Studying literature demands a lot of effort and determination in terms of reading. But, once one nurtures the desire to read, a culture of reading automatically emerges and studying literature subsequently transmutes into an addictive but positive besotted habit. The packages attached to studying literature include access to the world through the word, exposure to other cultures in addition to our own, literally transcending into people’s minds and physical locations, as well as entertainment. So, more literature at undergraduate level at institutions like our University of Namibia creates a fundamental foundation on which the beginning of the understanding of life can be drawn.
Literature is exceptional in endless ways in which human beings interact with each other. The approach to access the ways is linked to the self-push in nurturing the desire to read and having passion in matters that are related to everyday social life. Literature appeals to people’s souls and emotions. It deals with people’s pains, sufferings, as well as pleasures.
The life we live today is reflected in literary works and so is the history of our fore-parents. For instance in the novel The Other Presence, society is reminded about some of the scientific African ways of preserving food. Nyathi, for example, writes about the way meat can possibly be preserved and last longer by stating “…today what hung there was not clothes but meat that was cut into long strings. It was salted and dried so that it could be preserved and used during the mourning ritual.”
In The purple violet of Oshaantu, Neshani Andreas addresses the issue of domestic violence in the form of particularly spousal abuse. The relationship of the characters Kauna and Shange is a microcosm of what is really happening in the entire world, for spousal abuse has a universal definition regardless of geographical location, colour or class.
Chinua Achebe’s sequel; Arrow of God, Things Fall Apart and No Longer at Ease, show the historical transition in Africa. Arrow of God is about that time in Africa before colonialism. Things Fall Apart is about the advent of colonialism and how things started falling apart in Africa. No Longer at Ease focuses on the effects of colonialism on African culture and tradition, noted through the characters Isaac Okonkwo and his son Obi Okonkwo.
The benefits of studying literature are those of the imagination and they are very effective. Most works of literature focus on abstract problems and controversial issues affecting society. Exposure to such literature may stimulate students to reflect logically and critically about society, race, gender, culture and injustice.
I do encourage students to study literature with passion as a tool for conscientisation which is relatively attractive and relevant to life. Literature is all about us humans and studying it entails studying ourselves and all that surrounds us. Literature makes us understand and appreciate life. Literature absolutely provides meaning to life.