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“ Execellente cultural diversification and respect for human ”

Such interference must be in accordance with the three conditions enshrined in the second paragraph of Article 10 of the Convention.

Bakounine critique de Rousseau

Neither is it sufficient to consider that the unauthorised use, reproduction or public communication of a work cannot rely on one of the narrowly interpreted exceptions in the copyright law itself, including the application of the so-called three-step test art. France unambiguously declares Article 10 of the Convention applicable in copyright cases interfering with the right of freedom of expression and information of others, adding an external human rights perspective to the justification of copyright enforcement. Due to the important wide margin of appreciation available to the national authorities in this particular case, the impact of Article 10 however is very modest and minimal.

Pictures published on the Internet, infringing copyright. All three are fashion photographers. The photos were taken by Mr. Claisse at fashion shows in Paris in and published without the permission of the fashion houses. The three fashion photographers were ordered by the Court of Appeal of Paris to pay fines between 3. Donald, Moraes and Claisse were also ordered to pay for the publication of the judgment of the Paris Court of Appeal in three professional newspapers or magazines.

The Supreme Court was of the opinion that the Court of Appeal had sufficiently justified its decision. Accordingly, the applicants could not rely on an exception in French copyright law, allowing the reproduction, representation or public communication of works exclusively for news reporting and information purposes. In Strasbourg the applicants complained in particular of a breach of their rights under Article 10 freedom of expression and information of the European Convention.

The Court was indeed of the opinion that the conviction for breach of copyright and the award of damages was to be considered as an interference with their rights protected by Article 10 of the Convention. However, this interference was prescribed by law, pursued the legitimate aim of protecting the rights of others and was to be considered necessary in a democratic society.

A particular wide margin of appreciation. The member states are furthermore in a position to balance conflicting rights and interests, such as the right of freedom of expression under Article 10 of the Convention with the right of property as protected by Article 1 of the First Protocol to the Convention. Two crucial elements in this case justify that the national authorities enjoy a particularly wide margin of appreciation. The Court accepts the reasoning of the domestic courts and their calculation of the damages, with respect for the guarantees of a fair trial not being under dispute in this matter.

In these circumstances and taking into account the particular important margin of appreciation of the national authorities, the Court concludes unanimously that there is no violation of Article 10 of the Convention. Relying on Article 7 no punishment without law , the applicants also alleged that, in refusing to apply an exception to copyright law provided for under an Article of the French Intellectual Property Code, the Court of Cassation failed to apply the principle that the criminal law must be strictly interpreted.

The European Court however dismissed this part of the application as manifestly ill-founded. The judgment of the European Court of 10 January is interesting for several reasons. Emerging internet cases. First of all, the judgment illustrates that cases of alleged breaches of fundamental rights and freedoms, enshrined in the European Convention and its Protocols, situated in the digital, online world have started to find their way to the European Court of Human Rights. Switzerland 13 July In Szima v. She was also the author of a series of blogs and articles that were considered as instigation to insubordination by the Hungarian authorities.

In Peta Deutschland v. Germany a civil injunction preventing the applicant association inter alia from publishing seven specified posters via the internet, comparing the atrocities of the genocide of the Nazi-regime with animal suffering and hence banalising and instrumentalising the holocaust, was not considered as a violation of Article 10 ECtHR 8 November In a judgment of 18 December , t he European Court came to the conclusion that the decision taken and upheld by the Turkish authorities to block internet access to Google Sites amounted to a violation of Article With its judgment in Ahmet Yildirim v.

Turkey the European Court of Human Rights has reinforced the right of individuals to access the internet, as in its ruling against the wholesale blocking of online content, it asserted that the internet has now become one of the principal means of exercising the right to freedom of expression and information ECtHR 18 December The judgment of 10 January in Ashby Donald and others v. Money or message driven? Speech, messages, pictures and content which are merely money driven do not enjoy the added value of the protection guaranteed by Article 10 of the Convention.

This aspect is also emphasised in the case Ashby Donald and others v. There is indeed no indication that the applicants were involved in a debate of general interest see e. Barthold v. Germany , Hertel v. Switzerland, Stambuk v. Switzerland and Peta Deutschland v. The three fashion photographers only made the catwalk pictures of Paris fashion shows accessible to the public. Finally, Traore's Sidagamie , Kei'ta's Rebelle and Yaou's Le prix de la revoke address the possibility of a sustained African women's struggle resulting not only in transient personal and isolated victories but also in an enduring social transformation governed by the ethos of gender equality.

I am eternally indebted to my supervisor, Gloria Onyeoziri and her husband, Robert Miller, for their enormous contributions to my overall intellectual growth since providence made my path cross theirs. Gloria and Robert worked selflessly on this thesis, nurturing my ideas, taming my excesses, crossing every t, dotting every i. I hope to repay them by continuing to justify their faith, confidence and investment in me. Valerie Raoul invested so much in me during my sojourn at U B C. Apart from her painstaking work on this thesis, she patiently, calmly and consistently sharpened the rough edges of my scholarship.

M y friend, Trina Ojo, came into my life and changed everything. She became my alter ego, working tirelessly on every text I've produced since we met: academic papers, poetry and, of course, this thesis.

