'Adding wisdom to their natures'

'Adding wisdom to their natures'

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'Adding wisdom to their natures' British colonial educational practices and the possibility of women's personal emancipation in Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, Buchi Emecheta's Joys of motherhood and Tsitsi Dangrembga's Nervous conditions
McIntyre, Megan
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[Tampa, Fla]
University of South Florida
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Subjects / Keywords:
Victorian education
Missionary education
Dissertations, Academic -- English -- Masters -- USF ( lcsh )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


ABSTRACT: Popular opinion suggests that education is the 'silver bullet' to end poverty, famine, and all the worlds' ills. The reality of education for women, however, is not as easily classified as transformative. This paper seeks to illuminate, through historical research and literary analysis, the connections between the charity education of Victorian Britain, a system examined in Jane Eyre, and the missionary education which comprised the majority of the educational systems in the British colonies, including Nigeria and Zimbabwe, the settings of Emecheta and Dangarembga's works.Beginning with Charlotte Brontë's Victorian classic, Jane Eyre, and moving through time, space and situation to the colonial experience novels of Buchi Emecheta and Tsitsi Dangarembga, we find instead that education, particularly British philanthropic education, from charity schools for children without means in the 18th and 19th century to the mission schools that comprised the basis for British colonial education in Africa, produces women who benefit only in very limited ways. For Charlotte Brontë's title protagonist, as for many of the characters in Jane Eyre, Nervous Conditions, and The Joys of Motherhood, education represents a new life. Brontë, Dangarembga, and Emecheta all offer education as a possible escape for characters within their novels, but the length of and price for that escape differs based on a character's role within a colonial set of identities, whether the character in question is part of the colonizing power or one of its colonial victims.When taken together, Jane Eyre and these two African experience novels demonstrate that British education is largely ineffectual in granting female characters the kind of freedom that education is supposed to instill. The price of the hybridity necessary to survive in the colonial situation could very well be the complete loss of self, a disintegration of identity, as it is for Nyasha, who is, according to her own analysis of her situation, neither Shona nor British and therefore is no one at all.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of South Florida, 2009.
Includes bibliographical references.
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by Megan McIntyre.

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'Adding wisdom to their natures' :
b British colonial educational practices and the possibility of women's personal emancipation in Charlotte Bront's Jane Eyre, Buchi Emecheta's Joys of motherhood and Tsitsi Dangrembga's Nervous conditions
h [electronic resource] /
by Megan McIntyre.
[Tampa, Fla] :
University of South Florida,
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains 51 pages.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of South Florida, 2009.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.
ABSTRACT: Popular opinion suggests that education is the 'silver bullet' to end poverty, famine, and all the worlds' ills. The reality of education for women, however, is not as easily classified as transformative. This paper seeks to illuminate, through historical research and literary analysis, the connections between the charity education of Victorian Britain, a system examined in Jane Eyre, and the missionary education which comprised the majority of the educational systems in the British colonies, including Nigeria and Zimbabwe, the settings of Emecheta and Dangarembga's works.Beginning with Charlotte Bront's Victorian classic, Jane Eyre, and moving through time, space and situation to the colonial experience novels of Buchi Emecheta and Tsitsi Dangarembga, we find instead that education, particularly British philanthropic education, from charity schools for children without means in the 18th and 19th century to the mission schools that comprised the basis for British colonial education in Africa, produces women who benefit only in very limited ways. For Charlotte Bront's title protagonist, as for many of the characters in Jane Eyre, Nervous Conditions, and The Joys of Motherhood, education represents a new life. Bront, Dangarembga, and Emecheta all offer education as a possible escape for characters within their novels, but the length of and price for that escape differs based on a character's role within a colonial set of identities, whether the character in question is part of the colonizing power or one of its colonial victims.When taken together, Jane Eyre and these two African experience novels demonstrate that British education is largely ineffectual in granting female characters the kind of freedom that education is supposed to instill. The price of the hybridity necessary to survive in the colonial situation could very well be the complete loss of self, a disintegration of identity, as it is for Nyasha, who is, according to her own analysis of her situation, neither Shona nor British and therefore is no one at all.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
System requirements: World Wide Web browser and PDF reader.
Advisor: Hunt Hawkins, PhD
Victorian education
Missionary education
Dissertations, Academic
x English
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
4 856
u http://digital.lib.usf.edu/?e14.3220


‘Adding Wisdom to Their Natures’: British Vict orian and Colonial Educational Practices and the Possibility of Women’s Persona l Emancipation in Charlotte Bront’s Jane Eyre Buchi Emecheta’s Joys of Motherhood and Tsitsi Dangrembga’s Nervous Conditions by Megan McIntyre A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Department of English College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Major Professor: Hunt Hawkins, Ph.D. Elizabeth Hirsh, Ph.D. Gurleen Grewal, Ph.D. Date of Approval: November 11, 2009 Keywords: postcolonial, Victorian educati on, missionary education, Zimbabwe, Nigeria Copyright 2009, Megan McIntyre


i Table of Contents Abstract....................................................................................................................... .........ii Chapter 1: Introduction ....................................................................................................... .1 The Legacy of British Education for Women ..........................................................1 Chapter 2: The Victorian Model ..........................................................................................7 Victorian WomenÂ’s Education .................................................................................7 Jane Eyre and WomenÂ’s Education .......................................................................10 Chapter 3: African Education and Colonial Domination ...................................................14 Pre-Colonial Education ..........................................................................................14 Colonialism and Education ....................................................................................16 Aims of Colonial Education.......................................................................16 Denial of African Cultural Heritage ..........................................................19 Missionaries and Mission Schools .............................................................20 Colonial Educational Practices in Zimbabwe ............................................22 Colonial Educational Practices in Nigeria .................................................24 Internalization and Enculturation ...............................................................26 African WomenÂ’s Pre-Colonial and Colonial Education .......................................28 Chapter 4: African E xperiences Novels .............................................................................30 Joys of Motherhood ................................................................................................30 Nervous Conditions ................................................................................................35 Chapter 5: Conclusion........................................................................................................41 Works CitedÂ…. ................................................................................................................. .46 Notes.Â…Â…Â…. .................................................................................................................... 49


ii 'Adding Wisdom to Their Natures': British Vi ctorian and Colonial Educational Practices and The Possibility Of Women's Persona l Emancipation in Charlotte Bront’s Jane Eyre, Buchi Emecheta's Joys of Motherhood and Tsitsi Dangrembga's Nervous Conditions Megan McIntyre Abstract Popular opinion suggests that education is the ‘silver bulle t’ to end poverty, famine, and all the worlds’ ills. The reality of education for women, however, is not as easily classified as transformative. This pa per seeks to illuminate through historical research and literary analysis, the connections between the charity education of Victorian Britain, a system examined in Jane Eyre and the missionary education which comprised the majority of the educational systems in the British colonies, including Nigeria and Zimbabwe, the settings of Emecheta and Dangarembga’s works. Beginning with Charlotte Br ont’s Victorian classic, Jane Eyre, and moving through time, space and situation to the coloni al experience novels of Buchi Emecheta and Tsitsi Dangarembga, we find instead that education, particularly British philanthropic education, from charity schools for children without means in the 18th and 19th century to the mission schools that comprised the basis for British colonial education in Africa, produces women who benefit only in very li mited ways. For Charlotte Bront’s title protagonist, as for many of the characters in Jane Eyre Nervous Conditions and The Joys of Motherhood education represents a new life. Bront, Dangarembga, and Emecheta all offer education as a possible escape for characte rs within their novels, but the length of and price for that escape differs based on a character’s role within a colonial


iii set of identities, whether the character in ques tion is part of the co lonizing power or one of its colonial victims. When taken together, Jane Eyre and these two African experience novels demonstrate that British educat ion is largely ineffectual in granting female characters the kind of freedom that education is supposed to instill. The pr ice of the hybridity necessary to survive in the colonial situation could very well be the complete loss of self, a disintegration of identity, as it is for Nyasha, who is, according to her own analysis of her situation, neither Shona nor British and therefore is no one at all.


1 Chapter 1: Introduction “‘This business of womanhood is a heavy burden, ’ she said. ‘How could it not be? Aren’t we the ones who bear children? When it is like that you can’t just decide today I want to do this, tomorrow I want to do that, the next day I want to be educated! When there are sacrifices to be made, you ar e the one who has to make them. And these things are not easy; you have to start learning them early, from an early age. The earlier the better so that it is easier later on. Easy! As if it were ever easy. And thes e days it is worse with the poverty and blackness on one side and th e weight of womanhood on the other.’”1 The Legacy of British Education for Women On a trip to England in April of 2009, th e United States of America’s first lady, Michelle Obama, told the pup ils at a girls school in London that “nothing in my life's path would have predicted that I would be standing here as the fi rst lady of the United States of America. There was nothing in my story that would land me here. I wasn't raised with wealth or resour ces of any social standing to speak of. If you want to know the reason why I'm standing here, it's because of education” (Cadwalladr). Mrs. Obama’s declaration of the importance of education is only the latest iteration of a popular meme concerning the power of knowledge. Popular opinion suggests that education is the ‘silver bullet’ to end poverty, famine, and all the world’s ills The reality of education for women, however, is not so easily classified as transformative. Beginning with Charlotte Br ont’s Victorian classic, Jane Eyre, and moving through time, space and situation to the col onial experience novels of Buchi Emecheta and Tsitsi Dangarembga, we find instead that education, particularly British philanthropic education, from charity schools for children without means in the 18th and 19th century to


2 the mission schools that comprised the basis for British colonial education in Africa, produces women who benefit only in very limited ways2. For Charlotte Bront’s title protagonist, as for many of the characters in Jane Eyre Nervous Conditions and The Joys of Motherhood education represents a new life. Bront, Dangarembga, and Emecheta all offer education as a possible escape for characte rs within their novels, but the length of and price for that escape differs based on a character’s role within a colonial set of identities, whether the character in ques tion is part of the co lonizing power or one of its colonial victims. Bront’s Jane, a woman who is part of the nation that will eventually colonize the cultures explored in Dangarembga and Emec heta’s works, finds freedom and a new identity at the Lowood School. Her education pr ovides the necessary tools to secure her immediate future as a governess and her eventu al future as Mrs. Rochester. This future, however, does not extricate her from her pl ace within the patria rchal hierarchy. Her ‘happy ending’ must, therefore, include ma rriage and motherhood. However, even this limited independence supposedly accessible through education re mains theoretical for the women of Emecheta’s Joys of Motherhood For Nnu Ego and her daughters, their gender means the denial of access to any kind of educational opportunity. We can glimpse, though, through the educational experiences of Nnu Ego’s sons, th e potential problems with the European education Nnu Ego covets. For Dangarembga’s Tambu in Nervous Conditions who is able to pursue the kind of education Nnu Ego wants, then, the freedom promised by education remains larg ely illusory and elusive. Although much of Tambu’s narrative argues for the transformativ e power of European education, the results


