3-Emecheta Politics -...

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European colonial rule in Africa not only represented the imposition of a new form of government but was also part of a project of the fundamental reordering of African society.  This project led to new forms of economic interactions, gender relations, and social norms incorporating aspects from both the imposed European and indigenous African orders.  In The Joys of Motherhood1Buchi Emecheta critiques the way in which many of these hybrid social systems have particularly affected women in a negative manner as colonialism helped to reinforce indigenous patriarchy and introduce new forms of sexism.  Emecheta's 1977 novel is also a nationalist text that differs from the work of her male counterparts by examining issues of gender inequality in addition to those of general colonial oppression and its impact on the emergence of modern African society. Despite   enormous   variation   across   the   continent,   certain   similarities   existed among many precolonial African societies regarding political organization, methods of economic   interaction,   and   gender   relations.     Jared   Diamond's   analysis   of   African geography explains how the continent's north-south axis across many climatic zones inhibited the spread of advanced agriculture and thus created relatively low population densities in most areas.2These geographical parameters helped to shape socio-political organization throughout the continent.   For instance, as Jeffry Herbst describes, "the nonterritorial nature of power" was a general norm throughout most of Africa due to the relative abundance of land compared to people.3 Where large political units did exist, power tended to emanate outwards in concentric circles around a capital or "political 1Buchi Emecheta.The Joys of Motherhood.London: Heinemann, 1982 [1979]. 2Jared Diamond.Guns, Germs and Steel.New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1999. (398-400) 3 Jeffry Herbst.States and Power in Africa; Comparative Lessons in Authority and Control.New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2000. (35) 1
core".4 At the periphery, power was generally very weak, thus giving people a great deal of political and economic autonomy.  Though these and the numerous other areas that existed without the influence of a large political force were shaped by regional and global patterns of trade, political and economic autonomy did not usually extend far beyond the local level. Within these circumstances, the gender dynamics of many African societies came to reflect socio-economic imperatives.  As Emecheta's preoccupation with the subject in much of her fiction  indicates, African  societies  past and present have placed great
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