Special issue call for papers: 42(1)2025 – deadline 30 June 2024


EAR: English Academy Review

Special issue call for papers: 42(1)2025

Contemporary African Children's Literature and Performance

African children's literature—a body of aesthetic writing or performances embodying the African child’s experiences and targeting children readers or viewers—has come a long way. Before colonialism, it was mainly in the form of folktales and performances enjoyed under moonlit evenings. When colonialism facilitated the introduction of written children’s literature in English which conveyed the culture and worldview of Great Britain, it did so rather as a transfer of a literary product to a reading Other than a transplant of a foreign literature into a local one. Such texts as Snow White, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland and many others made the reading list of colonial schools. The next phase, with African writers at its vanguard, challenged Western children’s literature. It took different generic forms—from the incorporation of folktales and other indigenous rhetorical/verbal arts to the depiction of (non-)school youth adventures. Cyprian Ekwensi’s An African Night's Entertainment (Nigeria, 1962); Kola Onadipe’s Sugar Girl (Nigeria, 1964); Onuora Nzekwu and Michael Crowder’s Eze Goes to School (Nigeria, 1966); Muriel Feelings’s Moja Means One: Swahili Counting Book (Kenya, 1971); K.O. Kwyertwie’s Ashanti Heroes (Ghana, 1964); Cyprian Ekwensi’s The Great Elephant (Nigeria, 1970); Anokye Wiredu’s Nii Ayi Bontey (Ghana, 1972), Kwarteng’s My Sword , My Life (Ghana, 1972); Ruth Mwang’i’s Kikuyu Folktales (Kenya, 1976); and B. M. Lusweti’s The Hyena and the Rock (Kenya, 1984) are in this category.

Although Western texts are still read alongside African ones in teaching children in Africa, a discourse shift informing the current phase has occurred since the 1990s, a period marked by the rapid spread of the internet and other historical contexts. The children’s literature of this era lays less emphasis on perceived poor or non-representation of African subjects in colonial literature; neither does it contest the limitations of the African children’s literary depictions of the previous phase. Rather, it announces its presence by enunciating its own peculiarities, namely, the presentation of child characters accustomed to (post)modern environments, the display of urban child subjects, limited inclusion of folkloric texts, less inclination for representing the fantastic, foregrounding of modern folkways, the embedding of narrators versed in indigenous African languages, employment of modern vices, relaying of vivid description of sexual scenes/images, transition from big publishing houses to self-publishing outlets—with the attendant negative/positive consequences for the finished product—, the rise of online children’s stories (where mummy’s smartphones and iPads remain the viewing window for children, an indication that these stories/comedies are accessible to children from mostly middle class families), emplotment of indigenous figures/symbols, and so on. In extreme cases, these new textual protocols heighten the evincing of such imprints as the transmutations in character-representation, globalization, the internet and the new social order, and many more. Also emerging in this era is performative literature: mediatized animated comedic performances such as Tegwolo episodes (Nigeria), and performances featuring children: Emmanuella (of Mark Angel comedy in Nigeria), TT Comedian, Bridget Bema, Stacie Waweru (Kenya), and the kids of Kofi Gari TV (Ghana), amongst others. All these performances are accessed via YouTube. The above indicates that a new construction of childhood in African children’s literature has begun to emerge.


The Editors of the English Academy Review believe exploring this urgent area of scholarship is long overdue; the journal will thus devote volume 42, issue 1, to be published in May 2025, to these contemporary phenomena. The following themes are suggested:

Theorizing contemporary African children’s literature

Modern settings and impact on child characterisation

The world through the child’s eyes

Children’s response to disciplinary figures and school environments

Values, virtues and contemporary children’s literature

The performative literature and mediatization

Animation of children’s comedic performances

Comedies, the child character, and growing up

Contemporary children’s literature and urban subjects

Social constructs, youth, crime and punishment

Limits, limitations and labels for/of folkloric structures

Children’s literature and popular culture.

Comedies and the foregrounding of modern folkways

Children's literature in myth texts/images: from Africa to Africa

Children's literature: myths in transition 

Children's literature and Africa: The Bridges of Rainbows and the otherworldly places

Children's literature in Africa and adaptation: A Walk in the Clouds

Children's literature, multimediality and multimodality

Empirical data on reception of children’s stories by children/teenagers

Plot, characterization and modern vices,

Dealing with the forbidden: baring, ellipsis and cut outs

Transmutations in character-representation

Graphic books, cartoons, and comic strips, and their cinematic adaptation and manipulation

Histo-cultural climates and change in character

Children’s literature and the role of  African languages

Globalization, child psychology, the internet, and social order

Publishing houses: self-publishing and impacts on contemporary children’s literature

Contemporary children’s poetry and national values

Modes, models and the pedagogical mandate

Quest and adventure in children’s literature: 1990-2023.

Palimpsets, styles and techniques

Previous and contemporary children’s literature: a comparison

Adolescent love and punishment

Consciousness, the supernatural and the fate of the child

Translation:  ancestral myths, oral traditions, storytelling, cultural interpretation (global and local)

Verbal and pictorial representation and imagery and children’s literature.  

Child trickster figures and urban predicaments

Narrative techniques, genres and styles

Humour and children's literature

Canonizing children’s literature

Marketing children’s stories texts, audio-visual formats, etc (e.g. book suppliers, government policy makers/ministries, teachers, school owners, publishers)

The caricature of teacher’s idiosyncrasies

Narratological parameters and the contemporary children’s literary form

Indigenous language, figures and symbols

Time, cognition and the child’s prism

Dramatic elements in child performances

Stepdad/mum figure and the academic success of the child/future success/failure

Producing children’s stories (e.g. oral storytellers, illustrators, translators, publishers)

Punctuality, preparedness, examinations

Hard work and reward

Humour, mischief and the class teacher

Delinquency and peer pressure

Definitive mistake, destiny and the child

This English Academy Review special issue therefore seeks article contributions focusing on the above thematic scopes (and others not listed) which border on the peculiar changes that African children's literature has encountered in the last three decades and the unique discursive paradigms this has given rise to across genres and modes. First, abstracts of not more than 200 words on studies proposing to deploy interdisciplinary perspectives and approaches should reach the special issue editors at the email address ignatiusc@fuwukari.edu.ng on or before 30 June, 2024. Notification of acceptance of abstracts will reach contributors immediately. Next, manuscripts developed from approved abstracts, centring on any aspect of contemporary children’s literature and not exceeding 5 000 words conforming to the journal’s Instructions to Authors (https://unisapressjournals.co.za/index.php/EAR/about/submissions) should be uploaded to the journal’s peer-review system at https://unisapressjournals.co.za/index.php/EAR/about/submissions  by 15 August, 2024. All manuscripts will receive reviewers’ comments and editorial decisions by 30 November, 2024.


Articles submitted should be the authors’ original work and not be under consideration in any other journal at the time of submission. Consideration will be given to articles that not only adopt a clear theoretical lens but produce fresh and compelling new readings of data, while establishing a persuasive sense of what is at stake in doing so.