A literary theoretical exploration of silenced African women from psychoanalytic and feminist perspectives
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The study explores the gender relationship in the three English speaking regions of Sub Saharan Africa through three novels: Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga; Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; and Parched Earth by Elieshi Lema. The aim of this research is to raise awareness of, and contribute to, the general discussion regarding gender equality and promoting the empowerment of silenced African women through the study of fiction. This research examines the discourses underpinning the lives of Africa women through a literary theoretical perspective, with feminism and psychoanalysis the primary modes that are utilised. The study further uses autoethnography as a qualitative research approach that seeks to systematically describe and analyze personal experience to understand cultural experience. It is a form of self-reflection and writing that explores the researcher’s personal experience and connects this autobiographical account to wider cultural, political, and social meanings and understandings. Findings from textual analysis reveal that the texts do convey strong messages in favour of deconstructing the primacy of male perspectives, and further argue that literature can offer a concrete and particularist understanding of the felt and lived realities of oppression. The findings also reveal the hidden sufferings of African women and critique the traditional constructions of masculinity and femininity portraying women as subordinate to men and victims of domestic violence, and certain strands of traditional African practices, while acknowledging the differences in different countries. The thesis concludes by appreciating the contribution made by women to African literature, especially in voicing the unvoiced and in deconstructing patriarchal hegemony. It is recommended that a more critical engagement with gender issues is important in bringing change and promoting a fair representation and treatment of women in contemporary African society.