The Struggle for Liberation: Yvonne Vera's Without a Name

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Without a Name, a novel written by Yvonne Vera, explores the journey of a young Zimbabwean woman, Mazvita, during the late 1970’s guerilla war. In 1963, the two political parties in Zimbabwe were banned, which led to guerilla warfare in 1966. This ultimately led to emigration out of Rhodesia. In the novel, Mazvita traveled from her hometown of Mubaira, to the city of Harare. In her hometown, she faced rebel forces, who sexually abused her along with destroyed her village. In the course of her journey to Kadoma and the city of Harare, Mazvita encountered more political violence and a revolutionary social change. Along with the never-ending political revolution, it is important to note the gender differences at this time. Women were considered inferior in this male dominating culture; this idea is central to Vera’s writings and plays a significant role in Without A Name, where Vera attempts to establish a change in the traditional views in Africa. Due to women’s traditional roles in Zimbabwe, females become a site of oppression and bodily confinement, which give colonial powers an opportunity to use this secret sexuality as a way to abuse; Vera uses her female protagonist’s body and sexual pleasure to challenge patriarchy, with sex as a central symbol for resistance and ultimately freedom against colonial powers. In Vera’s writings, it is clearly evident that women’s sexual roles are disapproved of and criticized in traditional African culture. It is crucial to understand how women were treated toward the beginning of Vera’s story line to fully interpret the theme of sex and freedom in Without a Name. Corwin Mhlahlo, author of “Advocating a Nameable Desire,” explains, “In most patriarchal societies, especially those of Africa, femal... ... middle of paper ... ... control of their bodies… consequently, they can defiantly enjoy their sexual encounters as expressions of sexual freedom,” (Mhlahlo 104). Through these modes of expression, the female protagonist Mazvita truly breaks away from the oppression, confinement, and restrictions to have control over her own body and sexual pleasures. Works Cited Mhlahlo, Corwin L. "Advocating A Nameable Desire." Matatu: Journal For African Culture & Society 41 (2013): 97-104. Academic Search Complete. Web. 20 May 2014. Musila, Grace. "Embodying Experience And Agency In Yvonne Vera's Without A Name And Butterfly Burning." Research In African Literatures 38.2 (2007): 49-63. Academic Search Complete. Web. 20 May 2014. Shaw, Carolyn Martin. "Turning Her Back on the Moon: Virginity, Sexuality, and Mothering in the Works of Yvonne Vera." Africa Today 51.2 (2004): 35-51. Web. 20 May 2014.

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