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Updated Up To 23/01/2018
Volume 2, Number 2 (June 2004) : 161-74
Language and Landscape
Conflict in Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah
Paoi Hwang
Rubric A: Literature and the Ideas of Space


The paper explores the relationship between a language and its environment. It focuses on Chinua Achebe’s experimentation with English as a suitable language for depicting the African landscape in Anthills of the Savannah. Since landscape was an imperial fascination, it was inevitable that with the expansion of the British Empire the English pictorial rhetoric would be exported to the colonies. This export brought out visual and psychological disparities between the changeable African landscape and the invariably picturesque English language. The conventions of picturesque description encoded in the language were imposed on the landscape, implicitly affirming and naturalizing the values of the colonialist, but failing to do justice to a genuinely African world-view. Achebe believes that despite its colonial bias English can still be a useful tool for African writers to capture and promote their ancestral heritage; nonetheless he questions whether it can lose enough of its own cultural past to be made suitable for an African discourse.

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