The Concept of African Drama and Its Essay

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THE CONCEPT OF AFRICAN DRAMA AND ITS RESIDUAL, DOMINANT AND EMERGENT FEATURES BY ATE AGERA COLLEGE OF EDUCATION, KATSINA-ALA INTRODUCTION The concept of African drama is one steeped in controversy, with contractions and antagonisms, which have not been clearly spelt out. There is no agreed terrain on what constitutes African literature and therefore on what constitutes African drama. Some of the problems to be encountered in dealing with this concept include defining who the Africans are. Do they include the whites in South African? Or the Arabs in North Africa? Or even the blacks in Europe and America? Is African drama one that is written in African languages? Is it one written about Africa or the African experience? Is it the unwritten performance traditions of the pre-colonial era or the written post-colonial drama? The European philosopher, Hegel instigated the controversy arising today in African drama through his assertion that Africa was a continent without a culture a history or a civilization, making it a moral and historical duty for Europe t force Africa into a history and a civilization. The immediate implication arising here is that without a culture, Africa could have had no drama. What then is the status of the oral and performance traditions that have existed in Africa since creation? CONCEPTS OF AFRICAN DRAMA A group of critics deriving their argument from Hegel argue that fundamentally, what exists in Africa does not qualify as drama because it either has no plot, it has no impersonation, or it is not secular. According to Ruth Finnegan, although certain quasi-dramatic elements exist in these forms, they are another thing entirely if looked at from the modern European psychological and singularly individuated sense of drama. Many of our African brothers subscribe to this racist argument. With Finnegan as a

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