, with ‘her eyes unfocused and glazed’, who ‘walked as if in a daze, not conscious of using [her] feet’ (7), estranged from her own body and its sensory materiality. Traversing the space of the master’s compound, darting up ‘the untarred gravel road’ described as having the colour ‘of blood and water’, opening on to ‘the big tarred [road]’ where she ‘ran like someone pursued’ (7), Nnu Ego’s novel-opening experience of space underscores its constitution through human experience, its materiality muted under the tones of her own shock, while simultaneously enacting a parody of development teleologies. At the same time, the small observations allowed in these passages attest to the uneven nature of space even on the smallest of scales, the servants’ quarters standing in contrast to the master’s bungalow, the moist grass and washing line signalling the economy of domestic labour on which the compound runs – a form of labour that is predicated on a gendered shift in the structuration of productive and reproductive labour – the tarred and untarred roads speaking to the development of infrastructure and its priorities in the differentiation of space into administered zones. Acting ‘like a puppet reaching the end of its string’ (7), Nnu Ego and her bewilderment attest more broadly to her very ambivalent position in this place, the Yaba housing estate, a place ‘a little distance from the island, [which] had been built by the British for the British, though many Africans like Nnu Ego’s husband worked there as servants and houseboys; a few foreign blacks who were junior clerks lived in some of the modest estate houses’ (7). Set in 1934, the novel presents a vision of a city already well-integrated into the global world-system, traversable by named avenues, dotted with ‘market stalls covered with red corrugatediron sheets which, just like the wet grass and the gravel on the ground, were glistening with the morning dew’ (7). With refrains highlighting the glistening of the light, the haziness of the wet, morning dew, the narrative here literalises the mystifications of space as Nnu Ego traverses it, intertwining her maternal shame as a failed reproducer with the obfuscations of development in the city. Coming across the larger Oyingbo market, approaching the port and the bridge that mark her target, Nnu Ego’s hazy focalisation notes how ‘the early market sellers were making their ways to the stalls in single file, their various bundles tied and balanced unwaveringly on their heads’ (8), weaving past beggars fresh from spending the night in the open stalls and heading out for a day’s work (8). Making visible in these early hours the side of the economy usually submerged, its informal, invisible aspect, the narrative here emphasises the co-constitution of its dual facets, their mutual dependence, even as one is erased with the dawning of the light in a manner that seems to anticipate Quayson’s vision of the informal economy ‘as a question of dislocated urban life in an uncertain economic world’.83 Later echoed in the novel’s retrospective description of Nnu 83 Quayson, Oxford Street, p. 202.

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Ego’s journey from Ogboli to Lagos, ‘travelling in overloaded mammy lorries that carried various kinds of foodstuffs as well as passengers; people, live hens, dried fish and all […] packed into the same choking compartment’ (40), as well as its description of the ‘kia-kia bus’, a form of transport filling the demand gap left by ‘ordinary buses [that] were almost impossible to get’ (57), the novel presents a picture of a highly differentiated, specialised and interlayered social system in which human life, commerce and ingenuity coexist. Rather than reinforcing any dichotomous or totalised view of space, then, Joys develops a nuanced critique of the longue durée of entanglements which have produced its setting and which continue to define its context of production. The colonial period thus functions less as a break with than as part of a larger, multifaceted and complex process of spatial production. At the same time, the novel highlights the amplifications through which spatial entanglements were felt with the territory’s absorption into a system of accumulation predicated on the expansion of the capitalist world-system. Lagos, for all of its multiethnicity, is constituted as a space in which village life functions as an organising principle, enabling the internal distinctions within the city and its divisions. When Nnu Ego attempts to throw herself off the Carter Bridge, for instance, she is stopped by a fellow from her village, able to recognise her because of her facility in defending herself against any would-be saviours, a mark of her belonging to Ibuza, where ‘women were taught to wrestle like men, to learn the art of self-defense’ (60). That Nnu Ego finds herself in a position to defend herself is itself telling, a result of the fact that, as the narrative tells us, ‘a thing like [suicide] is not permitted in Nigeria; you are simply not allowed to commit suicide in peace, because everyone is responsible for the other person. Foreigners may call us a nation of busybodies, but to us, an individual’s life belongs to the community and not just to him or her’ (60). In many ways, the village remains the locus of social life, even in the city, with its monthly association meetings, gossip and news network and shared code of sanctioned practices, indicating a form of spatial interpenetration that does not automatically lend itself to hybridity or transparency. The city and the village, moreover, interact through a complex of productive and reproductive labour. Travelling along the roads, railways and ports that pepper the novel, commodities from the village, including the labourers who animate its multilayered economies, penetrate the city to fulfil its accumulative demands; at the same time, ethnic groupings maintain their collective affiliations through a combination of ritual and surveillance. Far from producing an easy layering of spatial ecologies and systems, moreover, the constitution of this spatial system is one predicated on despoliation, confrontation and varying forms of social violence. The novel’s principal violence, however, manifests through Nnu Ego’s subjugation under an interlocking system of so-called traditional patriarchy and the processes of housewifization engendered by the colonial economy, an exemplar

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of the amplified spatial entanglements and over-layerings that the novel dramatises in its passages through space-time. Arriving in Lagos, she quickly finds herself subordinated to the productive facility of her new husband, Nnaife, a washerman in the compound of a colonial officer, living under what Mies terms Big Man–little man syndrome and left bereft by the enforcement of a nuclear family system ‘organized and produced by the state’ under the guise of colonialism to be ‘the social factory where […] commodity “labour power” is produced’.84 Despite the alleged liberation of urban modernity, Nnu Ego encounters an amplification of the patriarchal structures of the village, leaving her without resources for grasping the potentiality of the city as a space of freedom and self-development. Reinforced by a social order in which colonialist law penetrates the private sphere, laying waste to the illusion of a public/private divide and isolating Nnu Ego, Nnaife and their colleagues in white men’s compounds where ‘no one talks to you and you must not make noise’ (97), where family law can go so far as to outlaw death in the home (66–7) and where local goods are outlawed to benefit the colonialist market (111), pre-independence Lagos is figured as a space of entanglements, an ‘interlocking of presents, pasts, and futures that retain their depths of other presents, pasts, and futures, each age bearing, altering, and maintaining the previous ones’.85 Despite its reliance on traditional structures to reproduce and perpetuate its administrative functioning, the space of the city nonetheless transforms, perverts and corrupts that which it absorbs, transforming titles like senior wife, which once enabled the bearer to ‘gain[] a great deal by seniority’ (118) into meaningless labels with no social bearing. Reinforced by its location in a global world-system that positions it as a space of accumulation and exploitation, ripe for the provision of goods and bodies in times of war and necessity and rewarded by inflated markets and scarce commodities (126), the contradictory workings of the city interact with the gendered workings of space to ensure their reproduction. These amplifications are underscored in the novel by Nnu Ego’s introduction to the market economy: The other women taught her how to start her own business so that she would not have only one outfit to wear. They let her borrow five shillings from the women’s fund and advised her to buy tins of cigarettes and packets of matches. A tin of cigarettes cost two shillings, and she then sold the cigarettes singly for a penny each; as there were thirty-six in each tin she made a profit of a shilling on a tin. The same thing applied to boxes of matches. She would buy a carton of twelve boxes for one shilling and sixpence and then sell each box for two pence, making a profit of sixpence on each carton. She was so thrilled with this that, as the other more 84 Mies, Patriarchy and Accumulation, p. 31. 85 Mbembe, On the Postcolony, p. 16.

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experienced women had foretold, she had no time to be lonely or worry about her husband’s humiliating job, or bite her fingers about her coming child. (52)

Predicated on the advice and expertise she gains from the other women in the Ibuza village association, Nnu Ego’s entry into the petty trade gestures both towards the informal economy and a submerged history of women’s economic productivity, which I outlined in my discussion of Amadiume’s ethnographic research into the women of Nnobi. Throughout the novel, the Owulum family depend upon Nnu Ego’s ability to support them with her petty trading, often enabled by the purchase of black market cigarettes from sailors paused at the port of Lagos. Far from being a simple hobby or supplement to her husband’s income, Nnu Ego’s work as a trader links her both to the indigenous and matrilineal work of the market woman/trader and to a larger, global system of accumulation, production and consumption. Yet, despite Nnu Ego’s success in the marketplace, following the birth of her children she finds her economic role in the household diminished, urged instead to stay at home as a full-time mother and wife. As she muses, ‘She might not have any money to supplement her husband’s income, but were they not in a white man’s world where it was the duty of the father to provide for his family? In Ibuza, women made a contribution, but in urban Lagos, men had to be the sole providers; this new setting robbed the woman of her useful role’ (81). When Nnu Ego is forced to return to work, first after Nnaife’s conscription into the army during World War II and later, upon his return, due to his inability to find employment to support the family, rather than view this as a boon, it is seen as another blow to the ‘normal’ order, indicated in Nnaife’s bitter sense that ‘Not only did life in Lagos rob him of his manhood and of doing difficult work, now it had made him redundant and having to rely on his wife’ (87). In her lucid reading of Joys, Andrade notes the absence of any hint of, gesture towards or reference to the 1929 Igbo Women’s War, an instance of ‘indigenous feminist […] challenge to colonialism’,86 in which women targeted ‘many of the symbols of colonialism – Barclay’s Bank, warehouses that stored palm oil products, native courts, European trading houses’.87 Rather than view the novel’s lack of mention of these events as a historical inaccuracy or failure of realism, however, it is important to consider what their absence means in the context of the novel’s own production in 1979. By the time Joys was published, Nigeria had undergone a series of transformations inherently spatial in this character: the transition first to self-rule and then independence, accompanied, as I have written in previous chapters, with a re-formation of its systems of regionalisation 86 Andrade, The Nation Writ Small, p. 46. 87 Myles Osborne and Susan Kingsley Kent, Africans and Britons in the Age of Empires, 1660–1980 (London: Routledge, 2015), p. 157,

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and administration; the opening of oil fields in the south-east of the country in the late 1950s; the bloody thirty-month Nigerian–Biafran War, notable for its specifically gendered elements;88 the establishment of military rule and, with it, the despoliation and expropriation of the national economy and its resources; the country’s integration into relationships of structural dependency with the global North; the recurrence of communal violence between its northern and southern zones. Structurally interconnected, these shifts and transformations demonstrate the extent to which the anxieties felt within the pages of Emecheta’s novel were neither erased by the coming of independence nor felt as discrete and distinct occurrences. Rather, the novel gestures towards a long history of spatial production, conflict and entanglement through its dramatisation of Nnu Ego’s life story. Taken as a whole, the production of space within the novels of Bâ, Aidoo and Emecheta demonstrate both the heterogeneity with which spatiality emerges and its multiplicity across entangled, overlapping and often-contradictory registers and scales. Rather than view the gendered constitution of space as a product of its cleaving – the private from the political, the feminine from the masculine, the libidinal from the political – these three novels foreground the interpenetration and co-construction of these supposedly discrete zones of spatial experience, emphasising both the connectivity of space as a totalised form and its uneven development. In this regard, the starkly differing class positions occupied by each novel’s protagonist must be considered as part of a larger deconstruction of the notion of a single, monolithic ‘women’s space’, which runs the risk of reinscribing the normative patriarchal order. Rather than reinforce the overdetermined categories of colonialist, capitalist and patriarchal exploitation, the sheer incommensurability of spatial experience as seen through the eyes of Ramatoulaye, with her relative material comfort, versus Nnu Ego, defined for much of Joys by the precarity of her situation, for instance, emphasises the integration of women’s experiences, agency and social (re)productivity across the workings of spatiality writ large and, by so doing, the internal fissures and contradictions through which material experience is expressed; at the same time their commonalities testify to the large-scale totalities through which power functions in the worlding of space. Equally, each of these three novels demonstrates the creative expression of agency within the seemingly insurmountable encroachment of hegemonic, abstract space as felt in the early moments of the shift to a neoliberal global economy. From the determination, on the part of Nnu Ego’s former co-wife Adaku, to forge an alternative spatial order for herself and her daughters free from subordination to any husband or man to the messianic, emancipatory 88 Harneil-Sievers, Ahazuem and Emezue, A Social History of the Nigerian Civil War, pp. 129–33; pp. 144–8.

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spatiality imagined and lived by Ramatoulaye’s daughter Daba, the depiction of struggle, negotiation, contestation and capitulation by the women who populate these texts emphasises the extent to which space remains a site of activity and agency, even while maintaining its power of appropriation and absorption. Instructive here is a brief consideration of another text that exemplifies these spatial agonistics. Published in 1987, Calixthe Beyala’s C’est le soileil qui m’a brûlée tells the story of Ateba, a nineteen- year-old living in the squalid Quartier Général in an unnamed African city. Focalised broadly through the diffuse narration of an unnamed narrator who comes to stand in as a spectre of sorts for femininity, the novel juxtaposes the spatial entrapments and enclosures that define Ateba’s existence as a sexually developing young woman with her yearning for a form of transcendental solidarity borne of spatial openness engendered through claims towards a universal womanhood. Articulated in the novel’s refrain that ‘elle était Ateba et toutes les femmes étaient elle’ [‘she was Ateba and all women were she’],89 Beyala’s novel produces a spatial regime in which the messianic promise of an alternative model for being is continually counterbalanced by the pull of the actually-existing material enclosures that define Ateba’s world. Cloistered in claustrophobic domestic spaces defined by their ‘chaleur suffocante’ (61) [‘suffocating heat’ (37)], paralysed in a home that gives her ‘l’impression d’être plongée brusquement dans une galerie aux ramifications inconnues’ (37–8) [‘the impression of being plunged into a maze with unknown offshoots running from it’ (19)], plagued by vertigo and soon to become little more than another commodity for purchase in some of the many stifling bars of the city, Ateba’s few moments of solace occur in her nocturnal speeches made to the woman she imagines and addresses, through whom she might ‘anéantir le chaos’ (102) [‘annihilate chaos’ (67)]. In these moments, the novel opens space and time to the unscalable register of the infinite through the fabrication of a form of solidarity which is not a priori but rather forged through her consecutive addresses and which demand a form of engagement impossible in her daily world of surveillance and paranoia. For Ateba, this space is defined by its construction from the stars from which she imagines women were borne, stars which ‘scintillait nuit et jour dans le ciel’ (166) [‘would glitter in the sky night and day’ (114)] until her imprisonment by man who, ‘pour l’obliger à rester […] avait dérobé les containers de lumière et encerclé sa maison d’un fil de fer’ (167) [‘to force her to stay […] had hidden the containers of light and surrounded the house with barbed wire’ (114)], the radical alterity of her womanhood confined within the material conditions of restriction, exploitation and pain.

89 Calixthe Beyala, C’est le soleil qui m’a brûlée (Paris: Roman/Stock, 1991 [1987]), p.  24. English translations taken from Calixthe Beyala, The Sun Hath Looked Upon Me, trans. Marjolijn De Jager (Harlow: Heinemann, 1996), p. 9. Henceforth cited in-text.

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It would be difficult to argue that C’est le soleil presents an emancipatory or optimistic vision of space and its co-production of gender. By the novel’s end, Ateba appears consigned to repeat the brief, unhappy life lived by her nowdeceased mother, as a prostitute in the Quartier Général, facing rape, abuse and repeatedly transformed into a cipher for the violent desires of the men who surround her. Seemingly made an analogue for the postcolonial nation in an era of neoliberalism, Ateba falls further and further into the enclosures of a space of commoditisation and exploitation, a space in which fluidity, through the purchase and trafficking of goods, leads only to further entrapment and misery. And yet, in its defiant last lines, spoken as its unnamed narrator materialises before Ateba and reveals herself as her soul, another possibility emerges, enclosing within it the kernels of a different material world: Je comprends qu’il n’y a plus rien à prendre. Je la regarde s’avancer, seule, dans le jour naissant, dans les ruelles désertes. Ses pas résonnent sur le bitume, elle avance lentement, pas à pas, vers la clarté diffuse à l’horizon. Ce n’est pas cela qui l’attire mais cette lueur plus vive, tapie dans les eaux complexes des femmes à venir. (174) [I understand there’s nothing left to take. I watch her move forward, alone, in the budding day, in the deserted alleyways. Her footsteps reverberate on the asphalt. Slowly she moves on, step by step, towards the radiating brightness on the horizon. It is not that which attracts her, but the more vivid glow hidden away inside the intricate waters of the women to come. (119–20)]

If there is any promise to be taken from these final passages, it comes not in the hope of a happy resolution to Ateba’s story. Rather, the ending to Beyala’s novel articulates a logic outside of that of her material confines, one that pursues not the gleam of The Beautyful Ones but rather a vivid glow of solidarity, apparent on the horizon but just hidden from view. Dynamic in its characteristics, moving slowly and with care, this is a glow from which accumulation remains impossible, manifesting itself only under structures that refuse to give because there is ‘nothing left to take’, speaking in a different idiom, from a different perspective and through a different logic.

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Midway through Teju Cole’s 2011 novel, Open City, the narrator, a thirty-something, half-Nigerian, half-German psychiatric resident at New York City’s Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, travels to Brussels. During this trip, a journey taken under the auspices of a quest to find the grandmother who he has not seen since the age of eleven, the narrator defines the titular open city for the first and only time in the narrative: Those were the theaters, so conveniently set at the intersection of Holland, Germany, England, and France, in which Europe’s fatal tussles had played out. But there had been no firebombing of Bruges, or Ghent, or Brussels. Surrender, of course, played a role in this form of survival, as did negotiation with invading powers. Had Brussels’s rulers not opted to declare it an open city and thereby exempt it from bombardment during the Second World War, it might have been reduced to rubble. It might have been another Dresden.1

A military term, the open city refers to a condition where a belligerent nation, facing possible attack, may declare the target an ‘open city.’ That means that the city will be unarmed and will not be defended. Theoretically, that designation should mean that the city will not be attacked, thus safe from assault.2

For Brussels, the city’s designation as open would serve ‘to prevent bombing and destruction and to avoid excessive civilian casualties’,3 allowing it ‘[to remain] a vision of the medieval and baroque periods, a vista interrupted only by the architectural monstrosities erected all over town by Leopold II in the late nineteenth century’ (97). ‘Open’ to surrender rather than liberation, Brussels would be spared the humiliation of defeat in exchange for the stain of capitulation, the expansive field of freedom transformed into its abnegation. Where, in its contemporary significance, the titular open city suggests an alternative reading, hearkening to the mobility of the cosmopolitan subject in the flux of the global 1 Teju Cole, Open City (London: Faber and Faber, 2011), p. 97. Henceforth cited in text. 2 Howard J. Langer, World War II (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1999), p. 412. 3 Hanna Diamond, Fleeing Hitler: France 1940 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), p. 65.

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or the city open as a space of refuge,4 this historical interlude reveals the title as a catachresis that exposes its obfuscating limitations as the narrative unfolds. Expunged of any association within a cosmopolitan vision of ‘total unfettered mobility’ in a free, hospitable and ‘unbounded space’,5 the open city reveals its rooting as a space of submission and violation, against which the myth of liberty through flux cannot maintain its illusions. ‘Open’ as it may be, this is a space of entrapment, enacting a simultaneous marginalisation through surrender and absorption through capitulation. The presence of this catachresis at the heart of Open City points towards the larger phenomena that have driven the production of space in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century, particularly through the twinning of the two seemingly-opposed paradigms of neoliberalism, with its emphasis on financialisation, open markets and structural violence, and cosmopolitanism, with its attendant notions of mobility and fluidity. Though often treated as discrete in their effects, as Open City makes plain these two movements remain intimately intertwined through their mutual entanglement in the spatiality of the global capitalist world-system and its superimposition over the myriad contesting systems of social space that lie beneath.6 Undergirded by development discourse, a ‘conceptual “apparatus”’ with very real material ramifications that is predicated on ‘a representation of economic and social life which denies “politics” and [...] suspends its effects’,7 manifested through the ravages of structural adjustment and performance-based allocations,8 and marking an intensification of the transformation of space into time and geography into teleology by turning the spatial problematic of uneven development into the temporal issue of modernisation,9 the notions of ‘modernisation’, ‘industrialisation’ and ‘improvement’ upon which it is predicated ground themselves on the reorganisation of the productive forces of a particular region in order to maximise capital gains, entailing the development of infrastructure, redistribution of the labour force and plannification of the city and country to increase efficiency. Development 4 See, for example, Simon Critchley and Richard Kearney’s preface to Derrida’s On Cosmopolitanism and Forgiveness (Simon Critchley and Richard Keaney, ‘Preface’, in Jacques Derrida, On Cosmopolitanism and Forgiveness (London: Routledge, 2001), pp. vii–xii (p. vii). 5 Massey, For Space, p. 81. 6 Lefebvre, Production of Space, p. 86. 7 James Ferguson, The Anti-Politics Machine: “Development”, Depoliticization, and Bureaucratic Power in Lesotho (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), pp. xiv–xv. 8 George Kararach, Hany Besada and Timothy M. Shaw, ‘Introduction: Development Policy, Agency and Africa in the Post-2015 Development Agenda’, in Development in Africa: Refocusing the Lens after the Millennium Development Goals, ed. George Kararach, Hany Besada and Timothy M. Shaw (Bristol: Policy Press, 2015), pp. 1–24 (p. 18). 9 Pádraig Carmody, The New Scramble for Africa (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2011), pp. 23– 4; Ferguson, Anti-Politics, p. xiii.

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thus entails an uneven play across the spatial scales that are produced by and which constitute a particular geography, amplifying global and extra-national connections across discrete localities through aid, debt and open markets, while imposing new structures oriented towards the maximisation of accumulation. In the same gesture, the cosmopolitan aspirations of a novel like Open City function through forms of simultaneous mystification and uncovering, performing through the aesthetic functioning of the literary text a form of self-critique that lays bare the contradictory impulses and structural violence at the heart of contemporary postcolonial spatiality with its play of fragmentation, marginalisation and centralisation. In what follows, I trace the precise movements through which this occurs in four novels highly distinct in their tone and register, but united in their global orientations and spatial preoccupations: Cole’s Open City (2011), Okey Ndibe’s Foreign Gods Inc (2014), J.R. Essomba’s Le Paradis du Nord (2000) and Fatou Diome’s Le ventre de l’Atlantique (2004). It is tempting to read these four texts through the lens of globalisation, envisioned as a contemporary phenomenon with particular effects on the African continent. Indeed, this is precisely the tendency that emerges in much critical inquiry and popular discussion around the continent and its positioning in the world. Bouncing off of the idea that ‘the world is flat’, in Thomas Friedman’s clichéd phrase, this perspective takes the position that through structural adjustment and other modes of regulating the international monetary system (that is, the post-World War II Bretton Woods system that gave rise to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, among other institutions), the resultant influx of multinational investment and the spread of information technologies, Africa, so long that far-off ‘dark continent’, is finally entering the world, guided by the knowing hands of Euro-America. Whether taken as a boon or a curse on the continent, this view suggests that ‘the new scramble for Africa represents a deepening of the process of globalization on the continent, which is reshaping its geography’, predicated on a ‘massively increased interest, and investment, in the continent from major world powers’.10 Yet, as we shall see in my readings of Cole’s, Ndibe’s, Essomba’s and Diome’s novels, this view of a single, totalising and entirely new form of global penetration fails to account for the multiplicity of connections over space and scales that have so long defined the continent’s place in the world and which continue to realign themselves today. Here, it is worth highlighting Massey’s lucid observation that ‘the imagination of globalisation as a historical queue does not recognise the simultaneous coexistence of other histories with characteristics that are distinct (which does not imply unconnected) and futures which potentially may be so too’.11 Ahistorical in its purview, the globalisation perspective thus ‘ends up glossing over the mechanisms and 10 Carmody, New Scramble, p. 16; p. 1. 11 Massey, For Space, p. 11.

