A Structural Grammar of the Early Ghanaian Novel: Towards a Poetics of the Colonial Story


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships


Department of English


Ghana has had a long tradition of literary writing dating from the inception of formal colonisation in the nineteenth century. Commencing with A. Native’s Marita (1886), the early Ghanaian novel was born bearing the burden of colonisation. In spite of its multiplicity of forms and concerns – the angst of acculturation, geographical displacement, political and economic disempowerment, and agony of dealing with the English language – we suspect that at the deep structural level, the level of story, all early Ghanaian novels are organised according to the same set of functions, representing a fixed structural pattern. Our hypothesis is that all the early Ghanaian novelists tell the same story: one great story. It is our objective in this study to abstract the unconscious but permanent structural paradigms of the early Ghanaian novel, and interpret their psychological, social, political and economic implications, especially with regard to the authors’ attitude to colonialism.