3 of such an education for Tambu indicate th at the education in question is largely ineffectual. Gauri Viswanathan begins his explorati on of the relationship between education, the English language, and British colonial rule in India by exploring the part of education, specifically concerning the English language an d its literature, in the subjugation of a colonized people. In his introduction, he suggest s that “the imperial mission of educating and civilizing colonial subject s in the literature and thought of England” was “a mission that in the long run served to strengthe n Western cultural hegemony in enormously complex ways” (2). Because the British co lonizers relied on sc hools to supplant the traditional culture and language of the group they colonized, English literature “served as the chief disseminator of value, tradition, and authority” in the coloni es in much the same way it did in Britain (Viswanathan 7). The discussion of the role of educati on and language in particular in the subjugation of native peoples is further complicated, however, when the discussion centers on female characters3. Michelle Vizzard, in her discussion of hysteria and womanhood in Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions suggests that, when discussing a woman in a colonial context, “feminist analys is is not an additional extra to projects of antior post-colonization, but ra ther is absolutely integral to them.” Her point, which is particularly important in the discussion of education in the colonies, almost always governed by gender concerns, is that when we examine works of literature that explore women in the colonies, we are already looking at their situations through both a postcolonial and feminist lens because the two are inextricably linked.


4 With that in mind, then, the problem of British education for female characters in Buchi EmechetaÂ’s The Joys of Motherhood and Tsitsi DangarembgaÂ’s Nervous Conditions is related both to the charactersÂ’ stat us as colonized persons and as women in patriarchal societies. Because the forces of colonialism and patriarchy come together in the construction of th eir identities, a discussion of th ese charactersÂ’ experience of womanhood would be incomplete without ac counting for the ways gender influences their place within the colonial hierarchy and the way that colonialism affects their experience of womanhood. The discussion that follows will focus more closely on the problems of European education for a coloni zed subject, especially a colonized woman, as she attempts to navigate a colonial situa tion in which the only way to survive is to adopt the colonizerÂ’s language and cultural practices. Her journey is made even more difficult, then, by the fact that neither her tr aditional culture nor the colonizerÂ’s culture offers her a position of equality with he r male counterpart. The opportunity of any education, therefore, is even mo re difficult for her to acquire. For the women of The Joys of Motherhood education is discussed as if it is the salvation for the protagonist, Nnu EgoÂ’s, fa mily. Through her sons, education offers the path for her long term financia l security. For these sons, how ever, education also offers escape and sanctuary from the turbulence of th eir shifting culture. De spite the problem of her sons and the results of their educational opportunities, Nnu Ego also sees education as the best hope for her daughters to find voices of their own. For the characters in The Joys of Motherhood however, it seems that education is beneficial and transformative only for those w ho are willing to discard their culture, for those men who can leave behind the ties that bi nd them to their traditions and to their


5 families. For the women of the novel, educati on it purported to be a way to circumvent the traditional patriarchal for ces that subdue them, but the fe male characters, despite their insistence on the importance of education for their daughters, fail to pursue said education on their daughters’ behalf. Because of the grand expectati ons for education and the limited independence that actually results from it, education remains an inscrutable force in the colonial situation represented in The Joys of Motherhood. Despite Nnu Ego’s insistence that education c ould be the one thing to pr ovide the independence she desperately wants for herself and all the daught ers of Nigeria, she ultimately accepts the rules of the patriarchal system for herself and for her daughters. The power of education, then, for the women of the novel, is largely theoretical, for none of them have personally experienced its power against the forces that ti e them inextricably to the lives that do not fulfill them. In Nervous Conditions then, we find what could be the fulfillment of Nnu Ego’s dream for her daughters because Dangarembga ’s narrative offers insight into the consequences of the educational ‘freedom’ th at Nnu Ego seeks. Dangarembga’s portrayal of the mission school, and later the Lady’s Co llege, suggest that while a colonial education provides opportunities unavailable to those withou t such an education, its overall effect is not necessarily positive. In stead, while it is clear that Dangarembga’s protagonist’s knowledge of Eng lish and grasp of important co lonial lessons allows her more freedom than she would otherwise ha ve had, her ambivalence toward both her traditional cultural role and the role that her co lonial education casts her in is exemplified by her cousin Nyasha’s loss of self. Nyasha’s violent reactions to he r father’s oppression are a result of the overwhelming Englishness transmitted to her by her father’s obsession


6 with his colonizer and the co lonizerÂ’s European education. Both TambuÂ’s attitude and NyashaÂ’s reactions point to the dangerous natu re of a European education which seeks to replace a set of already establis hed cultural values and language. The connections between BrontÂ’s Jane Eyre on the one hand and EmechetaÂ’s Joys of Motherhood and DangarembgaÂ’s Nervous Conditions on the other hand lie in the ways that these women experience British e ducation. As women within an educational system that focuses more on moral training th an intellectual stimulation, the protagonists of all three novels fail to fi nd the kind of power that is supposed to exist in education. The fact that Jane finds some power to change her situation may be related to the fact that the education she receives reinforces her cultural traditions and language. Nnu EgoÂ’s family in The Joys of Motherhood and Tambu and Nyasha in Nervous Conditions however, are saddled with an education that denies the power of their own cultural traditions and language and supplants those tr aditions and that language with British values and the English language.


7 Chapter 2: The Victorian Model: Jane Eyre and the Purpose of Women’s Education “I was sent to Lowood to get an education; and it would be of no use going away until I have attained that.”4 Victorian Women’s Educational Practices The educational experiences described in Jane Eyre The Joys of Motherhood and Nervous Conditions all grow out of the same philos ophy of charity education. The same kind of educational charity extended to wo men without means in Victorian England was recreated in British colonies like Nigeria and Zimbabwe. These charity schools, which date from the 17th century, served as the most fund amental basis for the school system developed in the British co lonies after colonization. In the late 17th century, religious based phila nthropy societies developed “an interest in popular education,” something which became even more “fashionable in the early nineteenth century” (McLean 5). To a certain extent this was because “the Victorians saw education as a means of both social control and indi vidual betterment,” a sentiment which coincides with Aunt Reed ’s reason for sending Jane to the Lowood school in Bront’s novel (Burstyn 11). In an effort to control th e growing number of lower class boys and girls, charity schools became a “favorite form of benevolence” (Jones 3). These schools were opened to a ddress pauperism, which was, “throughout the century, the leading domestic problem” (Jones 28).


8 For the children enrolle d at these charity schools, “t he enterprise and philanthropy of others offered the only hope of educatio nal opportunity” (McLean 5). Without these charity schools, most of the children they se rved would have been left without any kind of training or opportunity for social betterm ent. So, in the eight eenth and nineteenth century, “thousands of schools were set up and hundreds of thousands of children, for whom no other means of education existed, were instructed by [their] means” (Jones 3) Much of the charity school movement was fuel ed by the “political a nd religious unrest of the seventeenth century,” which “contributed in no small degree to the desire of the upper and middle classes to establish social di scipline among the poor, who in contemporary opinion were peculiarly susceptible to the poi son of rebellion and infidelity” (Jones 4). The philanthropists who funded the major ity of the charity schools hoped that education “would build up a God-fearing population and, at the same time, would inoculate the children against the habits of sloth, debauc hery and beggary” (Jones 4). This goal can be clearly seen in Mr. Brockle hurst, the patron of the school at which Jane receives her training to become a governe ss and school teacher, who characterizes the purpose of a Lowood education, which was “to render [the girls] hardy, patient, selfdenying” (Bront 114). These same philanthr opists, however feared that “too much learning…would spoil the quality of thei r labor and encourag e both unrealistic aspirations of improvement and undesirable expr essions of grievance” (McLean 5) things which could only be stamped out, according to Brocklehurst, by denying “their vile bodies” to feed “their immortal souls” (Bront Chp 7). These schools were, by no means, howev er, wholly good or generous endeavors, as exemplified by the pettiness and hypocrisy of Lowood’s benefactor, Mr. Brocklehurst.


9 For the most part, “the company of pi ous and philanthropic men and women who financed and managed the charity school movement” had hardly any “conception of education except as a redemptive agency” (Jones 343). This emphasis on religious and moral training provided the basis for these institutions, for their founders “did not envisage it as a basis of common citizensh ip, nor as a means of developing the personality and intellectua l powers of children. They were concerned with the propagation of the moral discipline” (Jones 343) In addition to the lack of real world training and economically bene ficial knowledge, the schools that served the poor “were inadequate in number, their management was not lacking in corruption, nor their discipline in brutality,” all of which is evid ent in Bront’s depiction of Jane’s time at Lowood (Jones 343). To a certain extent, however, the powerfu l men in charge of the philanthropic schools of the eighteenth and ni neteenth century ignored th e issues of women working within philanthropic societies and institutio ns and the education of such women. As Dorice Elliot notes in her book on Victorian womanhood, The Angel Out of the House “their major tactic for dealing with the issue of social work as poten tial paid employment for middle-class women was silence” (128). The thrust of the argument for educating women was that some parts of education w ould make them better suited for their roles within the home (Eliot 143). Education woul d also teach the wome n of the Victorian middle and lower classes the proper limitations of female aspirations, for “if women were to be allowed to have and act on ambitions desires and to have access to the developing space of the social sphere, it seemed crucial that they be rightly educated, both in terms of


10 the work they intended to accomplish and the proper limits that should be imposed on this work” (Eliot 164). Additionally, “education was perceive d by some groups in society as a mechanism for upward mobility,” as it is for Jane (Burstyn 50). These groups saw education as an important tool with whic h “a clever woman, from a tradesman’s family, might use the opportunity to go to university or enter a profession to make a better marriage than would otherwise have been possible for her” (Burstyn 50). Those who encouraged the education of these women, how ever, “did not encourage women to step beyond their own sphere in searching for jobs, nor did they encourage them to work once they were married” (Burstyn 171). Although edu cation was available to these women and allowed them a certain amount of freedom, they were still closely constrained by propriety concerning the appr opriate roles for women. Jane Eyre and Women’s Education In Charlotte Bront’s Jane Eyre, we are able to glimpse the powerful role that education can play and the way that edu cation can open doors for women to a kind of limited independence. In Jane Eyre the title protagonist finds her life transformed by an education that offers her an escape from her neglecting aunt and a busive cousin. After a particularly nasty encounter with her cousin s Reed, Jane is sent, not wholly unwillingly, to the Lowood school for girls. The school, desolate, cold and la rgely underfunded and undersupplied, is inhabited by women of strengt h and vigor, especially the pious Helen Burns, who teaches Jane the value of restrain t and courage, and the head instructor, Miss Temple, who nurtures and cares for Jane in a way that her Aunt Reed had refused to.