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limitations of spatial relationships’ in all of their messy complexity, falling back, instead, on its ‘totalizing pretensions’ and ‘presentist periodization’.12 Instead, Cooper proposes that the spatial shifts that have defined the continent over the longue durée of history be viewed through what he terms the dialectic of territorialisation and deterritorialisation, a distinction that moves beyond seeing the world today through ‘a contrast of a past of territorial boundedness with a present of interconnection and fragmentation’.13 Instead, the dialectic of territorialisation and deterritorialisation allows for a more robust reckoning with the dynamics of connectivity, symbolisation and isolation that have long defined the African continent’s relationship with and in the world. As Cooper notes, ‘to call it globalization, distorted globalization, or deglobalization is to measure colonization against an abstract standard with little relation to historical processes’.14 The dialectic of territorialisation and deterritorialisation, by contrast, allows ‘for precision in specifying how […] commodity circuits are constituted, how connections across space are extended and bounded, and how large-scale, long-term processes, such as capitalist development, can be analyzed with due attention to their power, their limitations, and the mechanisms which will shape them’, escaping the impulse towards ‘linearity and teleology’.15 In this chapter, as the contrast between the legacies of British and French systems of imperial rule that emerge across these four texts make clear, I heed Cooper’s remarks, situating each of the four texts under study within the specific contexts, historical genealogies and multiaxial spatial networks that so arise. Open City tells the story of Julius, a thirty-four-year-old half-Nigerian Yoruba, half-German psychiatric resident at New York City’s Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. The novel spans a period of one year in which he navigates New York by foot on nightly walks across Manhattan, encountering a diverse array of characters and expositing a complex, diasporic history of the island. Organised around the experiences of its first-person narrator, a modern-day postcolonial flâneur par excellence, the novel contends with the themes of migrancy, subjectivity and liminality, engaging with a free-floating and aspirational form of cosmopolitanism that has been the focus of significant critical attention.16 12 13 14 15 16

Cooper, ‘Globalization’, p. 190; p. 193. Cooper, ‘Globalization’, p. 191. Cooper, ‘Globalization’, p. 206. Cooper, ‘Globalization’, p. 211. See, for instance, Pieter Vermeulen, ‘Flights of Memory: Teju Cole’s Open City and the Limits of Aesthetic Cosmopolitanism’, Journal of Modern Literature, 37.1 (2013), 40–57; Katherine Hallemeier, ‘Literary Cosmopolitanisms in Teju Cole’s Every Day is for the Thief and Open City’, ARIEL: A Review of International English Literature, 44.2–3 (2013), 239–50; Hamish Dalley, ‘The Idea of “Third Generation Nigerian Literature”: Conceptualizing Historical Change and Territorial Affiliation in the Contemporary Nigerian Novel’, Research in African Literatures, 44.4 (2013), 15–34.

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Elsewhere, I have written extensively on the ways in which the novel operates through a self-reflexive form of critique in which its overtly conscious cosmopolitan musings cover over a different, submerged narrative of neoliberal exploitation and violence, which we may see as characteristic of twenty-first century postcolonial spatiality.17 By so doing, the novel unmasks its allegedly differential workings as little more than an alibi for the intensification of an abstract spatial violence through which late capitalism penetrates the world under what Zygmunt Bauman once termed ‘liquid modernity’.18 Juxtaposing the alleged openness of space, manifested through its rendering of the city as palimpsest, with the solipsism of its narrator, later shown to be fundamentally unreliable, the novel reveals its fluid, cosmopolitan predilections to be little more than a ruse, a trap under which another, more sinister reality lies. I will not rehearse these arguments in full here; rather, my intention in this section is to expand upon these premises by setting the spatial deconstruction of the novel in dialogue with the larger movements of neoliberal capital, developmentalism and financialisation that dominate the production of space of its time. Rhetoric around African development in the early twenty-first century has been dominated by what is now known as the ‘Africa Rising’ narrative. From opinion pieces lauding the potential for information technology, particularly mobile phones, to transform the continent to economic treatises touting figures of 5% annual growth across the continent since 2000 and paying tribute to the positive outcomes of the Millennium Development Goals,19 this line of thought positions Africa as a developmental success story, emphasising the opening of markets, influx of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), resource management and increased influence of the private sector in the region through the large-scale privatisation of state and parastatal enterprises. At the same time, a different, rather more pessimistic, picture emerges in which the rate of growth is coupled with a stark rise in inequality; the seemingly uniform failure of development projects across the continent; the ascendance of donor-led interests over the public good; and political corruption, resource instability and widespread conflict.20 While neither of these visions of the 17 Madhu Krishnan, ‘Postcoloniality, Spatiality and Cosmopolitanism in the Open City’, Textual Practice, 29.4 (2015), 675–96. 18 Zygmunt Bauman, Liquid Modernity (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2000). 19 Mark Rice-Oxley and Zoe Flood, ‘Can the internet reboot Africa?’, The Guardian, 26 July 2016 [accessed 27 July 2016]; Kararach, Besada and Shaw, Development in Africa, p. 1. 20 World Bank, Independent Evaluation Group, Public Sector Evaluation, ‘Project Performance Assessment Report: Federal Government of Nigeria Community Based Poverty Reduction Project (Cr. 3447, Cr. 3447-1)’, Report No. 88077, 30 June 2014, p. 2; James Wakiaga, ‘The Post-2015 Development Agenda: Building a Global Convergence on Policy Options’, in Development in Africa: Refocusing the Lens after the Millennium

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African continent in the twenty-first century stands entirely without suspicion, together they indicate the growing entrenchment of a certain form of developmentist thought that mediates its material realities. Despite the scepticism shown towards development in the Global South more generally,21 this dominant rhetoric indicates a desire not for alternatives to development, but development alternatives,22 focusing on the even deeper penetration of privatisation and foreign capital investment, exploitation of resources (human, financial and natural), further financialisation of the continent and erasure of informal economies.23 Open City deals with none of this context overtly. Indeed, in its critical reception the novel has been positioned as much as a text about America – post-9/11 New York more specifically – as it has about Africa or Nigeria. There is of course merit to this view; more time is spent in New York than any other location in the novel (second place going to Brussels), and the African continent appears only through a series of disparate asides, in vignettes of memory from Julius’s life or as part of his many brief encounters. At the same time, the novel’s location in New York City, in general, and Manhattan, more specifically, is of great consequence to the larger framework of spatiality through which it functions and the vision of global space which it constitutes, with considerable bearing on its envisioning of Nigeria, the land of Julius’s childhood. During the mid-twentieth century, New York experienced large-scale urban planning and re-visioning under the guidance of Robert Moses. Inspired by Haussmann’s work in Paris, Moses changed the scale of thinking about the urban process and – through the system of (debt-financed) highways and infrastructural transformations, through suburbanization, and through the total re-engineering not just of the city but of the whole metropolitan regions – he defined a way to absorb surplus product and thereby resolve the capital surplus absorption problem.24

Development Goals, ed. George Kararach, Hany Besada and Timothy M. Shaw (Bristol: Policy Press, 2015), pp. 25–46; Kararach, Besada and Shaw, Development in Africa, pp. 2–11. 21 See the extended discussion of the work of Khoo, Clemens and Easterly and Jolly in Wakiaga, ‘Post-2015 Development Agenda’, pp. 30–5. 22 Cf. Arturo Escobar, Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995). 23 Kararach, Besada and Shaw, Development in Africa, p. 2; George Kararach, ‘Debating Post-2015 Development-oriented Reforms in Africa: Agendas for Action’, in Development in Africa: Refocusing the Lens after the Millennium Development Goals, ed. George Kararach, Hany Besada and Timothy M. Shaw (Bristol: Policy Press, 2015), pp. 47–82 (pp. 62–3). 24 Harvey, Rebel Cities, p. 9.

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This change to the built environment of the city has had long-term consequences, not just for its physical spatial structure, but for its continued position within an increasingly abstract system of hypercapitalist space. In the present day, as human geographers argue, cities like New York and those inspired by Moses’s work demonstrate a form of ‘privatization on a world scale that speaks of an individualist neoliberal politics of choice rather than any notion of public or collective responsibility for social reproduction’, a system deeply rooted in the production of uneven geographies across all possible scales.25 In other words, by setting its overt focus on New York, a city defined by a ‘neoliberal urbanism’ disguised under the artifice of cosmopolitanism,26 while placing Africa in a marginalised, yet indispensably productive, position, the spatial orientations of Open City mimic the uneven geographies of contemporary neoliberal capitalism, reproducing through aesthetic and rhetorical forms their orderings of fluidity, visibility and erasure, while subtly reinforcing their interpenetration. In one scene early in the novel, for instance, Julius narrates his experience of going to a late night showing of The Last King of Scotland, a fictionalised retelling of the Idi Amin regime in Uganda. Settling in for the film, Julius muses on its opening credits: The jaunty credit sequence featured music from the right time period, but not from the right part of Africa: what had Mali to do with Kenya? But I had come prepared to like some things about the film, and I expected that some other things would annoy me. Another film I had watched the previous year, about the crimes of large pharmaceutical companies in East Africa, had left me feeling frustrated, not because of its plot, which was plausible, but because of the film’s fidelity to the convention of the good white man in Africa. Africa was always waiting, a substrate for the while man’s will, a backdrop for his activities. (29)

Africa, this Africa of films and popular media, is less a place than a signifier, a homogenous space of extraneous waste, wherein the vastly differential geographies of a diverse and sprawling continent are so easily interchanged. This Africa is not only a place in wait of a white saviour; it is also a place of exploitation, the passive laboratory in which experiments intended for the benefit of EuroAmerica might be carried out with little concern for its barely human cost. That second film that Julius cites without naming, The Constant Gardener, is a particularly apt reference for its evacuation of humanity from the continent, rendered instead the raw materials through which Western male self-realisation 25 Cindi Katz, ‘Power, Space, and Terror Social Reproduction and the Public Environment’, in The Politics of Public Space, ed. Neil Smith and Setha Low (New York: Routledge, 2005), pp. 105–22 (p. 106). 26 Neil Smith, ‘New Globalism, New Urbanism: Gentrification as Global Urban Strategy’, Antipode (2002), pp. 427–50 (p. 427).

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might occur. In this same gesture however, the narrative positions this as a situation that merits little notice. Instead, this vision of the continent is to be expected, normalised through the physical space’s absorption into the uneven geographies of late capitalist modernity in such a manner that its very traces are occluded. A function of abstract space at its finest, with its work of cleaving, erasure and violation, the cinematic portrayal of the continent cannot be separated from its larger material positioning. We learn midway through the novel that Julius left Nigeria at the age of seventeen, in 1992. This seemingly trivial observation illuminates a number of insights around the novel’s play with the various overlapping scales of postcolonial spatiality. By 1992 Nigeria was in the midst of what would be a long and brutal period of military dictatorship. Beginning in 1983 with a military coup that toppled the short-lived Second Republic, bringing Muhammadu Buhari to power for the first time, and followed by the regimes of Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (1985–93) and Sani Abacha (1993–98), this was a period that saw the implementation of structural adjustment programmes, decline of the economy and erosion of public space at an unprecedented rate. Historians refer to Nigeria in this period as a veritable police state, beginning from Buhari’s attempts to ‘root out corruption and criminality in Nigerian society at large’, resulting in ‘public surveillance [at] levels never before seen in Nigeria’.27 Indeed, it was during this period that Buhari’s infamous War Against Indiscipline was inaugurated, resulting in the destruction of markets, informal housing and so-called slums, ‘forc[ing] the poor and homeless out of city centers’.28 Under the Babangida regime, Nigeria saw a ‘rising tide of regional, religious and ethnic intolerance [encouraged by the regime] to reinforce a policy of “divide and rule”’,29 while, by 1993, the promises of a return to democracy seemed lost and the country ‘teetered on the brink of anarchy’,30 setting the scene for Abacha’s ascendancy. Three connected processes can be attributed to the overall sense of national decline that defined this period: the aforementioned programme of structural adjustment; the oil boom and transformation of the country into a ‘renter monocultural state;’31 and the simultaneous fracturing of the nation and centralisation of power through the intensified carving-out of states and local authorities. 27 Falola and Heaton, A History of Nigeria, p. 214. 28 Falola and Heaton, A History of Nigeria, p. 215. 29 Abdul Raufu Mustapha, ‘Civil Rights and Pro-democracy Groups in and outside Nigeria’, in Nigeria During the Abacha Years (1993–1998) (Ibadan: Institut français de recherche en Afrique-Nigeria, 2001), [accessed 28 July 2016], paragraph 10. 30 Falola and Heaton, A History of Nigeria, p. 227. 31 Alex Sekwat, ‘Economic Development Experience in Nigeria’, in Handbook of Economic Development, ed. Kuotsai Tom Liou (New York: Marcel Dekker, 1998), pp.  569–86 (p. 579).

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Between the 1970s and the turn of the millennium, the Nigerian economy, despite its consistent growth, fell into a dire situation. As the authors of a 2003 working paper on Nigeria’s natural resource curse explain: Nigeria has been a disastrous development experience. On just about every conceivable metric, Nigeria’s performance since independence has been dismal. In PPP terms, Nigeria’s per capita GDP was US$1,113 in 1970 and is estimated to have remained at US$1,084 in 2000. The latter figure places Nigeria amongst the 15 poorest nations in the world for which such data are available.32

Citing an increase in the poverty rate from 36% in 1970 to 70% in 2000, coupled with an increase in inequality that saw the top 2% increase its share of income wealth to the equivalent of the bottom 55% (up from 17% in 1970),33 the report indicates an economic picture consistently repeated elsewhere. By the mid-1980s, the Nigerian government was spending approximately 39% of its revenues on debt servicing, a situation made worse by the government’s inability to agree upon a deal for debt rescheduling with the International Monetary Fund.34 Faced with a seemingly intractable economic situation and strong public opinion that the plans offered by the IMF should be rejected, the Babangida administration imposed upon the country a structural adjustment programme aimed at the reduction of the public sector, particularly through the privatisation and liberalisation of the economy.35 Despite its ostensible aim to rationalise the economy, structural adjustment in Nigeria ushered in an era of ‘intolerable economic conditions’, particularly on ‘workers, the youth and the middle class’, coupled with ‘a climate of pervasive corruption’ which undermined its stated objectives.36 By the end of 1991, 70 out of 110 targeted public enterprises were privatised,37 including major parastatal organisations involved with healthcare and education, with often disastrous results for the population. The erosion of public space – and with it, the commons – is of no little concern in this period; as Cindy Katz has argued, privatisation ‘draws not only money but clout from less visible landscapes while creating the sensation for more privileged segments of society that things are good’.38 Operating as ‘a creeping encroachment [… which] has in the last two decades become an epoch-making shift culminating in multiple closures, erasures, inundations, and transfigurations of public space 32 Xavier Sala-i-Martin and Arvind Subramanian, Addressing the Natural Resource Curse: An Illustration from Nigeria, National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper 9804, June 2003, p. 4. 33 Ibid. 34 Falola and Heaton, A History of Nigeria, p. 215. 35 Sekwat, ‘Economic Development Experience’, p. 575. 36 Mustapha, ‘Civil Rights’, paragraph 5. 37 Sekwat, ‘Economic Development Experience’, p. 575. 38 Katz, ‘Power, Space and Terror’, p. 117.

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at the behest of state and corporate strategies’,39 the destruction of the public commons can be directly tied to the rise of a fluid, neoliberal individualism. In Open City, the narrative emphasises precisely this point through Julius’s own self-conception as a cosmopolitan citizen of the world. Recounting his departure from Nigeria at the age of seventeen to America, where a scholarship to the fictional Maxwell College awaited him, for instance, Julius recalls his anticipation as he waited ‘to begin life in the new country, fully on [his] own terms’ (85). A self-styled sophisticate literate in Barthes, Ben Jelloun, St Augstine, Mahler and more, Julius presents himself as the ideal cosmopolitan subject, traversing the supposedly open spaces of New York City and enabled by the dereliction of the Nigeria of his memories. Estranged from his only living family, divested of all those pesky ties of tradition and kinship, given to abstraction to the highest degree and utterly self-made, at least in his personal mythology, he represents the free-floating subject of neoliberal capitalism constituted by – and constitutive of – its attendant social space. Concurrent with the institution of structural adjustment was the increasing domination of oil in Nigeria’s national economy. While, in 1960, agriculture accounted for approximately 75% of Nigeria’s exports, by 1975 oil vastly outstripped it, accounting for 80% of all export-derived income. By 1995, this number rose to 97.3%, with the bulk of exports going to the United States (48%), EU (31%) and Asia (12%).40 Throughout the 1990s, oil accounted for 70% of Nigeria’s federal budget resources and 30% of its gross domestic product,41 while simultaneously attracting significant multinational investment in the country through Nigeria Petroleum. The rise of the oil economy and the concurrent institution of structural adjustment is no coincidence; along with its economic importance, oil also became an important source of plunder for corrupt military governments, benefiting from a range of greater fiscal incentives and fiscal decentralisation.42 In the Nigerian context, oil functions as a fundamentally spatial phenomenon, simultaneously intensifying Nigeria’s absorption into a global world capitalist system, deepening its dependency on the economies of North America and Europe and entrenching a position of extraversion. At the same time, oil is equally a fracturing presence. Under national policies of equal distribution, the majority of oil wealth went directly into Federal coffers, with little given back 39 Neil Smith and Setha Low, ‘Introduction: The Imperative of Public Space’, in The Politics of Public Space, ed. Neil Smith and Setha Low (New York: Routledge, 2005), pp. 1–15 (p. 1). 40 Richard L. Sklar, ‘An Elusive Target: Nigeria Fends Off Sanctions’, in Nigeria During the Abacha Years (1993–1998) (Ibadan: Institut français de recherche en Afrique-Nigeria, 2001), [accessed 28 July 2016], paragraph 32. 41 Sekwat, ‘Economic Development Experience’, p. 569. 42 World Bank, Independent Evaluation Group, ‘Project Performance Assessment Report: Nigeria, Lagos Urban Transport Project’, Report No. 103068, 30 June 2016.

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to the oil-producing Rivers State (under the Babangida regime, as little as 2% of oil revenues went to oil-producing states, with a further 3% to oil-producing areas),43 engendering a protracted conflict that continues to the present-day. This situation occurred precisely because of larger policies around regional fragmentation that took place in Nigeria from the late 1960s onward. Since the separation of the four major regions into twelve states by Gowon in 1967, Nigeria has increased its number of states to nineteen in 1976, thirty in 1991 and the present thirty-six in 1996, coupled in 1976 with the institution of local government authorities (LGAs), which currently number 774. Primarily driven by resource management, rather than ethnic or socio-political need, the creation of states and LGAs have had the effect of over-centralising the country under the auspices of equalisation. Despite calls for an alternative vision of confederation based on larger federating blocs,44 the spatial logic perpetuated by the creation of states and LGAs thus created a situation through which the contradictory workings of abstract, hypercapitalist space might most fully realise themselves. This diversion into Nigeria’s late-twentieth-century history may at first seem incongruous to a discussion of Open City. However, my intentions in recounting this history are to emphasise the significance of this period in the twinned processes of fragmentation and centralisation that undergirded Nigeria’s denudation and exploitation across multiple spatial scales. Domestically, the overcentralisation of the federal government, predicated by the fragmentation of the nation into discrete administrative units, would directly lead to the conditions under which its greatest excesses would be realised, resulting in increased poverty for the many, brain drain and outward-oriented migration, corruption and conflict. While never explicitly remarked upon, Julius’s departure in the midst of this situation – and indeed just before its nadir, with Abacha’s rise to power in 1993 – takes on a new valence of meaning. Though in the novel Julius presents his move to America as the product of an individualist ethos of hard work and merit, motivated in large part by his troubled relationship with his mother, it becomes possible to read another process occurring. Under this line of interpretation, Julius’s trajectory is a direct outcome of the larger spatial phenomenon driving the disintegration of social space in Nigeria, what would eventually result in its status as a virtual pariah state following the Abacha regime’s murder of Ogoni activist and writer Ken Saro-Wiwa. Julius’s own solipsism might thus be rendered 43 Rotimi P. Suberu, ‘Ethnic Minority Problems and Oil Politics: A Case Study of Rivers State’, in Ethnic Minority Conflicts and Governance in Nigeria (Ibadan: Institut français de recherche en Afrique-Nigeria, 1996), [accessed 28 July 2016], paragraphs 32–8. 44 Alex Gboyega, ‘Current Options for a Stabilized Federal System in Nigeria’, in Nigeria During the Abacha Years (1993–1998) (Ibadan: Institut français de recherche en AfriqueNigeria, 2001), [accessed 28 July 2016], paragraphs 22–5.

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as a symptom of his inculcation into a vacuous brand of neoliberalism, which absorbs only to expunge, a manifestation or product of the power relationships that purport to promote ‘deterritorialization, border-crossing, openness, fluidity, and difference’ as a means of domination.45 As Harvey writes, ‘this is a world in which the neoliberal ethic of intense possessive individualism can become the template for human personality socialization’. Indeed, even Julius’s own vocation as psychiatrist is made suspect as ‘the impact [of this world] is increasing individualistic isolation, anxiety, and neurosis’.46 The philosophical entanglements underpinning his cosmopolitan musings on the state of New York City become something else, betraying their grounding in a totalising spatiality that seeks first to estrange the better to exploit. Even walking, that paradigmatic tactic of remapping and resisting hegemonic spatial constructions,47 transforms, becoming another version of the specular mystification under which the workings of neoliberal fetishism function, a sort of hyperactivation of what Simmel once characterised of the ‘blasé attitude’ engendered by the modern metropolis.48 Julius himself, with his visions of the past as little more than an ‘empty space, great expanses of nothing, in which significant persons and events float’, where, consigned to that nothingness, Nigeria exists only as one of ‘those few things that [he] remembered with an outsize intensity’ (155), operates as a seemingly free-floating subject expelled from all grounding and yet irrevocably mired within a system of individualistic, neoliberal abstraction. Later in the novel, Julius recounts a memory of a long-ago day in which he accompanied his then-girlfriend, Nadège, on a visit to a detention facility holding failed asylum seekers and migrants in Queens (one of the few moments in the narrative where Julius leaves the financial centre of Manhattan for the outer boroughs). During this encounter, Julius comes across a young man, Saidu, exiled from Liberia as one of countless casualities of its civil war. Listening to Saidu’s story of orphaning, abandonment, violence and precarity, at times forcibly conscripted into physical labour on a rubber farm run by Charles Taylor’s troops, elsewhere entrapped into menial, undocumented labour while living in overcrowded, inhumane conditions at the peripheries of Europe, Julius’s initial reaction is one of quiet scepticism. Wondering, ‘naturally’, the narrative states, ‘whether [he] believed him or not, whether it wasn’t more 45 Dustin Crowley, Africa’s Narrative Geographies: Charting the Intersections of Geocriticism and Postcolonial Studies (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), p. 14. 46 Harvey, Rebel Cities, p. 14. 47 Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1984), pp.  97–9; Mike Craig, ‘Relics, Places and Unwritten Geographies in the Work of Michel de Certeau (1925–86)’, in Thinking Space, ed. Michael Craig and Nigel Thrift (Abingdon: Routledge, 2000), pp. 136–53 (p. 150). 48 David Harvey, ‘The Political Economy of Public Space’, in The Politics of Public Space, ed. Neil Smith and Setha Low (New York: Routledge, 2005), pp. 17–34 (p. 25).

