I really enjoyed reading this book on African feminist theory.  The book offer literary criticism on the works of both female and male African feminist authors from Nigeria, Senegal, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Somalia, and Algeria.  In chapters one and two the author of the book, Susan Z. Andrade, articulates her theory about the Nigerian and Senegalese novelists who express in their texts the disillusionment with nationalism and are very critical of the middle class which represent the African bourgeois after colonialism.  Many writers mentioned in the book were influenced by Franz Fanon’s masterpiece, The Wretched of the Earth.  In Fanon’s book he is very critical of the black Africans who after receiving independence became wealthy through corrupt means by taking money from their country even though they had no viable source of income to sustain and improve the living conditions of the poor.  The female writers all expressed their own critiques about how colonialism affected patriarchy.  Also how oppressive patriarchy is towards women and how there is comfort and solidarity when women work together as a collective.  Through their novels, African female writers expressed the challenges the traditional verses the modern woman faces while living in a man’s world.  Some feminists see the African woman as an allegory for the nation while a few reject such claims.  None of the female writers saw female sexuallity as a means of self-discovery.   Some women writers wrote about the problem of living under Islamic tradition which practices polygamy verses being involved in a monogamous relationship.  The Zimbabwe writer, Tsisi Dangarembga writes in her novel Nervous Conditions about the lives of two black Zimbabwe girl’s comming of age story when Zimbabwe was still called Rhodesa.  They are cousins, Tambu lives with her aunt and uncle and their daughter Nyasha.  The aunt and uncle are both well educated and enjoy the life of the middle class.  The girls go to Sacred Heart school.  Tambu has a hunger for knowledge and conforms to her uncles rules.  Nyasha is rebellious and challenges her father’s authority one time too often and is first verbally warned then slapped and when she hits her father she is beaten.  After that incident Nyasha exhibits poor eating habits and bad nerves.  She eventually suffers from anorexia and bulimia which are Western teenage illnesses.  Dangaremba associates through Nyasha and her father the act of not eating with colonialism,sexuality, and patriarchial violence.  But Nyasha doesn’t blame her father, she blames colonialism.  The Senegelese feminist writer, Mariama Ba, in her novel, Une si longue lettre, writes about pologamy.  Her story is about romantic love and betrayl through a second marraige.  The protaganist, Ramatoulaye, falls in love with a young and handsome man named Modou and marries him against her parents wishes.  The two are madly in love but years later Modou takes a second wife and Ramatoulaye feels betrayed not only because he married again but because he is now cold towards his first wife and stops providing for Ramatoulaye and their children financially.  Instead he spends his money on his second wife.  Fortunately, for Ramatoulaye, she works and is able to provide for her children.  Despite the fact that Ramatoulaye is unhappy in her marraige to Modou she is well educated and once Modou abandons her again, this time through death she is proposed to by the older gentleman that her parents wanted her to marry years ago when she was eighteen.  She refuses to marry him even though she knows that he loves her.  In the feminist novels written by African women their is always a journey of self discovery.  The women writers reject the traditional views regarding marraige and sexuality and instead are looking for their own resourses which involve women working together not as rivals.  There is the relationship between family and the nation that is explored by these feminist female writers.  Economic independence is also another important factor.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s