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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Gender Relations in African-Language Literature: Interpretative Politics and Possibilities
Author:Englund, HarriISNI
Periodical:African Sociological Review (ISSN 1027-4332)
Notes:biblio. refs.
Geographic terms:Malawi
Central Africa
Subjects:gender relations
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Literature, Mass Media and the Press
Cultural Roles
African literature
About person:Willie T. Zingani
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/24487421
Abstract:African novels can provide insights into history and society, but the risk, particularly when using them as learning materials in classroom, is that novels become mere illustrations of themes and conclusions already established by other means. This article examines gender relations in Willie Zingani's (Malawi) Chinyanja novels - 'Madzi Akatayika' (When water is spilt) and 'Njala Bwana' (Hungry, sir), both published in 1984 - and in Francis Moto's recent criticism of these novels. An alternative reading, pointing out the novels' potential for complex interpretations, suggests that Moto's dismissal of their gender relations as stereotypes must itself be understood as a literary product of a particular period. It is a period when the rhetoric of gender equality has emerged to support a form of State feminism in Malawi. Against its dichotomous view of gender the article shows how the complexity conveyed in Zingani's novels can be used to highlight class and generational contradictions obscured by the current rhetoric. The article concludes by recommending attention to narrative details as a measure against interpretations becoming mere reflections of teachers' and critics' own political preferences. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]