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Title:The tradition behind the tradition: Matriarchy and the contemporary women writers of Cameroon
Author(s):Toman, Cheryl
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Accad, Evelyne
Department / Program:French
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, Romance
Literature, African
Women's Studies
Abstract:In 1969, Therese Kuoh-Moukoury emerged as the first female novelist of her native Cameroon with the publication of Rencontres essentielles. In terms of feminist literary expression, she was preceded in the Francophone world only by Marie-Claire Matip who wrote the novella, Ngonda, in 1958. Matip and Kuoh-Moukoury represent the very roots of an innovative literature which would continue to inspire Cameroon's feminist writers. It is a female literary voice which originates from within African culture itself.
Despite the claims that the African woman writer is inspired by Western feminism, this study proves that her literary voice is indeed influenced by an African matriarchal tradition. The study looks at matriarchal and matrilineal societies from many perspectives, including those of the original theorists on the subject, Johann Bachofen, Lewis Morgan, and Friedrich Engels. Schneider and Gough's views on matrilineal societies are also relevant to this study, as well as the African perspectives expressed by (1) Ifi Amadiume, (2) Cheikh Anta Diop, (3) Therese Kuoh-Moukoury, and (4) Calixthe Beyala.
Cameroon's history has been shaped by an unusual melange of cultures and religions. Due to this diversity, Cameroonian women must look further in their history to discover a tradition which can unite them--matriarchy.
Although matriarchal and matrilineal societies were originally common in rural polygamous societies, Kuoh-Moukoury demonstrates in her works that a 'matriarcat nouveau' is present in contemporary African society. Interdependence and solidarity of the former matriarchal tradition are still important in shaping a contemporary matriarchy which allows the African woman to reclaim the influence that she had lost in the transition from rural to urban life.
In support of this contemporary matriarchal theory, the works of several Cameroonian feminist authors are analyzed. These authors include Kuoh-Moukoury, Philomene Bassek, Werewere Liking, and Beyala. The matriarchal theory presented can be used to analyze texts outside of Cameroonian literature as well.
Issue Date:1996
Rights Information:Copyright 1996 Toman, Cheryl
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9702689
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9702689

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