Subverting Women’s Selves: Female Spaces in BuchiEmecheta’sHead Above Water and Charity Waciuma’s Daughter of Mumbi
So I worked out a plan. While my family slept i wrote the ideas,
and when they were awake I typed them out. I have to write
because of them [her children].
BuchiEmecheta, Head Above Water 60
African women’s autobiographies often embedself and individuality in relationships tofamily as well as to social and political history. Self-revelation may be deferred until the entire range of family relationships is revealed. Alternatively, there may be a juxtaposition of the expanding consciousness of the woman-self to the developing group story. The African woman’s autobiography, as African autobiography and as woman’s autobiography has to be read against the theoretical discussions specific to these two. Yet there is specificity to the African woman’s autobiography which comes directly out of the fact that she has long been constructed as publicly silenced. Patricia Meyer Spacks calls women’s autobiographies in western culture “Selves in Hiding” and points out that even in the autobiographies of women who have achieved great accomplishments by international standards, there is a tendency to evade and or deny their individual selves. In a more recent exploration of the poetics of women’s autobiography Sidonie smith posits instead:
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