11 Jane’s time at Lowood transforms her from the petulant child Jane, who is intent upon asserting herself and her rights, to th e adult Jane who understands her place as governess and teacher. As was its aim, her tim e at Lowood teaches Jane not to reach too far beyond her place within society. Jane astu tely deduces the choices before her and accepts what the education at Lowood might mean in terms an independent future. She notes that, by attending school and training as a teacher, she “had the means of an excellent education placed within my reach ; a fondness for some of my studies, and a desire” to no longer be dependent upon a nyone (Bront 124). Jane seems to find that “when compared with starving or going into domestic service,” she should see “teaching at the village school in highly qualified term s as a position of relative dignity: ‘it was humble—but . sheltered . [a] safe asyl um; it was plodding . but . independent . not ignoble . not mentally degradi ng’” (Julien 123). Jane’s geographical location has much to do with the viability of the edu cation she receives. In Britain, girls of the lower and middle classes had the opportunity to be trained for occ upations that provided an income large enough for them to support themselves, which woul d allow them some freedom of choice and self-determination, but th is education was not effectual in securing Jane any real freedom. Despite her eventual marriag e and professed happiness at the end of the novel, the adult Jane has only a small measure of the autonomy that the child Jane argues so fervently for during her time with her aunt a nd cousins. This is because Jane’s education teaches her the dangers of overreaching and the importance of longsuffering piety, as modeled by Helen Burns and Miss Temple. Jane enters the school a passionate, barely controlled young woman. After her time at Lowood, though, she has adopted a more


12 submissive nature, the nature exemplif ied by Helen Burns and Miss Temple. Her education, along with the subjugation of he r more argumentative and assertive self, allows her into Mr. RochesterÂ’s world through her role as governess. Her education is, ultimately, effective in securing her future semi-independence and love, as well as her moral standing, as she is able to resist the temptation to become RochesterÂ’s mistress and secure her own financial independence with her decision to leave RochesterÂ’s home. But it stops short of offering her social equality. For Jane, social equality lie s in oneÂ’s ability to surviv e without the necessity of male patronage, to survive by earning m oney on oneÂ’s own. She speaks honestly to Rochester, and later St. John, about the power of money in securing freedom, and that frankness about money and salary in the nove l demonstrates Jane Eyre's lack of sentimentality about work and compensation. The businesslike approach to work is connected to the value she places on economic independence as a means to a domestic life free from wa ge slavery (Julien 124). JaneÂ’s candid attitude is only possible, howev er, because of the utilitarian education she received at Lowood, which provided the nece ssary skill set for the job market in which she finds herself. The bit of independence a fforded her by her education at Lowood is the foundation on which her life with, and ultimat e marriage to, Rochester is built. Because Lowood trains her as a teacher, and Miss Te mple, the prototype of the well meaning, mildly empowering, and self-sacrificing me ntor and teacher, provides the equally important moral education, Jane is able to navigate her liminal space as governess and follow the path that leads to eventual happiness: a reunion with Rochester and the production of an heir to his fortune, which is also the assurance of the continuation of the


13 imperialist project. She is not able to do th is, however, without her inheritance, a small amount of money that offers her independen ce. Note, however, that this money comes from a long lost male relative. Once more, JaneÂ’s independence is dependent upon male intervention and the empire. Ultimately, JaneÂ’s education serves to reinforce her gender role if not her class position. Her education is fortuitous because it enables an advantageous marriage match. Her relationship with Rochester is made possible because of her time at Lowood and training as governess, but this education doe s not empower Jane to escape the necessity of marriage or the role of wife/mother pr escribed by her gender identity. Although her education allows her some meas ure of freedom in that she is able to resist St. JohnÂ’s bigamous offer, JaneÂ’s ultimate happiness is still invested in her role as mother. As both Jones and Burnstyn note in their works on Vi ctorian charity education, the schools which serve as models for BrontÂ’s Lowood were never envisioned as a means of social equality; rather they were established as a means of social control (343; 11).


14 Chapter 3: African Educatio n and Colonial Domination “When an educational process is misconcei ved, the consequences are socio-economic chaos, political instability, cultural indeco rum and moral indiscipline and laxity.”5 An exploration of the role of education in Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood and Dangrembga’s Nervous Conditions would be incomplete without a larger understanding of the pre-colonial and colonial roles that education played in Britain’s African colonies in general and in Zimbabwe and Nigeria in particular. Although both of these educational contexts suggested and rein forced specific gender roles and encouraged women’s larger cultural part icipation only in a limited fa shion, pre-colonial education offered all of its participants a community or iented view of existe nce and education and focused on the best ways in which to cr eate an individual who conformed to the traditional cultures’ values so as to “produce an individual who [was] honest, respectable, skilled, cooperative and [confor med] to the social order of the day” (Fafunwa 20). Pre-Colonial Education Generally speaking, traditional African education “combined physical training with character-building and manual activity wi th intellectual traini ng” (Fafunwa 16). The curriculum of this education created an envi ronment in which, “without being taught, the African child developed his/ her physical self th rough imitation, intui tion and curiosity” but “traditional educatio n also encouraged intellectual training” (Bassey 19). One African described the situation this way: “Before the coming of Europeans to our country, no aspect of our life, no boy or girl was ever neglected by our educational system because it


15 was constantly being innovated to make it relevant to the needs of all students. Every person had an opportunity for educat ion” (Mungazi and Walker 30). The primary goal of such an education was to develop individuals capable of sustaining the community: “In traditional Afri ca, an educated person was one who was capable of finding practical solu tions to problems” (Bassey 23 ). It was important for the survival of the community that the training of new leaders included teaching them how to “judg[e] rightly on matters relating to beha vior” and “show sound common sense in all practical matters” (Bassey 23). The em phasis on common sense and judgment encouraged students to find their own niche within their particular cultural context because “this form of education instilled in th e learner a purpose that was essential to the sustenance of diverse components of societ y and individuality” (Bassey 30). Because these components of society and the important functions of its members were always in flux, “the educational system was being consta ntly reformed to make it relevant to the needs of the students and the transformation of society to ensure its development” (Mungazi and Walker 30). The traditional African educational system was created by the community and for the community and was established in such a way as to encourage both a well-rounded individual and a well-functioning society in which all individua ls are taught to work for the betterment of the community at large. In his seminal survey of education in Africa in 1964, K.A. Busia suggested that though traditional Africa had many cultures, they all appear to have emphasized a summum bonum a social sensitivity which made one lose one’s self in the group; the kinsfolk were, and lived as, member s of one another. It was the goal of


16 education to inculcat e this sense of belonging, which was the highest value of the cultural system. The young were educated in and for the community’s way of life (16-17). The interconnectivity between members of the community is one of the chief lessons of traditional education. Without the whole, the individual could not survive. According to Dominic T. Ashley, in his lecture “The Role of Education in Co mbating Violence in Sierra Leone,” the kind of skills and knowle dge on which traditional African education focused were “not just learning for the sake of learning” (29). Instead, the whole of African traditional education before the ar rival of the British and their missionary education “was a deliberate effort to perpet uate and reinforce so cial solidarity and homogeneity” (Ashley 29). For this reason, Canaan Banana, a Zimbabwean author and scholar, concludes, “in traditiona l society in Africa, education was an integral part of the entire social, economic and cultural system. It was related to the individual, the human group and the environment. Each part was essential to the coherent operation and sustenance of the whole system” (Banana 73). Colonialism and Education Mission schooling supported imperialism. We should remember not what they gave us but what they took away from us. Educati ng children is, in principle, fine and worthwhile. But there is a questi on to be asked: what were th ey being educated for? They were being educated for subservience, they were being educated to turn their backs on their own past and their own peoples.6 Aims of Colonial Education One of the most important parts of the co lonial project was th e indoctrination or enculturation of the youngest generation in or der to keep the colonized group docile in


17 the face of their oppression7. Education, “whether defined as schooling, socialization, or acculturation,” was an integral part of this process (Summers 3). In order to entice the natives to make use of the available schools and educational opport unities, the colonial authorities and the missionaries who ran the schools “emphasize[d] the universality of the educational mechanisms by which the economica lly or politically dominant groups of the colonizing society generalize their power onto the colonial scene” (Okeke 124). The colonial and religious authori ties extolled the virtues of a European education and made sure that the kind of knowledge available in the mission schools, which comprised a majority of the available schools in both Zi mbabwe and Nigeria, included the kinds of tools necessary for upward mobility within the colonial framework8. This is one of the reasons that these schools placed such emphasis on learning the English language and di scarding the native tongue9. These schools, which taught European history without regard to African history and the English language without regard to the native dialect, reflected a mi ndset that “tend[ed] to perpetuate existing patterns of domination” while “at the same ti me… minimize[ing] the significance of the role played by the cultural traditions of col onial peoples in their experiences attached to colonial educational systems” (Okeke 124). By disreagarding and denying the native experience, the colonial power is able to effectively dehumanize the native and shape the native as the colonial power sees fit10. This enforced adoption of the oppressor’s la nguage and cultural practice is almost exclusively politically motivated. Accordi ng to Lord William Hailey, one of the chief voices in the British debate about the so-called African problem11, the


