Subtle-Radical Female Subversion as a Means of Self-Empowerment in Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions and Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood




African radical feminism , female emancipation, subtle-radical female subversion, women’s self-empowerment


In this article, we use two African literary texts written by African women to demonstrate ways in which women use very subtle but radical ways to circumvent patriarchal norms. We re-read Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions and Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood to demonstrate subtle-radical ways in which women subvert patriarchal expectations. We utilise African radical feminism as a literary theory to frame our analysis. Furthermore, we problematise the ideology of using radical means as a way to survive and argue that women ought to survive and live a meaningful, free life post survival. To do this, we bring to light the subtle-radical ways in which characters such as Tambudzai, Lucia, and Adaku subvert gender role expectations in order to emancipate themselves from the shackles of patriarchal expectations. We find that women who use conventional radical resistive ways tend to have the full force of patriarchy’s weight clamped down on them, while those who use subtle-radical means tend to get their freedom and succeed.


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How to Cite

Nephawe, Mishumo, and Olufemi Abodunrin. 2023. “Subtle-Radical Female Subversion As a Means of Self-Empowerment in Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions and Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood”. Imbizo 14 (1):17 pages .



Received 2022-09-26
Accepted 2023-04-20
Published 2023-08-11