Gender Equality In John Markham's Life In Africa

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For the truly wealthy who had squandered their inheritance at home, Africa represented a new kind of playground. . . In its unknown and unmapped expanses, "man" could test himself against the elements, the animals, and time. (74)

The view that Africa was England’s piece of property was dominant during the last years of imperialism. This view ignores the pre-existence of native Africans and their home. Although Markham has friendly interactions with people of color, she clearly views them as mere occupants of the land that is now England’s. When talking about uncolonized areas of Africa, she describes them as “Villages peopled with human beings only vaguely aware that the even course of their racial life may somehow be endangered by the
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Throughout her life in Kenya, she is constantly a part of male-dominated communities. In the first part of her life, she grows up on a farm with her father, male helpers, and male friends. It is in this time of her life that she becomes friends with Kibii. Shortly after Kibii’s father is killed while fighting for the British Empire in World War 1, Kibii tells Markham of his plans to get revenge on the man who killed him. After explaining how he will carry out this plan as a strong male warrior, Markham says, “I can jump as high as you can, and play all our games just as well. I can throw a spear almost as far. We will find him together and put both our spears in his heart” (Markham 102). Although Kibii does not directly discriminate against her gender, Markham still notes the underlying inequality in his statement. Markham expects to be treated with equality. This quote shows that from a young age, Markham is aware of her capabilities and not afraid to voice them. However, while Markham expects to be treated with equality, Markham does not treat Kibii with equality as they grow up together. After Markham’s time on the farm in Njoro, she moves to Molo with her horse to pursue horse training, which is a predominantly male occupation. When observing the …show more content…
She achieves both of these outcomes by directing her language toward an imperial audience and by sharing her relationships with men and people of color. Although one of Markham’s overall goals for her memoir could have been to support gender equality, she ends up supporting a form of inequality because of her limited perspective on racial issues. The only stereotype she unsettles in her book is the female stereotype. She is able to achieve this because her perspective is that of an adventurous female’s and she is confident when sharing it. Therefore, she is not able to unsettle racial stereotypes because she limits the perspective of her book to herself. Because she focuses on her imperial audience, she presents the memoir with her British perspective only and undermines the voices of the Africans. Although the publication West with the Night in 1942 could be seen as a movement toward equality, Markham’s book ultimately does not observe all kinds of equality. This suggests the limitations of her cultural upbringing and her inability to recognize all perspectives in her literary

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