Reawakening the repressed: Postcolonial narrative strategies in Calixthe Beyala's "Tu t'appelleras Tanga", Patrick Chamoiseau's "Texaco", and Rachid Mimouni's "La Malediction"

Date of Completion

January 2000


Literature, Comparative|Literature, Modern|Literature, African|Literature, Caribbean




To awaken the subconscious that had been repressed by colonialism, many postcolonial writers have rewritten their history and reconstructed local culture. Henceforth, they question all power structures forged by history through the tool of language to create a new national identity. Paradoxically, they implement their projects through a forcibly imposed language, that of the former colonizer. These writers, however, reconsider their relation with this language which they now “appropriate” and “rearticulate” to mirror local meanings and repressed desires. ^ The writers whose works I analyze, although from spaces geographically and culturally different, share the French colonial experience. Calixthe Beyala is from Cameroon, which like many West African countries, experienced the passage to independence in the sixties but the political autonomy was a small step in a far more complex process leading to full cultural autonomy. In Algeria, where Mimouni was born, the recent rise in Islamic Fundamentalism following in the wake of a prolonged struggle for independence has made social healing and the move to democracy a dwindling hope. In the Caribbean, where Patrick Chamoiseau has his origins, Haiti has been independent since the early 1800s, but Martinique and Guadeloupe have opted for a status as French “departments.” ^ Beyala brings an original voice to African postcolonial literature, especially that written by women. Not only does she focus on the politics of gender, she is also known for the provocative tone and graphic violence in her writing. Chamoiseau reconstructs the “totality” of the Creole culture in tying together its African, European, and American Indian histories and myths. Mimouni uses allegory, in the postcolonial sense, as a strategy to deconstruct both Islamic Fundamentalism and the militant discourses he perceives as too radical and as betraying the spirit of the revolution that brought Algeria to independence. ^ Analyzing Beyala's Tu t'appelleras Tanga, Chamoiseau's Texaco, and Mimouni's La Malédiction, I found that these texts treat the question of identity as a very complex postmodern problem. Therefore, I will focus particularly on the narrative strategies these authors forge to react to the imperial system of education and to those local traditions which continue to alienate them. ^