Re-imagining family and gender roles in Aminatta Forna’s Ancestor Stones

Yunusy Castory Ng'umbi


This paper examines the interplay between polygyny and gender by exploring the way in which family structure and gender roles are negotiated, imagined and exercised in fiction. Aminatta Forna’s Ancestor stones (2006) is read in order to explore how the institution of polygyny changes over time and how it influences gender role negotiation. Using an African feminist approach, the paper juxtaposes the historical and contemporary institution of polygyny in relation to gender role negotiation and how contemporary writers build on their literary precursors in re-writing the history of polygyny and gender according to the socio-cultural needs of twenty-first century Africans. These changes in socio-cultural, economic and political spheres in Africa have played a pivotal role in altering family structure and arrangements. I therefore argue that the changes in familial structure and arrangement necessitate gender role negotiation.


Aminatta Forna; family; gender roles; nego-feminism; polygyny; womanism

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