Baker C & Grayson H (2018) Introduction: Fictions of African Dictatorship. In: Baker C & Grayson H (eds.) Fictions of African Dictatorship: Cultural Representations of Postcolonial Power. Race and Resistance Across Borders in the Long Twentieth Century, 4. Berlin: Peter Lang International Academic Publishers, pp. 1-10. https://doi.org/10.3726/b11381
First paragraph: Since the rise to power of autocratic leaders across Africa in the early years of independence, artists, filmmakers, novelists, poets, photographers and song-writers have been preoccupied with the compelling figure of the dictator, placing him at centre stage in their work. Their concern with the question of dictatorship requires little speculation, for African dictators and their regimes have defined the postcolonial period in Africa. Within a decade of independence, nearly all African states had evolved into dictatorships or single-party regimes, and the consequences of their autocratic regimes are still felt across the African continent today. Christopher Miller points to the irony that, having demanded nationhood, Africans found themselves subject to nationalism of quite a different sort: ‘The arbitrary borders between African states, which had been ignored or critiqued […] by the theory of Pan-African nationalism, were reasserted as the armatures of a more familiar state nationalism at the service of new elites’. However, in his study of writing and authority in Latin American literature, Roberto González Echevarría reminds us that ‘It is not simply a matter of arguing that, since there have been and still are dictators […] literature ought to reflect that fact’. Instead, he contends, power and rhetoric are bound up and cannot exist independently of one another.
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