The theme of human rights in selected post-independence Kenyan literary texts
This study sets out to analyse the theme of human rights in post-independence Kenyan literature. It examines the form and content of five Kenyan novels: Meja Mwangi’s Kill Me Quick, Kinyanjui Kombani’s The Last Villains of Molo, Oludhe Macgoye’s Coming to Birth, Wahome Mutahi’s Three Days on the Cross, and Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s Petals of Blood. The study is motivated by a paucity of critical works relating to the issues of human rights in Kenyan literature, yet this perspective which involves examining the theme of human rights is crucial to deepening the understanding of Kenyan literature. The study aims at demonstrating that the writers’ backgrounds influence their presentation of the theme of human rights, analysing issues of human rights in the novels, and showing how the novels explore these issues. It is assumed that the writers’ background influence their presentation of the theme of human rights, that analysis of the novels best brings out the issues of human rights presented in them, and that such presentation is done artistically. The study has used library research as the dominant methodology but it has also been enriched by information from one writer, Kinyanjui Kombani, who was interviewed. It relies on the close textual reading of the five novels and adopts two approaches to literary criticism: biographical theory and formalism which focus on biographical information of the novelists and formal elements of the novels respectively. The study, deriving its conclusions exclusively from the novelists and their novels under study, finds out that the Kenyan novelists are concerned with issues of human rights. Aspects of the novel – story, plot, character, point of view, and style – contribute to the presentation of the theme of human rights in the novels.
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