“Name Rhymes with Shame”: representations of migrant women protagonists in selected African texts.
Naidoo, Kimmera Sherrilyn.
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dissertation explores representations of African migrant women through the medium of three African literary texts. The literary texts that are examined are Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah (2013), NoViolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names (2013) and Meg Vandermerwe’s Zebra Crossing (2013). African migrant women may be deemed the subaltern as they suffer marginalisation, subjugation and oppression in diasporic locations as a result of their identities. At home in post-colonial African nations, the protagonists are subject to adverse socio-economic and political conditions which prompt migration; however, in their host country, they are also subject to discrimination, xenophobia and displacement, which lead to a yearning for their home country. This project focuses on a transcultural study within the framework of English Studies, post-colonial literature and migration. The novels reveal the breaking down of cultural boundaries. The migrant characters in the novel represent a transcultural identity as their identity is transformed in their host countries through the hybridisation and syncretisation of cultures. The primary objective of this dissertation is to explore diasporic African identities through a textual analysis of the plot, characterisation and dominant themes in the selected primary texts. The individual novels are linked by the theme of diaspora, recurring diasporic contexts and circumstances, characters’ traits, and motifs. This paper uses Gayatri Spivak’s notion of the subaltern to explore the representation of the lives of African migrant women protagonists. The selected texts capture the painful emotions and experiences of female migrants who are subject to double prejudice. Women migrants are regarded as vulnerable, subordinate and subject to male dominance as well as national discrimination because of their outsider status. An analysis of the contexts, circumstances, emotions and actions of the protagonists will be undertaken. This dissertation also focuses on Rosemary Marangoly George’s notion of home. Home is not only a place of nurture, comfort and protection but it is also a place of catastrophe and danger. The selected texts highlight the dislocations of life in African countries like Zimbabwe and Nigeria and the relocation and double displacement of the Zimbabwean and Nigerian diasporic community in the United States of America and South Africa. I analyse various coping mechanisms the protagonists employ as strategies for survival. I also explore the protagonists’ relationship with other migrants in their host countries.