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Women’s History Month Choice Book



A History of Africana Women’s Literature


By Rose Ure Mezu




Books by Rose Ure Mezu

Women in Chains: Abandonment in Love Relationships in the Fiction of Selected West African Writers (1994) / Songs of the Hearth (1993) /

Homage to My People (2004) /  Black Nationalists: Reconsidering Du Bois, Garvey, Booker T. & Nkrumah (1999)

Chinua Achebe: The Man and His Works (2006)  /  A History of Africana Women’s Literature (2004)

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A History of Africana Women’s Literature


By Rose Ure Mezu



1 Introduction: A Continuum of Black Women’s Activism   


2 Theorizing the Feminist Novel: Women and The State of African Literature Today by Rose Ure Mezu


3 Women in Igbo Society: A Historico-Literary Analysis of Forms of Expressed   and Transmitted  Knowledge by Gloria Chuku. 


4 Utendi wa Mwana Kupona: A Re-evaluation of a Waswahili Classic Poem  by Ramenga Mtaali Osotsi 


5  From  Nyabingi, The Priestess and Her Abagirwa to Nya(h)bing(h)i the  Rastafari:  Supernatural Matrix  for Political Protest and Anti-Colonial and Neo-Colonial Resistance  by Pierre-Damien Mvuyekure 


6 Conflict or Compromise: The Changing Roles of Women in the Writings of  Rebekah Njau and Grace Ogot  by Margaret A. Reid 


7 Early Nigerian Matriarchs in Historic Action: A Literary Reconstruction  by Rose Ure Mezu 


8 Reclaiming Heritage of Disinheritance Through “Women of the Verb”  in  Assia Djebar’s Loin de Médine  by Najat Rahman 


9 Women in Maghribi Tales of Kinship, Religion, Revolt, and Exile  by Deirdre Bucher Heistad 


10 The Recovered Voice: Body and Writing in The Princess of Tiali  by Nafissatou Niang Diallo  by M’bar N’Gom


11 The Non-Conformist Women of Nuruddin  Farah’s Blood of the Sun Trilogy  by Blessing Diala-Ogamba 


12 Signifying Women’s Oppression in Zimbabwe: Feminist Theory  in Yvonne Vera’s Butterfly Burning  by  Marlene de la Cruz-Guzmn 


13 The Politics of Gender in the Writings of Selected Southern African Writers:  Bessie Head,  Tsitsi Dangarembga, and J. Nozipo Maraire  by Lena M. Ampadu 


14 Spirituality in African Traditional Community – Art, Orature and Women Priestesses/Diviners


15  About the Contributors 


About the Contributors

Margaret Ann Reid,  a native of Cheraw, South Carolina, received her B.A. in English from Morgan State College, her M.A. in English from the University of Iowa, her M.L.A in Literature from the Johns Hopkins University, and her Ph.D. in English from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She serves on the editorial boards of many academic journals, and publishes on the literature of African Americans and African women. A former Fulbright-Hays Scholar and Professor of English at Morgan State University, Dr. Reid did summer study in Kenya and Tanzania. Dr. Reid is the author of Black Protest Poetry: Polemics from the Harlem Renaissance and from the Sixties (Peter Lang, 2002).

Najat Rahman is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of Montreal, specializing in Arabic and Francophone literature, and her research interests include translation, poetry, and nationalism. Dr. Rahman has written numerous articles on gender and her publications include essays on Assia Djebar, poetic translations of Mahmoud Darwish and Al Bayyati, and reviews of the work of Rachid Al Daif, Amin Maalouf and Leila Sebbar. Dr. Rahman is co-editor of a forthcoming critical edition (by Interlink Press) on the work of the poet, Mahmoud Darwish.

Pierre-Damien Mvuyekure is an Associate Professor at the Department of English and literature at the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA. His research areas include African American literature and culture, rap and hip-hop music, African literature, culture, religion and dance aesthetics. Also a poet, he is editor of World Eras (volume 10): West African Kingdoms 500-1590 (Gale 2004). He currently serves as Coordinator for State Chairpersons and Area Coordinators of NAAS.

Marlene De La Cruz-Guzmán is Assistant Dean for Intercultural Programs at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A native of Guatemala, she holds an M.A. in Literature from Michigan State University and a B.A. in Literature and Theology from Barry University. Her research interests include third wave feminist theory, sub-Saharan African women writers, and the work of Yvonne Vera, in particular. She is currently conducting research in Southern Africa for a forthcoming project.

Lena M. Ampadu is Associate Professor at the Department of English Towson University. She has scholarly essays published in Callaloo, Composition Studies, African American Rhetoric(s): Interdisciplinary Perspectives, and Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering. Her current research interests include the rhetoric of nineteenth-century African American women and oral traditions in the literature of women of African descent.

Ramenga Mtaali Osotsi (Ph.D.) is of the department of English, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA. Originally from Kenya, Dr. Osotsi taught for many years at University of Nairobi, Kenyatta University, and Maseno University. Currently, she serves as the Director of the World Literature Minor — a joint program of the Department of English and the Department of Foreign Languages and literature of the James Madison University.