“ Execellente cultural diversification and respect for human ”

Thanks are due to Mr and Mrs Oladiipo Ajiboye for love and for faith. Chris Dunton has been a wonderful friend and mentor since I met him. M y cousin, Sanya Osha, has been a wonderful intellectual companion. I was blessed with a rich network of friends at U B C : my 'brother', Obijiofor Aginam, provided fellowship and scholarly inspiration during the hectic stages of the commencement of our programme; Tunji Osinubi has been an invaluable scholarly companion. I am also indebted to Euphrates Gobina.

I have received a lot of vi encouragement from my 'brother' Biodun Sanusi over the years. He travelled all the way from Oregon to attend my defense as a testimony of our bond. Finally, I am grateful to Lara Akanbi who has had to cope with the heartbreaks occasioned by my long periods of silence, hesitation, indecision, and inexplicable spells of disappearance.

Much of the initial reflection on the creative texts of francophone African women writers was constrained by a somewhat simplistic application of the feminist theories which initially informed them. The same argument extends to works such as Awa Thiam's La parole aux negresses , which sought to expose the subaltern social conditions women occupied in francophone African societies.

These works are considerably weakened by their interpretation of the politics of subalternity solely as a binaristic conundrum in which gender oppression always flows from the male subject to the female object. The advent of revisionist theories like poststructuralism, postmodernism, postcolonialism, and colonial discourse analysis has underscored the need to move beyond the facile binarisms that were so useful as tools of discursive analysis.

With their privileging of the "ambivalence" of the colonial condition, the "hybridity" of the postmodern condition which necessitates a "third space of enunciation" Bhabha , these new discourses reveal the contingent nature of power and identity. Subjects are therefore never located in a reified, unchanging position in the discourses and structures of power.

Identity is fluid and constantly changing. A subaltern in a certain context can become a dominant oppressor in other contexts. These revelations have obvious implications for francophone African women's writing. This study will examine how female critics also sometimes contribute, albeit unwittingly, to the subalternization of African women's creative texts. Furthermore, a post-binarist approach to African women's writing can provide useful insights into the contingent nature of the location s of power in those texts and how subjects are positioned in relation to those locations.

For instance, traditional criticism often assumed that the position of patriarchy is always occupied by elderly male subjects lording it over female subjects in a typical African family compound. However, as we shall see in some of the novels selected for this study, that location is sometimes occupied by powerful female subjects who wield patriarchal power and also ensure that the women under their control abide by the very traditional codes that subalternize them. To speak of subalternity is to speak of a certain rapport de force between subjects, mediated by relational factors such as dominance, hegemony, subordination, insurgency, resistance, and rebellion.

These concepts, derived mainly from the Social Sciences, are central to the work of the members of the South Asian Subaltern Studies Collective led by a historian, Ranajit Guha. Considering the fact that Gyan Prakash has described subaltern studies as a branch of postcolonialism, it is no surprise that the same concepts are also commonplace in the works of postcolonial theorists and analysts of colonial discourse. This study is cognizant of the fact that there is a great deal to be gained by reworking and transforming them into a workable discursive grid for analysing the phenomenon of subalternity in the fiction of a number of francophone African women 2 writers.


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The process of adapting them for use here wil l involve a trans-geographic, cross-disciplinary move in which Indian theory will blend with African versions of feminist theory to elucidate selected novels written by francophone African women. This selection straddles three generations of francophone African women's fiction, from the late s Rencontres essentielles to the late s Sidagamie and thus underscores the textual trajectories of the female subjects under study within the framework of an historical progression. The selection also covers a geographical space which spreads from west to central Africa.

By including the novels of five third-generation writers in my corpus Bassek, Mpoudi-Ngolle, Yaou, Kei'ta and Traore , I hope to overcome the tendency in the criticism of francophone African women's writing to concentrate on the older, established writers at the expense of the newer ones. The five new writers included are novelists whose works have been grossly undertheorized by critics. Chapter One traces the emergence of African feminist discourses and accounts for why they depart theoretically from some versions of Western feminism.

It examines the position of African women's texts and discourses in the context of, and in relation to, an overwhelmingly phallocratic African literary establishment. This examination invites an interrogation of the uneasy politics that comes into play when male critics approach 3 African women's writing. Finally, the first chapter establishes the modalities through which the largely Social Science-oriented theoretical concepts of Subaltern Studies can be appropriated and transformed into viable hermeneutic tools for approaching African women's texts.

Chapter Two focuses on the issue of the textual conquest of African women in African literary discourses, whether they are produced by men or women. The argument will be advanced that a certain subalternist consciousness undergirds the production of the female subjectivity in all the genres of African literatures. To buttress this assertion, I will trace the textual presence of African women from the representative poetic texts of male Negritude writers to the theoretical texts of African feminists, before zeroing in on Rencontres essentielles, La vote du salut and La tache de sang.

I thus hope to establish a homological continuum of subalternity between three genres - poetry, theory and fiction - in accounting for the textual representation of African women. I will argue that African feminist theorists inherited a subalternized and domesticated image of African women from the Negritude poets and from the colonial system in general, and that their theories and fiction have participated unwittingly in sustaining this image.

I am thus proposing a bicephalous second chapter offering, a hermeneutic critique of creative writing and a metacritical evaluation of the theoretical works of African feminists. The selected novels will consequently be read as fictional extensions of African feminist theory, in line with Julianah Nfah-Abbenyi's exhortation to read African female novels as "fictionalized theory" or "theorized fiction". Based on the fact that the representation 4 of the female subjects in the three novels is consistent with what we find in critical works and in early Negritude poetry, this chapter will conclude with the observation that the textual presence of the African female subject in the early phase of African literature boils down to a question of representation: a representation in which she comes out as muted, caught as it were in the subalternist quagmire of domination and subordination.

