nl en

Introduction to African Literature & Arts


Admission requirements

Compulsory for BA African Studies. Those from other BA programs may be admitted with prior registration (please contact the course coordinator). MA Literary Studies: Pre-master Literature in Society


This course follows literary trajectories across the continent spanning from across literary genres (such as epic pomes, praise poetry, novels and short stories) while also including film production. As a departure point it will start off with current debates on the language of African literature, its existence as a discipline (does African literature exist?) and the danger and challenges of a single stereotyped image of Africa, inspired by afropolitanism considerations as it was initiated by Achille Mbembe. The course includes also a series of meetings with contemporary African authors working and living in the Netherlands in order to offer insights on the contemporary Afro-diasporic identity politics and to understand how Afropolitanism is relevant for both the diaspora and for Africa.Postcolonial feminism – which emerged as a response to the Eurocentric focus of feminism – will be also investigated. Among required novels, a preference towards works originally composed in African languages will be privilieged ( i.e. The Perfect Nine or Matigari by Ngugi wa Thiong’o ; Ògbójú Ọdẹ nínú Igbó Irúnmalẹ̀, Forest of a Thousand Daemons, by Daniel Olorunfemi Fagunwa, Doomi Galo by Boubakar Diop) .

Course objectives

  • Comprehend the key genres and debates on African-language literatures;

  • Engage with the African diaspora through active participation with living authors;

  • Analyse african poetry and novels;

  • Draw comparisons between works and films through intertextual critical techniques;

  • Design and write a book review.


The timetables are available through [My Timetable] (

Mode of instruction

Excursion with authors

Assessment method


Take home exam
Oral presentation
Final Exam


Take home-exam 20%
Oral presentation 10%
Final exam 70 %


There is one opportunity for a re-sit of the entire course (100%).

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

The following reading list is indicative. Please consult the syllabus for more detailed information.

Handbooks on African literature
Barber, K. & Furniss, G. (1997). “African-Language Writing.”
Eillen, J. (1992). African novels and the questions of orality.
Finnegan, R. (2012) 1976. Oral Literature in Africa.
Ricard, A. (2004). The Languages and Literatures of Africa.
Schipper, M. , Merolla, D.; Brinkman, I. (2019). Afrikaanse letterkunde : tradities, genres, auteurs en ontwikkelingen, author.
wa Thiong’o, N. (1981). Decolonising the Mind.

Novels and Poetry
Abdalla, A. Sauti ya dhiki (The Voice of Agony).
Achebe, Chinua. Arrow of God. // Things Fall Apart.
Adeyemi, Toni. Children of Blood and Bone.
Adichie, Ngozi A. Americanah. // Half of a Yellow Sun // Purple Hybiscus.
Binyawanga, Wainaina. One day I will write about this place.
Condé, M. Segou.
Daré, A. The Girl with a louding voice.
Diop, B. Murambi. Le livre des ossessments. // Doomi Golo. Hidden notebooks
Djebar, A. Women of Algiers in their apartment.
Evaristo, Bernarndine. Girl, Woman, other.
Fagunwa, D. O. Ògbójú Ọdẹ nínú Igbó Irúnmalẹ̀ (Forest of a Thousand Daemons).
Faraax, M. J. Cawl Aqoondarro waa u Nacab Jacayl (Ignorance is the Enemy of Love).
Farah, N. Links. // Close Sesame // From a crooked rib // Maps etc..
Faye, Gaël. Le petit Pays.
Gurnah, Abdulrazak. Afterlives. // By The Sea // Gravel Heart // Paradise.
Hall, Stuart. The Familiar Stranger: A Life between two islands.
Makumbi, Jennifer. The First Woman. // Kintu // A Girl Is a Body of Water
Mda, Z. Little Suns.
Obioma, Chigozie. An orchestra of minorities.
Owuor, A. Yvonne. The Dragonfly Sea.
Tadjo, V. L’Ombre d’Imana.
Thiong’o, N. wa Matigari, The Perfect Nine
Soyinka, W. A Shuttle in the crypt.
Thiong’o, N. The Perfect Nine.


Enrolment through My Studymap (Login | Universiteit Leiden) is mandatory.

Registration Studeren à la carte en Contractonderwijs

Registration [Studeren à la carte] (


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Reuvensplaats


The meetings with African authors will be organized in the framework of the African writers’talks series, organized in cooperation with AfroBieb, Amsterdam.