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Racism, Sexism And Feminism In African Literature

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 2989 words Published: 28th Apr 2017

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Women in Africa have been exploited by the oppression of race, gender, and class. The depiction of the Black women solely as ill-fated and submissive receiver of sexual and racial abuse restrains the notions that Black women can actively participate to change their fate and bring about some changes in their lives. Similarly, presenting women in African solely as heroic figures, who easily restate oppression on all the domestic and social fronts reduce the very real amount of oppression. The feminist thought suggests that there is always choice, and power to act, no matter how gloomy the situation may appear.

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In the Black Liberation Movement the Black women faced endless racism and sexism by black as well as white men. Apparently in the liberation Movement of the black race, Black word was indeed used for the liberation of the black male. The liberation was compared to the manhood and the liberation of blacks was the reclaiming of black masculinity. The notion that racism is to thr larger extend harmful to black men than it is to black women because the greater tragedy of racism is the dispossession of masculinity; this illustrates both an acquiescence of black masculinity explained within the domain of patriarchy and disregard for the human race needed for the liberty felt by both men and women.

Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart is primarily a realistic novel. It is hardly likely to romanticize, sentimentalize or falsify either the pre-colonial experience, or that status of women in the tribal society of Africa. Women in Things Fall Apart are reduced and subjected by their womanly clan activities like marriage, parturition, nurture, domestic work and also field work. Their fate is however, no different from the destiny of other women elsewhere in the world who, too, live in traditional or patriarchal societies. The real power-the power to take decisions affecting the collective life is left solely, in all these societies, in men’s hands.

The very nature of tribal organization in Igbo land, based as it is on a system of moiety and exogamy, thus, ensures that every man in a clan has a fatherland as well as motherland. However, if the motherland is exclusively meant for providing comfort to a maternal nephew when he is in trouble, the same village of mbanta itself also discriminates against women, or rather, against these hapless women who are unfortunate enough to repeatedly give birth to twins, the latter invariably cast out in the forest to die, either of hunger or being devoured by wild animals. Ironically, the first woman in mbanta to convert to Christianity is also called Nnika, or mother is supreme, when her very rights to motherhood are snatched away by her husband’s family owing to now no longer comprehensible, and therefore outmoded, sets of rules which automatically and conventionally come into play whenever a deviation or transgression takes place in the process of daily living at the social level

Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah and Things fall apart, though distinct by country, culture, style and gender, both the novels deal in distinct ways with the question of the restoration of women in postcolonial visions of the past, present and future of Africa. These novels present the strong central female characters who serve as the center of passion and inspiration. Although both the novels are sharply focus in retrace the women’s roles in their society. They also frame their narratives in such a way that they begin to highlight the essential relationship between the postcolonial independence and gender equality. These various doubts in these novels raises amount less inquest regarding purpose, region, and the explanation of postcolonial feminist theory.

Chinua Achebe’s writing is modern and realistic, one approaches to these books with an eye towards contemporary trends in postcolonial theory could be afforded the assumption that they were written with an awareness of this need for a new, more consistent and realistic vision of women in Africa. It is with this knowledge, however, that the disparity of mission within these two novels and, apparently, behind these two novels becomes all the more striking.

Chinua Achebe’s individual role as a writer in the post colonial world of theory is more openly defined, basically because of the amount of time that he has spent in writing. The time period of his work joins the gap between the assertions for dignity of the initial days of freedom and independence to the more difficult and complicated present, fueled by the strength of the earlier Liberation movement. His works were earlier more appreciated with regard to the flaws and assets of the Ibo traditional society which became less than creditable seen in this aura of light: his traditional women are blissful, happy and harmonious members of the society, even if the were again and again barred and beaten in the community decision making process and defame in the sayings and proverbs of the community. The obvious discrimination of the sexes seems to be the matter of slow enjoyment for Achebe.

This serious paradigm burden on Achebe’s thinking began in Anthills of the Savannah in the late eighties, since it works as reflection of his past writing, as a bold attempt to struggle with the charges leveled at him critics. The novel, focus on the entanglements of three old friends with the conduct of imaginary African state called Kangan, deals on a variety of levels, would infer, quite personal with Achebe’s understanding of women’s roles in a postcolonial nation. The novel works specifically well, in fact, when considered as the persistent thought begun in Achebe’s previous work.

