Gender Questions in Ezekiel Mphahlele's Afrika My Music

F-K Omoregie, English Department University of Botswana

How do the following passages relate autobiography to questions of gender? Where to these passages, particularly the last, occur in Afrika My Music? How do they relate to the themes of works like Achebe's Anthills of the Savannah?

a. The woman who'd wait for a man, a son, who may never return, ever. Or will return from jail when she is wasted. Or will return dragging a corpse of a mutilated something inside him. And she starts to work on him, to try to mend him. How long has the train been gone? And she cries all night long. (p. 64)

b. Rebecca, on the contrary, is capable of snap decisions. She draws clear lines that will determine her initial attitude to people . . .. While I'm still speculating on the whys and wherefores of a child's behavior, Rebecca has long anticipated his or her next move, assessed whatever influence an outsider is exerting on a child, and gone out to head off a catastrophe. (p. 149)

c. Women play a paramount role in this survival culture. Once they have identified a social need they set about the task of forming themselves into a group to deal with the problem as a voluntary service. The women, more than the men, and sooner, can be seen engaging in services for the physically and mentally handicapped, hospital visits, health programs, preschool education, child care, and other voluntary work. Our women are strong. They will always be the ones to keep touching base, no matter what. I pay tribute to them. Here is to the African woman! (pp. 256-257)

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Last Modified: 18 March, 2002