Chapter Three will account for the gradual emergence of a recreated female subject in Une si longue lettre, Sous la cendre le feu and Fureurs et cris de femmes. Here, the female persona has moved from a passive acceptance of the condition of subalternity to an active struggle against it. The subaltern woman in these novels has begun to challenge the modalities through which power is held and wielded in the society to which she belongs. The heroines of the three novels - Ramatoulaye, Mina and Emilienne - are gaining power, while the agents of patriarchy are losing it and are being forced into the subaltern subject positions vacated by these women.

But what sort of power are these women gaining? And how are they gaining it? If, as Gramsci asserts, "permanent victory" is the only sure validation of subaltern insurgency against dominance, then it is clear that the heroines in these texts are still far from that objective.

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I will therefore contend that women's struggle in these three novels is energized by a "feminism with a small ' f ". I borrow this conceptual phrase from Buchi Emecheta, who used it to distinguish her male-tolerant feminist vision from what she sees as the male-bashing politics of some radical, Western, capital ' F ' feminists. They bear no far-reaching consequences for the circumambient patriarchal social and cultural forces responsible for the women's respective ordeals.

At this stage of the subaltern woman's struggle for emancipation, her context proves to be resilient and impervious to change. This sort of feminism, which recreates the subaltern woman but has no transformative effect on the surrounding patriarchal society illustrates my own version of the small ' f phenomenon. The chapter concludes by evaluating how the personal victories of these recreated heroines prepare the ground for the next phase in the episodic movement of the subaltern woman toward the site of agency in francophone African women's fiction.

In Chapter Four, I turn my attention to the ways in which three novels, Abibatou Traore's Sidagamie, Fatou Ke'ita's Rebelle and Regina Yaou's Le prix de la revoke, successfully deploy what Mary Kolawole calls "positive heroinism", to create subaltern female subjects who rise above their debilitating conditions to achieve a socio-political revolution in every sense of that word. I will argue that these heroines successfully take us to the peak of the "episodic and fragmented" Gramsci march of the subaltern female subject that I have been tracing since Chapter One. Unlike the heroines in Chapter Three, Pauline, Malimouna and Affiba are not content with the victory of personal re-creation.

They keep up the struggle until the patriarchal structures surrounding them are undone and transformed. The subalternist politics of insurgency and voicing are in full play here. This is the phase in which feminism successfully spells itself with a capital ' F ' by transforming social structure. It elucidates the thematic and discursive unity of this textual corpus, especially in the domain of the production of postcolonial subjecthood in francophone African women's fiction.

Bearing in mind that the first four chapters will have established the incontrovertible fact that subaltern theory is a powerful tool of social and discursive analysis, I will argue very strongly in favour of more widespread use of subalternist approaches to the study of African literature. Indeed, at the risk of sounding prescriptive, I will opine that any feminist approach to the study of African women's writing should, as a matter of necessity, draw insights from subaltern theory.

This point is central, because subaltern theory makes no pretence about its bias for minority perspectives. Because it does not conceive of subalternity as an always already constituted ontology, subaltern theory allows for a thorough account of the intersections of social, historical, political, economic and cultural forces which aggregate to produce subaltern subjects and facilitate the continued hegemony of the dominant groups.

Finally, from social realism to revolutionary aesthetics, from postcolonialism to feminism, African literary discourse has always sought to find theoretical perspectives capable of highlighting and enhancing the social and political commitment of the African literary text. Subaltern theory, I will argue, offers one of the brightest possible paths in that direction and has particular relevance in reconsidering gender relations and the situation of women.

As has always been the case with the construction of any minority discourse, especially in the heat of postcolonial theory's attempt at remapping the so-called margins, African women's textual productions have yielded an interesting array of theoretical positions. Initial theoretical articulations on this field of knowledge were as varied and diverse as were the scholars interested in the expanding corpus of texts by African women. This historicist approach resulted in a situation in which every essay obeyed seemingly pre-determined, formulaic structural rules5.

Before dealing with 8 any texts by women, such critiques, mostly by female scholars, gave an historical account of the late coming of African women into writing, usually associated with Africa's pre-colonial patriarchal structures and the consequent exclusion of African women from schools during the colonial period. This process culminated in a routine condemnation of the male writers for their biased representation of African women.

One positive legacy of such historicist critiques of the emergent body of African women's writing in Africa and elsewhere was the development of certain key concepts that were to inflect the very nature of the entire field of criticism of African women's writing. Such concepts invariably boil down to the construction of a new being, a new "African woman", by the emerging female writers and their critics. Discursive operations of this nature are energized by the hope that theoretical productions will eventually impact on the social, economic, political and traditional structures that have disempowered African women for so long.

The possibility of a symbiotic relationship between theory and practice can be envisaged in an African ist context because, as Chris Dunton reminds us, literary discourse in Africa is markedly socialized, and pressure for its socialization constantly increases6. The Nietszchean project of "willing into being" a new African woman explains why words such as "reinvention", "reinscription", "recreating" and "renaming" have become the cornerstones of critical reflection on African women's writing.

In the last two decades, these words have appeared and reappeared in the titles of critical essays and 9 textbooks dealing with African women's texts to the point of iterative superfluity. What they betray at the ideological level is a deep dissatisfaction with the past and present social condition of African women. The thematic leitmotif of renewal inherent in the calls to "reinvent", "reinscribe", "recreate" or "rename" can therefore be read as an acknowledgement of the asymmetrical power structures that have combined to place the discursive category of 'woman' as well as actual women in an inferior ized discursive and social position.

