Gender and Nationalism in African Women’s Political Autobiographies: The Case of Wangari Muta Maathai, Elizabeth Bagaaya Nyabongo and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships


Women and Gender Studies


This proposal aims at producing a book manuscript out of my Doctoral dissertation. My focus is on three contemporary political autobiographies by three prominent African women political figures who are contemporaries; Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Wangari Muta Maathai and Princess Elizabeth Bagaaya Nyabongo. They were chosen because as political autobiographies by African women actively involved in the national politics in their respective countries at the top level, the narratives expose the opportunities and challenges they faced as women who came up against a largely male dominated political space of the contemporary postcolonial nation state. These women represent women who inherited from colonialism a political space greatly shaped by patriarchy. From the study, I analyze discourses of emowerment, political participation, gendered identities and other thematic issues that run across all three texts which enables me to draw conclusions about the nature of gender and state politics in African states during this period through comparing the different personal experiences. The conclusions point to the trends and changes in discourses about women’s political engagement in national politics in Africa between 1970 to 2010.