African Conflicts: Memory, Trauma and Narrative (Dis)Play in Selected Memoirs

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Journal of Communications, Media & Society
This study participates in the scholarly conversation on the issue of memory and trauma within the research space of the rhetoric of conflicts in Africa. Three memoirs— Ahmad Tejan Kabbah’s Coming Back from the Brink in Sierra Leone (2010); Ismael Beah’s A Long Way Gone: The True Story of a Child Soldier (1998); and Véronique Tadjo’s The shadow of Imana: Travels in the Heart of Rwanda (2002)— serve as primary data for the paper. The theoretical framework guiding the work is Teun van Dijk’s approach to Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), supported by Jonathan Charteris-Black’s theory of “Metaphor and political communication”. The study also employed an interpretive methodological approach that embedded the Aristotelian concepts of pathos, ethos and logos to understand the rhetorical tactics used in the memoirs to communicate various ideologies, representations and meanings of conflicts in Africa. The analysis shows that many of the problems that ignite conflicts in Africa are partly from the continent’s colonial antecedents, and partly from the African leaders themselves, who employ sophisticated narrative manoeuvres for their selfish interest or for the soul of the African rich minerals.
Research Article