Research Article

Why and to Where does Ajany Run? Culture and Femininity in Yvonne Owuor’s Dust


Abstract

Launched around the time Kenya was marking fifty years of independence, Yvonne Owuor’s Dust has been described as a ‘cultural inheritance.’ It portrays a collection of colourful characters who laugh at themselves in their search for some sense of belonging. This paper is a critical interrogation of how culture and gender shape the identities of characters in the creative works of East African writers. The present analysis focuses on the character of Ajany, in Dust. Ajany is a timid character who always lurked in Odidi’s shadow. Initially she has no sense of self and seems to be on a journey in search of her identity. She makes international contact mentally, physically, philosophically, intellectually, psychologically as well as emotionally. Among what is affecting her self-realisation is the collective culture of her people and her gender. The study thus interrogates the contribution of femininity to the identity that Ajany eventually acquires. Since Ajany has interacted with different cultures in the search for self-realisation, the study also examines the effects of the different cultures on Ajany’s character. The study is based on ideas of hybridity advanced by Homi K. Bhabha.

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