GLOCALCOLLOQUIES - Vol 2, Issue 1, June 2016

Pages: 48-64

Changing Images of the Mother in African Literature

Author: Rakotoniera, Zoly

Category: Research

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Traditionally associated to the earth, to water or to goddesses, the mother figure is sacred in African societies. Indeed, the centrality of procreation and mothering as the guarantees of lineage continuation has led to the institutionalization of motherhood. Changes brought by modernity, however, have also altered the way in which motherhood is viewed and experienced by African women. It is more and more present in public discourse not only as an institution but also as an experience. This article presents a comparative analysis of two African novels, The Joys of Motherhood (1979) by Buchi Emecheta and Ny Zanako (1966) by Clarisse Ratsifandrihamanana and aims at providing a more systematic understanding of the past and present dimensions of motherhood in the African context. In fact, despite the writers’ different backgrounds and nationalities, a close examination of the two texts reveals a stunning array of thematic and stylistic parallels revolving around motherhood. The Joys of Motherhood relates the trials of a traditional, victimized mother during pre-colonial and colonial Nigerian society. Ny Zanako [My Child] presents the story of a rebellious young woman who becomes a mother against her will in colonial Madagascar. Through a gynocentric point of view, the paper will shed light on the evolution of the representation of motherhood in African culture, with an emphasis on the common grounds as well as the specificities of each writer. The two texts intersect on the traditional theme that being a mother is a cultural mandate and a privilege. The readers are given to understand that in our changing world, motherhood cannot only be the idyllic act of creation which is the basis of feminine subjectivity and which implies love, generosity, empathy and bliss. It is also a factor of oppression and exclusion linked to suffering, solitude and poverty. The paper intends to analyse how the two novels’ depiction of motherhood reflects the stability and changes inherent to African societies.

Keywords: motherhood, representation, culture, society, institution, experience

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Glocal Colloquies invites unpublished original research papers, interviews, book reviews in English on Contemporary South Asian Literatures. Deadline for submission is March 15, 2017. To Submit: 1. Complete Sign up< 2. Log in< 3. Follow Instructions< 4. Submit

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