An exploratory Study of Images of Women in African Non-Vernacular Writing As Portrayed by Selected Contemporary African Authors
Marie Arlene Linton-Umeh
J. Congress Mbata
Thesis DT 3.5 1977 L761
v, 107 leaves; 29 cm.
This investigation was undertaken to illustrate, first, that the stereotyped postures of African women primarily as wives, mothers, and lovers in African creative writing are not realistic portrayals of African women in real life situations; and second to bring about a scholarly of the characterization of African women in contemporary African writing because of the present dearth of such studies.
From the earliest periods in the history of Africa to the present, African women have made impressive strides in African society. Many of them have become most prolific and influential figures because of their outstanding achievements. However, African writers have not presented a totally accurate picture of African women in various aspects of their cultural roles. As a result, this study examines some of the factors responsible for the one-dimensional characterization of African women in African writing and determines whether the images provided by modern African authors in Anglophone and Francophone West African and in East and South Africa are truthful portraits of African women in their immediate communities.
Divided into six chapters, this study explores the image of African women as mother, heroine, victim and professional in selected modern African writing. Chapter one is an overview of celebrated female personalities recorded in African history for their remarkable feats. Before the Europeans' occupation in Africa, African women's place in traditional African society was not merely with their families or in the compound. Unlike the portraitures of African women in the writings, they often ruled nations with unquestionable authority.
Chapter two is an analysis of the different character portrayals of African women as mothers created by African male and female authors: those portraitures by African men are for the most part romanticized, while those by African women are more realistic versions of women in Africa as a whole. In Chapter three, the small representation of heroic female characters in African literature is discussed in relationship to the actual roles African women play in African society.
African female and a few male writers who treat the victimization of African women in traditional society is focused upon in Chapter four. Those conditions which tend to debase rather than elevate the position of African women in their immediate environment are vehemently opposed in African writing. Chapter five is an examination of the stereotyped picture of the professional woman in African writing. In terms of the individual profession African woman participating in nation-building activities, African literary artists strongly suggest that their society is not prepared to allow African women to make their mark in non-domestic realms of power.
The conclusion indicates that the images of African women in selected African writings, are not totally realistic representations of them within their social environment, but instead are idealized depictions of these women. Those works published by male writers are limited by their romanticizing the role of African women in traditional African society. Revolting against the imaginative escapism which characterizes these works created by male writers, African female writers engage in naturalistic portraitures of African women. Not only do they draw female characters introspectively but they also grapple with those concerns which will improve both the status of African men and women in African society.