A question of madness
Emma Yuana Muhamad
Date of Issue2009
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
The upheaval of African epistemological and ontological understanding of traditions, culture and society during the Scramble for Africa in the 1880s and subsequently the period of colonization, was an act of violence that disintegrated African identity resulting in chaos and frenzy in the lives of many African natives. According to Frantz Fanon, an eminent critic in the work of psychiatry and postcolonialism, in his work The Wretched of the Earth, he says that “[b]ecause it is a systematic negation of the other person and a furious determination to deny the other person all attributes of humanity, colonialism forces the people it dominates to ask themselves the question constantly: ‘In reality, who am i?’” (Fanon 201) Because of the lack of consciousness of one’s identity and place, and the seemingly difficult process of attaining a resolution to this identity crisis, the search and struggle for an identity is commonly manifested in the form of madness in most postcolonial works of African writers. The search for identity becomes even more complex and interesting when hybridity is involved because there is a whole issue of assimilation, essence and purity. Bessie Head’s A Question of Power illustrates aptly the manifestation of the search for identity in madness. It is in this madness that Elizabeth, the female protagonist of the novel, explores and confronts personal and national issues, that are considerations for the creation of her identity; therefore, attaining a kind of acceptance and equilibrium for her self at the end of the novel.
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University