Perhaps no other theorist captured the essence of the universalist trope of woman-as-inferiorized-being better than Simone de Beauvoir. By opening her feminist opus, Le deuxieme sexe , with the famous dictum, "on ne nait pas femme, on le devient", de Beauvoir captured the very essence of the processes through which the category of woman is ontologized as inferior. Of particular interest is de Beauvoir's deployment of the concept of gender, as opposed to biological sex, which became central to feminist politics and the elaboration of feminist epistemology.

Successive generations of Western and non-Western feminists have borrowed insights from her thought to construct a feminist approach to literary criticism. In Sexual Politics , for instance, Kate Millet was one of the first to critically examine the age-long conceptualization of women as belonging to the weaker sex or as objects of male sexual pleasure. She went on to uncover how such perceptions governed the depiction of women in Western fiction written by male writers. It must be borne in mind that feminist interventions began to make an impact on African ist critical discourse in the s and the s.

At this time, much of the cross-disciplinary thinking that went into the construction of what the philosopher Valentine Mudimbe calls "African gnosis" was still preoccupied not only with the delegitimization of the discourses of imperialism and colonialism but also with the reconstruction of Africa's chequered history, cultures and traditions.

Such tendencies evolved from the discourses of Negritude and cultural nationalism and crystallized into a discursive strand known as traditionalism7, which involves a sometimes romanticized evocation of Africa's pre-imperialist cultures and traditions. African exponents of traditionalism saw, and still see, a return to the salutary aspects of Africa's cultural past as the only way out of what Harry Garuba calls the continent's "postcolonial impasse"8.

African feminist discourse by men and women developed within this nostalgic ambience and could therefore not escape having a "dual mandate"9, to borrow a familiar colonialist axiom. On the one hand, it had to deconstruct the male-centric orientation of modern African literatures in order to carve out an agential space for women and, on the other hand, it had to participate in the pan-African ideological project of deconstructing imperialism.

This second mandate meant that African feminist strategies formed part of the continent's oppositional discourses to the West, and therefore had to seek to invalidate the dubious universalism conferred on most of the West's orientalist discursive formations. Where mainstream Western feminism had been consistent in trying to project a universalized image of woman as victim of patriarchal oppression as evidenced in the thematic thrust of most of the essays assembled in The New Feminist Criticism, a volume edited in by Elaine Showalter African feminist discourse, in its early phase of elaboration, rejected that position.

Obviously influenced by the traditionalist strand of African discourse, African feminists turned to the past, excavating images of a strong, free, enterprising and independent African woman. This woman was supposed to have participated in the spiritual, economic, social and political life of her community on an equal footing with men, before certain historical events seriously altered the course of developments in Africa and dealt a disastrous blow to the position of women.

Ifi Amadiume's Male Daughters, Female Husbands has become a major reference text articulating the notion that African women were not always placed in a social position of inferiority. Deidre Badejo and Zulu Sofola have also written representative essays within this traditionalist framework Suffice it to say here that the logical consequence of this discursive strategy lies in the emergence of new and divergent forms of feminism rooted in the African experience.

Naturally, the position of the traditionalists did not go unchallenged. At the other extreme were participants in the fledgling African feminist discourse who rejected the overly romanticized notion of the pre-colonial African woman as an emancipated subject, who became disadvantaged only when imperialism and colonialism set in and imposed a 12 male-centric, sexist regime on the peoples of Africa.

A Dutch Africanist critic, Mineke Schipper, has done considerable work toward proving that the social condition of the precolonial African woman was not as rosy as the traditionalists would have us believe. In her essay "Mother Africa on a Pedestal"11 she draws numerous examples from African myths, folklore and oral tales, in which the woman is either represented as inferior or demonised as the architect of most societal misfortunes. A good number of Schipper's examples are drawn from creation myths from all over Africa, of which she had previously published accounts in in Dutch as a collection of African myths.

In most of these myths, men were created first, and lived in harmony until woman arrived bearing ill-luck and misfortune. The recurrence of "the image of woman as a negative force" in most of the myths she gathered through extensive fieldwork leads her to the conclusion that there exists a "mythological pre-phase" in the development of woman's image in African literature. These two positions are neither entirely right nor entirely wrong.

Both contain elements of discursive veracity that have been deployed in the reading of African women's experiences and texts. The issue here will be to de-emphasize the binaristic opposition inherent in the two contending positions, in order to locate a reflection on African women's writing within the interstitial spaces between the two theoretical possibilities. Carving out a space of in-betweeness between the traditionalist and counter-traditionalist articulations of African discourse has enormous advantages, in terms of the possibility it offers of bringing out historical continuities in the African experience, and also of de-essentializing some of the more romanticized perspectives of the traditionalist position.

The notion of essentialism is used advisedly here, because one cannot be too 13 circumspect in deploying it within the context of African discourse. The problems it poses for African Studies will be examined later. The advantages of locating one's arguments in the space of in-betweeness have been underscored by two African scholars in particular, Harry Garuba and Mahmood Mamdani. While proposing a broad-ranging theory of animist realism as a conceptual prism for African literary and cultural discourse, Garuba resists any temptation to read Africa's animist heritage and the practices of modernity as binary structures of opposition.

