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“Kwani Mwanamke ni Nani? Si Binadamu Sisi?": Women's Rights Reclaimed in Zainab Alwi Baharoon's <i>Mungu Hakopeshwi*</i>

Izabela Romańczuk


“Who is a woman? Aren’t we humans?”, those are the questions frequently posed by the heroines of Zainab Alwi Baharoon’s novel Mungu Hakopeshwi (“God Doesn’t Borrow Time”2 ), as they experience physical and psychological abuses inside their households from their close male relatives. In the presented paper I analyze the narrative engagement in the discussion on gender equality and women’s rights within the Zanzibari Muslim community, and explore the uniqueness of a feminist standpoint presented in the novel. I focus on the  evocations of the Islamic feminist discourses which resonate in the narrative voices and harmonize with their criticism of sexism and misogyny in local discourses on authority and respect. As we find that Islam is an important aspect of women's identities portrayed by the author, so is the novel's feminist voice articulated from the inside of religious frameworks. The following analysis suggests that the narrative breaks with the misconception about the religion as an oppressive system that sustains inequality between men and women. Along the way it also refutes a claim about feminism as a western invasion.

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eISSN: 0023-1886