Dialogical Theology as Politics in Mongo Beti, Wewere Liking, and Chinua Achebe

Ashton Nichols


The postcolonial literature of sub-Saharan Africa has produced a powerful critique of Western discourses of domination by offering Francophone and Anglophone readers an analysis of religious discourse and its connection to political power. In such texts, hitherto silenced speakers—the voices of the colonized people—speak loudly through the technique first called dialogism by the Russian formalist M. M. Bakhtin. This essay will frame its analysis with work by two Cameroonian writers, Mongo Beti and Werewere Liking. The Bakhtinian theoretical framework will then expand into a more detailed examination of several novels by Chinua Achebe. My argument will reveal the ways in which religious discourse invariably takes on a political dimension in postcolonial settings. At the same time, the essay will show how African fiction often reveals the tensions inherent in any attempt to unite traditional, Moslem, and Christian ways of thinking. These conflicts most often fail to unify the culture in question, yet the dialogue thus produced can succeed in limited ways by exposing complex interactions between language and human experience.


literature; dialogism; Cameroon; theology; politics; Achebe; Beti; Liking

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