His exploration of the interstitial spaces and connections between them allows him to identify continuities and structural links between African animism and the contemporary socio-political institutions of modernity What Garuba does in the fields of literature and culture, Mahmood Mamdani does in the field of political discourse. His opinion on interstitial positionality, as expressed in his book, Citizen and Subject , is worth quoting in some detail: The solution to this theoretical impasse - between modernists and communitarians, Eurocentrists and Africanists - does not lie in choosing a side and defending an entrenched position.

Because both sides to the debate highlight different aspects of the same African dilemma, I will suggest that the way forward lies in sublating both, through a double move that simultaneously critiques and affirms. To arrive at a creative synthesis transcending both positions, one needs to problematize each. However, his other call to problematize each position is very useful in underscoring the importance of the interstitial space.

The focus on possibilities lying between the two positions somewhat weakens the traditionalist viewpoint which attributes the present disadvantaged condition of African women solely to external factors like colonialism and the concomittant Western sexist 14 ethos it implanted in Africa. African women, one must admit, suffered forms of sexist and patriarchal oppression peculiar to the African cultural situation long before contact with the West.

In the same vein, it problematizes the counter-traditionalist position which relies mainly on myths and oral tales as in the case of Schipper and downplays the role of imperialism and colonialism in the present predicament of African women. The appropriate discursive move becomes to centralize the historical event of colonialism with a view to determining its role, i f any, in the amplification or modification of forms of patriarchal and sexist oppression which were not entirely absent in precolonial African cultures. Colonialism and the Production of African Female Subjects This study takes the colonial experience as a principal discursive marker in African women's writing, but not because of a conviction that another inventory of the consequences of colonialism is still necessary.

Rather, this emphasis is to acknowledge the fact that no enduring analysis of the socio-historical trajectory of the subject can be envisaged in places like Africa, Asia or Latin America, without taking into account the central role of colonialism in the vitiation of that subject. The necessary enterprise of making an inventory of the consequences of the colonial encounter has already been amply performed in the case of Africa by, among others, Frantz Fanon in The Wretched of the Earth and Chinweizu in The West and the Rest of Us The consequences of colonialism in the Indian context can be found in the works of scholars like Ashis Nandy and Homi Bhabha, and in the reflections of the Indian subalternists whose work a major part of the theoretical framework for this study.

Suffice it to say here, then, that my interest in the dynamics of colonialism goes beyond the conceptualization of that event in terms of the political domination and economic exploitation of the colonized, as amply investigated in some of the works cited above. I am mainly interested in colonialism as a transformative event which fundamentally altered the social and cultural life of the colonized societies of Africa for good.

Through its brutal insertion into the socio-cultural scheme of things in Africa and its eventual domination of that terrain, colonialism wittingly 1 4 ascribed to itself the cardinal role of being the sole producer of new and subservient African subjectivities. In essence, colonialism not only affected what Biodun Jeyifo calls "the nature of things"15 but also became the main determiner of the very process of being in Africa.

It is within this broad perspective that Eloise Briere's description of colonial contact as generative of "une nouvelle organisation sociale"1 6 becomes particularly pertinent. M y position on colonialism's investment in the construction of novel and subservient African subjectivities is also informed by Briere's telling description of colonialism as having affected "le psychisme profond du colonise et de la colonisee, lui volant - au moins en partie - ses structures d'insertion et d'equilibre social, sa langue, son imaginaire et son Dieu.

While it is true that contact with the West 16 cannot be said to be solely responsible for the introduction of sexism and an oppressive patriarchal ethos into African cultures, it is also true that colonialism inscribed hitherto unknown forms of sexism and male-centrism within the African worldview, thereby taking existing gender asymmetries to new heights.

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Mamdani has provided some illuminating insights into this aspect of the colonial experience: Like all colonial powers, the British - I add the French and the Portuguese -worked with a single model of customary authority in precolonial Africa. That model was monarchical, patriarchal, and authoritarian. It presumed a king at the center of every polity, a chief on every piece of administrative ground, a patriarch in every homestead or kraal. Whether in the homestead, the village, or the kingdom, authority was considered an attribute of a personal despotism.

The consequences of the patriarchal assumptions of the colonial authorities were predictably disastrous in matriarchal societies - as in Ghana - where central social authority was not vested in a male member of the extended family. Colonialism, being a masculinist ideology, automatically masculinized any space upon which it inflicted itself. It thus dismantled the matriarchal systems that had coexisted with patriarchy in certain precolonial African societies, and those who lost out in that power game were, of course, women.

Reacting to Ifi Amadiume's viewpoint1 9 in this respect, Mamdani argues that Matriarchy This autonomous space was uniformly destroyed by colonial rule. And in this sense the "world historical defeat" of the female gender was experienced in Africa not as much with the onset of state organization as with the consolidation of the colonial Perhaps Oyeronke Oyewumi's The Invention of Women provides one of the most illuminating accounts of how the social process of colonialism "invented" what 17 she sees as a hitherto unknown category of "woman" as inferiorized, silenced, devalued and subordinated to the category of man in Africa.

This work's thought-provoking subtitle indicates that the author is "making an African sense of Western gender discourses", many of which she finds irrelevant in the African context. Oyewumi explores how the masculinized and sexist ethos of the colonial machine eroded the presence of African women from such valorizing sites as politics, administration, religion, education, labour, and property ownership, especially of land. So thorough were the colonial masters in their self-assigned duty of sexist social engineering that African women were eventually forced into the conundrum of what is now referred to in African feminist scholarship as "double colonization".