18 conceptions as to what is best in education are apt…to be coloured by political objectives: indeed…what at times has b een put forward by administrations as policy of education has in truth been only the expression of a political determination or an effort to implement the view held of the place which the African should occupy in the so cial economy (Hailey 90). Hailey’s insistence that the educational goals of Britain’s African administrators were politically not benevolently motivated lends credence to Okeke’s assertion that the classroom was little more than anot her tool of colonial subjugation. Like Lord Hailey, Ernest Emenyonu, a Nigeri an writer and thinker, suggests that “the values which the colonial system was m eant to entrench in our society” were “for the welfare and benefit of the colonizers” (Emenyonu 37) According to Emenyonu, the educational practices of the co lonial administrators and mi ssionary societies performed a specific function in that they were designed “for themselves and their country” not as an instrument of social equality or betterment for the students 12(Emenyonu 37). If a colonial school did choose to teach any form of the native language, it was so that the natives could better understand the lessons of thei r inferiority (Emenyonu 37). The colonizer designed an educational system that was meant “to produce individuals enlightened enough to understand the values of the world outside their home environment, but not equipped to think inwards for the bettermen t and salvation of their own immediate society” and were therefore onl y capable of improving the lives of the colonizers, nevery their own (Emenyonu 37). Whatever empowerm ent the pupils might have gained was directed toward the betterment of the col onizer not of the pupil’s own people because


19 “schools in Africa [were] used to produce ideolo gies that support the dominant group’s authority to rule” (Bassey 3). Denial of African Cultural Heritage The British colonial educational framewor k also served to oppress the native in that it began to strip its pupils of nativ e cultural practices, tr aditions, and language. Because of this loss of culture, then, “t he colonized experiences double alienation” (Clignet 131). First and foremo st, the native culture was deva lued and largely eliminated from the educational setting. The natives’ cu ltural practices were then supplanted by “practices, ideologies, and philosophies…alie n to his framework of reference and his own tradition,” (Cligne t 131). These philosophies sought to acculturate students, to usurp the power of the native culture and language and replace them with European values and the English language. In contrast to Victorian educational pr actices within England, “the schools in Africa decultu rized their students”13 (Bassey 45). The replacement of the native tradition is nowhere so obvious as in the subject of language, for many “colonial schools neglecte d the teaching of indigenous languages” and chose instead to teach English exclusiv ely (Bassey 45). When these schools did teach about the native culture, “the indigenous history taught deva lued indigenous culture by emphasizing civil wars, tribal conflicts, fa mines and barbarism” (Bassey 45). Such lessons simultaneously stripped pupils of langua ge by retelling the history of the native culture in English instead of the native langua ge and devalued the native cultural heritage by presenting the natives’ cu ltural history as the practi ce of barbaric men. One native Nigerian reflected on the experience of coloni al education this way: “They were being


20 educated for subservience, they were being educ ated to turn their ba cks in their own past and their own peoples,”14 and this alienation was possible only because of the British’s systematic devaluation of native culture a nd language (as qtd. In Mackenzie 40). Missionaries and Mission Schools: Christ ianity Enabling Imperialist Oppression The educational work of the mission sc hools in Africa began with “a group of influential Victorian Englishmen known as the Clapham Sect,” who were “responsible for the formation of one of the first Protes tant missionary societies to venture into Africa”15 (Bassey 28). Although this group was one of the first to make the transition from Victorian philanthropic schools in th e British Isles, it was by no means the only group that did so. In fact, “from the early year s of colonial rule onwards there was a rapid expansion of mission schools” (Kuster 87). The influence of these mission schools on nearly every facet of African life can hard ly be overestimated, for “where a mission has worked long enough to have established roots in the life of the people, its influence can be seen in many branches of economic and social life” (Westermann 154). For native Africans in Nigeria and Zimbabwe, this m eant that, although many of the missionaries may have disagreed with some or all of the philosophy of British imperialism, “missions became the first promoters of African edu cation” (Westerman 151). For native Africans in Nigeria and Zimbabwe, this meant that th e missions’ original goals were supplanted by the colonizer’s need for control, a plan which the mission school became an important part of. Originally, the missionaries goals we re largely evangelical because the missionaries who populated the schools saw ch ildren as the best hope for spreading the


21 gospel; students were eager to attend thes e schools to learn the tools necessary to navigate the colonial situation, and while teach ing them these tools, the missionaries were able to create an entire generation of young Christian Africans (Westermann 151). This is not to say that the mission schools were not interested in teaching, for “the provision of formal education for Africans was one of th e first concerns of almost all missions” (Kuster 48). However, “the Church bodies’ pr ime goal was the convers ion of Africans to the Christian faith” (Kuster 48). With conve rsion as a primary goal then, education was “essentially a means to an end ra ther than an end in itself” (Challiss 26). This evangelical imperative fit nicely with the ‘civilizing’ proj ect of the colonial ad ministration in such a way that a “dialectical relationship... exis ted between Christianity and Colonialism” (Mbuende 30). This relationship between colonialism and the mission schools does not, however, negate the good work done by the missionaries th ere. In fact, “the missions offered food, shelter and land to those Africans who had b een detrimentally affected by the upheavals and the forced removals of thousands of Afri cans following the wars of resistance in the 1890s” (Kuster 88). The English lessons provided by the mission schools, whatever there philosophical implications, were “a strate gic tool which potentially facilitated the communication with government officials and thus assisted Africans in winning more amenable places from themselves in a coloni al context” (Kuster 88). Additionally, these mission schools provided “assistance in times of political turmoil and ecological and economic crisis,” gave young Africans a chan ce to earn “extra money by working for the missionaries,” and facilitated “the es cape of young men and women from rural restrictions and patriarcha l control” (Kuster 328).


22 It would be nave, however, to dismiss th e role that mission schools played in the colonial transformation and domination of traditional African culture. The mission schools helped convince students that “E uropean technological achievement” was associated with “Western education,” and ma ny African families “were willing to pay the price to learn the secrets of white power ” (Bassey 39). While this philosophy may not have been part of a conscious effort to en culturate students, “the establishment of a school in the Western mould, staffed by teach ers trained in Western pedagogies and implicitly committed to the value system of an alien culture, could not hope to leave intact the indigenous characte r of those destined to rece ive its education” (Mackenzie 49). Many of the African elites educated in these mission schools certainly saw it this way. One such man reminded Tanzanian listener s, as part of his radio show on Radio Moscho in 1986, that “mission schooling suppor ted imperialism. We should remember not what they gave us but what they took away from us16” (Mackenzie 47). In fact, a Tanzanian thinker, Karim Hirji, has suggest ed that “it was missi onary education which facilitated the separation of th e African from his traditional society for absorption into the socio-economic system” (3). Additionally, Jerome Kiwia, a Tanzanian journalist, argued that “the principal role of the missionari es was to prepare A fricans spiritually and mentally for physical domination” (4). In essence, then “missionaries were collaborators who, through the kind of education they offered to Africans, helped in promoting the stability of colonial regimes” even when this was not their original intention (Bassey 43). Colonial Educational Practices in Zimbabwe


23 The history of Zimbabwe’s (formerly S outhern Rhodesia) co lonial educational framework begins in the same way that it di d in many of Britain’s African colonies: “The London Missionary Society (LMS) established th e first mission station at Inyati, in the south-west of Zimbabwe in 1859” (Kuster 37). Because the founding of these mission schools was part of a larger Victorian in clination toward philanthropy, “nineteenth century social theories and beliefs, combined with the Christian work ethic, had an impact on the formulation of educational pol icies for Africans in colonial Zimbabwe” 17(Kuster 54). These Victorian beliefs, re flected in mission and philanthropic schools throughout Britain and eventually mirrored in the mission schools established in the colonies, resulted in instituti ons that emphasized staying with in one’s own social sphere and learning trades to make one useful to one’s community, which, in the case of the colonies, meant making oneself usef ul to the colonial authorities The missions continued to control the ma jority of the educ ational opportunities for Zimbabwe’s youth, and therefore, “tensions and struggles over schools in Southern Rhodesia were closely tied to missionizati on because missions provided most of the country’s schools” (Summers 39). The leaders of each of the smaller communities within Zimbabwe were forced to compete for attent ion so that “chiefs, communities, members of different denominations, [and] students all struggled over limited resources and mission patronage” (Summers 39). These tensi ons only increased the demand, however. The schools in Zimbabwe were also str ongly influenced by Zimbabwe’s colonial leader, Cecil Rhodes, who “emphasized that Af ricans should be given only the type of education that would enable them to b ecome laborers and assi stants” (Bassey 32). Rhodes was so influential that colonial ad ministrators continually demanded that any


24 educational policy for the colony be “consis tent with Rhodes’s philosophy” (Mungazi 36). In fact, “Earl Grey (1851-1917), who served as administrator of colonial Zimbabwe from April 12, 1896 to December 4, 1898, argued in 1898 when he introduced an education bill that the purpose of education for Africans was to train them as laborers,” language which directly reflect Rhodes’ writ ing on the subject of African education (Munagzi 36). There can be no question, th en, “that the coloni al government in Zimbabwe designed [its educational policy] to reduce the education of [the] African to a level where it helped serve the labor needs of th e colonial society,” and that this desire to subjugate through education “was synonymous w ith its desire to have education prepare Africans to serve [the colonial authority’s] own political, social, and economic purposes” (Mungazi 36). Because of the colonial government’s insi stence that African s could be trained only to serve their oppressors the educational system en couraged the belief among whites and introduced the idea to native Africans “that traditional education was uncivilized because it was different” (Mungazi 36). Eventually, “this attitude became a basic operative principle of thei r action,” and “colonial official s were not likely to see the positive attributes of the African culture” a nd were therefore able to dehumanize those who were being educated (Mungazi 36). U ltimately, the African pupils’ acceptance of their inferiority would become a problem fo r the nationalist moveme nt of the 1950s and 60s, which “identified the underdeveloped Africa n educational system as a settler state device to perpetuate white ru le and African socio-economic and political subjugation” (Bassey 203). Generations of students who had been taught to devalue their own culture and history were among the gr eatest obstacles to a stable and independent Zimbabwe.


