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Black OdysseysThe Homeric Odyssey in the African Diaspora since 1939$
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Justine McConnell

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199605002

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605002.001.0001

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South African Penelopes: Njabulo Ndebele’s The Cry of Winnie Mandela

South African Penelopes: Njabulo Ndebele’s The Cry of Winnie Mandela

(p.211) 6 South African Penelopes: Njabulo Ndebele’s The Cry of Winnie Mandela
Black Odysseys

Justine McConnell

Oxford University Press

Ndebele’s The Cry of Winnie Mandela confronts the double colonization suffered by women of imperially oppressed nations. In depicting a selection of South African women, Ndebele offers a new Penelope paradigm for the twenty first century, one constructed by women who admire and empathize with Winnie Mandela—that famous ‘Penelope’ figure left alone by her husband, but whose choices are very different. Offering an alternative approach to that espoused by South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, both the form of Ndebele’s novel and the characters within it suggest a different way to heal the wounds of apartheid. Furthermore, with the focus on the women, it is their journeys that become central, and which are seen to be—unlike the journeys of the male protagonists examined in this volume—centrifugal, rather than centripetal.

Keywords:   Ndebele, The Cry of Winnie Mandela, South Africa, Mandela, Penelope, apartheid, Truth and Reconciliation Commission

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