Abasi Kiyimba


This article focuses on the voices of protest by Uganda women writers against age-old discriminative habits, and on the rebuttal made by women on questions of social and political power. The article particularly assesses the way women writers approach generally assumed positions on the power relations between men and women, a theme that runs through all the writing by Ugandan women. As part of the discussion, the paper inevitably pays particular attention to the presentation of male characters, and on the prominence given to issues of male dominance, injustice and discrimination against women, which take place at several levels of society. All women writers, including Barbara Kimenye who writes in the mid-1960s, deal directly or indirectly with these questions. Predictably, Kimenye’s tone in the earlier works is quite moderate, but it is unequivocal. The more recent writers on the other hand, deal more explicitly with questions of male-female relations in the home and in society. They also tackle the subject of sex in a manner that would have been quite shocking at the time when Kimenye wrote her first works. While an attempt is made to draw in other female writers, this discussion mainly focuses on the work of Kimenye, Okurut, Kyomuhendo and Barungi, all of whom have written at least two substantial works of fiction. The article investigates in depth the presentation in the fiction by Ugandan women writers of questions of male brutality and female vulnerability, female silence as enforced by the social system, the emergence of the unconventional Female and the inevitable clash with the intransigent male, and the role of art in the process of psychologically empowering women.

Author Biography

Abasi Kiyimba is an Associate Professor in the Department of Literature, and Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Arts at Makerere University in Uganda. He holds a BA in Literature and Language from Makerere University, an M.Litt in Literary Linguistics from the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow in the UK, and a PhD in Literature from the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. Kiyimba has taught on a variety of literature courses including Literary Linguistics, African American Literature, 20th Century African Literature, selected European authors such as Bernard Shaw, George Orwell, Jane Austen, and Charles Dickens; but his current research interests are in the areas of African Oral Literature, Children’s Literature and Gender in Literature.