Politics of the family in contemporary East and West African women's writing

Ng'umbi, Yunusy Castory (2015-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study explores narratives by African women from East and West Africa. It specifically examines how twenty-first century African women writers from the selected regions represent the institution of family in a way that challenges their older generation writer counterparts and Chikwenye Okonjo Ogunyemi’s theory of black womanism. While accentuating the various ways in which the family trope is revisited in contemporary narratives (using African feminism and post-colonial approaches) the study benefits from the argument that the changes in the institution of the family in contemporary women’s writing should be understood in terms of the socio-cultural, political and economic milieu of these regions, Africa and the global context generally. One of the notable forces behind these changes (apart from colonialism) is the change in gender politics: the understanding of gender roles and responsibilities, as well as social, political and economic instabilities, emigration, refugeeism, and the diaspora. Through a comparative approach, this study shows that contemporary women writers do not disavow history; rather they lean on the shoulders of their literary ‘grandmothers’ and ‘mothers’ to vocalise what is expected of the post-colonial nation. Their narratives appear to suggest a shift in approaching a literary text by emphasizing the importance of family in the making of the geo-political nation. In addition, they subvert traditional ways of looking at the gender dichotomy between men and women by embracing what Chielozona Eze calls a third-wave global feminism (a revisited form of black womanism advocated by Ogunyemi) which challenges patriarchal power at home and opens avenues where men and women compete equally and equitably in socio-cultural, economic and political struggles.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: In hierdie studie word die narratiewe van vroue skryfsters van Oos en Wes Afrika ondersoek. Daar word spesifiek gekyk na hoe vroue skryfsters afkomstig van die gekose gebiede in die een-en-twintigste eeu na die instelling van die gesin kyk en of dit verskil van die siening van die ouer generasie skrywers en van die teorie van Chikwenye Okonjo Ogunyemi oor vrouwees. In die studie word daar gekyk na die verskeie wyses waarop daar in moderne narratiewe na die gesin gekyk word (deur om gebruik te maak van feministiese en postkolonistiese benaderings). Die argument is dat die veranderinge in die instelling van die gesin soos beskryf deur hierdie skryfsters, verstaan moet word in die lig van die sosio-kulturele, politiese en ekonomiese milieus van hierdie gebiede, Afrika en die globale konteks in die algemeen. Een van die hoofredes vir hierdie veranderings (behalwe vir kolonialisme) is die veranderings in gender politiek; the verstaan van gender rolle en verantwoordelikhede asook van sosiale, politieke en ekonomiese onstabiliteit en emigrasie, vlugtelingskap en diaspora. Hierdie is ’n vergelykende benadering waarin daar bewys word dat eietydse skryfsters nie die geskiedenis ontken nie, maar leun op die skouers van hulle letterkundige “ouma’s” en “moeders” om te verduidelik wat van die postkolonistiese nasie verwag word. Dit blyk dat eietydse skryfsters in hulle narratiewe die belangrikheid van die gesin in die bou van die geo-politieke nasie beklemtoon. Hulle verander die tradisionele wyse waarop daar na die gender dichotomie tussen mans en vrouens gekyk word en steun wat Chielozona Eze die derde golf van globale feminisme (’n vorm van swart vrouwees wat deur Ogunyemi beskryf is) noem. Die patriargale mag in die huis word uitgedaag en daar word na wyses gesoek waarop vroue op gelyke voet met mans ops sosio-kulturele, ekonomiese en politieke gebiede kan meeding.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/97893
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