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Abstract

In his paper "Language in Modern African Drama" Isaiah Ilo proposes alternative criteria for language choice in modern African drama. The two most influential constructs on the language question are Fanon's essentialism that rejects Western languages as instruments of subjugation and Achebe's hybrid approach which entails subversion of the foreign languages by infusing them with African verbal characteristics. The constructs, which emphasise indigenised language and content, stem from the idea that consciousness of the colonial experience should determine language choice and usage in post-colonial African literary creativity. In building a case for a post-indiginist aesthetic, Ilo argues that present reality rather than past experience should influence decision about language choice for modern African drama. The ideal criteria should consist of practical consideration for audience needs, rather than a romantic fixation with the colonial experience that requires from writers rare or inaccessible skills in the use of mother tongue or usage of local lore to indigenise a foreign tongue. In sum, Ilo proposes that, for reasons of communicative exigency and in the spirit of post-modern diversity, every language in use on the continent should be a medium of African playwriting.

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