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The writings of east African nationalist leaders as sites of representation of their identities

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dc.contributor.author Mutie, Stephen Muthoka
dc.date.issued 2015-11
dc.date.accessioned 2019-03-11T13:19:51Z
dc.date.available 2019-03-11T13:19:51Z
dc.identifier.uri http://41.89.96.81:8080/xmlui/handle/123456789/1617
dc.description.abstract It is commonly accepted that independence did not deliver the African masses from the burden of life-in-suffering. It is thus necessary to persist in the attempts to elucidate those murky aspects of the colonial past and postcolonial present which may resolve the conundrum of failed independence. The literary scholar can intervene in this undertaking by endeavouring to examine the mind-work of the leaders who steered the nationalist project and determined to a large extent its outcome. This mind-work, which crucially involves the nationalist leaders‟ understanding and representation of their own selves, finds expression in their writings, which the student of literature is best equipped to investigate. This study, therefore, concerned itself with the representation by East African nationalist leaders of their identities in their writings, i.e. speeches and autobiographies. The objectives of the study were to establish how Jomo Kenyatta‟s Suffering Without Bitterness (1968), Julius Nyerere‟s Freedom and Unity/Uhuru na Umoja (1968), and Yoweri Museveni‟s Sowing the Mustard Seed (1997) construct the identities of a nationalist leader; to identify the literary strategies used by the authors in this construction; and to establish the ways in which the anticipation of audience shapes the construction of these identities. The study was based on the assumptions that in the three texts Kenyatta, Nyerere and Museveni engage in the construction of their identities as nationalist leaders; that the three authors use various literary strategies to construct these identities effectively; and that the anticipation of particular audiences plays a part in the way they construct their identities. The study used the postcolonial theory of autobiography. This theory deals, most importantly, with cultural identity in formerly colonised societies; the dilemmas of developing a national identity after colonial rule; and the ways in which writers articulate, celebrate and interrogate that identity (often reclaiming it from and maintaining strong connections with the coloniser). Interpretivism was the research methodology for the study. The speeches and autobiography provided the primary data. Scholarly work and other secondary material complemented it. Data was analysed interpretively. The study established that the three texts project identities desired by the three authors – the father of the nation (Kenyatta), Mwalimu (Nyerere), and revolutionary saviour (Museveni). In the context of the problematic unfolding of the nationalist project these identities serve to mask negative aspects of the leaders‟ personalities. This construction is made possible by Kenyatta‟s use of myth, Biblical allusion, metaphor, and paradox; Nyerere‟s use of repetition, historical allusion, parallelism, and figurative language; and Museveni‟s use of Biblical parables and imagery. Identity construction incorporates the leaders‟ responding to sceptical, dissatisfied and critical views of them through placation, reassurance, outright dismissal and counter-accusation. The study was able to conclude that identity representation for the three leaders became a complex process of projecting selves that were at marked variance with their true inner core. A dichotomy was created between the leaders‟ desires of how they wanted to be perceived by the masses and the deviations from this ideal that they gradually became, shaped by personal ambitions for power before all else. This was a dichotomy the leaders never tried to overcome; instead they focused their energy and attention on concealing their ambition-deformed personalities behind the masks of the positive self-identities they constructed. In the resultant hide-and-seek game with their peoples, the opportunity for selfless leadership and genuine service to nation-building was lost. The study helps to understand East African nationalist leaders from a new perspective and in so doing expands the understanding of the region‟s historical, political, literary and ethical heritage, which has a bearing on its present. en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.publisher Egerton University en_US
dc.subject Writings -- Nationalist leaders -- Representation -- Identities en_US
dc.title The writings of east African nationalist leaders as sites of representation of their identities en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US


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