Year

1997

Degree Name

Master of Arts (Hons.)

Department

Department of English

Abstract

With the rise of nationaism, independence and the quest for a national identity, one phenomenon of postcolonialism has been the emergence of women writers portraying the role of indigenous women in societies where they had so long been denied an authorial voice. The idea for my dissertation arose when reading of the appropriation by seventeenth-century European colonisers of the narratives of indigenous females living in oral cultures, and the systematic silencing of their voices in the annals of textual production for another two hundred years. Using the institution of a traditionally male dominated literary field of production to voice the doubly colonised female. Black African women began to publish novels in European languages in the 1960's. In my dissertation I study some works of three of these authors; Nigeria's Flora Nwapa and Buchi Emecheta, and for contrast French Senegalese, Mariama Ba. Writing within the novel form they explore its various structures in fictionalising their own lives in autobiography, the lives and role of women in society, and the effects of Western colonisation with its humanistic ideas of individual development and progress on their cultures. Clitoridectomy is a metaphor for the surrender of a source of female sexual power in the interests of a mythical male superiority in gender politics. Infanticide is portrayed as a violent rejection of counter colonisation and racial integration and in association with multiple births is a refusal of reproduction and a counter discourse to fecundity as a cultural imperative.

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