They were dominated, exploited and inferiorized as Africans together with African men and then separately inferiorized and marginalized as African women. Like Sofola, Oyewumi takes great pains to analyze the logical outcome of the colonial devalorization of African womanhood. The crucial point to be retained is that colonialism's most disastrous legacy lies in the dismantling of the traditional African public sphere and the subsequent erosion of the cultural ethos that governed social relations within it.

In its place was constructed a new, "civilized" public sphere within which all the structures and institutions of power, agency and upward social mobility were located. African women were systematically excluded from this new site. It is true that there is no basis to hold that forms of patriarchal and sexist oppression did not exist in pre-colonial Africa. But it is equally true that nowhere in pre-colonial Africa did women constitute a "muted group"2 3, nor were they socially invisible.

Pre-colonial African cultures had complex and democratic socio-political structures evolved in which women were active participants as agents. For instance, in the case of the Yoruba people of Western Nigeria, social positioning was determined mostly by seniority and not by gender. The sexist categorization of some professions as feminine, hence inferior, was also largely unknown in several pre-colonial African societies where women and men alike indulged in such activities as farming and trading.

Consequently, it can be argued that in view of colonialism's complete and radical transformation of social, economic, political and cultural space in the entire African continent, no single African woman escaped its inferiorizing effects. Whether she lived in the city or in the countryside, she was subject to the same process of generalized sexist subservience by the colonial regime. A contrary argument might be made in some quarters, that more than thirty years after the attainment of formal independence by African countries, it is no longer safe to assume that the modern African woman is still subject to the effects of colonialism.

This argument can be countered with the obvious fact that colonialism withdrew from Africa only after putting in place structures that would replace it with a no less pernicious heir: neo-colonialism. It is even more pertinent to remember that all over Africa today, the subjectivity and the social position of every newly born girl is still being determined by the most sexist, subalternizing political 19 legacy of colonialism: the modern African state, appropriately defined by Oyewumi as "the state of patriarchy" African women, oppressed by tradition and religion in the pre-colonial setting before being muted and rendered invisible by the historical event of colonialism, will constitute the focus of reflection throughout this study.

Approaching the African female subject from the standpoint of her objectification by the combined, sometimes mutually reinforcing, effects of tradition and colonialism opens up very useful possibilities for a revisionist reading of the texts of francophone African women writers and the criticism they have so far generated. These writers, like their male counterparts, are mostly products of the ecole coloniale. Their texts are therefore irrevocably marked by that experience.

Furthermore, one of the strategies deployed by colonialism to inferiorize women was to exclude them from educational institutions. This explains why, for its first two decades, the production of modern African literatures was an exclusively male affair. The late coming to writing of African women in general, and francophone African women in particular, ensured that their writing, when it eventually emerged, was born into a subalternized ambiance.

In other words, by the time pioneer African women's texts like Flora Nwapa's Efuru and Therese Kuoh-Moukoury's Rencontres essentielles were published, there was already a dominant male tradition constructed by critics as the norm. The writings of male authors like J. Adeola James' review in African Literature Today of Idu, Flora Nwapa's second novel, and Ernest Emenyonu's rejoinder to this review in the same journal are also indicative of the existence of an early intra-male flow of usually condescending discourse on African women writers.

African women's writing was therefore born into a pre-determined position of subalternity. In view of the positioning and ontologizing, by male critics, of francophone African women's texts as somewhat "inferior" to the dominant male African texts, it is not surprising that the female characters in those works, usually alter egos of the authors, mostly occupy spaces of absence, silence or subordination.

We shall examine the textual trajectory of those characters, mindful at all times of the extra-textual significance of their her stories. Apart from Mudimbe's own work 2 5, the literature justifying the philosophical and historical foundation of that statement is vast and cannot possibly receive an exhaustive review here. However, it is worthwhile examining a relatively representative position on how that process of invention was effected. Reflecting on the broader situation of spaces invented by the West all over the world, Gayatri Spivak states: 21 I am thinking about the imperialist project which had to assume that the earth it territorialised was in fact previously uninscribed.

So then a world, on a simple level of cartography, inscribed what was presumed to be uninscribed. Now this worlding actually is also a texting, a textualising, a making into art, a making into an object to be understood26 emphasis added This statement sufficiently shows that Africa was not only invented by the West, it was also made into an object of epistemological inquiry, to be approached almost exclusively from the standpoint of Western-spawned discursive models.

Consequently, modern African Studies as an academic field straddling disciplines like literature, political science, philosophy, sociology, anthropology and history is essentially an invention of the West. In literature, apart from having to write in the master's language, pioneer African writers relied very heavily on Western models in terms of form and narrative structure. And the critics who emerged to elaborate a critical tradition for the emergent African literatures in the sixties were mostly Western critics using necessarily Eurocentric critical tools.

By the time the first African thinkers arrived from their formative bases in Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Yale and the Sorbonne to join what they condemned as the Western monologue on African discourse, they could only maneuver within already existing Western paradigms of African Studies.

The politics and the subterranean ideological tensions that characterized the transfer of the editorial and discursive control of Black Orpheus from the Western guard Beier, Moore, Theroux to an African guard 22 Abiola Irele, J. Clark in are good indications of how determined the emergent African literati were to wrest control of African discourse from Western participants. For instance, Clark published an essay, "The Legacy o f Caliban", in the very first issue o f Black Orpheus he co-edited with Irele, and he frowned at the idea o f Westerners setting the standards in African literature: For a variety of reasons the European sector has been more articulate and o f overwhelming influence upon African writers.

