Nyasha and Lucia: Rebellion Against the Dual Oppression

By Svetlana Fenichel

Chris Ofili "No Woman, No Cry"

Tambudzai’s cousin Nyasha, on the other hand, has a different experience of living in colonial patriarchal Rhodesia. Her perception of the oppressive reality of her family and her country is heavily influenced by her experience of the outer, English world. Upon arrival back to Rhodesia after spending some time in England with her family, she becomes forever alienated from her native culture. Most importantly, Nyasha becomes fully aware of both the patriarchal constrain and the colonial oppression of Rhodesian society. She becomes extremely intolerant to the absoluteness of his father’s power and her mother’s silent subversion to his domineering claims of authority.  The desire to break through the stifling system of continuous oppression extended beyond her control. Having no other physical means of objecting patriarchal and colonial coercion she resorts to the space of her body, which is transformed into a space of resistance to both, the damaging effects of colonial domination, and cultural constructions of patriarchal ideologies.

Another important female character of the second generation of women is Lucia. She is the only one who manages to successfully oppose the patriarchal constraint. She is the only woman in the novel who has voice without being Westernized. As pointed by M. Keith Booker, “Lucia plays an important role in the book, suggesting both the oppression and the potential power of women in traditional African society, while at the same time serving as a sort of traditional counterpart to the Westernized Nyasha” (qtd. in Ahmad 60).

As concluded by Ahmad, by portraying women of various social classes, educational levels, generations and life experiences, Tsitsi Dangarembga “highlights the insidious ways in which colonialist and patriarchal agendas colluded to further perpetuate the subjugation of women” (58). In other words, as often pointed by postcolonial feminists, the internal inequalities that existed in the pre-colonial past were reinforced through the active imposition of alien social trajectories of colonialism.

 

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