In Anthills of the Savannah the politics of Kangan is fundamentally the political history of three Western-educated friends. These three men were condemned for their affirmation on effort to start the function country according to existing patterns. These men were raised to a level above the neglected and suffering community, Beatrice, the woman who raised as the true spirit and heart of the story. Was removed from the networking of the men’s government, she was alone able to see and determine the status of the people of Kangan with an outlook more mechanical towards the practicality of this realism.

In the novel the critical movement is Ikem’s realization about his wrong doings towards women. In the course of the novel, He had elevated his liberal attitude and philosophy towards women, Very frequently Beatrice had blamed him of having “no clear role for women in his political thinking”. The complication arises when he comes to realize in the course of the novel from his discovery of natural sexism within the communities of African culture. He recognize that “there is no universal conglomerate of the oppressed”, Even though there is no Eve fallacy as in Western myth, the women in African society through symbolized to the idea of a” supreme mother”, has vanished, also this working is an attempt to separate women from the matters of domestic and political life.

By recognizing the efforts to improve the status of women in the society, through the majority of postcolonial feminist theory, that universal sisterhood is essentially a dishonestly, each of the African tribal society’s cultures has its own visions of femininity; Ikem comes to a greater understanding about the fate of Africa as well: “society is an extension of the individual’s. The larger amount that we can hope to deal with a problematic individual psyche is to shape it again. That is why Achebe’s, capacity to deal with sexism is his own is not to so remarkable as a Western writer would contribute more like his suits and language for the betterment of women where as this African sexism deserves an African response.

Forcing the people around her to align with the present Beatrice looks for the change in her society, Achebe has seen the fault of his former thinkers, realizing the need for the change for the African women; he tries to claims their place in African society through his writing, if it is ever to heal itself and progress onwards. He appears to cede whatever control over popular opinion he may have been viewed as having through the old man’s words at the end of the novel. Many black men in the movement were interested in controlling black women’s sexuality.

In 1960’s in the course of the Black Liberation Movement, black men have stressed the sexual exploitation of black men rather than the black womanhood as a way to explain their condemnation of their inter-racial relationships. Political views of these inter-racial relationships were at no disapproval. But the terms like “freedom” and “manhood” was the important for men to have rights to oppressed and control woman. Sexism and racism both work at the same criteria. The violence against women was committed, but he this violence was not taken seriously rather than that against men. The truth is that the violence against a white woman was taken more seriously and judicial system also gave these issues more importance. the of the violence and the damage caused both individually and socially is not weaken when committed against a black woman. It must be stressed that it was not only many of the men but also a great number of the women in the Black Liberation Movements who were forced to follow the rigid gender roles on black women. In the same manner the women in dominant society do not stop but encourage sexism, black women fell prey to these prolong patriarchy norms within the black community.

The Black women and the white women were faced with the racism and sexism, black women had only two ways in front of them, either they could continue to stay in the movements and try to educate and inform the non-black or non-female high authority about their needs, or they could form a separate group of their own. While it is true that black men needed to be informed and educated about the effects of racism and sexism and white women about the effects of racism on black women’s lives, it was not solely the responsibility of black women to educate them. This is an old and fundamental way of all oppressors to keep the women oppressed and occupied with the concerns of their respective master’s.

Now the black feminist affirms that it is the task of black women to inform the women and men of west and also make them aware of their existence of black women identity, the modification and the relative roles is because of the joint survival. This is a diversion of force and a pathetic repetition of patriarchal and racial thoughts. In the radiance of these, the women decided to forge their own movement, the Black Feminist Movement.

Tentative chapter division:


The source of knowledge or the agents of knowledge the Black women were overlooked within their communities which became the source of both frustration and creativity at the same time. In an effort to diminish the differences between the cultural scope of Africa communities and the expectations of social and political institutions, some women classified their behavior and become two different people. The “Others’ rejected the scope of African cultural context and work against them by forcing the dominant groups. But somehow other groups also manage to occupy both contexts by applying their outsider-within perspectives as a source of insights and ideas.

