African Literature, although unrecorded, dates back to ancient history. This is a research on the history and related concepts of how their culture began through their writings.
African literature has more recently become more popular specially as it has greatly influenced the American literature. This website presents a general and more popular way of looking at the beginnings, development, influences on the literary works of the people of this culture-rich continent.
As man started to walk the earth, he developed a system of recording down things around him and interpreting them according to how his own perception. This act of documenting may have been the start of the medium which literature uses. Not all written material may be considered literature though. Only those that closely emulate the human experience, emotion and thought are regarded as literature.
Literature may have its roots from the pre-historic period. The hieroglyphs of Egypt, found around 3200 BC to about 400 AD for example, is a system of writing which used symbols, have been used to record some things about what had transpired in history. However, these are not considered literature.
Many of the literary works are handed down by oral tradition. In Africa, the lack of literacy did not make it possible to write literature down. Histories, myths, legends, including stories, dramas, riddles, songs, proverbs and other literary works were handed by mouth from generation to generation to entertain, educate and remind the people about their past, heroic deeds of their people, ancestry and culture.
In African Literature, the earliest records of works have been those that were found in Egypt.
In Africa where Animism had been practiced for a very long time, lyrics, stories and poems, although unrecorded, have been handed down from generation to generation. Some of their stories were of animals that struggled for their freedom. Egypt, being the origin of civilization in the continent, has greatly influenced the culture, religion and literature of Africa.
Asia is the birth place of the civilized world. As Africa is proximally located to Asia, much of the developments spread to the continent. Also, much of the recorded African literature came only after the continent was colonized in the 19th century.
Living conditions and political situations have paved the way for the development of literary works, such as those that were written as reactions to slavery. Colonization has given the continent the medium by which they could put into writing and document their art, culture and situation. Much of those that were written were reactions to racism and the African struggle for freedom and independence.
How the earth was created, the creation of the first man, the trees, the plants and animals – these are some of the things that Asian and African literature depict.