Endless toil

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Tanzanian Literature in English

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Endless toil

  1. 1. Page 1 of 5 ON WHAT EMAGE DOES WOMEN ARE POTRAYED IN THE NOVEL “THE ENDLESS TOIL” BY TAGALILE? Women in most of Africa are, at best, second-class citizens. So many of the problems that plague the continent would be lessened or turned around completely if women had more power. The presence of various daily campaigns from various organizations and a number of campaigns fighting for the position and power of women in less developed and developing countries like Tanzania, proves that there is a severe problems pertaining the status and roles of women in the country. There are number of problems including education, health care services, disease control, economic status, poverty, political status, and other cultural practices, taboos and outdated customs and oppressions facing women in Tanzania and other countries. When we focus on the side of literary works and writings, various others and writers of different literary works and many journals, still shows that women in Tanzania falls under the second class of people. They are not as equally to men. This work is going to discus on the both sides of how women are placed in Literary works especially in Tagalile’s Endless Toil. When looking on Tagalile’s The endless Toil, the thread of the book directly proves the status of women as a second class people in the society. Women seem to be downgraded in all social, political as well as economic affairs. The author places women to a low status as compared to men. First, women have been shown as less people who cannot even own anything in the society, they are placed as the one who cannot have a right to ownership of properties even in their marriage. The author shows that, even when their husbands have died, women have no right to own anything left behind by the husband. The relatives seem to take all the properties since they regard women as the one who are not able to have anything except their husbands. A good example can be shown on page 94 of the book, we see the character Mudeki who is being harassed by the relatives of his died husband, John. The relative tends to offer Mudeki to bring back and get them the Singer Sewing Machine which they regarded it as the property of their relative John. “They ordered mudeki to give them her singer brand sewing machine, Mudeki was infuriated. The machine was her property.
  2. 2. Page 2 of 5 it was not even given to her by her late husband but by her brother, Swela Twitange as a wedding present after her marriage as a wedding present after her marriage to John Mwela” (page 94). This shows clearly to what extent women are not regarded and seem to be less important and second class people in the society. Even those properties they own and have mandate to it are regarded as the property of their husbands. When we come to the other side of African cultural aspects like in marriage, women are strongly prohibited from being married by two husbands like men tends to do on women. It is common in African traditional and modern societies for men to have more than one wife, but it is regarded as a crime and unacceptable to women. Women had no say on this and this shows that they are taken to a class of people who have no say. In this book, Tagalile shows this clearly by the character Munyalutugo. Munyalutugo as appers in the book had married to many wives. He is proud of them and they are all regarded as his properties. Munyalutugo had married to Masisi, Mudoda and Catherine. Polygamy is to show that women had no say to their husbands. Apart from that, Tagalile places women on the position of those people who have less education and because of this less education, they are the one who do not know the importance of it in life. In the book, there seem some characters who even tends to prohibit children from attending schools. A good example is a character Masisi the step mother of Swela who prevents his children from attending school. “Masasi made sure that her children do not go to school to waste their precious time as she cynically put it when Kidada attained his school going age, his mother would hide him in one of the bins for food crops reffered to in kihehe as Kissande…” ( Page 166). Also, on page 164 of the book, the author still shows how women are the obstacles of social development when says; About three to four decades back, when Catherine would diligently make follow ups on her children’s school attendance, Masisi on her part did completely the reverse. She discouraged her children from going to school by telling them that ‘I have not attended a single class in my life and yet here I’m I have succeded in bringing you up to ehere you are’’ (page 164)
