Celebrating Eldred Durosimi Jones and Eustace Palmer: Reading Contemporary Sierra Leonean Literature.
Session type: Panel
Organized by: Abioseh Michael Porter
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Known in the world of letters for their ability not only to undermine the validity of literary abstraction just for its own sake, their encyclopedic knowledge of African and British literatures in these literatures widest contexts, but also for their thorough understanding of intertextual design and connections among literary texts, Eldred Durosimi Jones and Eustace Palmer deserve to be celebrated. Indeed, there are also some other convincing reasons for which these two scholar-writers should be honored: Their pioneering and phenomenal role in bringing literary criticism of African literatures to the world stage and their extraordinary ability to nurture and guide talented young Sierra Leoneans in the development of that country’s literary culture have led to a spectacular development in Sierra Leone’s literary history, i.e. the rise and flourishing of contemporary Sierra Leonean literature as well as the study of that literature.
While saluting the immense literary, creative, and linguistic contributions of the two scholarly giants, we will simultaneously use the opportunity to examine and explain a new phenomenon that seems to be taking place in Sierra Leonean culture. Until very recently, a major difference between the literature of Sierra Leone and its other West African neighbors was the seeming absence of a sustained body of work by Sierra Leonean authors. The end of the twentieth and the early part of the twenty-first centuries seem to have changed all that. The addition, during the past quarter century, of prose fiction such as A Tale of Three Women; Canfira's Travels; and A Hanging Is Announced, by Palmer, So the Path Does Not Die, by Hollist; Redemption Song and Joy Came in the Morning, by Hunter, Moses, Citizen, and Me, by Macauley, The Diamonds, by Conteh, Forna’s Happiness, Ancestor Stones, The Memory of Love, and The Devil That Danced on the Water, “The Bite of the Mango,” by Mariatu Kamara, The forests are no Longer Green, by Tibble Kposowa, Olufemi Terry's short story: “Stickfighting Days,” Allen’s Smoke in the Kitchen, Beah’s A Long Way Gone and Radiance of Tomorrow, Cheney Coker’s Sacred River, among others, suggest quite a flowering of new and important writing by Sierra Leonean writers. Our panel will look at this fine cultural growth and ways in which Jones and Palmer may have contributed at least to an understanding of it.