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The Black females underwent on some domains the Black women’s condition is a overlooked opinion, it may be fruitless to try and translate ideas from an outsider feminist perspective into a Afro centric masculinity framework. Rather than just trying to uncover universal knowledge which claims that one can withstand this epistemology, Black women intellectuals might find efforts to rearticulate a Black women’s standpoint especially fruitful. One of the soundest ideas in dramatic writing is that in order to create the universal, you must pay very great attention to the specific. Universality emerges from the truthful identity and truth may wear a particularistic, intimate face suggest a new epistemological stance concerning how we negotiate competing knowledge claims and identify “truth.”


African Feminism has many different characteristics. Feminism of African differs from Western feminism because it has cultivated in a different cultural context. Today, African women are looking to specify their roles in various ways that gives them new opportunities. This is not a totally new task, since there are much evidence of women oppression, sexism, gender biased and women’s struggles to reshape their roles within communities of traditional African cultures in historical periods.

African feminism emerged in various forms in the various different parts of the continent, which grow out of individualism within the cultural context of industrial communities. In the West, social and economic norms historically pushed women into more active roles in the society, and Western feminism has focused on women’s struggle for control over reproduction and sexuality. Where as women in African had a very different experience to share with the world, African feminist argues on theoretical questions which in the end does not have a practical approach. Rather, like many of its Third World counterparts, African feminism is distinctly heterosexual, supportive of motherhood, and focused on issues of “bread, butter, culture, and power.”

Chapter Three- ConCORRENT Black Feminism

Black feminist who keep to the idea that established that Black females must be affirmed by women’s sense of experiences and who also keep tighter the knowledge that claims feminist epistemology have given birth to a large tradition of Black feminism. Traditionally such women were blues singers, poets, autobiographers, storytellers, and orators validated by everyday Black women as experts on a Black women’s standpoint.

Only a few unusual feminist scholars have been able to defy Eurocentric masculinity epistemologies and explicitly embrace an Afro centric feminist epistemology. Living life as a woman is a necessary essential for producing feminist thought because within women’s communities thought is validated and produced with reference to a particular set of historical, material, and epistemological conditions.


The Knowledge demanded by the black women was recognized by the traditional legitimacy of their feminist scholars who are looking for the Afro centric feminist epistemology which may encounter the conflicting levels. In the eyes of different group they wanted to be credible for that the scholars must be personal advocates for their women and their material should be accountable for the consequences of their work, those scholars who have lived or experienced their material in some manner, and are ready to share their findings with ordinary, everyday woman.

It became essential stand point that the Black feminist thought first must be approved by their Black community of Black women scholars. These scholars kept diverse amounts of importance on a confused Black women’s standpoint using an Afro centric feminist epistemology. Third, Afro centric feminist thought within scholars became a must task be prepared to confront the Eurocentric mescaline’s political and epistemological requirements.

Another term, Stiwanism [1] was coined by Ogundipe-Leslie [2] to “counter the opposition she encounters whilst using the term feminism.” Kohrs-Amissah cites Ogundipe-Leslie who says, ‘I have since advocated the word ‘Stiwanism,’ instead of feminism, to bypass these concerns and to bypass the combative discourse that ensure whenever one raises the issue of feminism in Africa. Although the author elaborates on what Leslie believes is critical to African feminism, there seems to be a lack somewhere as to the function of the word Stiwanism in the text.


What modern feminism articulates was already demonstrated by Ngugi and Achebe in their work which depicts women with rounded human attributes women who can weep and fight heartily and who can bow in deference even as they proceed to their goals. The poetic characters therefore demonstrate the complexity of women as subjects with empathy and assertiveness as they navigate the maze of multiple oppressions. The African Feminist thoughts emphasis on the interplay between Black women’s oppression and Black women’s activism which presents the level centric domination.

Centering on gender, the lyric is rendered in the form of an address by a wife to her husband and reveals the woman’s awareness of her marginalization by her husband, who excluded her from men’s secret meetings. The arrangement of the pact was men’s affair, as it did not involve black women or white women. Only the white man, his son, and the black husband participated in the brief action that had far-reaching consequences for women, as well as men, and the future represented by the woman’s child.

Chapter Six – Conclusion


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