CHAPTER 3: THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
The previous chapter is the literature review which discusses the connection between the current research and others linked to the subject of deviance and moralisation as portrayed in post-independence Shona fictional works. This chapter focuses on the theoretical framework upon which the research is grounded. The significance of theories when it comes to literary criticism cannot be underestimated. One of the critics who analyses value of applying theories to literary criticism is Furusa in his 2002 doctoral thesis An Appreciation of Critical Practice in Zimbabwean Literature. He begins by analysing how literary theories originate. He notes that literary theories are a result of studying how literature is produced, the producers of literature, the conditions under which it is produced, the reasons for its production and the targeted audience. Therefore according to Furusa (ibid: 16) theories “establish a coherent set of concepts that serve as a central focus of literary studies.” Also, they provide both the critical methodology and criteria for the evaluation of literature. Ultimately, the theories are important as they ensure the growth and development of literature. One of the issues emphasised by Furusa is that it would be hard for critics to have meaningful research and evaluations of literature without basing their arguments on theories as there is need for systematically analysing literature and it is the theories that provide mechanisms for such analysis. As a way of summarising the significance of theories he deliberated on above, Furusa (ibid:17) says; “… a people`s literature develops or stagnates, flourishes or withers, strengthens or weakens according to the theories that set the tone for its creative and critical methods and provide concepts and criteria that mark its direction for development.” It is therefore critical that a researcher selects theories that are relevant to the nature of the research that one engages on. Apart from literary theories, the research also utilises some sociological theories to unpack the discourse on the highly contentious subject of deviance. It is crucial that this research adopts a metatheoretical approach taking into cognisance the fluidity of the subject of deviance and the multidisciplinary nature of the research. Since the research is on literature, it will foreground the literary theories but without undervaluing the sociological theories as the concept of deviance falls within the domain of the discipline of sociology. The literary theories to be discussed are Afrocentricity, Africana-Womanism and Marxism whilst the sociological ones include the conflict theories, the labelling or symbolic interactionist theory as well as the functionalist theory. However, it is important to note that despite relying on a variety of theories, that is, both literary and sociological ones, the main theory which informs criticism in this research is Afrocentricity. This is because of the interconnectedness between culture and theory. Furusa (ibid) notes that literary theories exist and function within cultural frameworks and are a consequence of cultural assumptions and expectations of a people`s literature. This prioritisation of Afrocentricity is important in this research as it allows the researcher to view deviance within the context of Shona culture by virtue of the theory`s centeredness on African culture. However, the research still adopts an eclectic approach to cover as many issues as possible and also to cater for the controversies that may result from studying the subject of deviance.
This subsection explores the literary theories on which criticism of this research is premised and these are Afrocentricity, Africana Womanism and Marxist literary theories. Attention is paid on the background of the theories, tenets of the theories and their relevance to this study.
As already indicated above, the main literary theory which informs the criticism of this research is Afrocentricity. Some of the major proponents of the theory include Molefi Kete Asante, Maulana Karenga, Kariamu Welsh-Asante, Marimba Ani, Chinweizu, Chinua Achebe and Ngugi wa Thiongò. However, it is Molefi Kete Asante who is widely regarded as the father of Afrocentricity or put differently, the leading proponent of the Afrocentric approach. This should not be mistaken to imply that Asante is the first to call for Africans to be centred in their culture and history. Asante himself pays tribute to Cheikh Anta Diop for having influenced his worldview of putting African history and culture at the centre of everything that has to do with Africans and their lives. It is through his 1980 book Afrocentricity-The Theory of Social Change that he popularised the concept with unprecedented vigour and first uses the term Afrocentricity in that book hence the credit he gets. This prompted subsequent proponents like Gray (2001) to praise the work as being the first in the modern era to succinctly explore what the theory entails and its implications to the life of Africans.
