Postcolonizing the Commonwealth: Studies in Literature and Culture

By Rowland Smith | Go to book overview

13

A Vision of Unity: Brathwaite,
Ngugi, Rushdie and the Quest
for Authenticity

Mac Fenwick

This paper addresses three questions. First, how are writers and intellectuals creating, maintaining or giving voice to authentic, local cultural traditions in the face of rapid globalization? Second, is there a global voice or tradition growing up around us that can authentically claim to encompass these local voices? And third, what is the relationship between local and global forms? As I hope that the form of these questions makes clear, I believe that an understanding of the relationship between local and global can be approached through an exploration of the notion of authenticity itself.

I would like to begin these notes with three rather lengthy quotations on the nature of the relationship between authenticity and the processes of cross-cultural exchange and encounter. The first two concern the search for forms that authentically represent local traditions, and the third speaks to the creation of an authentically global perspective. The first is from Edward Kamau Brathwaite's The Development of Creole Society in Jamaica 1770-1820:

The single most important factor in the development of Jamaican society was . . . a cultural action—material, psychological and spiritual—based upon the stimulus response of individuals within the society to their environment and—as white /black, culturally discrete groups—to each

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