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likely that he had been a solider’, a question unexamined because ‘he had, after all, had months to embellish the details, to perfect his claim of being an innocent refugee’ (67), Julius’s disbelief covers over his sheer inability to connect Saidu’s plight with the larger workings of the global economy, its despoliation of Africa’s natural resources and its dependence on a marginalised, precarious workforce shoved into the hinterlands of daily existence. Juxtaposed against Saidu’s references to clandestine migration, salvation by ECOWAS troops and ultimate incarceration in the America he once dreamed of experiencing, the narrative slyly constitutes the blind spots of a contemporary abstract space that poses as differential, cosmopolitan and radical in its open potential. That this should occur in a narrative so deeply concerned with the gentrification of New York City and its many afterlives only emphasises the extent to which the seemingly transformational and progressive movements of the twenty-first century fail to enact the fundamental shifts in the (re)production of social space, at best reorienting its formation and covering over its greatest excesses. This point is repeatedly emphasised throughout Julius’s narrative, from his encounters with Farouq, a revolutionary Marxist intellectual now operating an internet café in a seedy neighbourhood in Brussels, forced to abandon his dream of studying for a doctorate in critical theory, inspired by Said, in favour of the more readily available – and not coincidentally instrumental – subject of translation; to his own discomfort when faced with a bar full of Rwandan refugees; to the novel’s climatic episode in which, overlooking the spectacular expanse of New York City on the Hudson River, Julius is confronted with the knowledge of his rape of a school friend’s sister, a memory long-since repressed. If the currents that produce the neoliberal, neocolonial abstract space of twenty-first-century capitalism are submerged in Open City, leaving only their traces on its protagonist’s navigation through the world, then the treatment of these phenomena in Okey Ndibe’s Foriegn Gods, Inc, J.R. Essomba’s Le Paradis du Nord and Fatou Diome’s Le ventre de l’Atlantique is much more overt. Like Cole’s, each text concerns itself to some degree with the experience of migration and the varying – and often conflictual – strands of territorialisation and deterritorialisation that together construct West African space on a global scale. In so doing, each these texts makes clear the connections between the despoliation of the African continent and the material prosperity of Euro-America, doing away with a world mapping reliant merely on centres and peripheries, whether multiple or singular, in favour of a far more complex global nexus of asymmetrical and symbiotic spatial production that functions through overlapping scales of conquest and contention. In Foreign Gods, Inc and Le ventre, this occurs through the juxtaposition of West African ‘home’ and Euro-American ‘destination’, foregrounding the discrepancy between the aspirations and lived realities of migrancy and the ontological work of defamiliarisation that comes with return. A similar dynamic plays out in Le Paradis, intensified by

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its focalisation through the aspirations of a clandestine migrant, made part of the detritus of the neoliberal world order in his eventual destruction. In all three cases, the extent to which the spatial production of a ‘depressed’ and ‘undeveloped’ Africa is linked to the ‘modernisation’ and ‘success’ of Europe and America is effectively foregrounded through each protagonist’s movements through space and the productive forces of space’s constitution in that very act. At the same time, these texts demonstrate the means through which the legacies of the British and French imperial contexts differently remap global space across time even as new non-statist modes of spatiality emerge, extending Cooper’s observation that imperial formations operate as ‘particular kind[s] of spatial system, boundary-crossing and also bounded’ to the multiple, large-scale spatial systems of the present day.49 Foreign Gods tells the story of Ikechukwu Uzondu, ‘Ike for short’,50 an educated Nigerian now working as a taxi driver in New York City and living a life of alcohol, squalor and poverty. Despite his degree in economics from Amherst College, Ike is unable to find the professional position he so desires in an America where a foreign accent is enough to override any qualifications. Consigned to an existence lived as part of the underbelly of the American Dream, his life is further torn apart by a brief, doomed marriage to an African-American woman, whose erratic spending and erotic penchants leave him destitute and broken. The primary action of the novel begins shortly after Ike, motivated by an article in New York magazine, makes the decision to return to his natal village of Utonki, in south-eastern Nigeria, in order to steal the village deity, Ngene, to sell to an exclusive Manhattan art gallery dealing in foreign gods, ‘powerful, ancient deities’ (9) whose popularity was ‘a new diversion for the wealthiest of the wealthy whose after-dinner drone is peppered with talk of million-dollar losses in capital ventures, the purchase of multimillion-dollar yachts, or splashes of excess on the island of Saint-Tropez’ (69). Even a superficial reading of Ndibe’s portrayal of New York City would not be able to overlook the stark contrast that it strikes to that found in Open City. Where, for Julius, New York is reduced to the island of Manhattan, experienced through long and meandering walks, entry into the hallowed halls of high culture and a studied solitude that reads more as affectation, Ike’s New York is a sprawling, throbbing and tumultuous place in which the space for philosophical wandering is not easily found. Spending his days driving a Lincoln Continental taxi through the city’s streets in an attempt to make ends meet, Ike’s existence may best be characterised by its sheer congestion, both literally and metaphorically. In The Urban Revolution, Lefebvre suggests that ‘the street may have once had the meaning of a meeting 49 Cooper, ‘Globalization’, p. 201. 50 Okey Ndibe, Foreign Gods, Inc. (New York: Soho Press, 2014), p. 1. Henceforth cited in text.

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place, it has since lost it, and could only have lost it, by reducing itself, through a process of necessary reduction, to nothing more than a passageway, by splitting itself into a place for the passage of pedestrians (hunted) and automobiles (privileged)’.51 With Julius and Ike, however, an ironic inversion appears to take hold. Embodying Quayson’s observation that ‘the poor have free time while the rich have leisure’,52 meandering walking in twenty-first-century New York City becomes akin to a declaration of power, an act of control open only to those with the time and resources to engage in its superficial remapping of space. For Ike, by contrast, driving operates less as the declaration of a protected form of privilege and more as an imperative for survival. Long gone, it seems, are the days of Armah and Sembène, replaced with a spatial schema in which the car, now the locus of labour, becomes another space open to attack and oppression. If it is indeed the case that ‘all spaces embody power relations of some sort’,53 what emerges in the contrast between Julius and Ike is the eruption of a new valence of space – still abstract, but now intensified in its fluidity and its submergence of other possibilities – and with it the hierarchies of control that perpetuate its reproduction. From the clients who he drives around the city, unable to pronounce his name or to understand his accent, content to guffaw at the thought of foreign gods and utterly uninterested in his plight, to the constant calls from friends and acquaintances on his hated mobile phone to the barrage of emails from his mother and sister, forever ‘remind[ing] him of a promise he had failed to keep’ in moving to America (20–1), Ike’s life is defined by the constant presence of others, their obligations and their impingement on the traces of private space to which he attempts to cling. Throughout Foreign Gods, Inc., a number of spatial contrasts emerge that emphasise the extent to which the wealth of the one is built upon the despoliation of the other. From the juxtaposition of Ike’s dilapidated flat with the airy opulence of the gallery, to the stark contrasts in wealth and access that meet Ike on his arrival in Lagos, these moments function less as oppositions than as a reaffirmation of the all-encompassing, combined and uneven nature of space in the twenty-first century. This ‘lumpiness’ of space is made most clear when Ike finally heads to his home village. Met by pure happenstance at Enugu airport by an old school friend, Ike is spirited off to Utonki in the VIP comfort of the other man’s private car, this moment of privilege gesturing towards a spatial order different in its foundations from that which motivates his harried drives in New York. Ensconced in the kind of quiet privilege that allows the caprices of nostalgia to blossom, Ike falls into a deep reverie, which upon reaching the bridge that marks entry to Utonki coagulates into ‘a sense of entrancement’ (85): 51 Lefebvre, Urban Revolution, p. 20. 52 Quayson, Oxford Street, p. 202. 53 Amin, Massey and Thrift, Cities for the Many Not The Few, p. 13.

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Utonki! This was the village that had steeped him in the magic of the earth’s redness and rich scents. Ah, Utonki of the red earth! A surreal redness, as if long ago the soil had wept blood. It was here that his tongue had learned the art of discrimination, able to tell the sweet from the tart, delicacies from bitter recipes. It was in Utonki that his ear had first picked up the sundry sounds of the world, the songs of the wind, the pitchy chirp of birds, the very earth heaving under the sun’s rage. It was here that, on moonlit nights, he had played hide-and-seek with other children or lay on raffia mats, again with other dreamy children, to listen to some elder tell tales about cunning Tortoise and sinister Chameleon and about the irreconcilable feud between Mosquito and Ear. It was here that he had made his first forays into the woods, his first plunges into the river, thrashing against the current until he learned, on his own, to swim. He’d traversed the landscape as an adventurous youth, mastering the smells and secrets of flowers, the stinks and secretions of various insects. It was here that he had mastered the different techniques for climbing a guava or mango tree. It was here he had learned how to aim a sturdy stick at hanging ripe mangoes, ube or udala. (87–8)

At first glance, the narrative appears to conform to the nostalgic tropes so often associated both with the experience of migrancy and return and with the teleological vision of African development. Ike’s musings highlight the timelessness of Utonki, that land of eternal red soil, its pastoral idyll, a space where children frolic under the indulgent smiles of their elders, pausing only to revel in the magic of the latter’s folkloric wisdom and charm. Utonki, for Ike, is firmly rooted in the imagined past, that hazy space of childhood. Rife with language that evokes the earth, the land and the primitive tranquillity of the countryside, this description of the village produces a sense of a place outside of time and space, untouched by the corrupting influences of modernity and ensconced in a captivating and nourishing tradition. Of course, this vision of an unspoiled homeland is little more than a fiction. Like Beti’s Medza over half a century before him, Ike, too, fails to comprehend the ways in which this seemingly untouched space betrays within it not just a deeper complicity with capitalist spatiality, but its a priori location within. Nearly as soon as his reminiscences begin, Ike’s reverie is broken by the sight of ‘electric poles dott[ing] the landscape’; ‘gigantic three-story buildings’; houses ‘where he remembered farmlands’; ‘concrete houses […] where mud houses used to be’; and ‘satellite dishes or television antennas’ (88). Despite noting these signs of change and the inevitable shifting of space through time, Ike fails to register their larger import, lost, as he is, in the fictional creations of a nostalgia-plagued mind. The development of new construction in Utonki gestures towards something far greater than a simple or singular registration of change or modernisation. In 1978, the Nigerian government passed the Land Use Act (LUA), incorporated into the constitution in 1999. Despite its enshrinement in law, ‘elements

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of […] traditional customary practices of land management and administration continue to work alongside, and can now be said to effectively coexist, with the modern legal system of land administration’.54 The juxtapositions among varying types of dwellings in Foreign Gods, Inc. might so be read as a textual manifestation of these multiple spatial layerings of administration and utilisation. At the same time, despite its articulation of a series of defined modes for determining land tenure and rights of occupancy, few lands in Nigeria are held under the required official Certificate of Occupancy. In part due to the high costs of ground rents and formal transactions, the majority of lands are managed by intermediaries who ‘purchase, bundle, formalize and resell land (but often without the title)’, a process open to exploitation and corruption.55 With ‘extensive rights of state [and local government authority] over land, and land conflict arbitration’,56 tenure remains highly insecure, subject to complex and often-contingent hierarchies of power, consent and expropriation through processes of ‘neoliberal appropriations of the concept of common property’.57 The appearance of new construction in Utonki thus gestures towards a number of spatial transformations that operate across varying scales, implicating global, national and local forms of abstraction in the service of hegemony, private interest and fragmentation, while indicating their simultaneous coexistence. Filtered through a haze-like trance, the incongruity that Ike observes between his memories – the imagined Utonki before his eyes – and the actual, physical space through which he passes foreground the ontological dualities of return, with its rupturing of normativity, as the real present and the imagined past interweave, the former flickering at the edges of the latter. It is of particular note that before this passage Ike registers his surprise on seeing a new bridge leading into the village, apparently constructed at the behest of a ‘big man who was then the country’s minister of works [and who] had an eye for a dazzling belle from Utonki’ (86). The appearance of the bridge, like the roads on which Ike travels, seems at first to be little more than another marker of the change that has been wrought in Utonki since Ike’s last appearance. Yet, there is another meaning enshrined in these logistical details to Ike’s journey, a meaning deeply entangled with the spatial dimension of developmentalist rhetoric around Nigeria. As my discussion of Open City noted, economic studies of Nigeria have long cited its planned underdevelopment, defined broadly by 54 World Bank Group, From Oil to Cities: Nigeria’s Next Transformation (Washington, DC: International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/World Bank, 2016), p. 126. 55 World Bank Group, Oil to Cities, pp. 129–30. 56 World Bank Group, Oil to Cities, p. 131. 57 Elizabeth Blackmar, ‘Appropriating “the Commons”: The Tragedy of Property Rights Discourse’, in The Politics of Public Space, ed. Neil Smith and Setha Low (New York: Routledge, 2005), pp. 49–80 (p. 51).

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‘the persistence of stagnation, duality or lack of integration between agriculture and industry and between urban and rural spatial structures, inequality as the level of economic activity grows, and frequent political instability’.58 Despite the preponderance of development planning under the auspices first of National Development Plans and later structural adjustment and National Rolling Plans, Nigeria has remained mired in various forms of stagnation which, predicated on the uneven distribution of capital, are fundamentally spatial in nature. Defined by the diversion of funds from collective enterprises into the public industry and the private sector,59 the planned underdevelopment of the country comes coupled with an erosion of public space and, with it, a singled-minded focus on growth defined in strictly neoliberal terms.60 Emblematic of this condition are the country’s roads. Despite a body of development discourse that highlights the direct correlation between roads and social welfare,61 by the second decade of the twenty-first century, 40% of federal roads, 65% of state roads and 85% of local government roads were classified as in poor or bad condition.62 A central cause for the phenomenon of regional fragmentation, isolating communities, populations and markets, the poor condition of roads has persisted despite expenditures of over US$2 billion.63 Hampered by developmentalist plans that view the privatisation of maintenance as the best solution for Nigeria’s infrastructural problems,64 the provision of adequate transportation infrastructure has been held back by the continued fragmentation of resource allocation in the country and the prevalence of collusion between contractors and government officials to inflate prices and their associated kickbacks. So positioned, the bridge and roads to Utonki gesture towards the village’s a priori position within a system of abstract spatiality in which ‘development’ functions in tandem with the neoliberal forces of individualistic corruption and privatisation that serve to entrench Nigeria’s position within the global capitalist structures of abstract spatiality. From the satellite dishes adorning new construction in the village to the mobile phones and luxury cars at Ngene’s shrine to the rampant and seemingly all-encompassing materialism of Utonki’s political and spiritual leaders 58 Olayiwala, quoted in Sekwat, ‘Economic Development Experience’, p. 569. 59 Sekwat, ‘Economic Development Experience’, p. 578. 60 Department for International Development (DFID), Operational Plan 2011–2016, DFID Nigeria, December 2014, p. 6. 61 World Bank Group, Agriculture Global Practice Group, ‘Transport Infrastructure and Welfare: An Application to Nigeria’, Policy Research Working Paper 7271, May 2015; World Bank Group, Independent Evaluation Group, ‘The World Bank in Nigeria 1998– 2007: Nigeria Country Assistance Evaluation’ (CAE), 2010, p.  14; DFID, Operational Plan 2011–2016, p. 5. 62 World Bank Group, Oil to Cities, p. 111. 63 World Bank Group, Oil to Cities, p. 46. 64 World Bank Group, Independent Evaluation Group, ‘Nigeria CAE’, p. 55.

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to the twinned forces of capitalist consumption and religious fundamentalism that organise social life in the village, this position re-emerges time and again across Ike’s sojourn, defined by the interpenetrating construction of spatialities and spatial scales that, though distinct, operate as part of a single system. Read against this context, the squalor of Ike’s mother’s house, with its cracked mirrors and broken radios, cannot be uncoupled from the ostentation wealth on display at the home of Pastor Uka, brought through the ‘prayers’ and ‘donations’ of his faithful, nor can the gin-soaked dereliction of Ngene’s shrine stand apart from the vast spaces and material opulence of the local members of government, won through corruption. Given his already precarious position at the start of the novel, it is perhaps no surprise that Ike’s journey ends in disaster. Having stolen Ngene, Ike returns to a New York in which African gods are no longer in fashion, Latin American gods now ‘what collectors are looking for’ (322). Selling Ngene for a mere $1500 and his dreams of riches dashed, Ike slides into an alcoholic despair, haunted by Utonki and the fate he tried to reject. Returning from the gallery after his doomed sale, Ike is confronted by the ‘rank air’ of his home, a ‘staggering’ strench that ‘saturate[s] his lungs’, crystallising in an ‘icy lump tumbl[ing] down into the pit of his stomach’ (325). Describing what is to come as a flood, Ike’s loss of Ngene serves as the ultimate severing of himself from the world. Yet, far from being the respite that he imagined it would be at the beginning of the novel, Ike’s estrangement comes as no relief, transforming time from days to ‘the swarm of maggots, the buzz of flies, the depth of stench’ (327) enveloping him: What went on in the streets no longer touched him. The clamor from Cadilla’s had taken on a muted, faraway quality. He sat and stared at the spot where he had stood the statue before he took it away to Foreign Gods, Inc. He stared at the decayed chicken and cuts of beef he had left on the floor to feed the deity that was no longer there, even though its stink remained. He gaped at the maggots that crawled in and out of the decayed food, at their soft, squiggly bodies that seemed drunk from the beer and gin he had spattered on the floor as well. (328)

Space, in this final act, constricts itself and becomes a prison. Cut off by his betrayal of Ngene and his betrayal by the promises of wealth and opulence that motivated his journey, Ike is severed from any system of meaning at all, left dangling in a state of nausea less existential than articulated in an ontologically determined materialism. In a spatial system predicated on fluidity, the solidity of Ike’s despair is given no outlet. Instead, Ike falls prey to the very forces that he previously attempted to supersede and manipulate, his attempts to exploit neoliberal global capitalism through the sale of Ngene thwarted through the capricious movements of the market and his own lack of understanding of the diversity of currents that motivate it. Mired in his own self-loathing and sense of persecution, Ike ultimately effects his own undoing through his attempts to

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cleave space for his own profit, his small rebellion reabsorbed into its larger productivity, only to be expelled into the margins of the margins. One of the preoccupations of this study has been the ways in which the imperial nexus has realigned itself in distinct ways in the days since independence across the British and French contexts. It is therefore perhaps curious that Britain, the former metropole, is all but absent in both Open City and Foreign Gods Inc. Instead, both Cole’s and Ndibe’s novels demonstrate a definitive spatial reorientation towards America. Carmody points out how ‘with the end of the Second World War, global leadership moved decisively to the United States. Britain was virtually bankrupt and became economically dependent on the US for loans. It was in this context that the so-called “special relationship” between Britain and the United States was forged,’65 a shift in global power away from Britain and towards America. One commentator notes: la Francophonie and the Commonwealth arose in distinctly different contexts and function according to quite different kinds of logic. The primary difference between the two is that the Commonwealth does not attach the same importance to language as a criterion of membership. (The United States, it will be noted, does not belong to the Commonwealth.) Yet all the member-states of the Commonwealth do recognize the influence of British traditions on the development of their social institutions and, in this sense, they share certain elements of a political culture which is embodied, for instance, in their recognition of Britain’s sovereign as head of the Commonwealth.66

Written in 1993, these words, by the post-millennial era of Open City and Foreign Gods, Inc., seem to no longer hold. Indeed, in both texts the Commonwealth appears to be entirely absent, whatever influence it may have once held replaced by the sheer spectacle of American global dominance. Both symbolic and literal centre of the Bretton Woods system that drives the uneven geographies of contemporary neoliberal capitalism, America casts its long shadow over the processes of marginalisation and absorption that define Cole’s and Ndibe’s novels. Yet, if America can be said to have displaced the former imperial centre in these Anglophone texts, the same cannot be said for France and their Francophone contemporaries. In both Le Paradis du Nord and Le ventre de l’Atlantique, that is, France, through the spectre of la Francophonie, retains its central position, functioning as the locus upon which each text’s constitution of space emerges. The eventual successor to the Union française and Communauté française, la Francophonie emerged in the wake of the independence movements of the early 1960s, spurred on in large part by African leaders including Senghor, Niger’s 65 Carmody, New Scramble, p. 33. 66 Jean-Philippe Thérien, ‘Co-operation and Conflict in la Francophonie’, International Journal, 48.3 (1993), 492–526 (p. 496).

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Hamani Diori and Tunisia’s Habib Bourguiba as an ostensibly cultural organisation of French-speaking nations across the world. Officially inaugurated on 20 March 1970 in Niamey as l’Agence de coopération culturelle et technique and overseen by the French Ministry of Cooperation, the institution that is today known as l’Organisation internationale de la Francophonie has since spread beyond France’s former colonies to include countries such as Romania and Bulgaria. In spatial terms, despite its stated cultural focus, la Francophonie can be said to function through a form of vertical ordering, its legitimation and authorisation centred solely on France in a manner that replicates, rather than replaces, the structures of the Union française and Communauté française through the ‘reproduc[tion of] imperialistic patterns of French dominance, which go along with rather clientelistic entwinements’.67 The Commonwealth, by contrast, has been described as a ‘multipolar’ organisation,68 increasingly free from British influence through the heightened participation of its African and Asian member countries and, of course, the puissance of external American influence.69 While it might be tempting to think of la Francophonie as the French Commonwealth, or vice versa, this attempt at parallel comparisons fails to hold. In strictly pragmatic terms, France holds a far more centralised position in la Francophonie, contributing roughly 80% of its budget. La Francophonie, moreover, operates through majority rule, rather than the consensus-based structures of the Commonwealth. This centralised vision of spatial ordering forms the foundation of Le Paradis du Nord, which tells the story of Joël Kondock, familiarly referred to as Jojo, a thirty-two-year-old barman in Douala’s prestigious Sofitel hotel, having worked his way into the position after a childhood of poverty and homelessness. Jojo’s sole love and obsession, we learn, is his dream of one day escaping to France, creating a new life in a much-fantasised-about Paris. Rooted in Cameroon and travelling to Paris, the spatiality performed in Le Paradis du nord is thus deeply rooted in the logic of la Francophonie. With its roots, as we have seen in previous chapters, in the systems of education and assimilation that persisted under French colonialism, la Francophonie transforms from an interest in la langue français, the French language, into what has been called a hierarchical, cultural project, seeking both to enshrine France at the centre of a global network of neoimperial influence and to protect (and project) French cultural 67 Georg Glasze, ‘The Discursive Constitution of a World-Spanning Region and the Role of Empty Signifiers: The Case of Francophonia’, Geopolitics, 12.4 (2007), 656–79 (p. 669). 68 Amitav Banerji, ‘The Commonwealth of Nations: A Force for Democracy in the 21st Century?’, The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, 97.399 (2008), 813–18 (p. 814). 69 Krishnan Srinivasan, ‘Nobody’s Commonwealth? The Commonwealth in Britain’s Postimperial Adjustment’, Commonwealth and Comparative Politics, 44.2 (2006), 257–69 (p. 258).

