Women’s maxims, as well as other forms of oral literature in Tanzania, are a popular genre. They are verbal arts that can be self-addressed or addressed to a fellow woman among womenfolk. This paper intends to examine the role of these maxims in imaging women in Tanzania. This study was prompted by the findings of previous studies regarding the portrayal of women in Kiswahili literature where, generally, women are depicted as inferior beings compared to men, partly due to the fact that most authors are men. Hence, we found it imperative to investigate women’s maxims that are created and uttered by women themselves. The study was also prompted by other studies worldwide on language and gender. The questions to be addressed in this paper are: What is generally portrayed in such maxims? Why do women create, use and perpetuate such maxims? How do women consider themselves in relation to men? The data of this study was collected in Dar es Salaam through interviews and observation techniques. This study is significant to literary critics, sociolinguists, gender practitioners, cultural theorists and researchers on women studies. The study revealed that women’s maxims make much contribution to group identity formation, gender relations and culture. Through these maxims women marginalize their role, empower themselves, create gender constructs and gender differences and give themselves new outlook in the modern society.
Omari, Shani and Senkoro, Fikeni E. M. K.
Imaging the Woman through Tanzanian Women’s Maxims.
Journal of International Women's Studies, 19(3), 119-134.
Available at: http://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol19/iss3/10