25 Colonial Educational Practices in Nigeria Like Zimbabwe, the history of a Europ ean education system in Nigeria began with mission schools: “The real history of school education in Nigeria began with the missionaries in 1842. At first, the kind of education brought by the missions aimed primarily at religious edu cation, and Nigerian educati on in its early stages was interwoven with Christian evangelism” (O keke 5). The missions throughout Nigeria varied in terms of denomina tional affiliation, but the mission schools’ main objective is best articulated by one of the Catholic bishops in eastern Nigeria: “According to Bishop Shananhan, one of the pioneer Catholic missi onaries in eastern Nigeria, ‘Those who hold the school, hold the country, hold its reli gion, hold its future’” (Bassey 11-12). These missions schools comprised the basis of the mo re complete colonial education to come. In essence, the mission schools laid a foundation on which the colonial government built the larger educational framewor k. It is important to note, as P. Uduaroh Okeke does, that “the educational policy of the British Government in Nigeria cannot be divorced from the total policy of colonial administration” because “education is an instrument of national policy” (4). With this in mind, we may see the British educational policy in Nigeria as informed by two important considerations. The first, “namely, the British philosophy and practice of educati on in general,” mirrors the Victorian philanthropic schools that taught trades the lower classes (Okeke 11). The second would be “the British government’s attitude towa rd the education of colonial peoples in particular,” which “is influenced by the th eory of imperialism which proposed that colonies exist primarily for the benefit of the mother country; hence colonial education policy becomes an instrument of the national policy of the ruling pow er” (Okeke 11). Just


26 as the first mission schools did, the governme nt funded schools in Nigeria sought to educate the natives only in an effort to support the imperialist’s agenda. Although Ernest Emenyonu claims that, even in Nigeria “education is a powerful agency for social reconstruction,” it is important to remember that the colo nial policy and racism that served as the basis of both mission and government run schools was not for the benefit of the native students or their fa milies (34). In fact, schools were more often than not a way to establish “political au thority over them, by ‘civilizing’ them, by providing some services such as schools… and by exposing the colonial s to the culture of ruling power” (Okeke 2). This civilizing pro cess along with the expl oitative rationale for providing educational opport unities led to “an educational process,” which was “misconceived,” and whose “consequences are socio-economic chaos, political instability, cultural indecorum and mora l indiscipline and la xity” (Emenyonu 34). If, as Emenyonu claims, “the culture of a people is expressed, taught and disseminated largely through the educational sy stem,” then “the philosophy of education of a people reflects and anticipates the enshrine ment of the best of the values in that culture” (Emenyonu 37). In the educational syst em established by the British in Nigeria, and in all of its colonies in Africa and else where, the values that were enshrined were greed, exploitation, and destru ction of native cultural pr actices and traditions. These values served as both an impetus for and an obstacle to later campai gns for independence and produced, as we see in Buchi Emecheta’s narrative about educational opportunity in Africa, a certain ambivalence about th e transformative power of education. Internalization, Enculturation, and Learning to Work within the System


27 The overwhelming nature of the colonial educational system led to a choice for each of its pupils: resist the European valu es taught by the mission schools, accept these values, or do neither, but find a way to work within the system created by the colonial administration. In the end, more often than not pupils and their families chose one of the latter options. For this reason, “educated Af rican men were central to the shape and sustainability of colonialism throughout Afri ca, and in Southern Rhodesia” (Summers xix). It is important to re alize that we should not unders tand “colonialism…simply as a monolith that Africans sought to undermine;” instead, colonialism and its educational system created “a space of cultural and social identities and institutions that at least some Africans learned to live within, use, and va lue,” which was, of course, one of the colonizer’s aims (Summers xx). The colonial framework established a hier arcy that rewarded those who accepted or seemed to accept the values and rules that governed colonial practice. The colonial administration argued that “in order to real ize his racial ideal, [the native] needs education and training from the white man” (Wes termann 27). Of course, “the material of his education will be largely European; and nothing of the best and greatest of our own culture that he can assimilate should be w ithheld from him” (Westermann 27). Because of this attitude, and “the detrimental e ffect of overall pol itical and economic developments,” or the lack thereof, on th e traditional economies of the colonies “a growing number of Africans perceive[d] edu cation as a means of enhancing employment opportunities and thus improving their so cio-economic position” (Kuster 328). As the colonial administration began to shift the kinds and locations of crop production, “to secure their means of subsiste nce, vastly increasing numbers of Africans


28 had to enter wage employment” (Kuster 202 ). To a certain extent, then, “African demands for more and better standards of instruction were based on the pragmatic realization that the access to higher wages and avenues of so cial mobility necessitated a certain level of skills and educational qualifications” (Kuster 202). Without an appropriate education, they realized, they had no hope of findi ng a place within the colonial framework, for English was necessary to deal in any meaningful way with British authorities in Nigeria or Zimbabwe (Kuster 73). Some native Africans, however, accepte d the system without this kind of economic coercion. Because of “the rapid economic development, the establishment of 'Native' Courts and Councils, Posts and Tele graphs, the introducti on of the bicycle and commercial lorries, construction of motor roads and the ‘iron horse,’” many Africans enjoyed the possible benefits of the introduc tion of European cultu re (Mackenzie 47). These new technologies “introduced a ne w wealth, opened up c ountless opportunities, excited immeasurable hopes and created fresh values” (Mackenzie 47). Those who desired the benefits of these European luxurie s had no choice but to attend school for, “to the masses, education was the only key that could unlock the mysterie s and prosperity of the new world being created” (Mackenzie 47). In addition to the opportunity for advancement within the colonial system, th e schools offered the students an important lesson in surviving the European occupation, as “the most important lessons emerged not from the syllable charts of the beginning read er, but from the struggle with the teacher to be allowed access to book” (Summers 45). Th ese experiences of struggling to gain the tools to survive with in the system imparted lessons about “how to make demands effectively within the European-dominated world” and “taught important lessons in


29 alliance building, the developmen t of effective rhetoric, and the possibilities and limits of direct action such as stay-aways, calculated gestures of disrespect and disobedience, and strikes” (Summers 45). These tools of nonviolen t disobedience would turn out to be some of the most important in th e struggles for independence. African Women’s Pre-Colonial and Colonial Education In African culture, this process of accu lturation can be clearly seen as some women transitioned from home schooling cond ucted by female family and tribe members into the classrooms of mission schools. As part of the traditional African educational framework, “above all, girls were drilled in their future roles as housewives and brides” (Bassey 21). This familial indoctrination and definition of appropriate gender roles was later reinforced in the colonial schools as “in addition to the lim ited number of options open to girls within the educational system, teachers and schools emphasized subjects leading to traditional gender roles for girls, th at is, literature for girls and the sciences for boys” (Bassey 98). Although women were permitt ed the opportunity for education, the transformative power usually associated with education wa s muted by the exclusion of pre-colonial African culture, language, and values and by the gender specific curriculum which denied girls the opportunity for the kind of knowledge that would empower social mobility.


30 Chapter 4: African Experience Novels & the Prospect of Educational Emancipation “Education promises the possibility of es cape from poverty and entrance into an unfamiliar and intriguing world of texts and learning. Yet, it also entails inevitable separation from family and a measure of complicity with the imperial power that controls the education system; frequently this fr actures the individual’s sense of self.”18 Joys of Motherhood: Can Educa tion Serve as the Way Out? In her examination of African women writers, Emecheta in particular, Elizabeth Morgan highlights the “two potentially demeaning traditions, that of colonialism and that of patriarchy, present in traditional culture and deeply encoded in the superimposed colonial culture” that Emecheta is forced to struggle against in her work (104). “She, once the mistress of the oral tale and thrivi ng on the female small talk (palaver) of the marketplace, now finds herself writing within a historically male, Europeanized form” (Morgan 104). The novel form itself pres ents a conundrum for Emecheta and her characters. Morgan goes so far as to suggest that the colonial education, something at the center of the discussion of gender in Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood should be seen as part of the colonial su bjugation of the African culture: “Furthermore, she may find that her education makes the language of th e colonials more accessible than her mother tongue. How, then, can she say what is distin ctively hers in a wa y that the world can hear?” (Morgan 104). This problem of educational colonization a nd subjugation is part and parcel of the problem of emancipating womanhood at the center of Emecheta’s novel. Emecheta’s


31 protagonist, Nnu Ego, is mother to boys a nd girls, all of whom have a stake in the educational decisions that the family is for ced to make. Education is an important tool, perhaps the only tool as Nnu Ego sees it, th at seems to guarantee an escape from the colonial oppression. Such opportunity is reve red by the community a large, something evidenced by Adaku’s reaction when Oshia is about to leave for the university. When Adaku celebrates Oshia’s imminent departur e, Nnu Ego responds with wonder: “‘Why you would have thought the boy was getting cr owned and not just going to college.’” Adaku tells her sister-wife that “it is like getting crowned in a way’” (Emecheta 189). Education is a gift, an honor, and a precious commodity in short supply for Nnu Ego’s family. Both boys and girls are sent to school, but the aims of the sc hools they attend and the importance placed upon educat ion are different for the girls than they are for the boys. The boys’ schooling focuses on Western educa tion and encourages the boys to work toward the possibility for further education at universities abroad. The girls’ education is more limited; they attend a convent school, and, as the reader learns near the close of Nnu Ego’s narrative, their educati on is easily sacrificed to al low the boys to continue their education. This sacrifice that the girls are forced to make is most clearly seen in the exchange between Adaku, Nnu Ego, and Mama Abby after the birth of Nnu Ego’s second set of twins. When Mama Abby asks after Ad aku’s daughters, Adaku says that her girls are away at convent school. Mama Abby rep lies that perhaps “those girls of yours may end up going to college too” (Emecheta 189). The discussion stems, in part from, Nnu Ego’s earlier discussion of Os hia as he leaves for university, during which Nnu Ego makes it clear that the university, and Oshia’s education in general, is her family’s


