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Instead of prosperity, Congo’s mineral wealth has brought only an endless procession of unscrupulous rulers eager to exploit its riches, from King Leopold II of Belgium to Mobutu Sese Seko, who was allowed by the logic of the cold war to rule the same area as a private fief. And last year, the current president, Joseph Kabila, who inherited the job from his assassinated father more than a decade ago, awarded himself another five-year term in elections that were criticized by everyone from the European Union to the country’s Roman Catholic bishops. If some enterprises, public or private, can be said to be “too big to fail,” Congo is the reverse: it is too big to succeed. It is an artificial entity whose constituent parts share the misfortune of having been seized by the explorer Henry Morton Stanley in the name of a rapacious 19th-century Belgian monarch. From the moment Congo was given independence in 1960, it was being torn apart by centrifugal forces, beginning with separatism in the mineral-rich southern province of Katanga.

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In all of these essays and more, we can readily discern a tentative, but increasingly confident approach towards a definitive statement concerning what Dr. Madubuike was clearly beginning to be convinced was an inevitable linkage between a normative species of African Literature which derived from an authentic elucidation of African cultural values, and the inevitable obligation to fight, through it, for, and promote 'African development'. Now, 'African development', in this context, was not to be construed merely as just a socio-economic term. It is in fact an omnibus term. It implied the cultural and psychological struggle for self-identification in reaction against silly European notions of the non-identity, if you like, of the African person. It implied the political obligation of the African writer, and the critic of his writings, to deploy their talents in support of the struggle to liberate all Africans from their colonial masters. And it also implicated a clear duty, both on the part of the creative writer and of the literary critic of his offerings, to come up with a canonical definition of the Africanness in African literature.

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