According to Asante (2007:29), “Afrocentricity is an intellectual perspective deriving its name from the centrality of the African people and phenomena in the interpretation of data.” To strengthen his definition, Asante (ibid) cites Karenga, one of the major proponents of the theory, who describes Afrocentricity as, “… a quality of thought that is rooted in the cultural heritage and human interest of African people.” Arguably, the theory is the most relevant in understanding the life of Africans, their challenges, fears, hopes and aspirations by virtue of its centeredness in their history and culture. This makes it problematic to solely rely on borrowed theories particularly western ones which have no interests in transforming the lives of Africans as theories are products of particular societies` history and culture. Hudson-Weems (2004: xx) is quite unequivocal on the need for Africans to rely on their own theories:
I cannot stress enough the critical need today for Africana scholars throughout the world to create our own paradigms and theoretical frameworks for assessing our works. We need our own Africana theorists, not scholars who duplicate or use theories created by others in analyzing Africana texts. Indeed developing paradigms and critical theories, which is our true mission, makes possible for better monitoring interpretations of our works in an effort to keep them both authentic and accurate in order to maintain their originality in meaning and value.
Afrocentricity is therefore wholly an African centred theory. Asante (2007:16) defines it as:
A consciousness, quality of thought, mode of analysis and an actionable perspective where Africans seek, from agency to assert subject place within the context of African history.
Therefore one of the major issues emphasised under Afrocentricity is the need for Africans to be active participants in their lives and not to be on the periphery on issues that concern them.
Asante (ibid:17) further makes it clear that under Afrocentricity “the issue of agency is of paramount importance as the African people ought to be viewed and view themselves as agents rather than spectators to historical revolution and change that has to do with their lives.” One can then argue that the ultimate goal of Afrocentricity is the transformation of the lives of the African people be it in political, social or economic spheres as it seeks to make them masters of their own destiny. Thus Afrocentricity views the African as the subject and not the object of his history. Also central to Afrocentricity is the idea that African peoples and interests must be viewed as actors and agency in human history, rather than as marginal to the European historical experience and cultural worldview that has erroneously been institutionalised as universal. Achebe (1989) speaks strongly against the imposition of European culture and civilisation as the universal mode upon which all other cultures of the world should be modelled.
As already alluded to, the theory strongly emphasises the significance of African culture and history in the analysis of information concerning African people. The emphasis on history is what Gray (2001: 101) terms “the Sankofan approach”. This implies that Afrocentricity both in theory and practice is rooted in African history. However, this is not to say that we must be stuck in our history and traditions remaining motionless but rather we should use these in an empowering way so as to confront and resolve our contemporary predicaments. Chinweizu (1975: 303) is quite clear on this when he says:
We should realise that a sterile worship of any tradition, not excluding the modern European, will bring cultural death, not renaissance.
Chinweizu also takes heed of Aime Cesaire`s warning that mere copying from our past is inadequate to face the current problems. This principle of Afrocentricity is what Gray (2001) calls Harmosis which basically calls for the harmonising of the ancient and traditional values of African culture in a manner that would be beneficial and empowering for the Africans. Chinweizu (ibid: 496-7) further notes that under Afrocentricity, “we ought to approach all problems and issues from the viewpoint of our own interests and work towards liberating ourselves and our culture in the new global world.” The theory therefore becomes relevant in this research by virtue of emphasising the importance of using African history to understand the current reality confronting the African people. Amuta (1989) argues that African literature should be deeply rooted in African history as it is the primary condition of its origin and understanding. In this research, the Zimbabwean history becomes important in the understanding of the developments in the post-independence era as some of the problems obtaining in the country can be best understood in the context of history. One of the proponents of the theory, Niane (1965: iv) argues that the African writers have the roles of historians. He notes that “the artist occupies the chair of history.” As already indicated, history will help in the understanding of the current situation obtaining in the country. This becomes crucial in this research`s endeavour to find out if the writers are able to historically contextualise some forms of deviant behaviour.
