Though colonized past and the challenges of the

Though many of the critics have admired
Armah’s narrative style and technique, some other critics seem to be
disapproving his style. Fredrickson (1987) and Wright (1989) criticized him for
his accusation of the prevailing values in the postcolonial society. Some other
critics like Achebe find him too pessimistic. They accuse him of using the
language that is extremely vulgar. Despite several charges, Armah’s cry for
good governance and equality is beyond question. These novels, apart from being
some of the finest literary creations, are representative of Armah’s stand on
contemporary society. These novels carry his strong message to its readers for
struggle and liberation.

Chidi Amuta, a renowned critic,
considers his novels to be historical reconstruction. He believes that these
novels are very appealing in nature which aims at a fight against injustices,
prejudices and atrocities that existed in the society during foreign rule. They
are designed in such a way that they speak of revolutionary changes in social,
economic and political structures using a vulgar language.

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Ogede praised African writers who
composed works tackling the African problems after independence such as Soyinka
in Man of the People (1968) and
Achebe in Things Fall Apart (1958)
but emphasized on Armah’s powerful focus on contemporary Africa’s problems. He
emphasized that Armah is one of the African writers who have spoken to the
hearts of the African people and his works are used as enlightenment and as an
indirect quest for Africans to change for the best.

We
can see the brilliance of his art in theses novels Armah is recognized for
essays and fiction that examine the effects of colonialism on the people of
contemporary Ghana and Africa. His novels explore life in contemporary, urban
Africa; reflect on Africa’s colonized past and the challenges of the
continent’s present and urge a return to traditional African values and culture
as a way to unite the region and propel it forward into a new era. Although his
work is viewed as controversial and provocative in both African and Western
circles, Armah is regarded as an important African writer and intellectual with
a bold vision of Africa’s future.

The
stark picture of Nkrumah’s Ghana in Ayi Kwei Armah’s early novels focuses on
the sterility, corruption, and economic stagnation of an indolent ruling
bourgeois i.e. whose chief task is to protect the investments of the
entrepreneurial European prototype which it caricatures. The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born (1968) depicts a society caught
in a trance of whiteness, where everyone from the government minister to the
lowliest clerk apes European manners and aspires to Western patterns of
middle-class consumerism, privilege, and snobbery. In Fragments (1970), colonial dependency complexes produce a modern
cargo mentality, and in Why Are We So
Blest? (1972), western luxury, class pyramids, and white mistresses have
even infiltrated the fabric of African revolution. Critics often group Armah’s
first three novels together, asserting that they are unified by their symbolic
representations of life in contemporary Africa. The first, The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born, chronicles the story of a
railway clerk during the regime of Kwame Nkrumah. The protagonist, known only
as The Man, acts as a representation of the common man Nkrumah has promised to
represent.

The
novel dramatizes the conflict between hope for change and the betrayal of that
hope by the nation’s leaders and serves as a stinging indictment of the Nkrumah
regime. Fragments (1970) recounts the
story of Baako, who returns to Ghana after studying in New York for five years.
His family expects him to flaunt his Western education to gain prestige and
wealth for the family. Baako, however, rejects what he sees as the corrupt
values of the new Africa and only wishes to live a quiet life. In the end,
Baako becomes so alienated he undergoes a breakdown and ends up in an asylum. Why Are We So Blest? (1972) narrates the
story of Moden Dofu, an African student studying in the United States who
decides to return to Africa after becoming disillusioned with his experience
with Western education. He also brings his white lover Aimee Reitch. The return
to Africa proves disastrous when the conflict between his rejection of Western
values and his involvement with Aimee eventually destroys him. The novel is
complex in structure, abandoning the linear progression of Armah’s previous
works.

Armah’s later novels explore the idea of returning
to traditional African culture as a model for the future. Two Thousand Seasons (1973) covers one thousand years of African
history and approaches epic proportions in its compressed meanings,
descriptions of battles, and use of folk mythology. Armah condemns the Arab
“predators” and European “destroyers” and calls for the
reclamation of Africa’s traditional values.

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