On developing the literary arts in Zambia-with a focus on fiction writing

[notice noticeType=”attention” ]fiction On developing the literary arts in Zambia-with a focus on fiction writing. DEPEDENCY SYNDROME Vs WRITING FOR OURSELVES Having been a teacher of English Language and Literature in English for over twenty years, I cannot help but register much disappointment at the number of ‘foreign books’ that are continually featured on the Zambian syllabus. Well, I would not blame anybody. I too was schooled in these great books: I remember cramming ‘A Wreath for Udomo’ by Peter Abrams, for the final examination, what a lengthy text! This was in addition to the regulars on the syllabus. What can one expect in a country where people are not writing? Actually there is nothing wrong with using text books from other countries, isn’t that what Literature is about- the study of anything artistic and of value but there is everything wrong with not having our own local products being ‘glorified’ in like manner. If the study of literature helps one to learn about other people’s cultures and traditions, then it can be safely said that high school graduates of literature have adequate knowledge about the Ibo culture as ably put by the late Chinua Achebe in ‘Things Fall Apart’, a book that has hardly left the Zambian syllabus for years. There is need to create and develop a Zambian Genre in order to propagate our own ways of life and traditional beliefs for the future generations. Readers and learners alike will grow interest in works that they are familiar with while creating a seedbed of knowledge that they will pass on for generations to come. There is great history, rich culture and warm traditions that Zambia has to share, not just among its citizens but with the rest of the world as well. If we are headed toward a Zambian genre then we can do better than once in while have only two or three books, out of a selected fifteen, written by Zambians. We appreciate the efforts by Dominic Mulaisho (May His Soul Rest in Peace) and Sinyangwe, but there is need for a crop of writers who will compete favorably for space on the literature syllabus. This way we can finally move away from learners being so well vested in the ways of other people and become professors of their own culture, languages and traditions. The school syllabus itself is fertile ground where the literary arts can be developed and a place where with time, a Zambian genre can be harvested. It is a good habit to read widely, for who can ever forget the hilarious ‘Government Inspector’ by Nikolai Gogol and the amazing ‘Animal Farm’ by George Orwell’? However, a nation should identify with its own literary works, and learners and readers alike should pride themselves in what is truly theirs. Despite the challenges, if people are encouraged to write for the national syllabus, imagine what great strides we would make toward a Zambian Genre. Nevertheless, for those who ever embark on this path, remember that quality has been the main ‘enemy’ that has kept most local works off the grid. When we write, let us do so knowing fully well that what we produce should be competitive and palatable for an international audience.[/notice]

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