One of the major tenets of Afrocentricity that this research adopts is that of “cultural centeredness” and location. Through emphasis on the importance of African culture, the theory becomes important in this research as it helps the researcher in the conceptualisation of deviance as the issue is culture specific: in other words what is perceived as deviance in one culture may not be seen as such in another cultural context. In this research therefore, the Shona people`s cultural aesthetics enshrined in their existential philosophy are the basis for the understanding of deviance as it is them (the Shona people) who are the target of the literature under exegesis. Prior to the advent of written literature which came through colonialism, the Shona people had their own literature which was verbal and it manifested itself through various forms that included folktales (ngano), proverbs, legends, myths and taboos and riddles. In all these art forms, the aspect of moralisation is of paramount importance and the ultimate goal is to provide mechanisms of countering deviance as the art forms have definitions and benchmarks of ethical behaviour. As for the proverbs, Hamutyinei and Plangger (1987: xix) argue that one of the major functions of proverbs, apart from verbalising customary law, is to enunciate rules of conduct in the Shona people`s lives. They further argue that the proverbs represent a people`s philosophy of life and “in so doing, they serve to impose some sort of regularity on the unfolding variety of life and to stress the proper form of behaviour or type of character or action to be expected” (xxi). Still on proverbs, Mandova (2013:357) also argues that “Shona proverbs are an expression of the Unhu/Ubuntu philosophy”. He notes that Unhu is a social philosophy which embodies virtues that celebrate mutual social responsibility, mutual assistance, trust, sharing, unselfishness, self-reliance, caring and respect for others among other ethical values. This philosophy therefore carries with it certain specified expectations of what constitutes the right and acceptable behaviour. It is not surprising that most of the early Shona novelists make use of proverbs in their works and this can be reflected through the titles of the novels. Some examples cited in Hamutyinei and Plangger (ibid) are as follows; Patrick Chakaipa`s Rudo Ibofu (1961), Ignatius Zvarevashe`s Museve Wade Nyama (1983), Edward W. Kaugare`s Kukurukura Hunge Wapotswa (1978), Amos Munjanja`s Rina Manyanga Hariputirwi (1971) and Joyce Simango`s Zviuya Zviri Mberi (1974). Even the post-independence Shona literary works continue to make use of the proverbial lore although this does not feature prominently on the titles as it was in the earlier works particularly those produced in the colonial era. This can be observed even inside the texts as the writers impart certain moral lessons to the readers using proverbs. The same can be said about how the Shona folktale influenced and continues to influence the modern writers. It is evident that the ultimate goal of the folktales is moralisation as they impart certain ethos that defined what is right or wrong (deviance). Mutasa, Nyota and Mapara (2008:32) comment on the didactic nature of folktales when they say:
Therefore, Ngano becomes the platform where people learn the dos and don`ts, as well as the repercussions on anyone who would violate an interdiction.
There are various types of folktales especially when it comes to characterisation. There are some with animal characters and in other instances inanimate characters whilst others have human characters or a mixture of the above. However, there is one salient feature in all folktales as the characters are polarised into two groups, the good and the bad. In a bid to impart moral values, those who do the virtuous things are rewarded whilst who are associated with vice (the deviant) are punished. Chiwome (2002) notes that this type of characterisation can be observed in some Shona novels as the writers attempt to sell certain morals values to the readers. The story tellers’ major duty is to teach and socialise their audience in accordance with the cultural values and expectations of their societies. Achebe in an 1989 essay entitled The Novelist as a Teacher emphasises the need for the African novelists to draw inspiration from the traditional story teller whose major responsibility was to teach his/her audience about the cultural worldview of the society and its history.
Apart from the proverbs and folktales, the Shona people have riddles which also play a critical role in imparting moral values to the people. Gelfand (1979) notes that among the Shona, riddles aid the young to learn about the existence of social values and equips them with the yardsticks to measure them. This is the same in other African societies as reflected by wa Gachanja and Kebaye (2013) who analyse the significance of riddles among the Abagussi people of Western Kenya. They note that riddles, regardless of being viewed by some Eurocentric critics as childish in nature and therefore not to be considered seriously, have various functionalities in societies and these include cultural, social and historical ones. Furthermore, they argue that riddles can be viewed as artistic attempts to express the dangers that are associated with the negation of the traditional practices. One example they cite is that of some riddles that advocate the communal approach to life discouraging individualism as it promotes selfishness widely viewed as a vice. The communal approach to life is also the one revered by the Shona people as it helps to unite people thereby cultivating the spirit of belonging and oneness.
One other way the Shona people impart morals in an attempt to curb deviance is through zviera (taboos). As put forward by Masaka and Chemhuru (2011), Shona taboos provide moral sanctions that help in the moulding of the people`s unhu (virtue) in the community. This is achieved through threatening severe punishment as well as misfortune to those who may attempt to engage in anti-social behaviour. Masaka and Chemhuru (ibid:133) summarise the significance of the taboos when it comes to moralisation among the Shona as they note that:
Taboos among the Shona have a teleological nature in that they are sanctions that are meant to inculcate the most appropriate traits in the person that would make him a worthy member of his community.
