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Epistolarity as Ethnography of Rebellion (or Alienation)

Western Education and its After-Effects on the Female Subject in Mariama Bâ's So Long a Letter

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Mariama Bâ's So Long a Letter is often counted today as a novel revealing sharp insight into the experiences of Muslim African women, the mistreatment meted out to them by the men in their 'male-dominated' culture. Key episodes hitherto conspicuously overlooked in critical responses to this text suggest, however, that what it appears to do is recover stories of discontent of some apparently aggrieved elitist, Western-educated African women labouring intensively to maintain their privileged middle-class status and perks. As is common with the letter-form, a complex interplay of objectivity and subjectivity lends undeniable vigour to the text, but no one can really vouch for the integrity of the claims contained in the diatribe launched by the embittered women against a culture to which they once felt a sense of belonging.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2011

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