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Wifely submission and filial obedience: patriarchal subjugation of women and children and strategies of resistance in selected literary text set in Africa.

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This thesis performs a textual analysis of Nuruddin Farah’s From a Crooked Rib (2006 [1970]), Nawal El Saadawi’s God Dies by the Nile (2015 [1985]), Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus (2013 [2003]), Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Infidel (2007 [2006]) and Amma Darko’s Not without Flowers (2007). Using theoretical insights derived from gender studies and religious studies and methods of textual analysis, I argue that the first two selected novels (set almost two generations ago) represent patterns of patriarchal and religious oppression within particular Islamic cultures in Africa that have strong correlations with oppressive patriarchal practices in Christian as well as Muslim families as represented in twenty-first century texts with other African settings, although significantly more resistance to these forms of oppression is represented in the later texts, partly as a result of globalisation.In this study, I perform a textual analysis of five primary texts from diverse contexts, settings and time-periods to explore the representations of women and children subject to patriarchal oppression. These texts date between the years 1970 to 2007 and all have an African setting; however, the settings of the texts are also spread across other locations, for example, Saudi Arabia and the Netherlands, highlighting the widespread prevalence of the issues. The selected texts centre on battering, domestic violence, sexual abuse, polygyny, female genital mutilation (FGM), forced marriages and prostitution, which are topical issues in contemporary Africa as well as across the globe.The argument, therefore, undertakes an analysis of wifely submission and filial obedience as a result of patriarchal subjugation through a feminist lens. I argue that religious, social and political spheres are used to support the patriarchal system, which subsequently results in the subjugation of women and children. Through a textual analysis of the five literary texts, I examine representations of the subordination of women and children because of paternalistic dominance. I also focus on the roles that secular and religious law play in sustaining the patriarchal order within the texts. The second objective of this thesis is to explore the authors’ redefinition of female identity exemplified in the literary feminine consciousness and commitment to post-colonial feminist theology. To achieve this goal, I explore women’s and children’s struggles for equality and emancipation from patriarchal systems by analysing their strategies of resistance.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.