Anglophone African Autobiographies on National Liberation Struggles and the Memories of Colonial Experience


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships


Department of English


The autobiographical form of literature in Africa serves as a useful medium for re-creating memories of African past towards explaining the postcolonial reality. However, little attention has been given to the autobiographies of participants in African liberation struggles. This study investigates the strategies by which nationalist autobiographers vividly capture colonial domination and its effects on African societies. Nine autobiographies by leaders of liberation struggles, including Nkrumah’s, Odinga’s and Mandela’s, which portray the oppression and abuses of colonial rule and African responses to them, are read critically and analysed. Through ‘eye-witness’ narrative device, the texts portray concrete illustrations of European appropriation of African resources and acts of provocation, racism, segregation and abuse of human rights to show the negative effects of colonialism on African societies. This study will highlight nationalist autobiographies as a powerful tool for re-memorialising the experiences and the adverse effects of colonialism on African societies.