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interests precisely in a global sphere increasingly dominated by American influence. Where ‘French colonial mechanisms were erected on an ethnocentric assimilationist paradigm that refused to interpret culture as a dynamic process and, accordingly, to incorporate African cultural elements, preferring instead to dismiss, repudiate, and systematically erase African contributions to some kind of universal entity’,70 so, too, is observable in la Francophonie a logic of singularity and of the same. Writing in a 1985 issue of Mongo Beti’s Peuples noirs – Peuples africains, Guy Ossito Midiohouan describes the political salience of la Francophonie and its ostensibly cultural project: Le contexte dans lequel l’idée et le mot ont été lancés et le processus grâce auquel ils ont réussi à s’imposer sont révélateurs du caractère impérialiste de cette idéologie qui en affirmant la primauté du culturel (mais quelle culture ?) sur la politique, tout comme l’idéologie coloniale dans les années 1930, en détournant les pays africains de leurs intérêts et de la nécessité de construire une Afrique auto-centrée, entièrement maîtresse de son destin, constitue objectivement un obstacle à leur indépendance et partant à leur épanouissement.71 [The context in which the idea and the term were inaugurated, and the processes thanks to which they succeeded in imposing themselves, reveal the imperialist character of this ideology, which affirms the primacy of culture (but which culture?) over the political, just like the colonial ideology of the 1930s, in turning African countries against their interests and the necessity of constructing a self-centred Africa, entirely mistress of its own destiny, objectively constituted an obstacle to their independence and thus to their development.]

Elevating the supposedly universal ideals of culture (‘but which culture?’) over the political, la Francophonie, despite its seemingly neutral linguistic foundations, organised itself as the inheritor of colonial ideologies, themselves deeply rooted in the politics of language and education, demanding, Midiohouan argues, a continued rejection by Africa of itself in favour of an extraverted orientation. This gaze cast outwards, towards the hexagon, is ironically reflected in le Paradis du Nord in Jojo’s fantasies of Parisian life, a sense of desire propelled by his nightly ministrations under a map of France, towards which he looks with what is described as a near-religious devotion:

70 Dominic Thomas, Black France: Colonialism, Immigration, and Transnationalism (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2007), p. 9. 71 Guy Ossito Midiohouan, ‘Portée idéologique et fondements politiques de la Francophonie (vue d’Afrique)’, Peuples noirs – Peuples africains, 43 (1985), [accessed 6 September 2016]. Translations my own.

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comme d’autres se jettent sur leur bible ou leur chapelet pour faire une prière, lui, il plongeait dans sa carte de France […] Oui, comme les autoroutes de France, tous ses rêves convergeaient vers Paris. Dans ces rêves-là, les images puisées à la télévision, au cinéma, dans les livres et aussi dans son imagination s’entremêlaient allègrement et de façon chaotique. Pour lui, Paris était synonyme de paradis. Un paradis qui, dans ses rêves de nuit, se limitait toujours à un grand château avec des tours, de grandes places pavées, des cours où on faisait toujours la fête, de somptueux salons parcours par des femmes toujours blondes, des galeries et des chapelles. Tout cela était noyé dans un immense parc où se découpaient des parterres de fleurs parfumées et des bassins d’eau réfléchissant les lignes majestueuses du château.72 [like others turned to their Bible or rosary to pray, he plunged himself into his map of France. […] Yes, like the motorways of France, all of his dreams converged on Paris. In these dreams, images transmitted through the television, at the cinema, in books and also in his imagination intermingled gaily and chaotically. For him, Paris was synonymous with heaven. A heaven which, in his nightly dreams, was always limited to a large castle with towers, large, paved squares, avenues always filled with celebrations, sumptuous sitting rooms traversed by women, who were always blonde, galleries and chapels. Everything was drowning in an immense park scattered with perfumed flowerbeds and pools of water reflecting the majestic lines of the castle.]

Throughout the novel’s opening sections, Jojo lives under the sway of France and its potency in the lingering imperial imaginary. Paris, Jojo imagines, is a land of opportunity, an open space where freedom and mobility reign and where the material cares of life in Douala cease to matter. This Paris of Jojo’s dreams is a veritable Shangri-la where, as his friend and travelling companion Charlie remarks, ‘nous aurons toutes nos chances. Il paraît que là-bas, il y a tellement d’argent qu’il suffit de se baisser pour le ramasser’ (17) [‘we will have all the luck. It seems that there, there is enough money that it suffices simply to bend down and pick some up’]. The Paris of la Francophonie, a terminus in the neoimperial imagination, is reinforced in these passages, set in stark contrast to Douala and to Cameroon, a nation described as ‘ce pays où les gens de notre condition ont à jamais l’horizon bouché’ (17) [‘this country where people of our condition always have closed horizons’], a space of enclosure marked by the heavy weight of its own stagnation and characterised by its ‘chaleurs moites [et …] lourde qui vous pousse à boire sans arrêt’ (11) [‘wet [and…] heavy heat that pushes you to drink nonstop’]. Like many African nations, Cameroon faced a situation of stagnation in the latter decades of the twentieth century. Despite a relatively stable economy in 72 J.R. Essomba, Le Paradis du Nord (Paris: Présence Africaine, 1996), pp. 13–14. All English translations my own. Henceforth cited in text.

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the late 1970s and early 1980s, due largely to the discovery of oil in the country, by the early 1990s Cameroon fell into a deep depression brought on by a ‘dramatic fall in world prices’ for its primary exports and the overvaluation of its currency, the CFA.73 In the period 1984/5 to 1986/7, for instance, the unit value of Cameroon’s oil exports fell by 65%, while coffee and cocoa dropped 40%.74 From 1986 to 1994, GDP per capita fell by 42%, aggravated by a reduction in oil production and political turmoil from around 1990 to 1992.75 Significantly, protests against what were widely held to be corrupt and undemocratic elections called in favour of the ruling party in this period were supported by the majority of Cameroon’s bilateral partners, with the striking exception of France, for whom a continuation of the old regime would prove beneficial.76 By 1988, Cameroon had embarked on the first of a series of structural adjustment programmes, which were soon joined with World Bank-sponsored programmes. As in Nigeria, the focus of structural adjustment in Cameroon centred on measures intended to liberalise the economy, while opening the territory to international investment and finance. The World Bank’s 1994 Country Assistance Strategy, for instance, lists among its key objectives the improvement of public sector through reorganisation, downsizing and the rationalisation of natural resources; the improvement of ‘productive capacity’, infrastructure, macroeconomic indicators and the financial sector; and the delivery of social services to the poor.77 Central to these goals, of course, is the erosion of public space and the public commons, along with the redistribution of space to maximise profit-producing capacities; despite these efforts, few positive material effects took hold in the country where, by 1996, over half of the population was classified as living in poverty.78 In this climate, external investment became essential to Cameroon’s attempts at recovery, leaving the country dependent on aid, loans and credit from the World Bank, IMF, EU and, most significantly, France, particularly

73 World Bank, Operations Evaluation Department, ‘Cameroon: Country Assistance Evaluation’ (CAE), January 2001, Memorandum to the Executive Directors and the President. 74 World Bank, Operations Evaluation Department, Cameroon CAE, p. 1. 75 World Bank, Operations Evaluation Department, Cameroon CAE, p. 3; Roy Gilbert, Improving the Lives of the Poor Through Investment in Cities: An Update on the Performance of the World Bank’s Urban Portfolio (Washington, DC: The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/The World Bank, 2003), p. 48. 76 Gilbert, Improving the Lives of the Poor, p. 48. 77 B. Essama-Nssah and James J. Gockowski, Cameroon: Forest Sector Development in a Difficult Political Economy (Washington, DC: The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/The World Bank, 2000), pp. 29–30. 78 African Development Bank Group, Operations Evaluation Department (ADBG), ‘Cameroon: Structural Adjustment Programme II (SAP II) Project Performance Evaluation Report (PPER)’, November 2012, p. 15.

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through the receipt of a May 1994 adjustment credit from the latter.79 Indeed, an Independent Evaluation Group report on the World Bank’s country assistance programme, published in 2001, notes how, ‘from 1989 to 1994, France and the EC accounted for virtually the entire increase in external assistance to Cameroon’,80 a period in which Douala, ‘the economic power house of the country’, was left with ‘no financial autonomy and little administrative autonomy’ in an overcentralised and planned political economy, France its ‘only active donor’.81 In short, by 1995, the year before Le Paradis was published, Cameroon faced a dependency on France unparalleled in its post-independence history with debts of 75 billion CFA with the French Treasury,82 a situation exacerbated both by the external ownership of the country’s major industries (France, for instance, owned roughly one-third of the Cameroon’s logging concessions) and its dependence on external, usually European, markets for its primary exports.83 A key component of structural adjustment in Cameroon was the attempt to re-align natural resources to maximise productivity, with a particular emphasis on timber, coffee and cocoa. In all cases, however, plans for privatisation and rationalisation failed, leading to the abandonment of plantations, deforestation of land and increased rural–urban migration as ‘a result of the changing incentive structure facing farmers in the humid forest zone of Cameroon under the newly liberalized market’.84 Beset with failure and repeated unsatisfactory ratings, by the mid-1990s rural development projects were abandoned in favour of ‘multisector activities’,85 intensifying these outcomes. Even projects intended to ameliorate the conditions of the increased numbers of urban poor faced difficulty, lacking maintenance and often neglected altogether.86 These material outcomes bear on the initial presentation of Cameroonian space in Le Paradis in two ways. First, through the failures of structural adjustment and, particularly, its detrimental effects on the agricultural industry and rural development, the historically uneven distribution of resources across the country was 79 80 81 82

World Bank, Operations Evaluation Department, Cameroon CAE, p. 8. World Bank, Operations Evaluation Department, Cameroon CAE’ p. 18. World Bank, Operations Evaluation Department, Cameroon CAE, p. 16. Overseas Development Institution (ODI), Structural Adjustment and Sustainable Development in Cameroon, Working Paper 83, August 1995, p. 44. 83 Essama-Nssah and Gockowski, Cameroon, p. xxii; Uma Lele, Nalini Kumar, Syed Arif Husain, Aaron Zazueta and Lauren Kelly, The World Bank Forest Strategy: Striking the Right Balance (Washington, DC: The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/The World Bank, 2000), p. 27. 84 ODI, Structural Adjustment, p. 119; World Bank Independent Evaluation Group, World Bank Assistance to Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa: An IEG Review (Washington, DC: The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/The World Bank, 2007); Essama-Nssah and Gockowski, Cameroon, p. 12. 85 Essama-Nssah and Gockowski, Cameroon, p. xi. 86 Gilbert, Improving the Lives of the Poor, p. 18.

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further intensified, augmented by a state governed through highly centralised and tightly administered forms of power.87 Despite a focus on infrastructural improvements, moreover, the main focus under structural adjustment was the amelioration of export routes terminating in Douala, rather than the opening of access for the country as a whole.88 As port of export for some 90% of the country’s goods,89 Douala served as a site of concentrated external imposition, surrounded by over-logged forests and extensive industrial plantations. As the location of ‘virtually all heavy industry in Cameroon – petroleum refining, paper pulp manufacturing, aluminium smelting and hydroelectric power generation’ on the littoral plain,90 Douala, as represented in Le Paradis, serves both as a development enclave and as something of a synecdoche for Cameroon’s position within the spatial order of contemporary global capitalism, its intensified exploitation, degradation and fragmentation a microcosm of the country as a whole. Driven by his dreams of a freedom, which he believes to be only realisable in Paris, Jojo decides, at Charlie’s urging, to undertake a clandestine passage to the metropolitan centre. Yet, in his movements from periphery to centre, Jojo’s trajectory reveals the critique at the heart of Le Paradis’s performance of postcolonial space, one which undoes the mythemes of its neocolonial spatial ordering in a manner much more overt that that found in Open City or Foreign Gods, Inc, toppling its vertical structures. Throughout its descriptions, the novel portrays this journey not as one of freedom, but rather, as a heightening of enclosure: on the ‘vieux cargo’ [‘old cargo ship’] that they take to Spain, Charlie and Jojo are literally entrapped, as ‘[p]our les faire monter à bord, on les avait enfermés dans des tonneaux qui étaient supposé contenir de l’eau potable’ (41) [‘in order to board, they were enclosed in barrels which were meant to contain drinking water’]. Following a brief moment of respite in Spain, they are locked away still more definitively en route to Toulouse: Le convoyeur fouilla la poche de son pantalon, en sortit un grand tournevis qu’il introduisit dans une petite fente du plancher et souleva. Une petite planche rectangulaire sauta et dévoila un anneau en fer. L’homme attrapa et tira de toutes ses forces. Tout un pan du plancher se souleva, découvrant un double fond. –Vous allez vous allonger là-dedans… (48–9)

87 World Bank, Operations Evaluation Department, Cameroon CAE, p. 1. 88 World Bank, Operations Evaluation Department, Cameroon CAE, p. 22; Essama-Nssah and Gockowski, Cameroon, pp. 42–3; Lele et al., The World Bank Forest Strategy, p. 109; ADBG, ‘Cameroon’, p. 20. 89 ODI, Structural Adjustment, p. 17. 90 ODI, Structural Adjustment, p. 17.

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[The captain rummaged through the pocket of his trousers, pulling out a large screwdriver that he stuck into a small crack in the wood and pulled up. A small rectangular plank lifted up and revealed an iron ring. The man grabbed it and pulled with all his strength. An entire plank lifted up, revealing a false bottom. –You will lie down in here…].

Arriving in Toulouse, met by two compatriots charged with conducting them to Paris, Jojo and Charlie are drugged, robbed and abandoned in a subterranean car park on the periphery of Paris, where, spotted by a woman walking to her car, the two men are made subject to the racist logic of a xenophobic France, accused of rape in a Paris where any African is made suspect by virtue of his very appearance. With this arrival, the fantasy of assimilation upon which la Francophonie plays is destroyed; Jojo and Charlie, for all their desire, remain consigned to a peripheral position as objects, but never subject or citizens, reflecting a shift in policy from the late 1970s that ‘transform[ed] the former colonial native into the new postcolonial immigrant’.91 Forced into the streets of the unwelcoming city, Jojo is left to navigate ‘des rues étroites en aspirant des goulées d’air froid’ (79) [‘narrow roads, breathing in gulps of cold air’], an airless and suffocating space in which the only refuge is to hide, eventually arrested for a series of crimes he did not commit and sentenced to ‘réclusion criminelle à perpétuité’ (166) [‘criminal imprisonment in perpetuity’]. Through this movement from one form of entrapment to another, Le Paradis creates a spatiality in which France is made criminal, centralised as culprit for the ills faced not just by Jojo, but by Cameroon – and Africa – as a whole. France’s role as dominating exploiter is laid bare in the most explicit of terms, the country itself, metonymically represented by its hub, Paris, nothing more than another prison. The benign face of post-imperial francophone spatial orderings is rendered obsolete, its own agency and culpability in the misery of others, wrought for its own gain, explicitly traced and illustrated, even as Jojo’s ultimate reclusion to the hidden depths of prison serve as an abdication of responsibility. The spatial logic of Le Paradis de nord thus effects a stark dis-ordering of space, simultaneously exposing the paradoxical heart of la Francophonie as a form of post-imperial space. Yet, there is nothing liberatory at work here; disorder does not bring about a new spatial order, a differential spatiality. Rather, disorder does little more than return to a state of entropy, discarding Jojo so as to absorb its wounds into itself and continue unabated. At the same time, and unlike the earlier francophone texts that I have surveyed in this study and Essomba’s Anglophone contemporaries, this is not a submerged critique or a sly 91 Tyler Stovall, ‘Diversity and Difference in Postcolonial France’, in Postcolonial Thought in the French-Speaking World, ed. Charles Forsdick and David Murphy (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2009), pp. 259–70 (p. 265).

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moment of meta- or auto-deconstruction. This becomes clear midway through the novel, as Le Paradis de Nord effects a sort of spatial inversion, where the once-potent dream of the metropole’s open spaces is erased, written over by an equally impossible dream of the African homeland, what the narrative describes as a sense, among the African diaspora of Paris, of perpetually singing a sad copy of a once-loved song: A Château-Rouge, il y avait en effet beaucoup de Noirs et de produits africains, mais il y manquait l’âme qui fait l’Afrique. Non, ce n’était pas l’Afrique ! C’était juste la mauvaise version d’une chanson qu’ils connaissaient bien. Une chanson qu’ils ne pouvaient plus fredonner sans soulever en eux de grosses vagues de nostalgie. (77) [At the Château-Rouge, there were indeed many black people and African products, but it lacked the soul that made Africa. No, it was not Africa! It was just a poor version of a well-known song. A song that they could no longer hum without huge waves of nostalgia rising within them.]

Central to the dynamic felt here, of course, is Massey’s observation that space is constituted by the interrelations between seemingly disparate places, forging a mutually constituted ‘contemporaneous plurality’.92 In its common application, this claim has been used to explicate the ways in which a pervasive sense of nostalgia for the homeland operates upon the subjectivity of the migrant abroad. Fossilised in memory and abstracted from its material realities, the now-imagined homeland takes on the status of a symbolic signifier often conflated with ideals of cultural purity, tradition and simplicity. In contrast to the Diallobé of Kane’s L’Aventure ambiguë, with their ‘aftermath of authenticity’, however, all that appears at the Château Rouge is authenticity’s very negation. Postcolonial space thus functions less as a break with colonial spatial regimes and more as their continuity, caught within the confines of a reified binary model of France and her others. Yet, in this very inversion the novel’s critique most clearly emerges, emphasised in Jojo’s wry resignation to his fate as an African in Paris. In its unhappy ending, that is to say, the novel foregrounds the contingency of its spatial performance, the simultaneous deterritorialisation of space in which, though posited in opposition to one another, Douala and Paris are equally spaces that may stand in for one another, trading places with little shifting required in the epistemological framework of the narrative. Demonstrating both that the metropole–colony relationship operates through a continuum and the continued absolutism, however contradictory, of space as it manifests in lived experience,93 the narrative foregrounds the spatial conditions under which ‘the clandestine migrant cannot afford the illusion that states 92 Massey, For Space, p. 9. 93 Thomas, Black France, p. 51.

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and institutions matter less than “flows”’.94 Through the unpacking of the very contingency of the metropole–colony relationship, as well as Jojo’s sad ensnarement within the mystification that the binary supposes, the novel highlights the destructiveness of these versions of space and their fragility as symbolic and material systems. That this re-visioning of space can only be partial in its subversion is perhaps of no little surprise, given the larger context of la Francophonie within which the novel operates. Described as ‘neoimperialistic’,95 marking an ambiguous and ‘never-ending relationship between Francophone communities after Empire’ and operating through a dual logic of assimilation and imposition in order to mask the dominant power relations between France and her former colonies,96 la Francophonie thus marks a continued verticality of space in which the totalising fictions of a teleological ordering leave little room for imagining otherwise. Rotating around a single axis, one facing forever towards France, the inversion of space seen in le Paradis offers what at first seems to be little more than a vague parody of resistance that eventually explodes the very ordering on which it is founded. Like Cameroon, Senegal was made subject to repeated and ineffectual regimes of structural adjustment in the decades surrounding the turn of the millennium, coupled with an increased burden of debt to France. A fellow member of the CFA (originally the Colonies françaises d’Afrique, and later the Communauté française d’Afrique and then the Commission financière d’Afrique) zone, a range of similarities appear between the two countries, most notably through this continued, and at times intensified, dependency on the former French metropole. Senegal, largely reliant on groundnut production for export revenue, was particularly hard hit by a series of droughts that struck the Sahel region from the early 1970s onwards.97 Between 1985 and 1993, GDP lagged behind population growth, transforming what had long been among the most prosperous and stable regions in the country to one of its most impoverished. By 1994, 68% of the population subsisted below the poverty line, rising to over 70% in the country’s rural zones,98 home to over 70% of the Senegalese population.99 Following a now-familiar pattern, Senegal entered into the first of a 94 Cooper, ‘Globalization’, p. 194. 95 Glasze, ‘Discursive Constitution’, p. 668. 96 Elisabeth Mudimbe-Boyi, ‘Introduction’, in Empire Lost: France and its Other Worlds, ed. Elisabeth Mudimbe-Boyi (Lanham, MD: Lexington, 2009), p. xii; Margaret A. Majumdar, ‘“Une Francophonie à l’offensive”? Recent Developments in Francophonie’, Modern and Contemporary France, 20.1 (2012), 1–20 (p. 15). 97 Manning, Francophone Sub-Saharan Africa, p. 113. 98 World Bank, Independent Evaluation Group, ‘Senegal: Country Assistance Evaluation’, May 2006, p. ix. 99 Demba Moussa Dembele, Debt and Destruction in Senegal: A Study of Twenty Years of IMF and World Bank Policies (London: World Development Movement, 2003), p. 13.

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series of structural adjustment programmes in 1986 which, like those in Nigeria and Cameroon, focused upon ‘public spending; tight monetary and fiscal policies; export-led growth; trade and investment liberalisation; deregulation of internal prices; dismantling of the public sector; privatisation of State-owned enterprises and of essential services; rolling back the State and eroding its ability to formulate autonomous national policies’.100 As has been uniformly the case elsewhere, these stringent policies did little more than further entrench Senegal in dependency and poverty, ‘aggravat[ing] the debt burden and undermining] the achievement of poverty eradication’, while fostering a situation in which, by 2002, external debt, much of which was comprised by arrears, rose to account for 70% of the GDP and 200% of export revenues.101 It is worth emphasising the extent to which lending and aid programmes proponed by the World Bank and IMF functioned through template strategies. Rather than develop country-specific policies, that is, these programmes operated through an erasure of context in which the application of supposedly universal, neoliberal policies and norms was regarded as the only salient prescription.102 A pertinent example in the West African context is the treatment of the informal economy. In Ghana, as Quayson notes, ‘approximately 85 percent of the active […] workforce is in the informal sector and that this includes at least 60 percent of the residents of Accra, some of whom are formally employed and yet work part-time in the informal sector’.103 Similar figures hold in Nigeria, Cameroon, Senegal and elsewhere in the region. Yet, World Bank and IMF policy remains strictly oriented towards the removal of these vital alternative economies, allegedly to be replaced by formalised systems open to exploitation by multinational capital and finance. Such a view neglects the lived dynamism through which space is constituted and the particularities of any given location. In this manner, the policies proponed under the dominating Bretton Woods systems have functioned in accordance to the working of abstract space, both accelerating the transformation of space into time, through the notion that African territories can ‘catch up’ if they simply do what ‘we’ tell them to, and enforcing a blanket homogenisation of spatiality as a means of absorption, domination and control. It is of no little surprise, then, that the rhetoric behind these policies hides beneath it a situation of far greater conflict and turmoil. In the Senegalese case, even reports touting the alleged successes of World Bank 1 00 Moussa Dembele, Debt and Destruction, p. 7. 101 Moussa Dembele, Debt and Destruction, p. 7. 102 World Bank, Independent Evaluation Group, World Bank Assistance to Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa, p. 66; World Bank, Operations Evaluation Department, Addressing the Challenges of Globalization: An Independent Evaluation of the World Bank’s Approach to Global Programs (Washington, DC: The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/The World Bank, 2004), p. xii. 103 Quayson, Oxford Street, p. 201.

