Critical Context

Armah’s novels are stages in a self-discovery; Two Thousand Seasons provides answers to questions raised in earlier works. It asserts that “the beautyful ones” (The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born, 1968) not only are already born but also have not totally disappeared during any generation of Africa’s past. The lost people in Fragments (1969) and Why Are We So Blest? (1972) join the generations of fragmented Africans who have blindly traveled the road into the alien “desert.” The “healers” in Armah’s subsequent novel, The Healers (1978), have a local habitation and a name, through a more detailed treatment of motivation, character, and setting.

Armah joins other African writers who protest the hostile incursions of alien cultures and offer what Wole Soyinka calls “social visions” of the future: Ngugi wa Thiong’o (James Ngugi) in pitting indigenous mores against capitalism and Christianity; Camara Laye in forcing the white expatriate to face an African mystique; Sembene Ousmane in distinguishing between African and French modes of thought; and Soyinka himself in patterning his novels according to his local Yoruba conceptions. Among these voices, Armah’s is surely the most vituperative, strident, and uncompromising.