This book has focused on questions about women’s authorship,
female characters, and politics in Africa. Perhaps it was inevita-
ble that national independence would form the political frame. Inde-
pendence itself was less important—for me—than how, or even that,
women represented political action or commitment. I found that in
their fiction, female writers rarely represented the nation, let alone
national struggles. Once I posed the question of what constitutes
political commitment, or what it looked like in fiction, the question
itself became murkier; even in men’s writing, I soon found that it was
not always easy to pinpoint what precisely constituted a commitment
to national independence. For example, few male writers depicted the
union activities that had so much to do with the formation of urban,
work-based collectivities in the 1940s and ’50s in sub-Saharan Africa.
Nevertheless novels by men published from about 1955 to 1965 in-
cluded stories of boys whose innocent eyes were opened to the unethi-
cal behavior of unscrupulous Europeans and Africans (Ferdinand
Oyono, Mongo Beti, and later, Ngugi wa Thiong’o); historical fictions
about important men who fell from power in their villages (Achebe);
and even individual men who urged people to work together to im-
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