Jealously, it holds fast to its claim of being the original owner and therefore the natural custodian o f the European language the African is using in his works. These in turn belong to the tradition of literate literature which again goes back to Europe. The very machinery for publication and distribution of African works is to be found chiefly in the capital cities of Europe. Then, of course, there is the old economic supremacy Finally, there are the agents of this ubiquitous complex operating right in the midst of the African sector, and ironically the scouts and promoters of new talents are often to be found among their ranks.

Suffice it to say, however, that while dismissing their Western colleagues as meddlesome outsiders who inflicted their Western neuroses and biases on African discourse 3 0, African scholars and writers unwittingly erected their opposition on the same Western models they sought to deconstruct. These, then, are the conditions in which the much talked-about African theoretical dependence on the West emerged.

So pervasive was this dependence that it came to be perceived as another kind of colonization; hence the urgency with which Chinweizu, Onwucheka Jemie and Chris Madubuike argued for a reversal of that trend in their 23 provocative book, Toward the Decolonization of African Literature Their heady rejection of every Western theoretical contribution to the understanding of African literatures was amplified by Udenta Udenta in his Revolutionary Aesthetics and the African Literary Process and Niyi Osundare in his powerful monograph, African Literature and the Crisis of Post-Structuralist Theorizing Nevertheless, part of the problem posed to African studies by the reality of theoretical dependence is what I will refer to as the crisis of authority in African production of knowledge.

The situation has been created in which every African essay or critical book must seek the blessing of certain stock Western authorities before being reckoned with. The situation is worse for the African thinker operating in the context of the Euro-American Academy. So intense is the pressure to draw on the authority of these thinkers that African critics sometimes unwittingly attribute the dialogic in African novels to Bakhtin: as i f Africa had waited for Bakhtin before evolving age-long communalist polities structured around the very principles of dialogue and social polyphony.

Dialogism's immense success sterns from the fact that it had the good fortune of being propounded in the context of Western individualistic monologism. It is really nothing new for the African. What has happened in the last couple of decades has been a progressive transatlantic alliance between Europe and North America to constitute the behemoth now loosely referred to, in Third World oppositional scholarship, as Euro-American high theory. Michel Foucault, Didier Eribon's biography, provides insights into the workings of this theoretical alliance.

In most instances, Europe produces the thinker whose ideas are later 24 adopted, canonized and "globalized" by the North American academy. Eribon rightly suggests that the likes of Foucault, Baudrillard, Lacan, Derrida and Deleuze became world intellectual figures only after making the transatlantic pilgrimage.

When the ideas of Europe are received and canonized on the other side of the Atlantic, the Euro-American behemoth emerges. This behemoth is the well-oiled validating and authorizing machine that produces the situation of "asymmetric ignorance"31 which Gyan Prakash decries. By "asymmetric ignorance", therefore, Prakash means that the Third World scholar cannot afford or is not allowed to be as ignorant of Western theories as his Western colleagues can afford or are allowed to be of Third World theories.

Oyewumi sums up the situation thus: The point is that the West is at the center of African knowledge-production It is clear that the West is the norm against which Africans continue to be measured by others and often by themselves. The questions that inform research are developed in the West, and the operative theories and concepts are derived from Western experiences Consequently, African studies continue to be "Westocentric.

Even if, as Prakash opines, one's criticism must acknowledge the fact that "it inhabits the structures of Western domination that it seeks to undo" 3 3,1 will no less attempt to study the textual trajectory of the African female subject in the works of francophone African women writers, drawing theoretical authority 25 essentially from subaltern studies in India, and from Africa-influenced versions of feminism. A n Afro-Asiatic theoretical cross-fertilization will be the logical outcome of my discursive strategies. To put it in the language of international political economy, what I hope will emerge is a South-South cultural and theoretical contact that will be open to insights from the West without necesssarily centralizing them.

I am therefore not proposing an insular theoretical framework similar to the Euro-American behemoth. In trying to understand the location of francophone African women writers within the inferiorizing. Etymologically, the term subaltern belongs to the military register, where the "subaltern" is a low rank subordinate to higher-grade officers. However, the initiative of transforming the term into a theoretical concept and investing it with latent ideological connotations belongs to the Italian Marxist thinker, Antonio Gramsci.

In his "Notes on Italian History" 3 4, Gramsci variously uses the expressions "subaltern classes", "subaltern groups" and "subaltern social groups" to conceptualize the discursive spaces inhabited by subjects the peasantry and the people on the lowest rung of the socio-economic ladder. The Gramscian subaltern is Marxism's hoi polloi, Fanon's "wretched of the earth" and Paulo Freire's "the oppressed" rolled into one.

Gramsci's project is to map out "methodological criteria" for studying the history of the subaltern classes. In the process, concepts such as the State, hegemony, dominance and subordination emerge to characterize the relationship between the ruling and the 26 subaltern classes.

The State is not only the mechanism through which the historical unity of the ruling classes is materialized, it is also largely responsible for the subordination of the subaltern classes who, in Gramsci's opinion, are "always subject to the activities of the ruling groups" The point should be stressed that Gramsci's Marxist orientation is largely responsible for his seeing the subaltern's subordination to the ruling elites as a consequence of the historical victory of capitalism.

