Approximating an ideal South African woman of the 21st century through Postcolonial fiction by South African woman writers
At the dawn of democracy in South Africa, the emancipation of women was unequivocally placed at the centre of the on-going debates, recognising that a non-sexist democracy was one of the goals of the struggle. However, inequities persist along the axes of gender, fueled by a long history of patriarchal and political injustices against women. Such inequities did not disappear despite constitutional guarantees. This study maintains that it takes women writers to break the silence on violent masculinities and raise questions central to women's participation in leveraging access and democratic participation as agents in South Africa. An important dimension privileged in this study is Ramphele's (2008) nuanced notion of active and responsible citizenship in a democratic South Africa. Social stability and democratic participation depend on direct empowerment of those previously marginalised. I argue that the creative impetus in fiction works by South African women writers of the postcolonial period articulates significant spaces for stylising women's roles in the new democracy. The study adopts an interpretive lens to develop this investigation that appropriates postcolonial theory and perspectives of postcolonial feminism in interrogating fiction as a social and creative platform that could transform unequal power relations by inscribing qualities women should nurture to fully participate in a country whose liberation they helped to bring about. The thesis analyses a selection of primary texts by female authors in postcolonial South Africa, specifically The Lying Days (Nadine Gordimer), Daughters of the Twilight (Farida Karodia), Mother to Mother (Sindiwe Magona), David's Story (Zoe Wicomb) and Black Widow Society (Angela Makholwa). The thesis endorses these texts as validating the moral responsibility of female authors in using their creative energies towards development, empowerment and reconciliation.
- Humanities