Emmanuel Ngara


Before I go into the subject matter of my paper let me explain that my observations on the portrayal of women in African literature should be seen in relation to three basic assumptions. First, works of art issue from historical conditions and are reflections of particular social condi-tions and relationships. By this I mean that the views of women ex-pressed by male African writers do to some extent correspond to the actual position of women in African society. My second assumption is that there is no literature which is above class interests, by which I mean that the works of a writer reflect the class interests of the author and are likely to reveal the views and preoccupations of his or her class. My third and final assumption is that the writer's level of consciousness and ideological orientation will influence his or her views about class and human relationships. In other words a writer who is highly conscientized and ideologized will perceive the problems of women in society much more acutely than one who is not. The point I am driving at is, first, that the literature discussed in this paper is a literature written by male members of the African intelligentsia who therefore portray male and female relationships in African society from the point of view of male members of that class; and secondly, that each writer's view of women is nevertheless influenced by his level of political consciousness at the time of writing, meaning that we cannot expect to find a completely uniform view of women in all the literature written by male members of the African intellectual elite. Furthermore, many writers have developed in political consciousness, and consequently the views of women expressed in their works have changed over the years.



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