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interventions (among them the reduction of the proportion of the population living in poverty from 68% to 57% between 1994 and 2001; an increase of 2% in per capita income between 1995 and 2003) cannot help but note the extent to which inequality has seemingly risen and the overall picture remains much unchanged.104 The uneven distribution of resources between the urban and rural zones of the country remains a particular problem, with little autonomy given to rural communities, burdened by poor access to telecommunications, water, electricity and sanitation.105 Indeed, despite a repeatedly stated desire for rural development and urban–rural linkages,106 few measurable outcomes appear, with reports lamenting, for instance, ‘the low quality of the rural road network’.107 Simultaneously, the power of West African states to engage in meaningful forms of territorial collaboration, once articulated in Senghor’s dream of a federated French Africa, has eroded, with even the potential of regional blocs such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) ‘reduced […] to almost nothing’.108 Le ventre de l’Atlantique constitutes a space that openly critiques this state of affairs, foregrounding the destructive and fragmenting effects of neoliberal spatial integration. Here, this is told largely through a first-person, retrospective form of narration in which Salie, residing in Strasbourg, recounts her attempts to communicate with half-brother Madické, living on their natal island of Niodior, part of Senegal’s Sine-Saloum region. In Le ventre, the binary dimensions of space are rerouted through a multifocal complex mediated by communications technology, memory and popular culture. Salie’s early anxieties around the impossibility of communicating the realities of life in France – and migrancy to France – to her brother thus register an important shift in the way in which the relationship between ‘peripheral’ home and ‘metropolitan’ destination function: Au paradis, on ne peine pas, on ne tombe pas malade, on ne se pose pas de questions : on se contente de vivre, on a les moyens de s’offrir tout ce que l’on désire, y compris le luxe du temps, et cela rend forcément disponible. Voilà comment Madické imaginait ma vie en France. Il m’avait vue partir au bras d’un Français après de pompeuses noces qui ne laissaient rien présager des bourrasques à venir. Même informé de la tempête, il n’en mesurait pas les conséquences.109 104 World Bank, Operations Evaluation Department, ‘Approach Paper: Senegal: Country Assistance Evaluation’, November 2004, p. 1. 105 World Bank, Independent Evaluation Group, CASCR Review, FY07–FY10, January 2013; World Bank, Independent Evaluation Group, Senegal CAE, p. 26; p. 31. 106 World Bank, Independent Evaluation Group, Senegal CAE, p. 5. 107 World Bank, Independent Evaluation Group, Senegal CAE, p. 26. 108 Manning, Francophone Sub-Saharan Africa, p. 123. 109 Fatou Diome, Le ventre de l’Atlantique (Paris: Editions Anne Carrière, 2003), p.  43. Translations my own.

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[In heaven, no one feels pain, no one falls ill, no one asks questions: everyone is content to live, they have the means to give themselves everything they desire, including the luxury of time, and this was highly available. See how Madicke imagined my life in France. He had seen me leave in the arms of a Frenchman after a pompous wedding which showed no indication of the gusts to come. Even knowing of the storm, he did not measure its consequences.]

Again invoked as a ‘heaven’, the metropole once more takes on its mythic form in the way in which Salie supposes Madické might imagine it. Like Essomba’s Jojo, for Madické, too, France – though perhaps not Paris – holds a symbolic weight as the centre of being and the centre of possibility in which the self might be. Recalling Massey’s assertion that ‘identities/entities, the relations “between” them, and the spatiality which is part of them, are all co-constitutive’,110 France transforms under this mythic gaze into a place in which self-actualisation is not only possible, but stands as an eventuality, in sharp contrast to the degradations of daily life. Praying not under a map of the hexagon, but at the altar of football, the visions of would-be migrancy in Diome’s text shares with Essomba’s a utopian quality in which the material realities of life hold no more sway in a land in which ‘one has the means to give themselves anything they desire’, rife with the luxuries of time, contentment and health all too often made impossible for those eking out an existence on the global peripheries and those peripheries within centres. In the same gesture, and reminiscent of Jojo’s prayers beneath his map, the specular images Madické consumes reflect a spatial order in which the citizen is transformed ‘into a mere spectator and consumer’,111 here of the French mythos. The television through which Madické gleans these images thus operates to form the global dissemination of metropolitan puissance, even as it enables tenuous connections and interpenetrations, a medium that allows Salie to imagine À quelques milliers de kilomètres de mon salon, à l’autre bout de la Terre, au Sénégal, là-bas, sur cette île à peine assez grande pour héberger un stade […] un jeune homme rivé devant une télévision de fortune pour suivre le même match que moi. Je le sens près de moi. Nos yeux se croisent sur les mêmes images […] un jeune homme trépignant, sur une natte ou un banc archaïque, devant une vieille télévision qui, malgré son grésillement, focalise autour d’elle autant de public qu’une salle de cinéma. (14–15) [Thousands of miles from my sitting room, on the other side of the world, in Senegal, there on that island too small to fit a stadium […] a young man sat glued in front of a makeshift television to follow the same match as me. I sense him near me. Our eyes meet upon the same images […] a young man pawing at the ground, 1 10 Massey, For Space, p. 10. 111 Harvey, ‘Political Economy’, pp. 25–6.

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on a braided mat or old bench, in front of an old television which, despite its static, concentrated a crowd as large as at a cinema around itself.]

Run by a ‘generous proprietor’ whose status and riches come from a self-made myth of time spent in the metropole, the communal television, ‘open to all’, functions as a critical node in the nexus of power that continually (re)produces the island’s marginal status, an object of private property masquerading as part of the commons, and, as we later learn, purchased for the sole purpose of creating the illusion of metropolitan-won wealth. For Madické, these images of consumption and accumulation are given weight by their sedimentation over free time. Like the images of ice cream that Madické and his friends know only through television commercials and which they see as ‘une nourriture virtuelle, consommée uniquement là-bas, de l’autre côté de l’Atlantique, dans ce paradis où ce petit charnu de la publicité a eu la bonne idée de naître’ (20) [‘a virtual food, only consumed over there on the other side of the Atlantic, in this heaven where this small, meaty advert had had the good idea to be born’], France is both overwritten by its own specular image of itself and created anew in the young boy’s imagined dreams of a life within its boundaries, a ­reinvented, metropolitan self. The Sine-Saloum region in which Niodior is located is comprised of the southern part of the all-important groundnut basin, a geographic location essential to the Senegalese economy.112 A report from the mid-1970s, for instance, states that ‘Sine-Saloum’s 70,000 farms produce 40–60 percent of Senegal’s groundnuts and 33 percent of its millet while supporting livestock herds numbering some 470,000 cattle, and 460,000 sheep and goats’, as well as a significant site of fishing activity.113 Meanwhile, a paper presented to the 1998 meeting of the American Agricultural Economics Association observes that the groundnut sector ‘accounts for 40 to 50% of export earnings and 50% of agricultural production’, making it ‘both economically and politically vital’.114 With structural adjustment, groundnut production was made subject to a range of destructive policies, including the end of input subsidies and loans, the lifting of an embargo on the import of vegetable oil and, of course, privatisation. Ostensibly intended to ‘liberalise’ the sector, these policies have had the effect of decimating it. Through ‘an ill-conceived liberalisation imposed on the Senegalese 112 International Bank for Reconstruction and Development / International Development Association (IBRD/IDA), ‘Report and Recommendation of the President to the Executive Directors on a Proposed Loan to the Republic of Senegal for an Agricultural Development Project’, 8 May 1975, p. 7. 113 IBRD/ID, ‘Report and Recommendation’, p. 9. 114 Rigoberto A. Lopez and Ibrahima Hathie, ‘Structural Adjustment Programs and Peanut Market Performance in Senegal’, Selected Paper, American Agricultural Economics Association Meetings, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2–5 August 1998.

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government’, undertaken ‘without being prepared and without a proper institutional framework to handle the transition farmers were confronted with market mechanisms’,115 the privatisation of the groundnut industry has made both ‘peanut producers and the Senegalese society permanent losers’.116 In the Sine-Saloum region, for instance, a 20-year loan comprising US $7 million from the IRBD, US $7 million from the IDA and 40 million French francs (US $8.9 million), was agreed upon between the IRBD, IDA and Caisse Centrale de Cooperation Economique of France for ‘increases in output of groundnuts, cereals, and livestock […] sought under the proposed project by training farmers in the use of intensive farming practices involving complete land clearing, use of oxen for deeper plowing, diversification of crops, and advanced animal husbandry techniques’,117 and ultimately rated unsatisfactory after an eight-year period.118 Despite the project’s failure, and indeed, the deeper indebtedness to France that it created, what is worth noting here is the extent to which the region was left essentially to entropy, with no efforts made at its rehabilitation and economic focus shifted to the Casamance and Senegal River Valley. Equally as important is the role of fishing, its poverty and degradations permeating the physical and social landscapes of Diome’s Niodior. Once a form of subsistence, fishing has become a vital export in West Africa. Now known as the ‘fish basket’ for Europe, Russia and China, 7.3 million tonnes of fish are exported a year across the continent, with a value of US $2.7 billion annually. Carmody notes that the EU pays annual lump sums to African countries for fishing agreements, so that its boats can fish in their waters. […] According to the then Director of Marine Fisheries in Senegal in relation to the fishing agreement, ‘the EU actively resisted numerous conservation measures and drove a hard bargain on price’. (Ilnyckyi 2007, quoted in Standing, 2009, p. 349).119

With over 4.5 million tonnes of fish landed in the year 2000 in West Africa alone, the eastern central Atlantic has been driven into decline, vulnerable to illegal fishing and trawlers whose use ‘decreases fish reproduction rates and also disrupts the food chain’, putting local fishermen out of business, their boats now, in some cases, ironically used to smuggle clandestine migrants to Europe.120 Niodior is thus a space riven by its global interconnections and its vulnerability to global caprices. Alienated from the metropolitan centres of Senegal by its Moussa Dembele, Debt and Destruction, p. 26. Lopez and Hathie, ‘Structural Adjustment Programs’. IBRD/IDA, ‘Report and Recommendation’, p. 9. World Bank, IBRD/IDA, ‘Sine Saloum Agricultural Development Project’, [accessed 6 September 2016]. 119 Carmody, New Scramble, p. 150. 120 Carmody, New Scramble, p. 152. 1 15 116 117 118

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position as a rural economy, yet central to the country’s positioning within the world-systems of late capitalism, the island operates through shifting spatialised patterns of dependency, despoliation and exploitation. There is of course another level to Madické’s imaginary vision of France, rendered through the medium of Salie’s worry for her young sibling. Recounting her departure from Senegal for France, where ‘embarquée avec les masques, les statues, les cotonnades teintes et un chat rouge tigré, [elle avait] débarqué en France dans les bagages de [son] mari, tout comme [elle] aurai[t] pu atterrir avec lui dans la toundra sibérienne’ (43) [‘boarding with masks, statues, dyed cotton cloth and a red tabby cat [she had] deplaned in France in her husband’s suitcases, just as if she had landed with him in the Siberian tundra’], the gap between Salie’s lived realities in France and her brother’s visions of the place indicate a shift in the spatial constitution of the metropole, abruptly moved from its centralised position in the fantasies of the young boy to its position of culpability as another degraded space in his sister’s. More subtle than Jojo’s tortured arrival in the country, this is a geopolitical ecology in which the implication of global centres with their peripheral holdings unmoors both, as constituent parts of a totality, into the frightening dynamism of space. Despite her relatively privileged arrival to France as the documented spouse of a citizen, Salie’s alienation mirrors in significant ways the bewildering displacement that Jojo and Charlie find, the frigid cold of her ‘Siberian tundra’ of the same kind, if not the same scale, as their cold nights consigned to the streets of Paris. Equally, Madické’s steadfast refusal to believe his sister’s testimony speaks to the enduring power of corporatist popular culture in the fabrication of contemporary neoliberal spatial orders: Habitué à gérer les carences dans son pays sous-développé, il n’allait quand même pas plaindre une sœur installée dans l’une des plus grandes puissances mondiales ! Sa berlue, il n’y pouvait rien. Le tiers-monde ne peut voir les plaies de l’Europe, les siennes l’aveuglent ; il ne peut entendre son cri, le sien l’assourdit. Avoir un coupable atténue la souffrance, et si le tiers-monde se mettait à voir la misère de l’Occident, il perdrait la cible de ses invectives. Pour Madické, vivre dans un pays développé représentait en soi un avantage démesuré que j’avais par rapport à lui, lui qui profitait de sa famille et du soleil sous les tropiques. Comment aurais-je pu lui faire comprendre la solitude de l’exil, mon combat pour la survie et l’état de l’alerte permanent où me garaient mes études ? (44) [Accustomed to navigating the deprivations of this under-developed country, he was not going to pity a sister settled in one of the world’s great powers! He could not help his vision. The third world cannot see Europe’s wounds, its own blinds it; it cannot hear its cry, its own deafened. Having someone to blame alleviates suffering, and if the third world began to see the misery of the West, it would lose the target of its invectives. For Madické, living in a developed country represented in itself an immeasurable advantage that I had over him, he who was able to enjoy his

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family and the tropical sun. How could I make him understand the solitude of exile, my battle to survive it and the state of permanent alert where I stored my lessons learned?]

Through the television, that medium of dissemination and asymmetrical connection, Madické constructs a vision of neoimperial space in the metropole in which geography can only function in uniform absolutes, bestowing on the lucky few in the centre advantages without wounds, without differentiation. Reproducing the discursive and material divisions that undergird uneven development and the continued exploitation of the Global South, this is a vision in which binary absolutes reign, and an abstract, absolute colouring of space cannot be questioned or challenged. The detritus on which the myth of prosperity stands is rendered invisible, its permanent state of emergency submerged and its psycho-social torment erased. Equally effaced is the interpenetration of space, the peripheries in the centre and the centres in the periphery, which ensure the constant reproduction and continuation of neoliberal, neoimperial violence and inequity by hiding its own chaos. This division of geographical space into absolute zones on a global scale is re-emphasised when, towards the end of the novel, Salie returns to her native island, fearing that her brother and his friends might attempt to engage in the clandestine migration they feel so certain will deliver them from the travails of life in the Global South. Describing her desire to return as the result of an irresistable urge ‘de remonter à la source, car il est rassurant de penser que la vie reste plus facile à saisir là où elle enfonce ses racines’ [‘to return to the source, because it is reassuring to think that life remains easier to grasp there, where it sunk its roots’], Salie goes to her homeland ‘comme on va a l’étranger, car je suis devenue l’autre pour ceux que je continue à appeler les miens’ (166) [‘like one goes to a foreign country, because I had become other to those who I continued to call my own’]. This feeling of otherness deepens when, at first welcomed back into the boys’ village life, Salie is soon made the object of their criticism for her refusal to help them in their plans to quit Senegal. Attacked for her refusal to help the boys, Salie is met with accusations that she has become too individualistic in France, forgetting the collective spirit of the village and hiding behind her practical concerns out of self-interest. Leveraging a discourse of traditionalism in order to make a series of claims to material advancement, through Salie, the boys demonstrate the contingency of allegedly static social norms. For Salie, this rejection marks another severance from the land of her birth, a land already made unwelcoming through its inculcation of patriarchal norms with no room within for her ambition in a manner reminiscent of the earlier texts of Bâ, Aidoo and Emecheta. Describing the ‘irrespirable’ [unbreathable] atmosphere in the village, ‘[s]’éclips[a]’ [‘eclipsed’] by her own being (191), Salie’s narration dwells on her increasing invisibility and alienation in the language

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of the sea, describing how ‘L’Atlantique grondait, les vagues mordaient les flancs de l’île, personne ne donnait de la voix, mais une brise tiède et nauséabonde répandait son murmure dans toutes les cours de cuisine. La rumeur se récoltant plus vite que la fleur de sel, on s’en servit pour assaisonner les dîners’ (191) [‘The Atlantic rumbles, the waves bite the flanks of the island, no one gives it voice, but a warm, nauseating breeze spreads its murmur into every kitchen. The rumour was harvested faster than fleur de sel, it was used to season the dishes’]. In its invocation of individualistic reason, on the one hand, versus collective spiritual wholeness, on the other, Salie’s rejection by the boys and her growing unsettlement evoke echoes of Samba Diallo’s struggle more than half a century previously. At the same time, Salie’s strife is driven not by an existential angst made manifest through the inner struggle of the évolué, but rather by her refusal, as a subject given entry (however partial) to the global centres of power and consumption, to extend that privilege to her brother and his friends. Shifting from the spiritual to the material, the spatial structures of Le ventre thus return to their grounding in a system based on accumulation, capital and the distribution of value. In examining the constitution of space in these four novels, the multiplicity of spatial structures and the world-systems to which they give rise (and vice versa) becomes clear. Cooper writes that ‘attempts to posit a transition from multiple worlds to a single world-system with a core and a periphery have been mechanistic and inadequate to understand the unevenness and the dynamics of such a spatial system’ as is evidenced on the African continent over the longue durée.121 This simple observation is exemplified in the discrepancies across and within competing imperial formations. Indeed, as my readings of Cole, Ndibe, Essomba and Diome have attempted to show, even when regarding the manner in which specific West African geographies have been absorbed into the neoliberal world-system of late capitalism, it is impossible to reach any singular conclusions or devise any sweeping, grand narratives to fully capture the complexity and dynamism of the processes of fragmentation, marginalisation and centralisation that occur simultaneously across discrepant scales and overlapping systems. Indeed, the very mechanisms through which the drive to dependency has occurred in these four contexts indicates the existence of a range of dualities that operate not as binary oppositions or dichotomies, but rather as synchronic, agonist and often conflictual impulses. Not only are there, as Cooper notes, ‘several centres with their own peripheries’,122 the very act of peripheralisation is itself simultaneously a gesture of centralisation; dependency functions in multiple directions, across multiaxial systems of incongruous movement and change. 1 21 Cooper, ‘Globalization’, pp. 200–1. 122 Cooper, ‘Globalization’, p. 201.

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Throughout this chapter, I have been referring to the processes of neoliberalisation that occurred under the Bretton Woods systems of the late twentieth- and early twenty-first century as an intensification of the abstract space of capitalism and colonialism. It is crucial to foreground this point; the spatial shifts and movements that have occurred over the last twenty years, as evidenced in Open City, Foreign Gods, Inc., Le Paradis du Nord and Le ventre de l’Atlantique, did not conceive themselves overnight. Rather, these mark a set of processes that began long ago, with roots leading back at least to the colonial era, if not far longer in history. The shape, orientation and pace at which the production and reproduction of space has functioned may have shifted in recent years, but its overall formation shows a strong sense of continuity in which the temporal function of spatiality comes to the fore. The constitution of space in these works indicates the extent to which the strategies of neoliberalism have overcome the weaknesses inherent to capitalisation, what Smith once identified as the central paradox that where ‘capitalism is prevented [...] it fails to convert the colony into a significant reservoir for excess capital’,123 opening new markets so that, like the open city they, too, will be ripe for capitulation. At the same time, these texts demonstrate the extent to which the spaces of West Africa act in a manner anything but passive, perhaps operated upon, but able to re-orient those very operations to at least a certain degree, opening imaginative horizons while simultaneously highlighting the continued linkages across geographical spaces that unite contemporary New York, Paris or Strasbourg with Lagos, Utonki, Douala, Niodior and countless other locations.

123 Smith, Uneven Development, p. 178.

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Conclusion

In recent years a new movement has sprung up in humanities scholarship. Drawing from Bruno LaTour’s Actor-Network Theory (a theory, not insignificantly for the purposes of this book, which has influenced certain branches of contemporary spatial studies), this movement, dubbed the ‘postcritical’ turn by its practitioners, argues that literary study has been beset by a ‘tsunami of context-based criticism’.1 Under this view, the text has become little more than the instantiation of a set of historical knowns, while criticism ‘struggles between dichotomies of text versus context, word versus world, internalist versus externalist explanations of works of art’.2 Citing the alleged tendency of critical approaches to instrumentalise literature, fossilising it inside the ‘box of history’ of a certain time and place and deadening its more acutely felt effects across its longue durée,3 this is a line of argumentation that calls for, by contrast, a brand of reading less mired in what are supposed as detached and monolithic critical toolkits for interpretation and rather ‘more interested in testing out alternate ways of reading and thinking’ by exploring the ability of works of art ‘to recontextualize what we know and to reorient and refresh perspectives’.4 Citing the affective force of the literary text, that ineffable quality that renders some works great and others forgettable, leveraging a version of what Derek Attridge once termed the ‘singularity of literature’,5 proponents of the postcritical turn argue that we, as literary scholars, have somehow lost sight of the essence of literature and its true nature. Yet, where for Attridge this ungraspable sense of what the literary truly is and what it truly does to its readers gives rise to a series of ethical questions and position-takings around the text, the reader and the world, for adherents of postcriticism what appears to emerge is a resurgent focus on literary value and durability (forms of value and durability that an uncharitable reader might note seem to mimic the contours of the so-called global canon of English literature) and the notion of the subjective intimacy of reading that guides the text’s ability to ‘act’ on its reader, to resonate. 1 Rita Felski, The Limits of Critique (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2015), p. 152. 2 Felski, Limits of Critique, p. 153. 3 Cf. Felski, Limits of Critique, p. 154. 4 Felski, Limits of Critique, p. 182. 5 Derek Attridge, The Singularity of Literature (London: Routledge, 2004).

