Gender and Class Issues in the Postcolonial Zimbabwean Novel: Summary and Conclusions

Maurice Taonezvi Vambe, BA 1990 BA 1991 MA D.Phil 1995-, Department of English, University of Zimbabwe

To re-state the thesis of this paper, African literature in English has been dominated by the historical and hence nationalist themes. In the fiction's early phase of development in the 1950's, thematic emphasis was placed on writing works of art whose function was to refute the colonialist view that prior to the contact with the outside world, Africa did not have history and culture worth speaking of. In reality, artistic works by Chinua Achebe and other African writers of the period prove that Africa had advanced systems of economic organisation, quasi-democratic political arrangements and well-developed cultural institutions.

Once this cultural nationalist theme was dispensed with, African literature of the late fifties and early sixties began to expose the disastrous socio-economic and cultural effects of colonialism on the African psyche. It is important to note that the participation of imaginative narrative in nation-building in Africa underscores the significance of the written word in legitimating the claims to nationhood. But, as Nervous Conditions and Victory have shown, the nation is a source of identities and, paradoxically, the entity that represses their formation. It is however, to the credit of both Tsitsi Dangarembgwa and George Mujajati that they created fictional characters who refuse to consent to but rather would fight social oppression. This last point unites the critical vision of postcolonial writers of Zimbabwe with those of the rest of Africa which is predicated on the recognition that whether nationalism speaks the language of dream, desire or the satisfaction of collective aspirations, the codification of these "national ideals" is not only gendered but that the nationalist ideology actually masks the real or potential class interests of different sections of a society sharing common skies. In this regard, postcolonial fiction in Zimbabwe and, by extension, Africa seeks to go beyond the binary divisions maintained by the ideology of nationalism because the "seething pot" from which the learning of the future is emerging is shifting towards gender and class politics.

Gender and Class Issues in the Postcolonial Zimbabwean Novel

  1. Postcolonial Politics and Shifting Identities in Africa
  2. Disempowering Women in Postcolonial Zimbabwe
  3. Subverting Traditional Images of Womanhood
  4. Authorising Women, Women Authoring
  5. Constrasting Views in Narrating the Nation in Victory (1992)
  6. Class Struggle and the Vision of Social Reconstruction
  7. Summary and Conclusions


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