Monday, April 18, 2011

The Solution

            Like the issue of colonialism itself, the issue of the noticeable lag of Francophone African women writers is without any clear solution. In fact, resolution is not a real option. This is because the situation demands attention on two sides rather than merely one: the side of the author and the side of the reader.
            The core of the issue is, of course, the access to education and the actual literary proliferation of African women. In order to reach the world, they must first acquire a language that is world known… they must become Francophones. Luckily, through the course of the last few decades, access to education has dramatically improved. However, the quality and availability of education continues to be dependent on region (urban vs. rural) and wealth. The majority of truly successful Francophone African authors, such as Assia Djeba and Mariama Bâ, have had comparatively more affluent upbringings than the general female population. However, it is not an easy thing to try to change an entire system and expose every woman to education and the French language. We have yet to conquer such education disparities even here, in the United States.
            Even once exposed to the language, many women may become discouraged and disillusioned once faced with the difficulties of reaching an audience. For one, the act of publication presents an obstacle. Irѐne Assiba D’Almeida points out in Francophone African Women Writers: Destroying the Emptiness of Silence that the lack of, or presence of, publication houses in Africa have a significant impact on the literary initiatives of women writers. In areas with more publication houses, more literary works are produced, obviously enough. However, if access to them is limited, there exists a far greater struggle for publication. Perhaps this is one of the easier remedies for the woman writer- provide greater access to publication.
            Yet even after the education is gained and the work is published, one final challenges arises: will anyone read it? Except in specific literature courses in institutions of higher learning, the audience for such works is limited, and leads to the dying out of the voice which was so strongly fought for. Bâ’s So Long A Letter actually went out of print for a time in France due to lack of readership. With a recently renewed wave of interest in Francophone African literature, this phase of reader disinterest may be over. The real struggle now is to keep the interest alive. For that, a distinct solution is unclear. At the moment, the best option, in my opinion, is to allow the present wave of education, publication, and interest to grow and spread.

1 comment:

  1. When we are reading these authors in class, I often forget how much they struggled in order to get their books published. I was just wondering if you knew how easy it is/was for African authors to get things published in Europe? Would the Europeans be prejudice because the literature was not from Europe and talking about European mistakes? Or would it be difficult just because the publishers may not think that there is an audience for these works?