Hybridity in emergent East African poetry: A reading of Susan N. Kiguli and her contemporaries

Evan M Mwangi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


This article draws out the uses of hybridity in East African poetry published in the 1990s, with a focus on the writing of Ugandan poet Susan N. Kiguli and her relation to other emergent writers in the region. I argue that hybridity has become more accentuated in contemporary poetry, whereby poets self-reflexively discuss in their poems the writing and interpretation of poetry in a process that makes the poetic experience a liminal space between artistic creation and literary theorizing. The use of hybridity is varied, and Kiguli exemplifies a critical deployment of the concept in a strategy that redefines it from its usage in metropolitan postcolonial theory. Kiguli and her contemporaries treat cultural contacts not necessarily as alienation or conflict, but as sites of social renewal, in which they reach out to communities beyond the colonizer-colonized divide. They develop the hybridity employed by earlier poets, but depart from the tradition by being more pointed in criticizing precolonial African traditions without accepting assimilation to the West. I argue that their rejection of rigid scripts and techniques, in favor of protean hybrid forms and themes, should be read not as a capitulation to foreignness, but as an articulation of the desire for freedom and democracy - an articulation that earlier poetry may have expressed, but not with such poignancy and force.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-62
Number of pages22
JournalAfrica Today
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Sociology and Political Science


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