Alternative potraits of power and empowerment in selected African female writers' works
Shigali, Hellen Roselyne
MetadataShow full item record
Western radical feminist critics (Frank 1978, Andrade 1990, Stration 1994) inappropriately applied their separatist strand of feminist ideology to African literature. Their interpretation alienates African female writers from their target audience, but most importantly it silences the unique contribution they make to contemporary global power and empowerment discourse. Both African female writers and critics have contested this interpretation (Emecheta 1986, Ngcobo 1986, Nwapa 1993, D'Almeida 1994, Nnaemeka 1995, Zongo 1996). However, the latter have not interrogated the concept of power and empowerment which underpins western feminism literary criticism. This qualitative library study attempts to fill this gap by interpreting selected African female writers' works using an alternative conceptual framework that defines power and empowerment from an African feminist perspective. The conceptual framework combined with literary stylistics is applied six novels by four African female writers. The thesis is divided into six chapters. Chapter One forms the introduction to the study. Its highlight is the identification and description of alternative framework for interpreting the portraits of power and empowerment in the selected texts. Chapter Two is an analysis of two of Buchi Emecheta's novels: The Slave Girl (1977), and Naira Power (1982). In these texts Emecheta vilifies dominance and elevates positive forms of power. In Chapter Three, we examine Mariama Ba's, So Long a Letter (1980) and Scarlet Song (posthumous 1981). In the two novels the writer interrogates the basic of male supremacy, especially the version espoused by negritude ideology. In Chapter Four we analyse Amma Darko's portrait of conventional indicators of power and empowerment in The Housemaid (1998). Contrary to popular belief, this writer shows that value-free education and property ownership does not necessarily empower women. In Chapter Five we focus on Ama Ata Aidoo's potrait of romantic love in Changes (1991). In this novel Aidoo situates romance in contemporary empowerment discourse. She shows that romance and marriages are not incompatible with empowerment of women. Chapter Six includes a summary of portraits of power and empowerment in the selected novels and recommendations.