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Contrary to this line of thought, it has been my argument in this book that context serves as anything but a black box paralysing the text into a set of discoverable and stable knowns. Rather, by placing the novels I have been reading in this study in dialogue with a range of other discursive and material formations, my intention has been to develop a deeper understanding of the correspondences that inform their coming-into-being as literary works and, still further, their own being-in-the-world as constituent elements of that worlding. Put more plainly, my focus in this study has been both on the ways in which literary texts, through their dialogic relationship with a range of disparate discursive and material structures, are themselves worlded, on the one hand, and how these articulations are transformed through the world of the text into a form of worlding, on the other. I have not, in other words, tried to develop ‘definitive’ readings of any of the texts that I have explored in this study as much as I have attempted to think about what a spatial and materialist reading might enable us to perceive in each, to elucidate submerged meanings, anxieties, tensions and preoccupations that might so arise and to discover how the different modes of claims-making around the worlding and worldedness of the text observed in each enable an enhanced richness of understanding. Given the contingency of notions such as ‘literary value’ – notions that often seek to reaffirm structures of power and the uneven distribution of symbolic and economic capital – my argument, moreover, has been that a materialist understanding functions not in opposition to an excavation of literary force and literary singularity, but as a crucial element in its unpacking. Far from freezing out the aesthetic, then, my interest has been in how an attentiveness to the aesthetic, as a form of mediation, placed in dialogue with carefully contextualised readings of the works under study, opens the text to the world and vice versa. It is nonetheless tempting to ask what the larger meaning of the registrations that I have been mapping in this book might be. Indeed, as Sarah Brouillette and David Thomas, in their review of the Warwick Research Collective’s work, suggest, ‘if you leave the mediating factor of the nature of the production of culture out of your analysis, you risk leaving out some crucial dimensions of your object; that is, some crucial dimensions of the world-literary itself perhaps cannot be understood in the absence of analysis of the global production of literary works targeted at selected readerships’.6 For these critics, ‘An emphasis on literature’s production and on the contexts for its end use forces us, at least, to see capitalist restructuring in response to crises as something that is in literature from the ground up, rather than something the work reflects in its themes or its complex mix of stylistic features and innovations.’7 At the heart of these remarks 6 Sarah Brouillette and David Thomas, ‘First Responses’, Comparative Literature Studies, 53.3 (2016), 509–16 (p. 511). 7 Brouillette and Thomas, ‘First Responses’, p. 511.

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is a certain scepticism towards the import of the literary in the contemporary era, and its particularly exalted position as a social form and force. What, that is, can literature actually do, given its limited horizons and narrow purview? And how, they ask, can we truly answer these questions beyond pure conjecture or homology without a sustained inquiry into the structures, institutions and formations of mediation that guide literature’s entry into the world? I am wholly sympathetic to these observations. Indeed, my initial vision for this study included a far larger emphasis on the questions of institution, infrastructure and mediation that have driven the worlding of West African literatures and, consequently, the topographies and demographies through which it is worlded. In the context of West Africa from the 1950s to the present day, this question appears even more urgent when one considers, for instance, statistics around literacy in European languages, access to books and book markets, and the continually tenuous position of literary infrastructures so-often mired in asymmetrically loaded transnational systems.8 It is not my contention in this book to suggest that the novels that I have been reading somehow provide a roadmap for and set of directions against the anxieties they articulate or structures of violence that they inhabit. Rather, my aim has perhaps been less ambitious: to recuperate these texts and texts like them from the so-called postcritical turn, which suggests that the contextual engagements of the literary work no longer bear meaning for its appearance in the world and to seek to understand the larger import of the forms of claims-making they exhibit around space, broadly conceived. Perhaps further, my contention has been that a more closely held attention to the workings of spatiality, in all of its contextuality, might allow us to read within these texts an ‘image of Africa’, to use Achebe’s phrase, which is far more complex than the normative vision so often preponderated by popular culture and – often unwittingly – reproduced in cultural scholarship. Alongside the anxieties that these texts trace, then, it is imperative to recognise the sense of potentiality that they offer and the ways in which they trouble the very constitution of notions of modernity, tradition and postcoloniality towards which they make claims. Rather than read these works as functioning through an agonistic mode of dialectal meaning-making, then, a spatial reading allows a more multi-valenced form of interpretation to arise and, with it, a recognition of the inherent entanglements through and with which these texts perform the worlding of the West African world. In recent years, discussions of African literatures have often been situated against the more amorphous landscape of world literatures. With frameworks 8 See, for instance, Wendy Griswold, Bearing Witness: Readers, Writers and the Novel in Nigeria (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000); Hans Zell, Publishing, Books & Reading in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Critical Bibliography (Lochcarron: Hans Zell Publishing, 2008).

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ranging from Pascale Casanova’s ‘world republic of letters’, to the Warwick Research Collective’s notion of world-literature, to Moretti’s conjectures on world literature to Damarosch’s conception of world literature as a process of circulation and reading, these and myriad other models have emerged that seek to understand the ways in which literature ‘maps’ onto the world, drawing alternately on world-systems theory, globalisation theory, philology, reader-reception and more.9 While the genealogies of these varied ways of thinking through the idea of world literature, as a category and concept, vary tremendously, they share with each other a general tendency to reproduce totalising forms of cartographic ordering, predicated on the existence of static centres and peripheries, ideas of the ‘local’ and ‘global’ and tied to what are often under-theorised or broad-based definitions of modernity, neoliberalism and capitalist penetration, a tendency that even some of my own previous scholarship has sometimes reflected. Much of the scholarship that has emerged from these lines of inquiry remains both worthwhile and important, posing urgent questions about the ways in which literature travels and value accrues. At the same time, there remains something inadequate about these ways of thinking about literature, particularly in the African context, a context which, as Simon Gikandi noted in a 2017 plenary lecture to the African Literature Association’s Annual Meeting at Yale University, always seems to elude its grasp. Drawing from my analyses in this study, my contention is that what remains inadequate are the ways in which these various models of world literature and world literary space fail to account for the full complexity of the entanglements and overlayerings of spatial ecologies and regimes that penetrate the text and through which it comes into being in the world. The world in which West African novels participate, that is to say, is entirely more complex than any singular mode of mapping might allow for. In an essay that challenges the ‘taken-for-granted spatial mapping that is invoked […] in such terms as “the state” and “civil society”’,10 James Ferguson argues that, rather than view these institutions within a ‘vertical topography of power’,11 critics must consider the transnational, supernational, a-national, worldly and overlaying circuits through which their processes are routed. It is my contention here that a similar claim might be made for considering the ways in which 9 Pascale Casanova, The World Republic of Letters (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004); WReC, Combined and Uneven Development; Franco Moretti, Distant Reading (London: Verso, 2013); David Damarosch, What is World Literature? (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003). See also Aamir R. Mufti, Forget English! Orientalisms and World Literature (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016); Alexander Beecroft, An Ecology of World Literature: From Antiquity to the Present Day (London: Verso, 2014). 10 James Ferguson, Global Shadows: Africa in the Neoliberal World Order (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006), p. 109. 11 Ferguson, Global Shadows, p. 109.

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West African literature asserts its own worlding of the world, through its play across spatial ecologies and regimes, and which, by extension, produces its own place in the world, or mode of worldedness. Consider, for instance, the ways in which Tutuola’s Drinkard traverses bushes, towns and villages in pursuit of his tapster in ways that confound the tradition/modernity binary, making claims to neither but rather towards a form of lived fulfilment lost with the tapster’s death. Equally, Bâ’s Ramatoulaye might be seen less as producing a critique of Islamic patriarchy versus (post)colonial modernity and more as leveraging a mode of attestation to the advancement of women’s family rights through equal recourse to the law and supranational modes of morality. Across the novels read in this study, similar examples of spatial overlaying, interpenetration and complexity abound, emphasising the multiple forms of positioning and entanglement through which seemingly discrete spatial ecologies interact. Central to the argument in this book has been the notion that the production of space as constituted and articulated in the novels that I have been reading reflects, to varying degrees, the precepts of combined and uneven development in the worlding of the West African world, without capitulating to the cruder and more homogenising impulses of that phenomenon. As Patrick Bond argues, ‘accumulation at one pole and poverty at another happen systematically, according to systems of exploitation that we must carefully analyse and document, but that can change’.12 It is precisely this phenomenon that makes the study of spatiality so rich and varied, engendered, as it is, by a crisis that is neither uniform nor predictable. From the anxieties felt around the distribution of resources under forms of regionalisation and infrastructure development in early texts to the more blatant set of correspondences that arise in the post-structural adjustment era in more recent works, these texts demonstrate the ways in which literature serves both as an index for the anxieties driven by the uneven processes of accumulation and despoliation that accompanied the continued integration of the regions of West Africa into a capitalist – and eventually neoliberal – worldsystem, as well as the pockets of resistance, traces of alternative possibilities, moments of incongruity and visions of novel structures through which to image the region’s coming into being. At the same time, this is not to suggest that these novels demonstrate a consistent or predictable teleology in their unfolding; indeed, even within a single nation-state or territorial entity, what remains is radically uneven both in its realisation and its actualisation, reflecting the reality of ‘nonlinear development’.13 Following Cooper, moreover, it is important to avoid the impulse towards claims that slip from the level of economic analysis 12 Patrick Bond, Looting Africa: The Economics of Exploitation (London: Zed Books, 2006), p. 11, emphasis original. 13 Joshua Clover, ‘First Responses’, Comparative Literature Studies, 53.3 (2016), 520–7 (p. 523).

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to cultural and artistic production without attending to the specificity of the latter as a redress to the generalising and generic tendencies of crude modes of capital-centred critique.14 Here, then, the play of spatial ecologies across global, regional, national and local scales of production and practice results in a landscape that is radically uneven in its instantiation and highly differentiated in its aesthetic constitution across texts, contexts and forms, at the same time that the implicit interpenetration of seemingly discrete spaces attests to a larger sense of totality. Ranging across aesthetic registers that span the sometimes surrealist, ecological imaginary of Tutuola’s The Palm-Wine Drinkard and Ndibe’s Foreign Gods; the spiritually infused metaphysics of Kane and Bâ; the emphasis on genre and the popular in Ekwensi and Essomba; the realism of Beti and Aidoo; the introspection of Cole and Diome; and more, moreover, the texts that I have been reading in this study attest to the importance of the aesthetic as a site upon which larger debates, tensions and movements might play out. In what remains of this Conclusion, I turn my attention to three interlinked phenomena that have become, over the early decades of the twenty-first century, significant forces in the production of space in West Africa and its positioning in the world: the ‘resource curse’, which has blighted the region through the looting of the African continent; the increased presence of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries, particularly China, as major investors and agents in the region; and the spread of digital information and communications technologies. Each of these phenomena has garnered significant critical attention in recent years, and each has been touted as a potential driver in the remapping and reshaping of the region, with significant implications for the constitution of spatiality, inaugurating new topographies of ordering across the world, new transnational alliances and the potential for new solidarities. At the same time, encoded within each are a series of continuities with older modes of spatial organisation, as well as hierarchies of power and administration, which serve less as a departure from previous regimes and more as their new face. The extraction of resources from the African continent is far from a new phenomenon. Patrick Bond notes that the ‘looting of Africa’ is most aptly seen as part of a longer historical durée: trade by force dating back centuries; slavery that uprooted and dispossessed around 12 million Africans; land grabs; vicious taxation schemes; precious metals spirited away; the appropriation of antiquities to the British Museum and other trophy rooms; the nineteenth-century emergence of racist ideologies to justify colonialism; the 1884–5 carve-up of Africa, in a Berlin negotiating room, into dysfunctional territories; the construction of settler-colonial and extractive-colonial systems – of 14 Frederick Cooper, Colonialism in Question: Theory, Knowledge, History (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2005), p. 126.

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which apartheid, the German occupation of Namibia, the Portuguese colonies and King Leopold’s Belgian Congo were perhaps only the most blatant – often based upon tearing black migrant workers from rural areas (leaving women with vastly increased responsibilities as a consequence); Cold War battlegrounds – proxies for US/USSR conflicts – filled with millions of corpses; other wars catalysed by mineral searches and offshoot violence such as witnessed in blood diamonds and coltran (colombo-tantelite, a crucial component of cell phones and computer chips); poacher-stripped swathes of East, Central and Southern Africa now devoid of rhinos and elephants whose ivory became ornamental material or aphrodisiac in the Middle East and East Asia; societies used as guinea pigs in the latest corporate pharmaceutical test … and the list could continue.15

Despite the long historical presence of the looting of the continent, a number of features characterise the twenty-first-century drive to resource extraction as distinctly different: the erasure of state presence and control; its links with financialisation, particularly through the institution of structural adjustment and other Bretton Woods-managed programmes; the privatisation of infrastructural development and basic needs; its implication in simultaneously trans- and increasingly a-national circuits of production; the absence of accompanying ‘thick’ social structures in favour of ‘thin’ models.16 Far from being a boon to an allegedly blighted and indebted continent, resource-extraction can be identified more aptly as a constitutive factor in its despoliation. Central to this process is the extent to which the African continent is tied into a system that mandates single-resource, export-heavy economies. Bond notes, for instance, that ‘primary exports of natural resources accounted for nearly 80 per cent of African exports in 2000, compared to 31 per cent for all developing countries and 16 per cent for the advanced capitalist economies’.17 Far from enriching the continent, it is precisely this dependency on the export of raw materials – a phenomenon that has marked the continent’s integration into the world economy for several centuries – that has consigned the continent to economic stagnation. At the same time, the dependency of the world market on African materials marks a queer spatial phenomenon. In a context where ‘Africa accounts for 13 per cent of the world’s population and just 2 per cent of its cumulative gross domestic product, but it is the repository of 15 per cent of the planet’s crude oil reserves, 40 per cent of its gold and 80 per cent of its platinum’,18 the continent’s systematic looting might be read less as a sign of its economic marginalisation and more as a sign of a spatial centrality that has resulted from the continent being ‘drained 15 Bond, Looting Africa, p. 2. 16 Ferguson, Global Shadows, p. 36. 17 Bond, Looting Africa, p. 58. 18 Tom Burgis, The Looting Machine: Warlords, Tycoons, Smugglers and the Systematic Theft of Africa’s Wealth (London: HarperCollins, 2015), p. 5.

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of wealth through depletion of minerals, forests and other eco-social factors’.19 Equally, resource-extraction gives lie to the commonsense notion of Africa’s indebtedness to the world, with the value of exported commodities far outstripping the value of imported aid and investment. Coupled with the privatisation of basic needs and infrastructure, this marks an unseen and often-unnoticed entrenchment of the mapping of the continent against the globe. Crucially, resource-extraction, and the resource curse, functions through specifically spatialised means, cutting across seemingly discrete transnational, regional, national and local spatial ecologies and marking them as part of a unified system, which is nonetheless marked by a radical alienation from its immediate environs and any vision of space as a continuity. As Ferguson argues, ‘the latest round of worldwide capitalist restructuring, with its frenzied construction of “the global economy”, has left little or no place for Africa outside of its old colonial role as provider of raw materials (especially mineral wealth)’.20 Crucially, this has not resulted in any meaningful sense of spatial equalisation. Instead, ‘there […] appear[s] a new extremity in the way that many African states have withdrawn from their putative national societies, leaving export production concentrated in guarded enclaves that are increasingly detached from their surrounding societies’.21 This latter point cannot be over-emphasised. As Ferguson continues, ‘networks of political and economic connection do indeed “span the globe”, as is often claimed, but they do not cover it. Instead, they hop over (rather than flowing through) the territories inhabited by the vast majority of the African population. This leaves most Africans with only a tenuous and indirect connection to “the global economy”, as critics have often observed.’22 Indeed, while some commentators and observers argue that resource extraction on the continent is powered by the maintenance of a ‘shadow state’ driven by ‘hidden networks of multinationals, middlemen and African potentates’, which ‘fuse state and corporate power’ and ‘are aligned to no nation’,23 it is important to foreground, by contra, the extent to which the state – and statist formations – fail to enter into the equation in any meaningful way. While the frenzy to mine other resources, notably gold in Ghana and uranium in Niger, have resulted in environmental and political devastation in their respective geographies, in the West African context in which this book situates itself, few resources play a larger part in the dynamics of spatiality than does oil. Oil is a particularly nefarious example of the single-resource economy and its implications with the functioning and constitution of spatial systems. In 19 Bond, Looting Africa, p. 5, emphasis original. 20 Ferguson, Global Shadows, p. 8. 21 Ferguson, Global Shadows, p. 13. 22 Ferguson, Global Shadows, p. 14. 23 Burgis, The Looting Machine, p. 8.

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Nigeria, for instance, one of Africa’s two major oil-exporting countries, along with Angola, ‘oil accounts for four in every five dollars of government revenue and capturing a share of the resource rent is a life-and-death struggle’.24 Far from enriching its people, the formation of a petrostate in Nigeria has resulted in accelerated levels of poverty, with recent World Bank reports putting the percentage of the population living in poverty at over 68%,25 with the frenzy for oil ‘vastly outweigh[ing] human and environmental considerations’ for the northern governments and corporations involved.26 At the same time as oil has resulted in the deterioration of the national economy, predicated on its positionality within a global neoliberal economy of accumulation by dispossession, it has also accelerated the processes of uneven development within the country’s territorial boundaries, as my readings in the final chapter of this study suggested, reinforcing the chasm between enclaves of accumulation and the deserts of despoliation that surround them. The impact of oil upon the production of space and worlding of global topographies has not gone unnoticed in the literary realm. The anxieties around resource despoliation and ecological crisis have felt their most apparent articulation in the recent spate of what literary critics have termed ‘petro-fictions’ emanating from West Africa, especially Nigeria.27 A term coined by South Asian novelist Amitav Ghosh, petro-fictions dramatise, articulate and uncover the correspondences between ecological disaster, late capitalist world-systems, Bretton Woods institutions and global commodity looting. As Mcdonald notes, ‘oil literature is simultaneously global and domestic’. While Mcdonald sees this as a function ‘of the hierarchy of nation-states in the world system that consume and produce it in varying levels’,28 however, it can equally be seen as inherently transnational, if not a-national, circumventing the institutions of the state through the movements of private capital and driving the enclave-riddled, point-to-point topographies of globalisation from an African perspective. Petrofiction, under this line of thought, registers the paradoxical movements of holistically connected disjunctures within this ordering of the world. Beyond merely registering the ‘alteration of entire national political systems’,29 that is, an entirely more complex spatial matric emerges which articulates the ways in which ‘oil has 24 Burgis, The Looting Machine, p. 63. 25 Burgis, The Looting Machine, p. 4. 26 Bond, Looting Africa, p. 105. 27 Jennifer Wenzel, ‘Petro-magic-realism: Towards a Political Ecology of Nigerian Literature’, Postcolonial Studies, 9.4 (2006), 449–64. 28 Graeme McDonald, ‘Oil and World Literature’, American Book Review, 33.3 (2012), 7, 31 (p. 31). 29 Michael K. Walonen, ‘“The Black and Cruel Demon” and Its Transformations of Space: Toward a Comparative Study of the World Literature of Oil and Place’, Interdisciplinary Literary Studies, 14.1 (2012), 56–78 (p. 57).

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drastically affected the basic social and spatial conditions of people throughout the world, as well as their modes of relating to one another’.30 It is therefore not surprising that these issues should arise in the form of the registration of spatial anxieties in a range of contemporary novels contending with the oil-producing regions of Nigeria, including Helon Habila’s Oil on Water and Johwur Ile’s And After Many Days. Here, then, it is worth pausing to look at a representative passage from Habila’s novel, in which protagonist Rufus discusses the changes wrought to a small Niger Delta village with its headman, to illustrate the ways in which resource extraction is reshaping the topographies of spatiality in West African writing: Once up on a time they lived in paradise, he said, in a small village close to Yellow Island. They lacked for nothing, fishing and hunting and farming and watching their children growing up before them, happy. The village was close-knit, made up of cousins and uncles and aunts and brothers and sisters, and, though they were happily insulated from the rest of the world by their creeks and rivers and forests, they were not totally unaware of the changes going on all around them: the gas flares that lit up neighbouring villages all day and all night, and the cars and TVs and video players in the front rooms of their neighbours who had allowed the flares to be set up. Some of the neighbours were even bragging that the oil companies had offered to send their kids to Europe and America to become engineers, so that one day they could return and work as oil executives in Port Harcourt. For the first time the close, unified community was divided – for how could they not be tempted, with the flare in the next village burning over them every night, its flame long and coiled like a snake, whispering, winking, hissing?31

Across this passage the village head’s reminiscences invoke the same kind of pastoral idyll that has appeared in a number of other novels considered in this study. The village is figured less as a collective of autonomous individuals, that is, and more as a family unit, ‘cousins and uncles and aunts and brothers and sisters’ living together in harmony, wanting for nothing, living in close concert with the land, engaging not in alienated labour but the fulfilment of a life generated by the fruits of the land, its flora and fauna. This ‘paradise’, as he calls it, does not, however, exist in pure isolation. Despite imagery that indicates a sense of self-containment, uncontaminated by the vestiges of a world order in which the sweet satisfaction of kinship and labour oriented towards the reproduction of the family unit as a holistic and whole community, the headman’s musings nonetheless point towards the fissures inherent in this worldview, felt, for instance, in the flare-ups of nearby oil fires intruding on their ‘happily insulted’ world of the natural order. Recalling the ideological fabrication of ‘nature’ as 30 Walonen, ‘Black and Cruel Demon’, p. 57. 31 Helon Habila, Oil on Water (London: Penguin, 2011), p. 38.

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a concept, the acknowledgement that the villagers remained aware of the accumulation of commodities – cars, TVs, video players – is significant for the ways in which it gestures towards the interlaying of spatial ecologies and scales of penetration. Despite the headman’s seeming insistence on the greed of his once-neighbours as driving cause of the village’s eventual undoing, his focus on how they ‘had allowed’ flares to be set up by oil companies, the remainder of the passage, too, suggests a more complicated system of trans- and a-national topographies in which the exodus of the village’s youth is motivated not by the statist cartographies of imperialism, but by the new enclave economy of the corporation and its allies. Notably absent are any of the normative institutions of the state debated so ceaselessly in postcolonial analyses; instead, what emerges are a series of spaces ‘governable or ungovernable […] each associated with its own forms of conflict and violence’,32 reliant not on ‘nation-states developing national resources, but [on] enclaved mineral-rich patches efficiently exploited by flexible private firms’.33 Oil, along with its mapping of space, functions here to sever, to make visible the hidden, but already-present, cracks within the community and transform family and neighbours into strangers under the recurrent imagery of the flare, a twenty-first century replacement for the quest for material accumulation once described by Armah as the gleam, gesturing towards the nature of these nonstatist spatial alliances less as something new and more as a making-visible of the forms of extraction of old.34 Equally as blinding but amplified in its destructive capabilities, the potency of the flare manifests in these reminiscences through a sense of inevitability underwritten by its Biblical imagery, coiling like a snake, sly and foreseen. In place of the seemingly intractable teleology of modernisation and modernity, the village betrays in its transformation a different ordering of temporality, devoid of productive labour and bereft of a proletariat, its youth gone and any hope for development made hollow in a system devoid of autonomy or advancement. More than anything, what this passage evinces is what Ferguson refers to as the decomposition of that second axes of developmentalist discourse, the notion of a hierarchy of nations, here no longer a mutable space in which mobility is simply a matter of time or achievement, but instead, a set of engrained status-positions in which some geographies emerge ‘not as “less developed” but simply as less’.35 For Jennifer Wenzel, Oil on Water ‘evinces a strange distance from the militarized politics of the Niger

32 Ferguson, Global Shadows, p. 202. 33 Ferguson, Global Shadows, p. 204. 34 Ferguson, Global Shadows, p. 207. 35 Ferguson, Global Shadows, p. 189.

