An analysis of Gender issues in Zambian Literature in English

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Chilala, Cheela F.K.
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Domination of females by males is evident not only in the economic, political, educational and social spheres, but also in the field of written literature. Analyses of gender stratification in all these fields reveal and reflect the extent and nature of male dominance. In the area of written literature, gender inequalities are reflected and even perpetuated through the portraiture of male and female characters, the type and choice of language used, among other means. This study analyses the treatment of gender issues in six primary texts, all of them Zambian novels written in English. Three of the novels are male-authored while the others are female-authored. The male-authored texts are: The Accusing Finger, Ticklish Sensation and Changing Shadows by Nyambe Wina, Gideon Phiri and Henry Musenge respectively. The female-authored works, on the other hand, are: Picking up the Pieces, Behind the Closed Door, and The Fight for Justice, by Maliya Mzyece Sililo, Susan Chitabanta and Josephine Bwalya Muchelemba respectively. The purpose of this study is to identify intratextual and intertextual common features and trends. The method of analysis utilises theories of gender and textuality, particularly Gerard Genette's theory of textuality. The findings of this study reveal that Zambian literary works written in English are not only male-dominated, but also perpetuate and largely reflect the gender inequalities of Zambian society. Generally, male characters are portrayed in better light than female ones; they are generally more privileged than the womenfolk economically, politically, socially, and generally occupy higher positions than women. According to the findings, the male-domination of the literary field has not only entrenched the male perspective and writing style, but also influenced women writers to largely follow the male writing tradition. However, the findings also reveal that, despite being influenced by male writers, female writers also exhibit archetypes which are peculiar to a female perspective in writing. Finally, the findings show that some archetypes exist in Zambian literary works written in English by both male and female writers, and that these archetypes are largely similar to what obtains in similar works written by other African writers.
Sex role in literature , Literature