32 greatest hope to raise itself from poverty. Duri ng this exchange concerning Adaku’s girls, Nnu Ego makes an interesti ng correlation be tween her son and Adaku’s daughters: “‘She wants them to and they will make it. I am be ginning to think that there may be a future for educated women. I saw ma ny young women teaching in school s. It would be really something for a woman to be able to earn some money monthly like a man’” (Emecheta 189). Throughout the novel, Nnu Ego has bemoan ed the financial dependence of her sex and made it clear that a woman’s dependence on her husband or sons places her at a distinct disadvantage when attempting to assert her independence and personhood. She says earlier in this same section that the wo rld values women less than men; society, both her tribal culture and the European culture of the colonizer, makes women weak and men strong, and she places much of the blame fo r the state patriarchal oppression on women because “women subscribe to that law more than anyone. Until we change all this, it is still a man’s world, which women will always help to build” (Emecheta 187). Nnu Ego’s assessment empowers women in a way that she has not been empowered, yet we see, from her mother, that the dream of empowerme nt is not new: “Please don’t mourn for me long,” Nnu Ego’s mother says to Nnu Ego’s father, “and see that however much you love our daughter Nnu Ego, you must allow her to have a life of her own, a husband if she wants one. Allow her to be a woman” (Em echeta 28). Nnu Ego’s mother sought for her the kind of freedom she seems to want for her daughters, but unlik e her mother, Nnu Ego sees a concrete path for her daughters, a nd all the daughters of Nigeria, one paved by education and the independence that education can provide. Despite what the text seems to indicate is an understanding of the need for women to assert themselves, a task Nnu Ego seem s to think possible through education, Nnu Ego


33 does not pursue this goal on behalf of her daughters. After the discussion about Adaku’s daughters and Nnu Ego’s asserti on that education could be a path to freedom for women, Adaku asks about Nnu Ego’s daughters’ educati on. Her girls, at one point, had also been attending a missionary school. Nnu Ego replies that her daughters ar e no longer in school, but that they can read a little, and anyway “t hey will be married in a few years. The most important thing is for them to get good hus bands’” (Emechta 189). Despite her stated understanding of education as an important tool of emanci pation for her daughters, when faced with the reality of the situation, the reader finds that Nnu Ego reverts to the patriarchal demands that she bemoans earlier in the text. Despite her assertion that it would have to be the women who challeng ed patriarchal dominance, the women who demanded their own freedom, she fails to encour age her daughters in this vein. Instead, she encourages them in the traditional ge nder roles that have made Nnu Ego so unhappy in her life. Stephanie Robolin explains the problem th is way in her article on interpreting the postcolonial situation in The Joys of Motherhood: If Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood demonstrates anything, it is the extent to which the deeply rooted power hierarc hy between men and women plays out in society and, in particular, how the pr ivileges conferred upon men are founded upon the limitation or privation of wome n’s power…including education (84). Nnu Ego finds it natural to sacrifice the girls education to make sure the boys have what they need, and makes it clear th at that while the girls’ educ ation is a good thing, the most important thing is that they “‘get good husbands,’” and fulfill their expected gender rules (Emecheta 189). The authority vested in patria rchal forces, in both the indigenous tribal


34 cultures and the colonial culture, demands the sacrifice of the women who participate in those cultures. According to RobolinÂ’s understanding of the postcolonial situation in which Nnu Ego finds herself, Nnu EgoÂ’s asse ssment that only the women are able to change the gender situation seems to be an important observation. Not only does the patriarchal system find a great deal of its power in the power and opportunity denied to the women who participate in it, it does so with their acceptance. Nnu Ego views education as a way out of the system that has ro bbed her life of joy, but she fails to secure the necessary education for her daughters. Instead, she allows their education to be sublimated to their brothersÂ’ education, whic h reinforces the notion that the boysÂ’ future, which is directly tied to their educationa l opportunities th roughout the novel, is more important than the girlsÂ’ future According to Nnu Ego, education is the si lver bullet, the one avenue that could open the world of independence to women as well as men. Education has the potential to give her daughters and AdakuÂ’s daughters th e chance to choose for themselves who they want to be, where they want to live, and what they want to do with their lives. Education could save her daughters from her fate as th e overworked and then forgotten mother to ungrateful sons and daughters. Nnu Ego also recognizes, howe ver, that education has the power to destroy a family and strip a child of his or her culture. As she discusses his education with her oldest son, she warns him not to become like the rich boys he goes to school with; he dismisses her concerns and a ssures her that he will not be changed by his education or the wealthy boys that surround him. Despite her best efforts and her warnings, however, OshiaÂ’s education does change him in that it strips away parts of his cultural identity, namely the importance of pr oviding for his family. While he encourages


35 his younger brother to pursue education, Oshia does nothing to aid his family financially. Perhaps the way that Nnu Ego’s family unit breaks down is a comment on the problem of the intersecting cultures cause d by the introduction of the colonial culture into the traditional tribal culture, but it is also a comm ent on the perils of the colonial education, an education which demeans the traditional cu lture and encourages a kind of loathing for the pupils’ traditional understanding of the world and privileges the colonizers world view as the only valid one. Nervous Conditions: Education as False Hope of Emancipation The narrator of Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions Tambu, begins her story by telling her readers that her “story is not afte r all about death”; instead, the story is about “[her] escape and Lucia’s; about [her] moth er’s and Maiguru’s entrapment; and about Nyasha’s rebellion—Nyasha, farminded and isolated, [her] uncle’s daughter, whose rebellion may not in the end have been succe ssful” (1). According to the narrative, the escape she speaks of here is inextricably ti ed to Tambu’s pursuit of education and the problems of native identity as it relates to her patriarchal and colonial oppression, for Tambu notes that her situations, first at the mission school and later at the Ladies College, are opportunities for “mental and even tually material eman cipation” enabled by education (Dangarembga 89). At the end of th e first chapter, Tambu reinforces the ways in which her lack of educational opportunity is tied not only to the British colonial occupation of her country but also to the patriarchal oppression i nherent to both the native and colonial framework. She tells her read er that “the needs and sensibilities of the women in my family were not considered a priority, or even legi timate” (12). Tambu’s


36 story is not only about her li fe but “is concerned with th e emotional and psychological effects of patriarchal (as mu ch as colonial) power upon i ndividual women” (Searle 59). From the beginning of her narrative, the narrating Tambu realizes how important her gender is in terms of the role she will be expected to play and lets the reader know that Tambu’s oppression is tied directly to her gender. As Carolyn Martin Shaw, in her article “‘You had a daughter but I am becoming a woman’: Sexuality, Feminism and Postcoloniality in Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions and She No Longer Weeps ” notes, Tambu “realizes that femaleness a nd not poverty, education, or tradition is responsible for women’s position in society” (Shaw 14). Her gender is the reason that her education is less important than the education of her brother, a fact that is reinforced by her interaction with he r brother after she decides to pl ant maize to fund her education. When Tambu asks Nhamo why it does not matter how hard she tries to get to school, he responds that “it’s the same everywhere. Because you are a girl” and therefore, less worthy of the education she so de sperately wants (Dangarembga 64). This section of text also gi ves the reader a clue that th e education that Tambu is so intent upon may not be able to offer her the ki nd of total freedom she seeks. Tambu says that she “expected this era [at the missi on school] to be significantly profound and broadening in terms of adding wisdom to my na ture, clarity to my vision, glamour to my person” (Dangarembga 94). Despite Tambu’s tireless pursuit of education, however, she begins to realize, mainly from her interacti ons with her cousin Ny asha, that the British education available to her in the mi ssion schools breeds ‘Englishness’ while simultaneously destroying parts of the stude nt’s native culture. Although the natives’ position within the educational apparatus th at perpetuates their colonial domination


37 generally causes a crisis of cultural identit y, whether the participant is male or female, “Dangarembga makes clear, it is the inte rsection of the educ ational opportunities provided by the mission with the patriarchal elements of Shona culture that make [Nyasha’s] suffering so acute” (Searle 58). The destruction of the indivi dual’s link to his or her nati ve culture is particularly important when it manifests in the form of the loss of native language, as it does for Nyasha. During a particularly serious convers ation between the girl s, Tambu notes that their “conversation was laboured and clumsy because when Nyasha spoke seriously her thoughts came in English” (Dangarembga 78) Nyasha’s British education and her adoption of English prevent her from fully c onnecting to her family and her people. Her time abroad and her immersion in the colonize r’s culture and language have lead her to forget “what home was like” and effectivel y transformed her inner life, for even her thoughts are in English (Dangarembga 79). Such cultural confusion also becomes a part of Tambu’s life as she embarks upon her educat ional journey. She notes that, at times, she would end up “mixing the two languages [Shona and English] because [she] was not sure which was most appropriate” (Dangaremb ga 81). It is importa nt to note, however, that despite the emphasis on the mission school and that fact that “the mission,” which historical research has shown was the first of the educational forays in the colonial situation, “plays a central role in creati ng this predicament for Tambudzai and her family,” the narrator “is intere sted in exploring the tensions and issues this interaction engenders in terms predominantly cultural and political rather than re ligious” (Searle 56). Eventually, Tambu begins to doubt that a Br itish education will be at all effectual in delivering a new and better life for her, for “when there are sacrifices to be made,” it is


38 the women who must make them (Dangarembga 16). When she experiences anxiety over the changes in her friends’ behavior towa rd her, though, she deludes herself by claiming that “the self [she] expected to find on th e mission would take some time to appear” and the changes she would undergo in beco ming more English, would not be “so radical…that people would have to behave differently” arou nd her (86). She holds on to illusions about the emancipatory power of education even as she arrives at the Young Ladies College of the Sacred Heart: “For wa s I—I, Tambudzai, lately of the mission and before that the homestead—was I, Tambudzai so recently a peasant, was I not entering, as I had promised myself I would, a world wh ere burdens lightened, soon to disappear all together?” (Dangarembga 195). Her encounters with the nuns and the other forces of Imperialism at the college and the final breakdown of her cousin Nyasha wh en she declares that she is neither Shona nor European, however, lead to a moment of clarity for Tambu, who begins to suspect that she “had been too eager to leave the homestead and embrace the ‘Englishness’ of the mission; and after that the more concentrated ‘Englishness’ of Sacred Heart” (Dangarembga 207). Although she dismisses this no tion at first, she comes to realize that her pursuit of education and her adoption of the ways and language of the colonial oppressor did not offer her the freedom she was seeking. Instead, her enculturation only alienates her from her own culture and langua ge. She says that “quietly, unobtrusively and extremely fitfully, something in my mind be gan to assert itself, to question things and refuse to be brainwashed, bringing me to this time when I can set down this story. It was a long and painful process for me, that proc ess of expansion” (Dangarembga 208). Only this act of expansion and the effort of writi ng her story and the story of the other women


