The Journeying Motif In The Fiction Of Ayi Kwei Armah
In their depiction of the social, political and economic realities of the continent, the majority of Africa's writers tend to follow a chronological order of those events that have gone into making Africa's history, Chinua Achebes works,for in stance move from a potrayal of traditional African society in Things Fall Apart to the era of nationalism in No Longer at Ease finally the depiction of post-independent Africa in A Man Of The People and Anthills of the Savannah. The writings of Ayi Kwei Armah defy this tradition. If for nothing else, they are unique for the way in which the writer abuses the tradition of following the Gregorian calendar to discuss the events and periods that make up African history. Thus we find that Armahs first novel The Beutiful Ones Are Not Yet Born is set in post-independent Ghana. Two Thousand Seasons which is Armahs fourth novel takes a large sweep from the unrecorded history of Africa through traditional African societies, slavery, colonialism and finally to neo-colonial Africa. Armahs latest work, The Healers, is set in traditional African society, highlighting the fall of the Ashanti empire in the nineteenth century, It is in this way that Armah, the writer, feels free to transverse the canvas of Africa's past, backward and forward. This is where the idea of Armahs journeys comes from. The fact that they are repeated severally, both within and across the texts, raises them to the level of a motif: a symbol that draws attention to itself primarily because of its dominance. The motif is made even more significant because it stands for something other than itself. In this sense we analyze Armahs journeys as commentaries on social situations. Indeed, Armahs journeys back and forth across African societies help him to create a moral picture of present-day society. At the same time, these journeys allow the writer to seek [or reasons and solutions in the past as much as in the present. This narrative technique results in the creation of myths which are made tenable in the past and relevant to the present and future. The myths then have a seeming universality, they transcend the geographical and ethnic boundaries that currently divide the continent. This universality also relates to time, for myths can be seen to hold true in the past, the present and the future. Armahs seeming recourse to the past helps him to merge time and so to abstract it. The overall effect of the myths is the creation of unity. It is a unity between all African states and more importantly, between black people the world over. The general conclusion is that Armah urges the use of indigenous methods in the resolution of current contradictions. Through his myths, Armah has been able to offer the social philosophy of black people and he urges its application to the moral rearmament that African societies need. By so doing, Armah casts aside Western ideology and practice as a means of offering black societies any meaningful social reform. It is important for us to note how Armah leads up to the assertion that only collective action by the people can bring about the total transformation of a people. Thus we observe the disappearance of the lone activist-protagonist who colours Armahs first three works. In his place emerges a core of unite d people dedica ted to social reform. I t is through the concerted efforts of these, characters in Two Thousand Seasons and The Healers that Armah tries to chart a moral course for the continent.