This is where the fundamental difference between Gramsci's use of the term and its consequent reconceptualization by the Indian subalternists appears. In the work of the Subaltern Studies Collective - a group which boasts members such as Ranajit Guha, Gayatri Spivak, Partha Chatterjee, Dipesh Chakrarbaty and Gyan Prakash - the condition of subalternity is essentially a consequence of colonialism and what Edward Said calls "its derivatives and heirs in the present" As was the case in Africa and the Americas, colonialism engineered a massive social, political and economic subalternization of the dominated peoples.

And in the process of writing Indian historiography, British historians and their elitist Indian allies simply recorded the oppositional processes that culminated in Indian independence as the handiwork of Indian elites. After being inferiorized by colonialism, the Indian subaltern was in turn 27 erased from official narratives of Indian history. The need to offer a revisionist history of India that would account for the historical agency of the subaltern classes in the struggle against imperialism therefore constitutes the central theme of the Indian subaltern studies project.

M y study will start from the working definitions of the subaltern found in the writings of the Indian subalternists: minorities, disadvantaged and dispossessed groups, immigrants, women, or people "of colour". It will also validate, as the Indians have done, the Gramscian injunction that "every trace of independent initiative on the part of subaltern groups should therefore be of incalculable value for the integral historian" Like that of Gramsci, the subaltern whose historiography the Indian theorists sought to reconstruct is very obviously male.

Even i f the category of 'woman' is usually to be found in their definitions of the subaltern, their essays, with very few exceptions, almost always narrow down the argument to a reconstruction of the historiography of the male subaltern. Woman, as a discursive category, is usually dissolved into phallogocentric categories like 'people', 'rural gentry' or 'peasants'.

Consider, for instance, Guha's definition of the subaltern: 28 The terms 'people' and 'subaltern classes' have been used as synonymous throughout this note. The social groups and elements included in this category represent the demographic difference between the total Indian population and all those whom we have described as 'elite'. Some of these classes and groups such as the lesser rural gentry, impoverished landlords, rich peasants and upper-middle peasants who 'naturally' ranked among the 'people' and the 'subaltern', could under certain circumstances act for the 'elite', as explained above, and therefore be classified as such in some local or regional situations.

Fredric Jameson also provides an interesting definition of subalternity and by implication, the subaltern which makes no specific reference to women. According to Jameson, subalternity can be understood as "the feelings of mental inferiority and habits of subservience and obedience which necessarily and structurally develop in situations of domination - most dramatically in the experience of colonized peoples".

Orphée et Eurydice

The subaltern female characters we shall come across in francophone African women's novels have been socialized into "feelings of mental inferiority and habits of subservience" by the combined forces of patriarchy, tradition, religion and colonialism: Against the backdrop of masculinized conceptions of subalternity by scholars like Guha and Jameson, Gayatri Spivak offers illuminating subalternist engagements with the position of woman. Indeed, it is in Spivak's work that the masculinized categories of 'people', 'subaltern classes' or 'subaltern social groups' preferred by her male colleagues are refigured as the 'subaltern woman'.


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Spivak's 'subaltern woman' is at the centre of a theoretical supersyncreticism to borrow Benitez-Rojo's term straddling Marxism, postcolonialism, deconstruction, Third World feminism, and subalternist historiography. In what is rightfully considered as her most 29 polemical contribution to subalternist epistemology, Spivak offers a searing critique of the effacement of sexual difference in much of subaltern studies theorizing: Within the effaced itinerary of the subaltern subject, the track of sexual difference is doubly effaced.

The question is not of female participation in insurgency, or the ground rules of the sexual division of labor, for both of which there is "evidence. If, in the context of colonial production, the subaltern has no history and cannot speak, the subaltern as female is even more deeply in the shadow. Spivak begins what one might call an analysis of the existential impasse of the subaltern woman read Third World woman with the following pertinent observations: Between patriarchy and imperialism, subject-constitution and object-formation, the figure of the woman disappears, not into a pristine nothingness, but into a violent shuttling which is the displaced figuration of the "third-world woman" caught between tradition and modernization.

Although Spivak subsequently clarified her position by submitting that the subaltern sexed subject cannot speak, because her utterances are always neutralized beforehand by the forces we know too well, the point remains that her conclusion essentializes again I use this word reluctantly the condition of subalternity as a fatalistic ontology. While acknowledging the fact that Spivak's question is open to multiple interpretations, Ashcroft nonetheless asks: Can 'colonized subjects' be effective and, indeed, 'meaningful' only i f they speak in the 'voice of their own experience', the language of their own culture?

If they 'translate' that experience into the discourse of the dominant power in order to be heard, are they somehow reshaped or co-opted by that discourse, able to speak only in terms of the dominant culture? History hardly allows for any other possibility. Every oppressed entity has been acted upon and reshaped by the culture and discourses of the oppressor and this reality need not be a weakness. Seizure of the oppressors' discourses, signs and symbols and their subsequent re-deployment as instruments of liberation are at the very centre of the postcolonial transformation Ashcroft speaks of.

Salman Rushdie sums up this argument very neatly in Imaginary Homelands : I hope all of us share the view that we can't simply use the language in the way the British did; that it needs remaking for our own purposes. Those of us who do use English do so in spite of our ambiguity towards it, or perhaps because of that, perhaps because we can find in that linguistic struggle a reflection of other struggles taking place in the real world, struggles between the cultures within ourselves and the influences at work upon our societies. To conquer English may be to complete the process of making ourselves free.