  3. 3. Page 3 of 5 Through this, women are really placed on a second class people. They seem to be the one who are source of stagnant in social economic development in the society and they are less important. On the other hand, we can say women are the source of children’s evils in the society. Women are the one who are believed to be the one to bring changes in the society especially good bringing up of their children. But, because of less knowledge they have and low level of education, they became to be the source of bad behavior of childrens. When we look on page 225 of the novel, the auther shows us that, failure of the character Masisi to send children to school, made them to become thieves and ones with bad behaviors. When we look on page 225 of the book, the author shows this when says; After Masisi death, her children and grand children were thrown into disarray. Quarrels set among themselves, culminating in untold fighting. And one of her grand child Mudibafu which means dunderhead in Kihehe turned into a rogue, earning his life as a conman and a thief , robbery with violence was one of his specialities” (page 225). The main sources of these immoral actions of childrens are the women who have less knowledge about the importance of educating their children. Moreover, when we still on the issue of cultural issues, women are also placed in a second class people who believes in issues of witchcraft and superstitions. Always those who believe in issues of superstitions in societies are regarded as one with low level of knowledge. When we look on page 105 of the book, the author says; Sekitowo was a fearfull old woman. Her squint eyes had set many children in the village in flight. Although she was verygood at brewing traditional beer such as common, wanzuki, and kangaroo, very few people turned up to buy her drinks….”(Page 105). Here the author shows that women are the one who only believed to be witchcrafts and this is the character of less important people in the societies. When we go further on page 221 of the book, the author still proves that women are less important people who even believed to be superstitious one. There seems a character Masisi, a
  4. 4. Page 4 of 5 woman who believed that she killed people with her witchcraft. Masisi condemned that she killed people in the village by the use of her witchcraft. But, it would be a fallacy to say that Tagalile in his novel Endless Toil only portrays women to as a second class people in the society. That is to say, everything regarded as bad in the society still it will have its value on the other hand. In this novel, women had been placed on a second class people with less importance on one hand, but still there is recognition of their importance in the society. This can be shown as follows. Women seem to engage in a number of economic activities with hard working something which tends to reduce the governmental burden of caring people. They engage in activities like, business activities, Agricultural activities and many others which all of them makes them to be a self reliant people in the society. We daily experience the presence of a lot of men in our society who doesn’t engage in any activity for their development except just drinking, but this is contrary shown in Tagalale’s Endless Toil where women are self reliant. When we look on page 76 of the book, the author says; “Mwideke Twitange was a widow. She was the understanding woman. Mudeke helped many people with problems that initially being regarded as insurmountable. Because of the seriousness with which she took, and agriculture in particular, famine was an unknown in her house”. (page 76). This quotation helps us to prove that, women are still important people in our societies who can also depended by other people even though they are men. On top of being the source of stagnant education to children, there are other women on the other hand who are good and responsible for the development of children, which makes us to argue that women are the argents of social development in our societies. This can be clearly shown when Tagalile portrays other women characters as responsible for child’s development and become the people whom others take them as examples. This shows that ‘a woman does also’ as what current Swahili slogan about women says wanawake wanaweza!. We can prove this by looking on page 164 of the book, focusing to a character Catherine, Swela’s mother who although is a non educated woman, but she make sure that her child attend school. The author says;
  5. 5. Page 5 of 5 About three to four decades back, when Catherine would diligently make follow ups on her children’s school attendance, Masisi on her part did completely the reverse. She discouraged her children from going to school by telling them that ‘I have not attended a single class in my life and yet here I’m I have succeded in bringing you up to ehere you are’’ (page 164). This proves that the author on the other part still shows that women have got a certain kind of importance in our societies. Not only has that, but also women been shown to be engaging into various activities like teaching jobs and even family care. They are the important tool for the taking care of the family including children as well as their husbands. In the novel, we have seen women like Kipondu utwa who is a primary school teacher tends to resign her teaching and sticking to the careering of family, though it is advised as good example to others. She politely asks her husband to resign from her teaching post since he felt that it was better for her to devote time and her energy for their son. (page 12). Generally, when we look on this book, the dominant thread is the position of women. Though women have been portrayed most in a negative way, it acts as a way towards calling the society, and the government at large to fight for the position of women. It is a time for each and everybody in the society, including women themselves to stand firm and fight against ignorance, poverty bad cultural practices and outdated customs which all of them undermine women to a large extent.

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