What is African Literature? When non-Africans use the expression ‘African Literature’ what they mean is poetry, plays and narratives that are written by Africans in English, French, Portuguese, even Arabic. However, it is noteworthy that African literature also exists in vernacular traditions.
It is not possible to speak or write of African literature as homogeneous or coherent. This is because, Africa is a vast continent that is made up of more than fifty nations and numerous languages and ethnic communities. Each of the ethnic communities has it’s unique literary heritage.
African literature produced in print form is in large volumes. However, oral literature is in larger volumes and goes further back in history. The conversations on African literature include a discussion on both oral and written literature. The understanding of African literature has changed and continues to change with time. Some of the factors that have contributed to the emergence of written African literature include colonization, westernization, modernization and the spread of Islam.