Theorising the environment in fiction: An ecocritical reading of Jairos Kangira’s The bundle of firewood

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University of Namibia
Western perceptions of the African continent as a forest or ‘site of death’ can be traced to as far back as Joseph Conrad’s Heart of darkness. Post-colonial readings of this text exude a literary paradigm shift that has seen African writers attempt to valourise the African forest as a possible site of development. This ecological oriented criticism (ecocriticism) has emerged as one of the fresh ways of celebrating the environment as the fi gurative site upon which human regeneration is likely to occur. The environment becomes a response to the urgent mundane socio-economic issues and provokes readers to interrogate them. In discussing Kangira’s The bundle of firewood, this paper will analyse how these texts use the environment as a narratology to deconstruct the rigid divisions that typify girlhood stereotypes; seeing these not as monolithic, but as permeable and interchangeable. Thus, celebrating the environment is a way of shifting the centre; of giving agency to silent issues and silenced subjects. It becomes a powerful metaphor in terms of the self’s constant quest for definition in a society whose social sexual matrix it (the self) transgresses. The paper reflects on the ramifications of such transgressive politics. It argues that ecocriticism plays a significant role in creating and steering ideologies around a renegotiation of relationships. The paper concludes that the environment is metonymic of so many things; in this context, the politics of exclusivism, and the self’s radicalisation and involvement in a limitless re-fashioning.
Ecocritical reading, Bundle of firewood
Pasi, J.S. (2012). Theorising the environment in fiction: An ecocritical reading of Jairos Kangira’s The bundle of firewood. Journal for Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences, 1(1): 180-190.