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Delta […] provid[ing] little alternative to rote voice-over’.36 Yet, this passage illuminates the many alternative, incongruous and suspicious ecologies already present within the world of the novel, and their implication in a larger network of interlayered modes of violence and terror inextricably linked to the continual process of extraction and enclave-formation. Significant here is the dreamy register of the text, which moves between space and time with little to no signalling, resulting in a narrative form reminiscent of the uncanny; travelling by canoe, beset by illness, confronted by the unresolvable tensions engendered by the interpenetration of corporatist, capitalist accumulation and institutions of resistance that collapse into the very rhetoric of the former, Rufus finds himself in a spatial schemata that can be neither apprehended in its totality nor made sense of through the sum of its parts. It is difficult to adequately consider the spatial implications of resourceextraction, and its relevance for West Africa’s place in the world, without thinking about the role played by so-called ‘emerging economies’ in the development of the African continent, writ large. Ian Taylor, for instance, argues that ‘The BRICS term has become a neologism symbolising a putative changing world order where the normative principles associated with the capitalist core are allegedly threatened by a new set of alternatives.’37 The growth of ties between the emerging economies, particularly the BRICS nations, he argues, has been viewed in most mainstream discourse as part of a realignment of the topographies of the world order, one that ‘wipes the historical slate clean, makes dependent relationships and unequal terms of trade vanish instantaneously, and positions the continent to reach OECD status virtually overnight! Much of this is said to be hinged on the BRICS as the new saviours.’38 Yet, as Taylor emphasises, ‘such an understanding of the BRICS is spectacularly wrong’,39 and a more precise understanding of the nature of emerging economies on the continent requires a broader historical purview that links these so-called new players into a longer history of extraction and despoliation. In the landscape of twenty-first-century century Africa, few players have emerged with as much force as post-open door policy China: Trade between Africa and China began to conspicuously accelerate around 2000, and between 2001 and 2006, Africa’s exports to China increased at an annual rate of over 40 per cent (Wang Jianye, 2007: 5). Since 2003 alone, Sino-Africa trade has increased by nearly 500 per cent. Notably, back in 1990, no Africa countries traded 36 Jennifer Wenzel, ‘Beyond the Headlines’, American Book Review, 33.3 (2012), 13–14 (p. 14). 37 Ian Taylor, Africa Rising? BRICS – Diversifying Dependency (Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, 2014), p. 3. 38 Taylor, Africa Rising?, p. 15. 39 Taylor, Africa Rising?, p. 3.

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amounts with China above 5 per cent of their GDP; by 2008, nearly two dozen had passed this benchmark figure.40

Indeed, China’s participation in the despoliation of the continent – and its firm presence in infrastructure projects and its overdetermining influence in the current landscape of infrastructure development on the continent – have been the subject of significant critical interest in the early years of the millennium, spawning academic studies ranging across disciplines. For the purposes of this book’s remit, then, one might wish to ask the question: what does the increasing encroachment of China as new superpower/ quasi-imperial force on the continent mean for the production of space and spatiality in West Africa and the worlding of this new regime in the body of literary writing from the region? Of course, China’s contemporary involvement on the continent is not necessary new. As Burgis notes, ‘China had made previous forays into Africa, notably during the Cold War, but the scale of what it now envisage[s is] unprecedented.’41 The current iteration of Chinese involvement on the continent can be traced back to 1996, a year which saw a visit by Premier Jiang Zemin in which he publicly ‘unveiled a new Chinese approach to Africa’ and called for the establishment of the Forum on China–Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), formally established in 2000.42 In Zemin’s vision, FOCAC would mark a radical realignment of the topographies of the world-system, envisioned as inaugurating a new era of South–South partnerships free from the yoke of capitalist–colonialist dominance. Ostensibly based on notions of solidarity and friendship forged across developing nations, FOCAC thus presented itself as a spatial break. Yet, as Taylor’s remarks above indicate, such a view of the Chinese involvement on the African continent functions rather differently when examined past the level of rhetoric. Based on what one commentator characterises as ‘a kind of modern-day barter system in which developing countries pay for new railroads, highways, and airports through the guaranteed, long-term supply of hydrocarbons or minerals, thus helping Chinese companies win massive new contracts’,43 the ostensible goal of Chinese involvement in the continent revolves around the dual axes of opening new markets for Chinese investment and products, on the one hand, and, on the other, instituting a new era of industrialisation and modernisation on the continent no longer held in sway to the dictates of the Bretton Woods organisations. Yet, the actual workings of Chinese involvement on the continent betray themselves in a rather different light:

40 Taylor, Africa Rising?, p. 102. 41 Burgis, The Looting Machine, p. 86. 42 Taylor, Africa Rising?, p. 26. 43 Howard W. French, China’s Second Continent: How a Million Migrants Are Building a New Empire in Africa (London: Vintage, 2014), p. 4.

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Chinese foreign policy in Africa has been based on several key aims. Beijing has focused on ensuring its regime security through access to crucial resources. By portraying itself as an advocate for the developing world and emphasising South–South cooperation, China has arguably sought to offer itself up as an alternative model to Western dominance. However to achieve its policy goals, Beijing has equally been prepared to defend autocratic regimes, some of which commit gross human rights abuses, such as Sudan and Zimbabwe. In this way, China’s interactions with the continent fit the pattern of most external actors’ intercourse with Africa: beneficial to the ruling elite.44

It is thus apparent that the appearance of BRICS economies on the continent functions less as a break with the old topographies of the world-system and more of a simultaneous acceleration of their effects, now submerged under a rhetoric of Southern solidarity, and what is at best a reorientation of existing modes of spatial ordering, which simultaneously centre the continent as a repository of raw materials while marginalising it within the discourses of global development and progression. In the realm of literature, this is a tension that has begun to register itself through a series of articulations and anxieties registered at the level of literary content and form. In a creative non-fiction essay included in Cassava Republic Press’s Safe House anthology, for instance, Kevin Eze excavates the ambiguities with which China’s arrival on the continent has been met, echoing observations articulated in critical discourse around the creation of largely Chinese enclaves within West African cities; the importation of Chinese labour to the continent – and maltreatment of African work forces – and the simultaneous displacement of Africans from local markets and rise of a class of African middlemen traversing the corridors between China and the continent.45 What is notable more broadly in China’s literary presence on the continent is how the presence of Chinese characters, projects and enclaves is presented not in isolation, but as part of a larger ecosystem of resource-extraction, accumulation and despoliation through the evolution of a system of uneven and discrete spatialities. These same observations run throughout Teju Cole’s first novel, Every Day is for the Thief, a precursor of sorts to Open City: Chinatown in Lagos? But there it is, another signal that we are in a normal place, or a place that aspires to normalcy, like New York, London, Vancouver, San Francisco, with their Chinatowns. This one fits the bill, right down to the giant Chinese characters on the frontage. The Chinese have arrived, and they are visible all over Lagos, 44 Taylor, Africa Rising?, p. 119. 45 Taylor, Africa Rising?, p. 114; Kevin Eze, ‘Eating Bitter’, in Safe House: Explorations in Creative Non Fiction, ed. Ellah Wakatama Allfrey (London: Cassava Republic Press, 2016), pp. 55–68.

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as merchants, as contractors, as labourers. This is home to them now. They established the Chinatown complex in 1999, selling bales of cloth, consumer electronics, digital media, kitchen wares. Nigerians came in droves, for the cheap prices.46

Linking the city into a globally networked set of diasporic locations driven by Chinese ingenuity, the appearance of Chinatown serves both as a heterotopic space, containing multitudes, and an enclave, divorced from the city that surrounds it, connected only by the vicissitudes of commodity consumption. Elsewhere, the Chinese presence, on the surface manifested through the production of protected enclaves, functions to intensify the larger problematics of fragmentation, equalisation and their attendant violence through an emphasis on the brokering of communal identities and rivalries based on economic dispossession. A final facet of spatial transformation that appears to hold the possibility to remap the spatial horizons, dynamics and regimes of the African continent is that of digital space, notably through the development and spread of communications technologies. Digital technology has not been entirely absent from this study – from Ike’s encroaching sense of enclosure through his mother and sister’s emails, to the ways in which technological innovation foregrounds modes of spatial connectivity in Dioume’s Le ventre de l’Atlantique, the force of communications technology in these novels has appeared as a means through which the multi-scalarity of space has emerged. At the same time, the specific force of the internet – and now blockchain technology – as a means of mapping new modes of spatial interconnectivity, solidarity and conflict, on the one hand, and as an outlet for the mediation and dissemination of literary production, on the other, has garnered relatively little attention. For what remains of this concluding chapter, I turn my attention to these phenomena and their relative import in the topographies of the twenty-first century. In mainstream discourse, the Internet has often been cited as a potential site of actualisation of novel and user-driver spatialities and the ‘web-based relationships and the space it facilitates’.47 As Kate Haines Wallis has shown, the networks and panAfrican internationalist spaces that arise through the use of digital technologies have brought to the fore a range of spatial ecologies, mediating the ‘local’ and the ‘global’ in ways that cannot be captured by centre–periphery models of understanding or discrete compartmentalisations of space.48 For Wallis, the sites of exchange produced through digital exchange are vital for conceptualising the ways in which literature, cultural production and spatiality intersect, 46 Teju Cole, Every Day is for The Thief (Abuja: Cassava Republic Press, 2007), pp. 111–12. 47 M.I. Franklin, Digital Dilemmas: Power, Resistance, and the Internet (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), p. 3. 48 Kate Wallis, ‘Exchanges in Nairobi and Lagos: Mapping Literary Networks and World Literary Space’, Research in African Literatures, forthcoming.

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challenging dominant precepts of centre and periphery. Given the work of collectives such as Nigeria’s Farafina Trust and Kenya’s Kwani Trust in brokering complex and multidirectional spatialities, what emerges is a spatial regime based on forms of value and prestige accrued in a manner that cannot be reduced to any single or simply defined model. Following moreover Stephanie Bosch Santana’s observation that digital space might best be thought of not as free-floating and open, but rather as specifically emplaced,49 embedded within highly situated contexts, it is possible to view these networks of exchange not as entirely unmoored and open, as proponents of digital technologies might suggest, but as equally dependent on older physical modes of spatial understanding. Indeed, as Wallis acknowledges, these new technologies have not displaced older forms of cultural production, particularly print, which remain vital to the durability and prestige of cultural forms.50 At the heart of the emergence and spread of new technologies is a tension between their implication within neoliberal globalisation, with its reification of the private, free-floating individual-as-consumer, on the one hand, and, on the other, the possibilities inhered within for another mode of claims-making and another way of perceiving, conceiving and living the world therein. The development of the internet, ‘emerg[ing] from [the] Cold War generation of US-based industrial-military funded research […] both epitomiz[ing] and contribut[ing] to the globalization wave that marked the last half of the twentieth century’,51 cannot, therefore, be uncoupled from the larger geospatial movements that mediate its emergence. For all of its promise as an alternative model for spatiality, the internet, in particular, remains radically uneven in its composition and its citizenship. It may indeed be true, as Franklin suggests, that certain populations, usually located in the Global North, ‘have become accustomed to the idea that the cyberspaces they traverse are open, online interactions are transparent in a positive sense, and the web’s products and services are more or less “free”’.52 At the same time, Franklin continues, this idea ‘is being countered in practice first by the push and pull between national sovereignty and proprietary property rights allowing a powerful agglomeration of both state actions and corporate interests to control access and terms of use. Second, state actors, unilaterally or in concert, have been reconsidering their respective approaches to regulating the internet as the limits to internet “freedom” become more pressing for

49 Stephanie Bosch Santana, ‘From Nation to Network: Blog and Facebook Fiction from Southern Africa’, Research in African Literatures, forthcoming. 50 Kate Wallis, ‘How Books Matter: Kwani Trust, Farafina, Cassava Republic Press and the Medium of Print’, Wasafiri, 31.4 (2016), 39–46. 51 Franklin, Digital Dilemmas, p. 5. 52 Franklin, Digital Dilemmas, p. 2.

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domestic and foreign policymakers.’53 Crucially, not ‘everyone has, or can have, a say in how the internet does or could work – let alone to what ends, for whom, and on whose terms’,54 and indeed only one-third of the world’s population can boast regular access to its possibilities. This should not, however, detract from the potentialities encoded within the rise of new medias for restructuring the spatial ecologies of the twenty-first century. Indeed, it remains the case that new media ‘help activate latent ties that may be crucial to the mobilization of networked publics’, defined broadly as ‘publics that are restructured by networked technologies’ and which are defined both by ‘the space constructed through networked technologies and […] the imagined collective that emerges as a result of the intersection of people, technology, and practice’.55 A force that pluralises without necessary democratising, new media and its effects have only begun to emerge to their fullest capacity.56 As the examples from Wallis, above, indicate, digital spatialities have emerged in intersection and co-constitution with real spatialities – and real claims towards spatial belonging and becoming – on the African continent in ways that should not be so easily dismissed and which attest to the novelty and agency with which actors respond to – and shift – their spatial environments. In Colonialism in Question: Theory, Knowledge, History, Cooper argues that ‘the word modernity is now used to make so many different points that the continued deployment of it may contribute to more confusion than to clarity’.57 Modernity, he argues, has been used in an all-too-frequently acritical sense, alternatively referring to a form of teleological progression, on the one hand, and a package of characteristics, on the other. In both cases, the term remains diffuse, mired in notions of Eurocentrism and universalism, which critical scholarship has allegedly sought to dismantle. In a similar vein, Ferguson identifies in the current trend towards ‘alternative modernities’ and ‘vernacular modernities’, which Cooper views as erasing the ‘boundary-crossing struggle over the conceptual and moral bases of political and social organization’, a return to the immutable positionalities of a topography mapped out under the great chain of being, with the utopian – if problematic – promises of a developmentalist, teleological notion of modernity lost.58 Both Ferguson and Cooper share 53 Franklin, Digital Dilemmas, p. 2. 54 Franklin, Digital Dilemmas, p. 3. 55 Zizi Papacharissi, Affective Publics: Sentiment, Technology and Politics (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015), p. 8; danah boyd, ‘Social Network Sites as Networked Publics: Affordances, Dynamics, and Implications’, in Networked Self: Identity, Community, and Culture on Social Network Sites, ed. Zizi Papacharissi (London: Routledge, 2010), pp. 39–58 (p. 39). 56 Papacharissi, Affective Publics, p. 8. 57 Cooper, Colonialism in Question, p. 113. 58 Ferguson, Global Shadows, p. 149.

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a critical sensibility that views the haphazard and ahistorical deployment of notions of modernity, modernisation and development as essentially modes of occlusion that say little but mask deeply seated ideological beliefs. Instead of this tendency, both urge a critical perspective that historicises the forms of claims towards modernity made by different actors in different geographies and periods, remaining ‘sensitive to the different ways people frame the relationship of past, present, and future, an understanding of the situations and conjunctures that enable and disable particular representations, and a focus on process and causation in the past and on choice, political organization, responsibility, and accountability in the future’ and to ‘identify[] projects of modernization within specific conjunctures in colonial history, just as one can distinguish moments when the nontransformation of “traditional societies” played a key role in colonial ideology’.59 Writing specifically on what he terms the ‘capitalism-plus’ school of theory, loosely associated with world-systems analysis, Cooper argues that ‘[i]n slipping all too easily from identifying the importance of capitalism as a mode of production to making broad assertions about cultural and political life, the capitalism-plus school leaves us with a generic picture of the very processes whose importance it has emphasized.’60 Given my interest in mapping the implications between combined and uneven development, on the one hand, and the constitution of space in West African literary writing, on the other, my sympathy for these claims might seem at first misplaced. Yet, it has not been my intention in this study to suggest that the novels under examination are mere repositories either of economic transformation and development or of some battle against an encroaching, vaguely defined vision of modernity. Nor has it been my claim that these texts may be read, tout court, through the materialist structures and discourses with which they bear a range of articulations, registrations and correspondences. Rather, my interest in this study has been to think about the ways in which these texts leverage the imaginative possibilities that inhere in literary writing – and specifically, in the forms of aesthetic expression that underwrite literary writing – both to perform an act of worlding, while themselves being simultaneously worlded by their articulations with wider and various discursive and material structures. It is of course not possible to fully excavate the implications of this simultaneous – and interconnected – play of worlding and being worlded, but it has been my hope in this study that the interpenetration of these two acts as performing a series of claims around space, spatiality and being in the world have been illuminated. My interest here is less to suggest that the modes of spatiality constituted in the pages of the novels that I have been reading form an alternative to modernity or an alternative modernity in and of themselves. Rather, my aim has been more to highlight 59 Cooper, Colonialism in Question, p. 149; p. 145. 60 Cooper, Colonialism in Question, p. 126.

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the ways in which these texts, through their worlding of space and its very worldedness as an artefact co-constituted therein, make a series of claims to a different mode of world-creation and being-in-the-world. It would be reductive to view these as entirely utopian, revolutionary or reactionary just as much as it would be reductive to view these as passive, detached from the world and static. Rather, what the constitution of space in these texts demonstrates are the ways in which aesthetic, literary and cultural production might both inhabit the tensions and anxieties of a larger world comprised of simultaneous, interconnected, over-layering and contradictory spatial ecologies and regimes, while at the same time manipulating their imaginative, aesthetic and creative force to imagine differently.

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Archival sources Accra, Ghana, Public Records and Archives Administration Department (PRAAD) Aix-en-Provence, France, Archives nationales d’outre mer (ANOM) Austin, TX, United States of America, Harry Ransom Center (HRC) Caen, France, Institut mémoires de l’édition contemporaine (IMEC) Kew, United Kingdom, National Archives (NA) London, United Kingdom, School of Oriental and African Studies Library (SOAS Library) Oxford, United Kingdom, Bodleian Library (BL) Stanford, CA, United States of America, Hoover Institution Archives (HIA)

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Index

Abacha, Sani  144, 147 Achebe, Chinua  22, 32, 109, 177 Action Group Party (Nigeria)  21, 33, 66 Actor-Network Theory  175 Africa and the World  112 ‘Africa Rising’ narrative  141 African Freedom Fighters meeting (1962) 67 African Literature Association  178 African Renaissance  22 Afrique-Équatoriale française (AEF) (see also French Equatorial Africa)  13, 16, 18, 19, 48 Afrique-Occidentale française (AOF) (see also French West Africa)  12, 13, 16, 18, 19, 25, 43, 47, 48, 51, 81, 111, 115 Commune of Dakar  12 Commune of Gorée  12 Commune of Rufisque  12 Commune of Saint-Louis  12 Afropolitanism 22 L’Agence de cooperation culturelle et technique 157 agriculture  44, 45, 54, 60, 70, 75, 87, 102, 125–126, 146, 148, 154, 161, 169–170 Aidoo, Ama Ata  27, 97, 110, 117, 118, 122, 133, 172, 180 Algeria  26, 121 All-African People’s Conference  67 Amadiume, Ifi  102, 103, 132 American Agricultural Economics Association 169 American Dream  150 Amin, Idi  143 Amin, Samir  14, 89 And After Many Days  184

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Andrade, Susan Z.  26, 97–98, 101, 109, 110, 112, 116, 132 Andrew Dakers (Publishers)  38, 60 anglophone (interests/ literature)  6, 23, 25, 43, 57–58, 80, 117, 156, 163 Angola 183 Anthologie de la nouvelle poésie nègre 22 Anti-colonialism  6, 7, 14, 29, 45, 48, 50, 67, 84, 91, 115 Anti-imperialism  13, 81 Apartheid 181 Aristotle 7 Asia  93, 146, 157, 181, 183 Atlantic Ocean  13, 169, 170, 173 Attridge, Derek  175 austerity  22, 27, 69 L’Aventure ambiguë  26, 29, 43, 51–57, 97, 164 Azikiwe, Nnamdi  33 Bâ, Mariama  27, 97, 110, 116, 117, 118, 124, 133, 172, 179, 180 Babangida, Ibrahim Badamasi  144–145, 147 Barnes, Leonard  91 Barthes, Roland  146 Bauman, Zygmunt  141 the beach  115–116, 117 The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born 26, 60, 66, 68–70, 75–79, 80, 85, 107–108, 118, 135 Belgian Congo  13, 181 Belgium  13, 93 Bruges 137 Brussels  137, 142, 149 Ghent 137 Ben Jelloun, Tahar  146 Benin (see also Dahomey)  17, 19, 121

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Index

Berlin Conference 1884–85  21 Beti, Mongo  26, 29, 43, 49, 57, 97, 152, 158, 180 Beyala, Calixthe  27, 97, 134–135 Black Orpheus journal 37 Boehmer, Elleke  11 Bond, Patrick  179, 180–181 Bosch Santana, Stephanie  190 Bourguiba, Habib  157 Brazil  13, 93, 127, 180 Brennan, Timothy  6 Bretton Woods financial system  139, 156, 166, 174, 181, 183, 187 BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa)  180, 186, 188 Britain (and its Empire)  3, 13–18, 20, 21, 22, 23, 25, 31, 32, 40, 41, 42, 51, 57, 73, 75, 76, 77, 78, 81, 91, 93, 104, 128, 129, 137, 140, 150, 156, 157 Liverpool 37 London  29, 37, 42, 61, 188 British Colonial Office  15, 18, 24, 62, 75 British Museum  180 British West Africa  13, 16 Brouillette, Sarah  176 Buhari, Muhammadu  144 Bulgaria 157 Burgis, Tom  187 Burkina Faso (see also Upper Volta) 17, 19, 121 buses  40, 44, 61, 67–68, 70, 79, 130 Caisse Centrale de Cooperation Economique of France  170 Cambodia 93 Cameroon  13, 25, 29, 44, 45, 48, 49, 57, 104, 157, 159–161, 163, 165, 166 Bamiléké 48 Douala  45, 104, 157, 159, 161–162, 164, 174 Kala  46, 47–50 Mungo 48 Northern Cameroon  25, 45 Sanaga Maritima  48

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Cameroon Plebiscite (1961)  25 Canada (Vancouver)  188 capital  4, 63, 65, 86, 88, 92, 100–101, 103, 106, 108, 121, 122, 124, 138, 141–142, 154, 166, 173, 176, 180, 183 capitalism  5, 59, 60–61, 64, 69, 71, 73–76, 78, 80, 82, 83, 85–86, 88–90, 93, 95, 98–101, 103, 114, 116–117, 120, 124–126, 130, 133, 138, 140–141, 143–144, 146, 147, 149, 152, 155, 156, 162, 171, 173, 174, 176, 178, 179, 181, 182, 183, 186, 187, 192 Carmody, Pádraig  170 cars  42, 76, 85–86, 119, 151, 154, 163 Carrigan, Anthony  11 Casablanca Group  67 Casanova, Pascale  178 Casely-Hayford, J.E.  22 Cassava Republic Press  188 de Certeau, Michel  70 C’est le soleil qui m’a brûlée  27, 97, 134–135 CFA (Colonies Françaises d’Afrique, then Communauté française d’Afrique, then Commission financière d’Afrique) 165 Changes: A Love Story  27, 97, 117–122 China (Beijing)  22, 121, 170, 180, 186–188 Chinatown 188–189 the city  6, 7, 21, 37–43, 44, 47, 52, 61–63, 65, 66, 68–70, 73, 75, 77–79, 80, 84, 85–89, 90–92, 94–95, 101, 109, 116, 117, 119–121, 124, 128–129–131, 134, 137–138, 140–143, 144 Clifford Constitution of Nigeria (1922) 20 cocoa  39, 69, 91, 160, 161 coffee  91, 160, 161 the Cold War  50, 81, 181, 187, 190 Cole, Teju  27, 137, 139, 149, 156, 173, 180, 188 the colonial school  45, 55

