Contemporary African Literature and the Politics of Gender by Florence Stratton

By Florence Stratton

The impact of colonialism and race at the improvement of African literature has been the topic of a couple of reviews. The impression of patriarchy and gender, even though, and certainly the contributions of African ladies, have up beforehand been principally missed via the critics. Contemporary African Literature and the Politics of Gender is the 1st broad account of African literature from a feminist perspective.
In this primary radical and interesting paintings Florence Stratton outlines the positive factors of an rising lady culture in African fiction. A bankruptcy is devoted to every to the works of 4 ladies writers: Grace Ogot, plant life Nwapa, Buchi Emecheta and Mariama Ba. furthermore she offers hard new readings of canonical male authors reminiscent of Chinua Achebe, Ngugi wa Thiongo'o and Wole Soyinka. Contemporary African Literature and the Politics of Gender hence presents the 1st actually finished definition of the present literary culture in Africa.

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Thus, for example, she agrees to reject all suitors until the family returns from exile to Umuofia when it will give a much needed boost to her father’s prestige to have a marriageable daughter in his house. Similarly, Ekwefi, who runs away from her first husband so that she can live with Okonkwo, is passive in her response to the beatings she receives from him and even to his attempted murder of her. She is, it would seem, content with her condition as a battered wife. As the Priestess of the Oracle, Agbala, Chielo is the one woman in Umuofia who has power.

In this poetry, the trope functions both formally and thematically to valorize African culture. It also operates to refute colonial representations of Africa. For even though a conventional colonial mode of representation is replicated, a negative image of Africa as savage and treacherous is replaced by a positive one: an image of Africa as warm and sensuous, fruitful and nurturing. The Senghorian vision has, however, been bitterly contested, one of the most serious objections arising from its engagement of western categories of thought.

Countering the myth of the inherent inferiority of the black race—a myth which provided the ideological rationale for European imperialism, Senghorian Negritude celebrates African culture, defining it as the heritage of African values, a pre-colonial African essence as yet uncontaminated by western culture. ‘The chief celebrant’ of this heritage or essence is, as Kofi Awoonor puts it, ‘the Black Woman, the Earth Mother, the anthropomorphic symbol of primal sensuality’ (155). For ‘the Black Woman’ as ‘symbol’, as embodying figure, serves as a generic marker in Negritude poetry, featuring in many of the poems of the period, including, as we have seen, Senghor’s ‘Femme noire’, as well as his ‘Nuit de Sine’, ‘I will pronounce your name’, and ‘Spring song’ and David Diop’s ‘To my mother’ and ‘To a black dancer’.

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