National identities, tradition, and feminism: The novels of ama ata aidoo read in the context of the works of kwame nkrumah

Elizabeth Willey, Missouri State University


This chapter attempts to take Mohanty’s warning to heart and explores the dynamics of women’s roles in the nationalist enterprise with reference to one specific context-that of the role of women in Ghana during the struggle for independence and the establishment of a postcolonial nation-state. It looks at general theories of the role of gender and the language of nationalism and seeks to show how the role of women was described in pre- and postindependence Ghana. Tradition is used in this case precisely for its value as tradition, not necessarily because of its relation to a current, local context. Feminism furthers postcolonial theory by revealing how much colonial and postcolonial theorizing of nationalism and national identity rests on gendered rhetoric which assumes women as the moral barometers of a nation rather than as active participants in the nation. The new ending, however, is only available through an exploration of women’s stories.