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Index

colonialism (and neocolonialism)  1–7, 9, 11–20, 23, 26, 29, 30, 32, 33–35, 37–38, 40, 42–46, 50–52, 54–58, 59, 60–61, 63, 68, 70–76, 80–82, 84, 88–90, 92, 93–94, 95, 97, 98, 101–105, 107, 109, 113, 118, 124–128, 130–133, 140, 149, 157–158, 162–164, 174, 180, 182, 187, 192 Colonialism in Question: Theory, Knowledge History 191 Committee of African Organisations  48 The (British) Commonwealth  20, 156, 157 Commonwealth Relations Office  24, 77 La Communauté française  16, 18, 81, 156, 157 communications technology  139, 141, 151, 167, 180, 189 Conference of Independent Governments of Africa  67 Conseil d’Entente  89 The Constant Gardener 143 Convention People’s Party (CPP) (Ghana) 66 Cooper, Frederick  15, 18, 20, 26, 105, 112, 113, 127, 140, 173, 179, 191–192 cosmopolitanism  3, 22, 27, 37, 137–141, 143, 146, 148, 149 Côte d’Ivoire  13, 17, 18, 67, 89, 91, 121 Abidjan  90, 91 cotton 39 the countryside (see also the rural)  7, 62, 87, 89, 91, 92, 138, 152 Dahomey (see also Benin)  17, 19, 111, 112 Damarosch, David  178 decolonisation  13, 52, 55, 67, 80, 81, 82, 84, 110 DeLoughrey, Elizabeth  11 development(alism)  1, 9, 14–15, 17–18, 20, 30–31, 34, 38, 44–49, 55, 60, 62, 63, 64, 65, 68, 70–72, 74, 76, 77, 78–79, 83, 87, 90, 95, 101, 103–106, 111, 113–114, 116–119, 122, 128–129,

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209

133, 138, 141–142, 145, 152–154, 158, 161–162, 166, 171, 179, 181, 185–186, 187, 188, 191–192 Diallo, Bakary  22 Diallobé aristocracy (Senegal)  51–56, 97, 164 digital technologies  189, 190–191 The Dilemma of a Ghost 110 Diome, Fatou  27, 139, 149, 168, 170, 173, 180, 189 Diori, Hamani  157 divestment  9, 14, 117, 122, 124, 139, 149 Eagleton, Terry  24 Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)  149 Efuru  110 Ekwensi, Cyprian  26, 29, 37, 40, 43, 57, 60–63, 66, 70, 97, 180 (Queen) Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom 20 Emecheta, Buchi  27, 97, 124, 133, 172 Empire, the National and the Postcolonial 1890–1920 11 L’enfant noir  22 Equiano, Olaudiah  22 Essomba, J.R.  27, 139, 149, 163, 168, 173, 180 Esty, Joshua D.  68 Ethiopia (Addis Ababa)  116, 119 Ethiopia Unbound 22 Eurocentricism 191 Europe  7, 9, 10, 13, 14, 21, 22, 29, 52, 64, 87, 90, 91, 117, 137, 139, 143, 146, 148–150, 161, 170, 171, 184 European Commission (EC)  161 European Union (EU)  146, 160, 170 Every Day is for the Thief  188–189 Eze, Kevin  188 Faber and Faber  30, 35 Fagunwa, D.O.  22 Fall, Aminatta Sow  110 the Family Code  122

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Index

Fanon, Frantz  6, 7, 79, 80, 82, 84, 89, 93, 101, 124 the Farafina Trust  190 Federation of Mali  19, 80, 89 feminisation  27, 99 feminism  98, 110, 132 Ferguson, James  178, 182, 185, 191–192 financialisation  122, 138, 141, 142, 181 Fonds d’aide et de cooperation (FAC)  83 football  88, 168–169 Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)  141 Foreign Gods Inc.  27, 139, 149, 150–156, 162, 174, 180 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) 187 Foucault, Michel  1 France (and its Empire)  3, 12–19, 22, 23, 25, 26, 45, 46, 47–48, 49, 50, 51, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 67, 75, 80–83, 89, 101, 104, 113, 137, 140, 150, 156–161, 163–165, 167–170, 171, 172 Paris  16, 29, 42, 52, 55, 56, 85, 142, 157, 158–159, 162–164, 168, 170, 174 Saint-Tropez 150 Strasbourg  167, 174 Toulouse 162–163 Francophone (literature/ interests)  6, 18, 23, 25, 43, 79–80, 89, 90, 91, 93, 110, 117, 156, 163, 165 La Francophonie  16, 156–159, 163, 165 Franklin, M.I.  190–191 French Constitution of 1946  50 French Equatorial Africa (AEF) (see also Afrique-Équatoriale française)  13, 16, 18, 19, 48, 113 French Federation of West Africa (1895–1960)  12, 81 French National Assembly  24 French Union (see also the Union française)  50, 81 French West Africa (AOF) (see also Afrique-Occidentale française)  12, 13, 16, 18, 19, 25, 43, 47, 48, 51, 81, 83, 89, 112, 113

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Commune of Dakar  12 Commune of Gorée  12 Commune of Rufisque  12 Commune of Saint-Louis  12 Friedman, Thomas  139 Fulani 20 Gabon 12 Gambia  13, 121 De Gaulle, Charles  18 gendered division of labour  97, 111, 118, 124, 131 gentrification 59 Germany  13, 137, 140, 149, 181 Bavaria 121 Berlin  21, 180 Dresden 137 Ghana  (see also the Gold Coast)  13, 17, 22, 67–70, 72, 76–78, 107, 118, 120, 121, 166, 182 Accra  72, 77, 118, 119, 166 Kumasi  17, 67, 72 Northern Territories  75 Sekondi-Takoradi  66, 68, 71–74, 108 Tema (harbour)  72, 74 Ghosh, Amitav  183 Gikandi, Simon  178 Global North  190 Global South  141, 142, 172 Globalisation  9, 27, 139–140 The Gold Coast (see also Ghana)  13, 17, 66, 69, 72, 74, 75 Goldsmith, A.S.  128 Gowon , Yakubu 147 Gramsci 6 Greater France  15, 16, 18, 19, 50, 57 groundnuts  39, 165, 169–170 Guinea  19, 67, 111, 112, 121 Gulf States  121 Habila, Helon  184 Handley, George  11 Harbours (ports, wharves, docks)  39, 55, 66, 72, 73, 74, 75, 90, 129, 130, 132, 162

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Index

Harvey, David  31, 42, 148 Hausa 20 Haussmann, Baron George-Eugène  85, 142 Heinemann’s African Writers Series  38, 60 Holland  93, 137 hooks, bell  99, 122–123 Houphouët-Boigny  18, 89 housewification  27, 98, 103, 104, 120, 130 Ibo 127 Igbo  20, 102, 124 Igbo Women’s War (1929)  132 Ile, Johwur  184 imperialism (and neo-imperialism)  1, 3, 5, 6, 11, 13–17, 21, 23, 26, 29, 40, 42, 44, 47, 49, 50, 51, 54, 57, 60, 63, 64, 67, 72, 74, 75, 76, 78, 82, 83, 84, 89, 93, 115, 140, 150, 156–159, 163, 165, 172, 173, 185, 187 ‘In My Time’  60 India 180 Indochina 26 industrialisation  59, 60, 62, 65, 84, 85, 87, 105, 106, 138, 187 International Development Association (IDA) 170 international division of labour  27, 59, 97, 98, 101, 118, 124 International Labour Organisation  106 International Monetary Fund (IMF)  27, 139, 145, 160, 166 international monetary system  139 internationalism 113 International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IRBD)  170 Islam  13, 52, 55, 179 Italy (Rome)  93, 119 James, C.L.R.  6 Jameson, Fredric  87–88, 101 Japan 121 The Joys of Motherhood  27, 97, 124, 128–133

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211

Kane, Cheikh Hamidou  26, 29, 43, 52, 56–57, 97, 164, 180 Kanneh, Kadiatu  24 Katz, Cindy  145 Keita, Modibo  81 Kenya  143, 190 Kipfer, Stefan  89 Koranic School  51, 55 Korea 121 Kourouma, Ahmadou  26, 60, 89, 90, 91, 92 Kwani Trust  190 Kwei Armah, Ayi  26, 60, 66, 67, 68, 70, 72, 74–79, 107, 118, 151, 185 land reform  21 Land Use Act (LUA) (Nigeria)  152 The Last King of Scotland  143 The Last of the Empire 87–88 LaTour, Bruno  175 Laye, Camara  22, 109 Lefebvre, Henri  4, 8, 11, 40, 42, 65, 88, 99–100, 126, 150 (King) Leopold II of Belgium  137, 181 Liberia 148 Loi Cadre (1956)  16, 51 Low, Gail  35 Lugard, Lord (Lugardian indirect rule)  57, 128 Lutz, John  68 Luxembourg 93 Mahler, Gustav  146 Mali (see also Soudan)  19, 22, 67, 80, 121, 143 Bamako 121 Manicheanism  7, 51, 88, 92, 124 Marx, Karl  65, 71, 80, 98 Marxism  98, 149 Massey, Doreen  8, 9, 10, 111, 139, 164, 168 materialist/ materialism  3, 6, 11, 25, 29, 37, 39, 41, 42, 52, 108, 109, 121, 155, 164, 168, 176, 184–185, 192 Mbembe, Achille  10, 126

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212

Index

the metropole/metropolitan society  14, 16, 18, 19, 23, 29, 36, 40, 45, 51, 53, 55, 57, 64, 73, 142, 156, 162, 164, 165, 167, 168, 169, 170, 171, 172 middle classes  69, 120, 145 Middle East  181 Mies, Maria  98, 101, 103, 104, 131 migration  3, 27, 38, 59, 62, 69, 127, 137, 140, 147, 148, 149–150, 152, 161, 163–164, 167, 168, 170, 172, 181 Millennium Development Goals  141 Miller, Christopher L.  24 minerals  13, 21, 181–182, 185, 187 Mission terminée  26, 29, 43–46, 57 Moane, Geraldine  101 modernity/modernisation  9, 14, 20, 31, 37–38, 43–44, 47, 54–55, 59, 71, 75–76, 80, 86–87, 103–106, 109, 113, 115–118, 125, 128, 131, 138, 141, 144, 150, 152, 177, 178, 179, 185, 187, 191–192 Morocco 93 Moretti, Franco  178 Moses, Robert  85, 142, 143 Mouvement Africain de Libération Nationale 84 MV Accra (ship)  37 Namibia 181 The Nation Writ Small: African Fictions and Feminisms 1958–1988  97 National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC)  33 National Development Plans (Nigeria) 154 National Rolling Plans (Nigeria)  154 nationalism  59, 83, 87–88, 101, 115 Native Authorities  20 Ndibe, Okey  27, 139, 149, 150, 156, 173, 180 neoliberalism  3, 22, 27, 61, 80, 118, 120, 133, 135, 137–138, 140–141, 143, 146, 148–150, 153, 154, 156, 166, 167, 171, 173, 174, 178, 179, 183, 190 The New Times  91

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New York magazine  150 Niger (Niamey)  17, 121, 156, 157, 182 Nigeria  13, 17, 19, 20, 21, 25, 29, 30, 31, 32, 38, 41, 57, 60–64, 66, 102, 105, 121, 127–128, 130, 132, 137, 140, 142, 144–148, 150, 152–154, 160, 166, 183–184, 190 Asaba 127 Baro 128 Benin 20 Colony of Lagos  19 Eastern Region  20, 33 Ebutte Meta  128 Ibuza District  124, 127, 130, 132 Idda 128 Igboland 103 Ikoyi 128 Isu 127 Kajunda 128 Lagos  20, 31, 33, 36–43, 62, 65, 119, 124–126, 128, 130–132, 151, 174, 188 Mid-West Region  20, 33 Niger Delta  184, 185–186 Nnobi  102–103, 132 Northern Protectorate (of Nigeria)  19 Northern Region  20 Ogboli  124–127, 128, 130 Ogoni 147 Port Harcourt  128, 184 Protectorate and Colony of Nigeria 19 Rivers State  147 Republic of Biafra  21, 66 Southern Protectorate (of Nigeria)  19 Utonki  150, 151–155, 174 Western Region  20, 21, 33, 62, 66 Yorubaland 17 Nigerian-Biafran War (1967–70)  21, 133 Nixon, Rob  11 Nkrumah, Kwame  66, 67, 77, 78 Nnolim, Charles E.  43 Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) 25 North America  13, 64, 117, 146

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Index

Les Nouvelles Editions Africaines (publishers) 110 Noyes, John K.  4, 12 Nwapa, Flora  26, 110 O’Connell, Hugh Charles  74 Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)  186 ‘Of Other Spaces’  1 Ogoni 147 oil  21, 71, 144, 146–147, 160, 162, 181, 182–185, 187 Oil on Water  184–185, 186 Okonkwo, Juliet  38 On the Postcolony 10 Open City  27, 137–139, 140, 142–143, 146–149, 150, 153, 156, 162, 174, 188 L’Organisation internationale de la Francophonie 157 Orientalism  1, 3, 6 Ossito Midiohouan, Guy  158 Oxford Street, Accra: City Life and the Itineraries of Transnationalism  11 Oyono, Ferdinand  109 The Palm-Wine Drinkard  26, 29, 30, 32, 34–37, 43, 57, 97, 179, 180 pan-Africanism  15, 17, 33, 51, 67, 81, 82, 111, 112, 189 Le Paradis du nord  27, 139, 149, 156, 157, 158, 161–165, 174 Paris Commune  24 Park Sorensen, Eli  85–86 People of the City  26, 29, 36–43, 57, 60–62, 64, 65, 66, 80, 97 ‘petro-fictions’ 183 Peuples noirs – Peuples africains 158 polygyny/ polygamy  109, 110, 118, 131, 133 Portugal 181 postcolonial criticism  2 Postcolonial Ecologies: Literatures of the Environment 11 postcolonial studies  1, 3, 10, 11, 25 Postcolonial Tourism  : Literature, Culture and the Environment  11

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213

postcolonial(ism)  2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 22, 25, 27, 29, 51, 61, 67, 68, 69, 70, 75, 97, 101, 107, 108, 111, 120, 135, 139, 140–141, 144, 162, 163, 164, 177, 179, 185 the ‘postcritical’  175, 177 post-imperial 2 post-independence disillusionment  43. 60, 66, 79, 89, 118 privatisation  49, 141–143, 145, 154, 161, 166, 170, 182 The Production of Space 99 Quayson, Ato  2, 11, 64, 84, 129, 151, 166 railways (trains)  39, 40, 42, 44, 49, 54, 61, 63–64, 66, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 127, 128, 130, 187 Rassemblement Démocratique African (Côte d’Ivoire)  89 Rawlings, Jerry John  118 religious fundamentalism  155 reproductive labour  97–99, 103, 105, 106, 107, 119, 120, 124–126, 129, 130 Le Revenant  110 rice 93 Richards Constitution (of Nigeria) (1947) 20 Rimbaud 24 roads (streets/motorways)  31, 36, 37, 39, 40, 42, 44, 46–47, 49, 55, 65, 67, 75, 90, 92, 93, 127, 129, 130, 150–151, 154, 155, 159, 163, 167, 187 Romania 157 Ross, Kristen  24 Rowland Elliot, Wade  35–36 the rural (see also the countryside) 3,7, 23, 30, 34, 36, 37, 38, 44–45, 47, 48, 53–56, 59, 62, 64, 73, 86, 88, 89, 105, 106, 116, 117, 124, 125, 126, 127, 128, 130–131, 152, 154, 155, 161, 165, 167, 171, 184 Russia (Siberia) (see also USSR; Soviet Union)  170, 171, 180 Rwanda 149

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214

Index

Safe House  188 Said, Edward  1, 3, 4, 6 Saint Augustine  146 Saro-Wiwa, Ken  147 school 110–116 Second Republic of Nigeria  144 Sembène, Ousmane (also Ousmane Sembène)  26, 60, 79, 87, 109, 116, 151 Senegal  12, 13, 16, 18, 19, 22, 25, 29, 51, 54, 57, 80, 83, 85–86, 89, 109, 110, 111, 112, 116, 117, 165–172 Casamance 170 Dakar  12, 55, 84–85, 109, 110, 115, 116, 117, 119 Diéko/ Jéko  94 Louga 52 Ngor 118 Niodior  167, 169, 170, 174 Rufisque 117 Sahel region  165 Saint Louis  55 Sangalkam 117 Senegal River Valley  170 Sereen Maida  116 Sine-Saloum region  167, 169 Senghor, Leopold  18, 19, 22, 81, 87, 89, 113, 156, 167 sexual division of labour  3, 101–102, 104 ships 162 Sierra Leone  13, 121 Simmel, Georg  148 Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor 11 Smith, Neil  63, 65, 99, 174 So Long a Letter (see also Une si longue letter)  27, 110, 123 Social and Economic Development Investment Funds (see also FIDES)  45, 50, 54, 83 Socialist Party (Senegal)  89 Soja, Edward W.  2, 8, 10 Les soleils des independances  26, 60, 89, 90, 92, 97, 134 Soudan (see also Mali)  19, 80, 81

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South Africa  180 South America  117 South-South partnerships  187, 188 Soviet Union (see also USSR; Russia) 121 Soyinka, Wole  109 Spain 162 Statute of Cameroon  51 Stratton, Florence  97 structural adjustment  22, 27, 118, 137, 138, 139, 144–146, 160, 161–162, 165, 166, 169, 179, 181 Sudan 188 Sundiata 22 Switzerland (Geneva)  119, 121 taxis 150 Taylor, Charles  148 Taylor, Ian  186–187, 188–189 (French) Territorial Assemblies  16 Teverson, Andrew  2 Thailand  93, 121 Things Fall Apart 22 the Third World  59, 104, 171 Thomas, David  176 timber 161–162 tin 39 Togo  13, 121 the town (township) 7, 32, 34, 49, 61, 69, 73–74, 87, 91, 179 trade unions  76 Tunisia  121, 157 Tutuola, Amos  26, 29, 30, 34–37, 57, 70, 179, 180 Uganda 143 underdevelopment  14, 21, 44, 60, 80, 88, 104, 118, 119, 153–154, 171, 183 Une si longue letter (see also So Long a Letter)  27, 97, 110–118, 122–124, 179 Union of African States  67 Union des populations du Cameroun (UPC)  26, 48–49 Union française  13, 15, 16, 44, 51, 156, 157 (see also the French Union)

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Index

United Nations (UN)  13, 25 UN Trust Territory of Cameroon  13, 25, 44, 51 UN Trust Territory of Togo  13 United States of Africa  18 (United States of) America  6, 10, 13, 14, 22, 93, 110, 121, 142, 143, 146, 147, 149–151, 156, 157, 158, 181, 184, 190 New York  42, 50, 85, 137, 139, 140, 142, 143, 146, 148–149, 150–151, 155, 174, 188 San Francisco  188 South Carolina  93 Upper Volta (see also Burkina Faso) 17, 19, 67 the urban/urbanisation  3, 7, 14, 21, 23, 38, 39, 41, 44, 47, 59, 60–63, 64, 69, 70, 73, 74, 84, 85–86, 88, 105, 106, 131, 142, 143, 154, 161, 167 The Urban Revolution  150 USSR (see also Soviet Union; Russia)  14, 50, 181 Le ventre de l’Atlantique  27, 139, 149, 156, 167, 171–173, 174, 189 the village  39, 47–48, 49, 50, 51, 53, 55, 62, 72, 87, 88, 105, 124–128, 130, 150, 151–153, 154, 155, 172, 179, 184–185 walking  44, 65, 67, 70–71, 79, 86, 108, 140, 148, 150–151, 163

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Wallerstein, Immanuel  104 Wallis, Kate Haines  189–190, 191 Warner, Tobias  115, 122 Warwick Research Collective  176, 178 Wenzel, Jennifer  185–186 the West  10, 24, 35, 78, 87, 143, 171, 188 West African National Conference (1953)  17, 67 Wilder, Gary  15–16, 29 Wolofisation 109 working class  39, 46–47, 69–71, 73–74, 93–94, 185 Workshop on Urbanization (1966) 116 World Bank  139, 160, 161, 166, 183 world literature(s)  177–178 World War I  13, 15, 48 World War II  12, 13, 14, 15, 23, 24, 25, 44, 45, 59, 62, 64, 72, 75, 89, 100, 101, 132, 137, 139, 156 Xala  26, 60, 79, 80, 83, 84, 85–89, 92–95, 107, 108, 116 xenophobia  81, 163 Yale University  178 Yoruba  20, 21, 22, 140 Zambia (Lusaka)  119, 121 Zemin, Jjang  187 Zimbabwe  121, 188

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Lydie E. Moudileno, Marion Frances Chevalier Professor of French and Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity, University of Southern California

Madhu Krishnan is a Senior Lecturer in 20th/21st Century Postcolonial Writing in the Department of English at the University of Bristol. She is author of Contemporary African Literature in English: Global Locations, Postcolonial Identifications (2014) and Contingent Canons: African Literature and the Politics of Location (2018)

‘Madhu Krishnan’s Writing Spatiality is that rare book which appears once every so often. It leavens a superlative synthesis of material on spatial theory with insights from postcolonial studies then uses these to undertake superbly astute readings of Anglophone and Francophone West African literature from the 1950s to present times. The book is going to have a real impact well beyond African literature, on postcolonial studies and spatial theory more generally. A really terrific offering.’ Ato Quayson, Professor of English, New York University

WRITING SPATIALITY IN WEST AFRICA 

‘Elegantly written, intellectually engaging and innovative, this study uses an outstanding range of archival material and aesthetic projects to revisit the articulation of space and narrative in Anglophone and Francophone fiction. The result is a compelling case for the continued pertinence of spatiality and, in general, of geocritical approaches to African literature, from the “classical” 1950s novels to today’s digital age.’

Madhu Krishnan

Series Editors Stephanie Newell & Ranka Primorac

From the ‘imaginative geographies’ of conquest identified by Edward Said to the very real and material institution of territorial borders, regions and geographical amalgamations, the control, administration and integration of space are known to have played a central and essential role in the creation of contemporary ‘Africa’. Space continues to be a site of conflict, from separatist struggles to the distribution of resources to the continued absorption of African territories into the uneven geographies of global capitalism. In this book, Madhu Krishnan examines the ways in which the anxieties and conflicts engendered by these phenomena are registered in a broad set of literary texts from British and French West Africa. By placing these novels in dialogue with a range of archival material such as territorial planning documents, legislative papers, records of liberation movements and development projects, this book reveals the submerged articulations between spatial planning and literary expression, generating new readings of canonical West African texts as well as analyses of otherwise under-researched material.

WRITING SPATIALITY IN WEST AFRICA Colonial Legacies in the Anglophone/Francophone Novel Madhu Krishnan

www.jamescurrey.com

Writing Spatiality jkt aw press01.indd 1

Jacket front: Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, 1958. FR ANOM 30Fi49/19. © ANOM

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