Conflicting Traditions and Layered Meaning

Hilde Arntsen, Lecturer, Department of Media and Communication, University of Oslo

Soyinka comments in Myth, Literature, and the African World on the "mental conditioning" by previous history or colonial culture, and of the "traditional and colonial background of Africa's contemporary reality" (67). While the two traditions of social thought, the Western and the traditional, can be found in the negotiation strategies adopted, no indications are found of such "mental conditioning", interpreted as some kind of subservient attitude. A subservient reading of the text would rather entail a complete submission and ignorance of background, religious and cultural practices, modes of thought etc., in addition to a more overall acceptance of ideas, practices, or systems exposed or introduced from outside the immediate social and cultural context. On the contrary, the respondents use the conflicting traditions to add layers of meaning to their textual reading strategies. Rather, as Soyinka further comments, it seems as if one constantly seeks a world-view to challenge the inherent iniquities of any philosophy which can be associated with the colonial intrusion, or in this case, supposedly Western schools of thought or religion with a cultural significance (Soyinka, 77).


Soyinka, Wole. Myth, Literature, and the African World. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1976.

[From Hilde Antsen, The Battle of the Mind: International New Media Elements of the New Religious Political Right in Zimbabwe. Oslo:University of Oslo, 1997, page 145. Available from Department of Media and Communications [].

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