The study aims at finding out why more students shy away from
Literature in English in the Secondary Schools, using the analysis of
some African novels from different African regions to show how close
Literature is to life and why students should develop interest in it and
The sociological approach to criticism was employed in the analysis
of the prose writings of some selected novelists from four African
regions, namely: Anglophone, Francophone, Eastern and Southern Africa.
The regional peculiarities of these novels was looked at, pointing out
the relationship between them and the socio-cultural background of the
students and how this can positively influence their interest in the
learning of Literature in English.
Apart from taking cognisance of the benefits derivable from the study
of Literature in English, the study began by taking a look at
literature in general; its functions and the implications for the study
of Literature in English and the novel as an aspect of prose literature.
A visit was paid to schools to collect relevant data which was
analyzed appropriately. Conclusions were then drawn and recommendations
Literature is so important in our everyday life, but we all take it
for granted. The ordinary man hardly bothers about finding out the role
of literature in the society or what role it plays in his own personal
life. This complacent attitude is perhaps responsible for the success of
the advocates of technological development in undercutting the values
traditionally attached to literature and other subjects in the arts.
Today, few parents encourage their children to choose literature in
English as a subject. Even government policy does not favour the subject
as it is regarded as a "less useful" subject. Admission quotas in
higher institutions for literary studies have similarly suffered radical
The logical outcome of this kind of attitude is the ultimate removal
of this subject from the school curricula, thereby bringing the
socio-cultural values it propagates into extinction. Though, this
possibility is actually remote, it nonetheless raises some fundamental
questions like: What, for instance, would happen to society should
literature cease to exist? Why in the first place did the traditional
society develop literature to the extent that even today, the modem
society is the rich inheritor of both oral and written forms of
literature? What does literature do for society to make some society so
proud of their literary achievements and so committed to the continued
promotion of their national literature? In other words, what are the
socio-cultural, educational and other functions of literature?
1.2 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
This research project is predicated upon the discovery that many
students shy away from Literature in English, and their ignorance of the
benefits derivable from the subject and its relationship with their
lives has further led to other socio-cultural problems in the society.
A depressingly large number of those who study the subject approach
it with a wrong opinion. They may simply be studying Literature in
English in order to obtain a credit pass as one of their combinations
for higher studies in other disciplines. In other words, Literature in
English to them is a means to an end and not an end in itself.
This kind of view tend to make them think negatively of the subject
as a sort of ordeal involving struggles with baffling texts, endless
learning of quotations, attempts to predict questions and memorize
answers. This mechanical study approach must be reversed and replaced
with something satisfying and challenging.
This is where developing interest m the study of Literature becomes imperative.
1.3 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEMS
The problems which this study seeks to investigate are as follows:
1. The effect of the sociological background of the African Novel on the lives of the students.
2. The cultural background of the African Novels and their relevance to the lives of the students.
3. The thematic preoccupation of the African Novelists as derived from their unique experiences.
4. The stylistic and artistic use of realistic
African aesthetics and embellishment to capture the interest of the
1.4 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
This research project seek to investigate how the African Novels
influence the learning of literature in English in our secondary
schools, through an analysis of some of the works of four major African
Prose writers; each from a different region of the continent, having a
The focus on Anglophone West African will be on Chinua Achebe, The
Central African Novelist; Ferdinand Oyono will represent the Francophone
African region; Ngugi Wa Thiongo will be looked at as a representative
of the East African Zone and the works of Peter Abraham will be reviewed
for the South African region.
Their writings (at least one per Novelist) will be analyzed with a
view to show their sources of inspiration via the varied experience of
the writers, but with similar thematic preoccupations.
1.5 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The project will seek answers to the following questions:
1. What effect does the sociological background in the African Novels have on the students.
2. What is the relevance of the cultural backgrounds in the African Novel to the lives of the students.
3. What are the similarities in the range of themes explored by African Novelists.
4. How realistic and fascinating are the themes of the African Novel to the modern African situation.
5. What style and artistry do these Novelists adopt to
make their writings realistic and capture the interest of the students.
The following null hypotheses will be tested for validity and reliability.
1. There is no significant effect of the sociological background of the Novels on the students.
2. There is no remarkable relevance of the cultural background of the African Novels to the lives of the students.
3. There are no obvious similarities in the range of themes explored by African Novelists.
4. There is no significant relationship between the
themes of the African Novels and real situations in the African context.
5. The styles and other artistic adoptions of the
Novelists have no remarkable influence on the interest of students in
studying literature in English.
1. 7 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study is significant in the sense that, it will diagnose the
importance of the African Novels in the learning of Literature in
English in secondary schools; how it's continuous inclusion in the
curriculum is of paramount importance because of its affinity with
reality and relevance to life, and the probability of making it a
compulsory subject not only for students in the arts but also in the
1.8 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study will only cover the work (s) of four African Prose writers.
And data collection will be restricted to the secondary schools in the
Ikeja Local Government of Lagos State.