(Re) illuminating the Misrepresented Identity of the Marginalised Minority Groups in Bessie Head’s Maru: an Afrocentric Approach

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Thabo Mahasha, Mphoto Mogoboya


This article explores social identity and the plight of the marginalised groups in Southern Africa as depicted in Bessie Head’s novel, Maru (1971). From time immemorial until now, minority groups have suffered exploitation, subjugation and repression from the dominant elite who are usually led by patriarchal societies who treat them as slaves and outcasts. In Maru, Head seeks to reconstruct the distorted identity and the positive image of the marginalised minority groups in the Southern Africa. She does so by employing an autobiographical narrative voice in order to blend her own personal experience with fictional characters. The novel mirrors a fluidity of identities in both social and political spheres and demonstrates how suppression of these identities affects both individuals and nation states. This is a qualitative study which is underpinned by Afrocentric theoretical assumptions. It is a thematised textual analysis of Head’s Maru which seeks to overtly re-illuminate and dismantle established ethnic prejudices and racial discrimination against the vulnerable minority groups who form the larger part of the underprivileged people in Southern Africa. Maru was purposively sampled because of its relevance to the study. This article recommends the deconstruction of stereotypes and reconstruction of the misrepresented identity of the marginalised people in Southern Africa.

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