39 in her family is able to reveal the problem s of the colonial missi onary education that promises hope for a better future and only de livers alienation. Her gender combined with her racial/ethnic iden tity precludes her from such emancipation. Alison Searle, in her article on the importance of missions and missionary enterprises in Nervous Conditions asserts that “Dangarembga critiques both the oppressions and values enforced by the Britis h colonial regime and the obstacles posed by Shona culture for women in their search fo r self-realisation and fulfillment” (55). If this is the case, then, the nove l can be seen as a comment on both the colonial education and the traditional African e ducation that preceded it becaus e neither form of education offers a way for the female protagonist to establish her independent identity. The text should not be seen as a vindication of na tive educational or cu ltural practices. As Elizabeth Jackson notes in her articl e “Like Cattle for Slaughter? Reading Nervous Conditions Pedagogical Interventions,” “Tambu’s ear lier reflection that, over the course of her mission education, she has already grown much quiet er and more self-effacing than [is] usual” is “evidence that her educat ion has already served colonial interests by shaping her into exactly the acquiescent, compliant, exemplary young lady both English and Shona patriarchies believe a daughter ought to be.” The novel also makes the point that “Education…which might free women like Maiguru from service to…patr iarchy becomes yet another token of exchange, further alienating them from the ‘home’ economy of agricultural subsistence in favor of urban wage service” (Bahri). It is only when she finds her moment of ‘revolutionary consciousness and literary awareness’ at th e Young Ladies College and decides to break away from both the patriarchal and colonial demands and constraints that Tambu is able


40 to establish her own identity. Tambu realizes that the education she had been pursuing was part of “an educational system which [had] the potential to emancipate women and natives but function[ed], instead, to keep them in their place and ev en further exacerbate their ills” (Bahri). When taken together, Jane Eyre and these two African experience novels demonstrate that British educat ion is largely ineffectual in granting female characters the kind of freedom that educati on is supposed to bring. For Tambu, as for Jane and Nnu Ego, education provides only limited opportunitie s for emancipation. The price for these opportunities, however, is further enslavement the patriarchal forces inherent in their education. For Nnu Ego and Tambu, the em ancipation supposedly available through education is further hindered by the Imperialist demand that these characters deny the efficacy of their own native language in orde r to function in a colonial situation that exists only in English. The price of the hybrid ity necessary to survive in this colonial situation could vary well be the complete loss of self, a disintegration of identity, as it is for Nyasha, who is neither Shona nor Br itish and therefore is no one at all.


41 Chapter 5: Conclusion “Education [is] the building (a) a free and demo cratic society; (b) a just and egalitarian society; (c) a united, strong a nd self-reliant nation; (d) a great and dynamic economy; and (e) a land of opportunities for all citizens…but what goes on inside the schools is not always education.”19 British colonialism, and the missionary e ndeavors that preceded and eventually supported it, established and re tained its power in no small part through the medium of the classroom. When combined, the theori es of Freire, Foucault, Fanon and Freeman begin to paint a picture of the theoretical aims and the probable results of colonial education for women. Instead of being places for social and intellectual betterment, colonial schools become places where the col onizer is able to perform the most difficult and most important task, for it is in the school s that the colonizer a ppropriates the minds of his youngest victims. The purpose of the colonial school was to simultaneously reinforce a patriarchal system present in bot h the colonizing and col onized cultures and to replace traditional cultural valu es and language with the cultur e of the colonizer, a culture which demands the subservience and reinforc es the inferiority of the people it has colonized. According to Foucault, Freire and Fanon, the school as the knowledge transmitting institution in the colonial context, served as the site at which the colonizing power most fully insinuated itself into the mi nds of its subjects. Because of the power of knowledge and language, as articulated by F oucault and Fanon, the school became one of the most effective tools of colonization as it allowed the colonizing culture and opportunity to supplant the nativ e language and cultural traditions of the natives it was


42 educating. Bonnie Cook Freeman also suggest s that the school was a particularly powerfully weapon against women within the co lonial framework as these institutions of knowledge not only enforced the new coloni al cultural ideal but reinforced and perpetuated the patriarchal subj ugation of female students. Historically, we can see that Victorian missionaries, like the men of the Clapham sect, attempted to translate their educati onal philanthropic work from the lower and middle class children of the Bri tish Isles to the children of Af rica and, in their attempts to bring British Christian educati on to Africa, created the perfec t tool for imperialism. In African schools after colonialis m, African children were taug ht to mistrust their cultural practices and deny their own languages. Through this usur pation of the native language, missionaries and colonial administrators sought to supersede traditional African cultural ideals in an effort to make students more compliant for their subjugation to colonial authority. These same practices, however, created educated African elites who, by learning how to work within and around the colonial system, laid the foundation for future independence. Although English supplanted the traditional Afri can languages, this knowledge of English was one of the ways in which colonized men and women in Zimbabwe and Nigeria, like Ernest Emenyonu, Buch i Emecheta, and Tsitsi Dangarembga, would eventually eloquently argue for their shared humanity and the necessity of independence from British authority. The educational practices that are in dicted in Emecheta and DangarembgaÂ’s works are first discussed, however, in Ch arlotte BrontÂ’s Victorian governess novel, Jane Eyre Through the description of the Lowood school in the middle section of the novel


43 and through JaneÂ’s connections between her va rious circumstances a nd the education she received at the charity school, the novel yields a critique bo th of charity schools and the limits of womenÂ’s British education in the nineteenth century. While JaneÂ’s education provides opportunities that would almost certain ly not have been available to her without that education, her time at Lowood does not provide the kind of emancipation education supposedly brings. Although her training to be a governess provides the avenue through which she achieves an eventual marriage to Rochester, her educational training is only capable of providing a gender appropri ate happiness: marriage and motherhood. In EmechetaÂ’s Joys of Motherhood and DangarembgaÂ’s Nervous Conditions, then, education serves as a delineating feature of the colonial landscape; in some ways, the acceptance of the superiority of a British education separa tes those with a chance to escape the colonizersÂ’ oppression from t hose without one. The value of a proper education, a British education rooted in Christ ianity, can be seen in the way that Jane benefits from her time at Lowood, a Vict orian philanthropic school much like those established in BritainÂ’s African colonies, in part because she is willing to accept a particular gender and class role. Though Br ontÂ’s account of JaneÂ’s time at the school serves in part as an indict ment of the womenÂ’s educationa l facilities of her time, her protagonist undoubtedly benefits from the skills she learns during her time at the school, though it can be argued that thes e benefits serve onl y to perpetuate negative gender roles and the patriarchal system that enables the imperialist project. Likewise, education is at least somewhat beneficial for Oshia, the oldest son in EmechetaÂ’s narrative, because it facilitates his escape from the burden of Imperialistic oppression and familial ties that threaten to destroy any chance he has of bettering


44 himself. His rejection of his cultural and familial ties, however, illuminates the problem of a colonial education that encourages the co lonized subject to distance himself from the ‘less civilized’ ways of his own people and adopt ‘pr oper’ European manners and assumptions. Though Oshia utilizes his educati on to make a better life for himself, he leaves behind a part of himself that ca nnot be replaced by any amount of European education. The problem of education is more difficult for women within the colonial milieu. For Nnu Ego and her daughters, because of their double colonization, first as women within the patriarchal system reflected in bot h the traditional and co lonial cultures, and then as natives within a co lonized country, the project of independence supposedly made possible by education appears beyond their reach. They are not without hope, however, according Adaku, Mama Abby, and Nnu Ego, who a ll assert the possibility of change, of a better life, perhaps through education. That road, however, is a complicated one that too often leads toward a European aesthetic that dismisses the African experience, a fact shown quite clearly by Dangarembga ’s narrative of education in Nervous Conditions Dangarembga’s account of colonial e ducation and false hope that such an education could bring real fr eedom answers Nnu Ego’s assert ion that education is the answer for women who are devalued and dehumanized by patriarchal cultural practice. Instead of showing colonial edu cation as a road to emancipation, Nervous Conditions suggests the kind of hybridity necessary to surv ive such an educational system leads not to freedom but to mental breakdown, as evid enced by Nyasha, a seemingly bright girl, full of potential, who is ruined by being cu t off from her native cultural practice and


45 language and immersed in the colonizer’s cultural practice and language. She is neither British nor Shona, so she is no one. Dangarembga’s narrator begins to expe rience this same ki nd of alienation and confusion. Tambu begins to lose her own la nguage and culture, begins to devalue her own history, and becomes alienated from her family. Once she begins to believe that her pursuit of a British education and its accomp anying ‘Englishness’ cannot actually offer her the kind of freedom she seeks, she comes to realize that what she learned from the mission school and the Catholic college had no t been the tools of emancipation but of further degradation. An education devoid of her own cultural practices, traditions, and histories only alienated her from her own cu lture and coerced her into believing that her culture was worth less than the European one Neither the traditi onal nor the colonial system, however, valued her as a woman, and so neither culture’s educ ation could lead to emancipation from patriarchal oppression.


46 Works Cited Ashley, Dominic T. “The Role of Education in Combating Violence in Sierra Leone.” In Charles E. Nnolim, ed., The Role of Contemporary Education and Transformation in Southern Africa New York: Professors World Peace Academy, 1997. Print. Bahri, Deepika. “Disembodying the Corpus : The Postcolonial Pathology in Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions .” Postmodern Culture: An Electronic Journal of Interdisciplinary Criticism 5.2 (1994). Web. Banana, Canaan. Theology of Promise: Th e Dynamics of Self-Reliance. Harare: The College Press, 1982. Print. Bassey, Magnus O. Western Education and Political domination in Africa: A Study in Critical and Dialogical Pedagogy Westport, Connecticut: Bergin & Garvey, 1999. Print. Bront, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. New York: Penguin, 2002. Print. Burstyn, Joan N. Victorian Education and the Ideal of Womanhood Totowa, New Jersey: Barnes and Noble Books, 1980. Print. Busia, K.A. Purposeful Education for Africa The Hague: Mouton and Co., 1964. Print. Cadwalladr, Carole. "The Michelle Effect The Guardian [London] 5 Apr. 2009. The Observer The Guardian, 5 Apr. 2009. Web. 7 June 2009. Dangarembga, Tsitsi. Nervous Conditions Seattle, Washington: Seal Press, 1989. Print. Eliot, Dorice. The Angel Out of the House. Charlottesville, Virginia: University Press of Virginia, 2002. Print.


