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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Of female husbands and boarding school girls: gender bending in Unoma Azuah's fiction
Author:Zabus, ChantalISNI
Periodical:Research in African Literatures
Geographic term:Nigeria
women writers
About person:Unoma Nguemo Azuah
Abstract:This article contends that Unoma Azuah's fiction was not created out of a vacuum, but taps into the Igbo ancestral matriarchal past, the practice of 'female husbandry' documented by cultural anthropologists (e.g. Sylvia Leith-Ross and Ifi Amadiume), previous West African literary attempts at representing lesbian seduction (e.g. Ama Ata Aidoo), as well relational nexuses within the boarding school system. In a 2005 contribution, Unoma Azuah presented her own work as part of a Nigerian lesbian continuum. Upon their publication, her poems unleashed the male Nigerian critic Kalu Uduma's vengeful tirade against 'the depravity, the instability and violence of our time'. More largely, those voices opposing African heteronormativity clash not only with African patriarchy, but also with feminisms of African manufacture. This article argues that Nigerian feminisms need to make room for the material factors of 'doing lesbian'. While pointing to the reluctance in Azuah's novel 'Sky-High Flames' (2005) to allow same-sex desire to develop, the author also comments on womanly relationality, such as Azuah's displaced (auto)biographical vestment in her aunt's story, as well as on moments of intimacy between women, which augur the new Nigerian novel's capacity to comment on the economy of pleasures and on the way of constituting oneself as the moral subject of one's sexual conduct. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [ASC Leiden abstract]