Otherness and Marginal Spaces: Beyond Politics and Race in Contemporary African Novels


  • Andrew Nyongesa Kenyatta University
  • Murimi Gaita Kenyatta University
  • Justus Kizito Siboe Makokha Kenyatta University




African literature, Brian Chikwava, marginal spaces, otherness, postcolonialism


Many postcolonial literary scholars associate otherness with the political and racial marginalisation of groups. Indomitable postcolonial voices such as Frantz Fanon and Edward Said take this trajectory, thereby negating other aspects of otherness that come with severe consequences for characters in literary works. Current scholarship on otherness focuses on any placement of groups at the margins without emphasis on the political and racial elements explored by Fanon and Said. Othering is viewed as either the inability to see people who are different as part of one’s community or a failure to see oneself as part of the community. This article extends the second argument that otherness goes further than discrimination against a group as a result of race and political ideology. Using postcolonial theory, the article analyses other aspects of otherness by comparing three primary texts: Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood (1979), Nuruddin Farah’s Close Sesame (1983) and Brian Chikwava’s Harare North (2009). The ideas of Fanon (1961), Rorty (1993) and Powell and Menendian (2016) will form a theoretical basis of interpretation.


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Author Biography

Justus Kizito Siboe Makokha, Kenyatta University

Dr Justus Kizito Makokha is based in the department of Literature, Linguistics and Foreign Languages, Main Campus, Kenyatta University. He is a widely published literary critic and editor of several volumes  on literary criticism. His recent work is  Cultural archives in Kenyan Literature, Culture and Society (2019).



How to Cite

Nyongesa, Andrew, Murimi Gaita, and Justus Kizito Siboe Makokha. 2021. “Otherness and Marginal Spaces: Beyond Politics and Race in Contemporary African Novels”. Imbizo 12 (1):16 pages. https://doi.org/10.25159/2663-6565/7694.



Received 2020-04-25
Accepted 2021-02-01
Published 2021-04-26