Blessing Diala-Ogamba has a Ph.D. in English from the Federal University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria, an M.E. from Worchester State College Massachusetts, an M.A. and a B.A. Education/English from the University of Calabar, Nigeria. She is presently Assistant professor in the Department of Humanities and Media Arts at Coppin State University, Baltimore, Maryland.

Gloria Ifeoma Chuku (Ph.D.) is an Associate Professor of History at Millersville University of Pennsylvania. She has published numerous articles in national and international journals including the Journal of Archaeological Association of Nigeria, Journal of Rural Development and Administration, African Economic History, UFAHAMU. Dr. Chuku also contributed a chapter tot he book, Troubled Journey: Nigeria Since the Civil War.

Deirdre Bucher Heistad is an Asiistant professor of French and Francophone Studies at the University of Northern Iowa. She received her Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary French Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign in 2000. Focusing her research on Francophone women writers, recent publications include “Evelyne Accad, (fémi) humaniste” (co-authored with Cynthia Hahn of Lake Forest College) in Revue des lettre et de Traduction, “Beyond Mariana Bâ: Senegalese Women Writers in the Classroom” in Women in French Studies, and “Entretien avec Fouad Laroui” in CELAAN Review. She is currently editing a book — “Evelyne Accad: Explorations.”

M’baré N’gom (Ph.D., Paris-Sorbonne) is Professor of Spanish and Latin American Studies/French and Francophone Studies and the Chairperson of the Department of Foreign Languages, and Director of the African Studies Program. His articles have appeared in many international journals. He is the author of Diálogos con Guinea: panorama de la literatura guineoecuatoriana de expresión castellana a través de sus protagonistas (Madrid 1996), and co-author of Literatura de Guinea Ecuatorial (Antologia) (Madrid 2000). He has traveled, studied, and lived in Africa, Europe, South America, and Central America.

Acknowledgments  Editing this anthology has been a challenging and enriching experience.  I thank the scholars who submitted the essays that make up this book:   Gloria Chuku, Ramenga Mtaali OsotsiMargaret A. Reid, Pierre-Damien Mvuyekure, Najat Rahman, Deirdre Bucher HeistadM’bar N’Gom, Blessing Diala-Ogamba, Marlene de la Cruz-Guzmn and Lena Ampadu. Many of these notable scholars  worked really  hard to satisfy the parameters set out for this study.  

As usual, I express my undying gratitude to my husband Sebastian Okechukwu Mezu, poet, novelist, Pan-Africanist  scholar, publisher, political theorist, businessman – genius and Renaissance man — without whose encouragement I would have abandoned this work because of its scope and complexity.  Time and again, he would push and push until I would dust off and go back to work. Certainly, it is largely because of his unflagging commitment to excellence and completion which his name, Mezu, symbolizes, that this anthology has come to fruition. 

Source: Rose Ure Mezu, ed. A History of Africana Women’s Literature. Baltimore: Black Academy Press, 2004

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Other essays by Dr. Rose Ure Mezu:

An Africana Blueprint for Living in the 3rd Millennium Global Community1: An Essay

Pope John Paul II: A Life with a Mission: A Mission of Grace and Moral Strength

A History of Africana Women’s Literature   (Introduction)

Africana Women: Their Historic Past and Future Activism

Black Nationalists: Reconsidering: Du Bois, Garvey, Booker T., & Nkrumah (Introduction)

Chinua Achebe The Man and His Works (Introduction)

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The Price of Civilization

Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity

By Jeffrey D. Sachs

The Price of Civilization is a book that is essential reading for every American. In a forceful, impassioned, and personal voice, he offers not only a searing and incisive diagnosis of our country’s economic ills but also an urgent call for Americans to restore the virtues of fairness, honesty, and foresight as the foundations of national prosperity. Sachs finds that both political parties—and many leading economists—have missed the big picture, offering shortsighted solutions such as stimulus spending or tax cuts to address complex economic problems that require deeper solutions. Sachs argues that we have profoundly underestimated globalization’s long-term effects on our country, which create deep and largely unmet challenges with regard to jobs, incomes, poverty, and the environment. America’s single biggest economic failure, Sachs argues, is its inability to come to grips with the new global economic realities. Sachs describes a political system that has lost its ethical moorings, in which ever-rising campaign contributions and lobbying outlays overpower the voice of the citizenry. . . . Sachs offers a plan to turn the crisis around. He argues persuasively that the problem is not America’s abiding values, which remain generous and pragmatic, but the ease with which political spin and consumerism run circles around those values. He bids the reader to reclaim the virtues of good citizenship and mindfulness toward the economy and one another.

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery /

George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

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updated 10 June 2008 




Home  Rose Ure Mezu Index 

Related files: Igbo Marriage  Preface to Religion & Society  A History of Africana Women  Women in Chains  Women in Achebe’s World Leadership, Culture, and Racism