Some of the morals enshrined in the Shona taboos include avoiding bad behaviour like cruelty to others, sexual misconduct and selfishness. One can therefore conclude that the above indigenous forms of expression, that is, the proverbs, folktales, riddles and taboos reveal the fact that the Shona people were conscious of the debilitating consequences of deviance in society. These forms of expression therefore mounted a whole cultural corpus to contain deviance and define the benchmarks for ethical behaviour. Written African literature should therefore draw inspiration from its oral antecedents. Achebe (1989), Chinweizu, Madubuike and Jemmie (1981) note that the novelist should draw inspiration from the story teller who was not detached from his or her community as the product (folktale) was always relevant to the people of the community. Therefore, the novelists should ideally become conduits of propagating the community`s worldview and philosophy of life. African oral literature still continues to play a significant role in the development of written literature in terms of both form and content. This relationship between oral and written literature is important in this research in its attempt to examine the possible influence of oral literature on the written particularly when it comes to moralisation and how this impacts on the vision of the writers and ultimately the development of Shona fiction.
As argued by Asante (op.cit), the theory`s major objective is to enhance the political, economic and social transformation of the African people. This becomes crucial taking into cognisance the history of the Africans stretching from the period of slavery, colonialism and the prevalent neo-colonial forces which have provided various problems to the African people. The theory calls for the emancipation of the people in the wake of such challenges and the approach to resolving the problems should be Afrocentric for it to be relevant. The theory provides assumptions on the roles and or responsibilities of writers and it is these assumptions that are used in the evaluation of whether the works of literature are of any significance in the transformation of the lives of the Zimbabwean people as it is hypothesised in this research that the prevalence of deviance is an indication of problems existing in society. Most proponents of Afrocentricity note that literature has a role to play in exposing the injustices existing in society thereby helping in the liberation of the oppressed. One such proponent is wa Thiong`o (1981) who argues that every writer is a writer in politics whether consciously or otherwise. He states that writers are expected to be on the side of the ordinary men and women who are oppressed in the societies they live in by exposing the injustices and what could be done to solve them. This perception on the role of literature in African societies becomes significant in this research as it helps in the criticism of what are given to be the causes of deviance and also it is equally important in the examination of the relevance of the solutions provided by the writers to curb deviance taking into cognisance the political, social and economic situation prevalent in the period of history (post-independence era) under discussion. As has already been stated deviance in this research is hypothesised as a symptom of a crisis obtaining in society and literature is expected to play a significant role in finding the solutions to the crisis. There is need for the writers to thoroughly analyse what is obtaining in the society first before suggesting the way out as they risk giving irrelevant solutions. This makes the theory relevant in this research as it helps in the criticism of the solutions given by the writers to curb deviance taking into cognisance the needs of the Shona (African) people by analysing whether the solutions are able to transform their lives for the better or otherwise. The transformation should be done within the context of African culture for it to be sensible as Asante (2007:30) contends:
Indeed, Afrocentricity contends that there could be no social or economic struggle that would make sense if African people remained enamoured with the philosophical and intellectual positions of white hegemonic nationalism as it relates to Africa and African people.
This relates to the advocacy for cultural centeredness and location which is one of the major tenets of Afrocentricity.
