Academic journal article Researchers World

Theorising Women Existence: Reflections on the Relevance of the Africana Womanist Theory in the Writing and Analysis of Literature by and about Zimbabwean Women

Academic journal article Researchers World

Theorising Women Existence: Reflections on the Relevance of the Africana Womanist Theory in the Writing and Analysis of Literature by and about Zimbabwean Women

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

One of the major challenges in the writing and analysis of African women's literature has been lack of an acceptable theoretical focus. So much of the writing and analysis of this literature has been influenced by the Feminist paradigm, and which largely operates within the walls of Western thinking. The need for an African - Centered paradigm and theoretical framework prompted Hudson Clenora Weems to come up with an African - centered Africana Womanist Theory to inform the writing and understanding of African - American and African women literature. The theory responds to the inadequacies of both Feminism and Black Feminism and the subsequent need for proper naming and defining of the woman of African descent. This paper, then, intends to examine two issues - the relevance of the Africana Womanist Theory - to the writing and analysis of Zimbabwean women's literature. The relevance of the theory can be located in its demonstration of women categorization not as a monolithic bloc, and is also quite strong in its Afrocentric approach to the writing and analysis of Zimbabwean women's literature. This paper demonstrates that Zimbabwean women writers seek to rewrite official historiography and contest the exclusion and misrepresentation of women experience, but they largely do so within the context of the feminist theoretical focus. Subsequently Zimbabwean women's literature is also read and understood in the context of feminism and not just Africana Womanism.

Keywords: Womanist, Feminist, Africana, Zimbabwean, Literature, Theory

INTRODUCTION:

One of the major challenges in the writing and analysis of African women's literature has been lack of an acceptable theoretical focus. So much of the writing and analysis of this literature has been influenced by the Feminist paradigm, which largely operates within the walls of Western thinking. The need for an African - Centered paradigm and theoretical framework prompted Hudson - Weems to come up with an African - centered Africana Womanist Theory to inform the writing and understanding of African - American and African women literature. The theory responds to the inadequacies of both Feminism and Black Feminism and the subsequent need for proper naming and defining of the woman of African descent. In essence, Africana Womanism is Africana women's effort to 'create their own criteria for assessing their realities, both in thought and in action'. This paper, then, intends to examine two issues - the relevance of the Africana Womanist Theory - to the writing and analysis of Zimbabwean literature

THE NEED FOR AN AFRICAN ORIENTED WOMAN THEORY:

In the debate between Third World Women and Western Feminists, "one perspective lays blame on Western Feminist theorists for silencing the African woman in the very speech intended to liberate her from oppression". (Lyons 2004, 3) This perspective does not end at the level of inactive blame; African American women have taken it to another level and have coined a theory that allows a specific discussion of the woman of African descent's existence in reality and in imagined existence. The effort by Hudson - Weems to set up a paradigm "properly named and officially defined" according to the peoples of African descent's "unique and cultural matrix" (Hudson-Weems 2007, 289) fits well into the postcolonial discourse. The Africana Womanist enters the postcolonial discourse by weakening the orientalist discourse of Western Feminism and exposes its inadequacies by attempting to include what it has tended to leave out.

Hudson - Weems did not create the legacy of Africana Womanism but has "observed Africana Women, documented their reality, and refined a paradigm relative to who they are, what they do , and what they believe in as a people". (2007, 289) Africana Womanism rejects mainstream feminism's "caustic beginnings and inapplicability for women of African Descent". (Hudson -Weems 2007, 291) Mainstream Feminism is by White women and is largely tailored to suite their own needs. …

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