47 Emecheta, Buchi. The Joys of Motherhood. Oxford: Heinemann Educational Publishers, 1994. Print. Fafunwa, A. Babs. History of Education in Nigeria London: George Allen and Unwin, 1974. Print. Fanon, Frantz. Black Skin White Masks. New York: Grove Press, 1967. Print. Foucault, Michel. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison New York: Pantheon Books, 1977. Print. ------------------. The History of Sexuality: Volume 1: An Introduction. New York: Vintage Books, 1978. Print. -------------------. “Questions on Geography.” In C. Gordon, ed., Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings, 1972-1977 New York: Pantheon Books, 1980. Print. Freire, Paulo. Cultural Action for Freedom Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard Educational Review and Center for the Study of Development and Social Change, 1970. Print. ---------------. Pedagogy of the Oppressed New York: Continuum Publishing, 1970. Print. Jones, Mary Gwladys. The Charity School Movement: A Study of Eighteenth Century Puritanism in Action Hamden, Connecticut: Archon Books, 1964. Print. Julien, Heather. "School Novels, Women' s Work, and Matern al Vocationalism." NWSA Journal: National Women's St udies Association Journal 19.2 (2007): 118-37. Print.


48 Matthews, Kay. “Some Reflections on Educa tion and National Development in Africa.” In Charles E. Nnolim ed. The Role of Education in Contemporary Africa New York: Professors World Peace Academy, 1988. Print. McLean, David. Education and Empire: Naval Trad ition and England’s Elite Schooling New York: British Academic Press, 1999. Print. Morgan, Elizabeth. “Writing our way out: Th e cross-cultural dynamics of African woman's novels.” Journal of Postcolonial Writing 17.1 (1998): 102-113. Print. Mungazi, Dickson A. and L. Kay Walker. Educational Reform and the Transformation of Southern Africa Westport, CT: Praeger, 1997. Print. Robolin, Stephanie. “Gendered Hauntings: The Joys of Motherhood Interpretive Acts, and Postcolonial Theory.” Research in African Literatures 35.3 (2004): 76-92. Print. Searle, Alison. “The Role of Missions in Things Fall Apart and Nervous Conditions .” Literature and Theology 21.1 (March 2007): 60-72. Print Sartre, Jean Paul. “Preface.” The Wretched of the Earth New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991. Print. Viswanathan, Gauri. Masks of Conquest: Literary Study and British Rule in India. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989. Print.


49 Notes 1 Tsitsi Dangarembga. Nervous Conditions 16. 2 In order to understand the significant role of knowledge and institutions that transmit knowledge in these works, we must first understand the theoretical framewo rk which explains such institutions in their colonial settings and women within these institutions. Michel Foucault, in various publications, addresses knowledge and discourse in terms of institutions of powe r, in this case, the school and suggests that the school is a tool to define and enforce what is no rmal. Bonnie Cook Freeman suggests that these same institutions serve to reinforce and perpetuate the patriarchal control necessary for the success of the imperialist project. Paulo Freire then suggests that these institutions are one of the most important of the colonizer’s tools of oppression. Frantz Fanon confirms this by arguing that within such institutions, it is the transmission of language and the usurpation of the native language that are the most effective tools of the destruction of the natives’ cultural traditions and practices. 3 In her article “Female Education in Patriarchal Power Systems,” Bonnie Cook Freeman discusses the problem of gender roles, which are often taught first within the family and then perpetuated by the school, and the issues and limitations wome n face in a male dominated educa tional framework. She suggests that “wittingly or unwittingly, the family has had an impact on shaping the young child to his or her appropriate sex role” (212). Freeman asserts th at the gender roles introduced by the family and affirmed by the educational system are not, however, part of a naturally established order. Instead, “it is the result of human invention. Books are written, curricula develope d, pedago gical theory spun, teacher s trained. The sexist bias of education process is literally built into it ” (Freeman 219). The entire of process of educating women, then, according to Freeman, is based upon the need to reinforce and continue patriarchal control. The school becomes the site of such patriarchal indoctrination because “the school is one institution that both perpetuates the myth of women’s inferiority and he lps to transform the myth into a reality” (Freeman 207). This process is achieved through a separate wo men’s curriculum and through a staff of teachers who believe they have a responsibility to create women that fit a specific cultural norm of femininity. Once women began to enter the classroom, they were forced to confront the fact that “many teachers interpret their role as seeing to it that children adjust to their appropriate sex-role behaviors because that is what is considered the healthy, natural criteria for success in their futu re role in society” (213). 4 Charlotte Bront. Jane Eyre 95. 5 Emenyonu. “Education and the Contemporary Malaise in Nigeria.” In Charles E. Nnolim ed. The Role of Education in Contemporary Africa 34. 6 The suggestion was made on Radio Moscow, broadcast via Dar-es-Salam, monitored in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, in July 1986 and is quoted in Clay ton Mackenzie’s “Demythologizing the missionaries: A reassessment of the functions and relationships of Christian Missionary Education Under Colonialism.” 7 Much of Michel Foucault’s writing addresses the con cept of power: how it is gained, how it is held, how it is transferred. In the course of his discussions of power and those who hold power over others, Foucault suggests that “it is in discourse that power and knowledge ar e joined together” ( Discipline and Punish 100). Because “power and knowledge direc tly imply one another,” Foucault argue s, “there is no power relation without the correlative constitution of a field of knowledge, nor any kn owledge that does not presuppose and constitute at the same time power relations”( History of Sexuality 27). Most importantly in terms of colonial schooling, however, Foucault insists that “there is an administration of knowledge, a politics of


50 knowledge, relations of power which pass via knowledge and which, if one tries to transcribe them, lead one to consider forms of domination designated by such notions as field, region and territory” (“Questions on Geography” 69). In the British colonial educational framework in Africa, this administration of knowledge combined the doctrines of Christianity (because most of the schools provided for the natives were missions schools of one denomination or another) with a Victorian sense of class, whereby those of the lower class (in terms of the colonies, this would be everyone who is not part of the colonizing society) serve those who transmit the knowledge. 8 Paulo Freire in Pedagogy of the Oppressed his seminal work on the educational realities of imperialist situations, and in Cultural Action for Freedom, describes education as one of the most important tools of colonization. He suggests “the interests of the o ppressors lie in ‘changing the consciousness of the oppressed, not the situation that oppresses them’; for the more the oppressed can be led to adapt to that situation, the more easily they can be dominated” ( Pedagogy of the Oppressed 60). The power of colonial domination lies in the changing of a cultural consci ousness in such a way th at the native accepts and incorporates his or her own inferiority. Within the educational framework, this often occurs imposition of a “culture of silence” on those who cannot yet speak the language of the oppressor ( Cultural Action for Freedom 27). This silence, then, lends itself to “marginality” and “alienation” for the native. The result is that education becomes “the exercise of domination,” which “stimulates the credulity of students, with the ideological intent (often not perceived by the educator s) of indoctrinating them to adapt to the world of oppression” (Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed 65). 9 In “The Negro and Language,” Fanon argues that “to speak a language is to take on a world, a culture” because “to speak means to be in a po sition to learn a certain syntax, to gr asp the morphology of this or that language, but it means above all to assume a culture, to support the weight of a civilization” (38, 17-18). The colonial authority demands that the native, in order to survive within the new colonial framework that governs all aspects of his or her life, enter into th e institution, the school, which will simultaneously strip him or her of his or her own lang uage, deny its efficacy, and replace th at language with the colonizer’s language and with it the whole of the colonizer’s cultural practices (Fanon, Black Skin White Masks 18). The colonized subject, then “is appraised in term s of the extent of his assimilation” (Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks 36). 10 Fanon also insists that the coloni al power creates within those they subjugate an “inferiority complex” that “has been created by the deat h and burial of its local cultural originality,” especially its language (( Black Skin, White Masks 18). The colonized group “finds itself face to face with the language of the civilizing nation; that is, with the culture of the mo ther country” and must decided between the cultural traditions of the colonizer and their own traditions (Fanon, ( Black Skin, White Masks 18). Within the colonial framework, however, “the colonized is elev ated above his jungle status in proportion to his adoption of the mother country’s cultural standards” (Fanon, ( Black Skin, White Masks 18). This choice between the language and traditions of the colonizi ng nation and the indigenous language and tradition creates a divide within the colonized group because the fact that some “ad opt a language different from that of the group into which [they were] born is evidence of a dislocation, a separation,” which divides the native African from his culture and from parts of hi mself and his personal and familial identity (Fanon, ( Black Skin, White Masks 25). 11 This term refers, generally to the problem of ‘civ ilizing’ Africa. The discussion in with which Lord Hailey is concerned involves a debate about whether or not to educate Africans under Bristish colonial rule and what such an education might include. 12 Note here how closely Emenyonu’s description of th e aims of colonial education matches the goals of Victorian education: As both Jones and Burnstyn note in their works on Victorian charity education, the schools which serve as models for Bront’s Lowood were never envisioned as a means of social equality; rather they were established as a means of social control (343; 11).


51 13 Although British charity schools in Africa ‘deculturize d’ their students, as Ba ssey puts it, they also enculturated them in the same way that Victorian char ity schools, like Bront’s Lowood, did: British values (including Christianity) and the English language we re superior to all other values, religions, and languages. 14 Cited in Clayton G. Mackenzie, “Demythologizing the Missionaries: A Reassessment of the Functions and Relationships of Christian Missionary Education Under Colonialism,” Comparative Education 19, no. 1 (1993), 46. 15 This is the same group that, according to McClean Jones, and Burnstyn fi gured prominently in the establishment of charity schools in Britain in the 19th century. 16 The suggestion was made on Radio Moscow, broadcast via Dar-es-Salam, monitored in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, in July 1986. 17 This is, of course, the same inclination that results in charity schools for the lower classes in Britain like the one in which Jane finds herself. 18 Alison Searle. “The Role of Missions in Things Fall Apart and Nervous Conditions .” Literature and Theology 21.1 (March 2007). 60. 19 Kay Matthews. “Some Reflections on Education and National Development in Africa.” In Charles E. Nnolim ed. The Role of Education in Contemporary Africa 78.


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