Women's Rites and (W)Human Rights: Female Genital Excision in African Women's Writing

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A comparison of four works dealing with female genital excision, two novels dating back to the 1960s (Flora Nwapa's Efuru (1966) and Charity Waciuma's Daughter of Mumbi (1969) and a novel and short-story that appeared in the previous decade, (Saida Hagi-Dirie Herzi's "Against the Pleasure Principle" (1990) and Evelyne Accad L'Excisée (1982), makes it possible to distinguish two contrastive literary representations of female genital excision, both related to a specific historical time-frame. Whereas the earlier authors, writing shortly after independence, are careful to consider the traditional significance of the practice and its function in the colonial conflict, the more recently-published writers highlight its instrumental role in the oppression of women. Moreover, they emphasise African women's active participation in the elimination of excision and, by doing so, make a significant contribution to the current international debate on female genital excision, in which the voices of African women tend to get ignored by both Western feminists and African men.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationChangements au féminin en Afrique noire. Volume II: Littérature
EditorsD. De Lame, C. Zabus
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)2-7384-8361-5
Publication statusPublished - 1999

Publication series

NameChangements au féminin en Afrique noire. Volume II: Littérature

Bibliographical note

D. de Lame and C. Zabus


  • Charity Waciuma
  • Daughter of Mumbi
  • Efuru
  • Flora Nwapa
  • Saida Hagi-Dirie Herzi
  • Against the Pleasure Principle
  • African women's writing
  • female genital excision


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