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Cannibals in the Postcolony: Sierra Leone's Intersecting Hegemonies in Charlie Haffner's Slave Revolt Drama "Amistad Kata-Kata"

Matthew J. Christensen
Research in African Literatures
Vol. 36, No. 1 (Spring, 2005), pp. 1-19
Published by: Indiana University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3821316
Page Count: 19
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Cannibals in the Postcolony: Sierra Leone's Intersecting Hegemonies in Charlie Haffner's Slave Revolt Drama "Amistad Kata-Kata"
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Abstract

Through an examination of publications by Sierra Leone's president, the United States Information Service, and Sierra Leonean playwright Charlie Haffner, this article explores how the narrative of the 1839 "Amistad" slave revolt emerged in the late 1980s as a key modality through which meanings of Sierra Leonean nationalism and claims to state power were contested. The article argues that in its dialogic engagement with the two governmental texts, Haffner's play "Amistad Kata-Kata" transforms the fear of cannibalism that sparked the slave rebellion into a politically charged trope whereby it couples cannibalism as a name for the excesses carried out by local authorities with cannibalism as a description of the dehumanizing consumption of enslaved African labor within the Atlantic slave system. The trope thus forms a key for translating the slave revolt into a discrediting, disrupting critique of the complex interrelationships between global capitalism and excessive elite accumulation in the postcolony.

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