One other issue that ought to be considered seriously under the tenets of Afrocentricity is that of audience. The proponents of the theory argue that African audience has to be the priority for African writers with the ultimate goal being to transform their (Africans) lives for the better. These proponents include Achebe (1989) who reinforces the point that it is unimaginable in his mind that an African writer can have a foreign audience as the target when producing his/her work. Therefore from an Afrocentric literary point of view, literary works ideally should help to propel the Africans forward in their lives by looking at the causes and solutions to their problems in the context of their culture and history. In particular reference to this research, the ideas generated by the writers of the Shona post-independence fictional works on the causes and solutions to deviance should be relevant to the people`s needs, hopes and aspirations by virtue of being anchored in their culture and history. This then would ultimately help in the evaluation of the vision of the writers through evaluating the relevance of the solutions to deviance as suggested in the fictional works being examined in this research. One other thing to be noted is that as a theory, Afrocentricity discourages pessimism but rather encourages confidence inspired by their culture and history and this should also be reflected in the literary works discussed in this research as the people battle to resolve problems they face as epitomised by the prevalence of deviance. Afrocentricity as a theory recognises the importance of both form and content as inseparable mutual categories in the articulation of society`s political, social and economic experiences. Form becomes an expression of content and is determined by themes emanating from the political, social and economic conditions. This recognition of the importance of form will help the researcher in the analysis of characterisation as depicted in the fictional works. Characterisation is the most important conduit of expressing the themes by the author and the manner in which he views the reality around him/her. This is captured by Priestly cited in Achebe (1989:59):
Characters in society make the novel…Society itself becomes more important to the serious novelist and indeed turns into a character itself, perhaps the chief character.
The images attached to characters therefore should not be detached from social reality. This then becomes important in this research as it attempts to analyse deviance in the context of the political, social and economic conditions of the post-independence Zimbabwe.
Another literary theory which this research relies on is Africana Womanism, propounded by Clenora Hudson-Weems in the late 1990s. Aldridge in Hudson-Weems (2004: xii) defines an Africana womanist as:
…a self-namer and self-definer who is family centred with a strong grounding in sisterhood and an unyielding belief in positive Africana male-female relationships as foundations for the survival of Africana people and humankind.
Also defining the Africana womanist Hill in Hudson–Weems (2008:5) observes that “an African womanist …is a black woman activist who is family centred rather than female centred and who focuses on race and class empowerment before gender empowerment.” One of the major arguments raised by the proponents of the theory is that the problems affecting women of African descent should be addressed from an African perspective. With regards to this stance, Hudson-Weems (2004:24) articulates that the theory “… advances in a direction best suited for accuracy in authentic literary theory that is, creations and interpretation focusing on the totalling of the Black Women’s presence within our own rich and unique historical and cultural zones.”
As is in the case of Afrocentricity, history and culture are of paramount importance in addressing the problems faced by African women. The tenets of Africana Womanism that would be adopted in this research are gender complementarity and family centeredness. Overally, African Womanism is defined as a movement that is family centred. The following are the qualities expected from an authentic Africana woman as postulated by Hudson-Weems (2004: xxii). The identified pointers are “self-namer, self-definer, family-centred, genuine in sisterhood, strong, in concert with male in struggle, whole, authentic, flexible role player, and respected, recognized, spiritual, male compatible, respectful of elders, adaptable, ambitious, mothering and nurturing.” The theory becomes relevant in the research in the analysis of male-female relationships particularly when it focuses on prostitution and family violence as forms of deviance. It becomes useful particularly in the analysis of the images given to both female and male characters as it detests the existence of acrimonious relationships between men and women as these deter development in resolving the problems facing the people.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION
1.2 Statement of Purpose
1.3 Aim of Study
1.4 Significance of Research
1.5 Scope of Study
CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW
2. 0 Introduction
2.1 Prostitution and Homosexuality as Sexual Deviance
2.2 Crime as Deviance
2.3 Family Violence and Negligence of Duty in as Deviance 31
2.4 Critics on Deviance in Zimbabwean Literature and the Post-Independence Crisis
2.5 Critics on Oral-Literacy Link and Moralisation in African Literature
CHAPTER 3: THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
3.2 Sociological Theories
CHAPTER 4: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
4.1 Definition and Characteristics of Qualitative Research
4.2 Data Gathering Techniques
CHAPTER 5: ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION
5.0 Novels and Interviewees’ perspectives
5.2 The Zimbabwe Crisis as Context of Deviant Behaviour
5.3 Data Generated from Fictional Works
5.4 Prostitution as Reflected in the Selected Novels
5.5 Homosexuality as Deviance: Engaging Mapenzi and Makaitei?
5.6 Crime as Deviance in Mapenzi, Ndozviudza Aniko? and Ndafa Here?
5.7 Family Violence and Negligence of Duty by Family Members as Deviance In Selected Works
5.8 Oral-Literacy Link: Moralisation and its Impact on the Vision of the Writers
CHAPTER 6: CONCLUSION
6.1 Research Findings
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