Our Mothers, Our Powers, Our Texts: Manifestations of Aje in Africana Literature

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9780991073054: Our Mothers, Our Powers, Our Texts: Manifestations of Aje in Africana Literature
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This is the revised and expanded edition of Teresa N. Washington's groundbreaking book Our Mothers, Our Powers, Our Texts: Manifestations of Aje in Africana Literature. In Yoruba language and culture, Aje signifies both a phenomenal spiritual power and the human beings who exercise that power. Aje is the birthright of Africana women who are revered as the Gods of Society. While Africana men can have Aje, its owners and controllers are Africana women. Because it is an African female power, and due to its invisibility, ubiquity, and profundity, Aje is often maligned as witchcraft. However, as Teresa N. Washington reveals in Our Mothers, Our Powers, Our Texts, Aje is central to the Yoruba ethos, worldview, and cosmology. Not only is it essential to human creation and artistic creativity, but as a force of justice and retribution, Aje is vital to social harmony and balance. Washington analyzes forms, figures, and forces of Aje in the Yoruba world, in the Caribbean Islands, in Latin America, and in African America. Washington's research reveals that with the exile and enslavement of millions of Africans, Aje became a global force and an essential ally in organizing insurrections, soothing shattered souls, and reminding the dispossessed of their inherent divinity. From her in-depth exploration of Aje in Pan-African history and orature, Washington guides readers through rich analyses of the symbolic, methodological, and spiritual manifestations of Aje that are central to important works by Africana writers but are rarely elucidated by Western criticism. Our Mothers, Our Powers, Our Texts includes innovative readings of works by many Africana writers, including Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, Ben Okri, Wole Soyinka, Jamaica Kincaid, and Ntozake Shange. This revised and expanded edition of Our Mothers, Our Powers, Our Texts will appeal to scholars of Africana literature, African religion and philosophy, gender studies, and comparative literature. Devotees of Africana spiritual systems will find this book to be indispensable.

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Review:

"Blazes a new trail in Africana literary criticism by providing an insight into the soul and spirit of Africana womanhood."

     - Anthonia Kalu, The Ohio State University, author of Women, Literature, and Development in Africa
 
 
"Washington's book testifies to the author's impressive knowledge of Africana lore and literature, especially their feminine and feminist aspects, and is destined, deservedly, to become an authority for students of the Africana universe."
 
     - Oyekan Owomoyela, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, author of Yoruba Proverbs

 
"Washington provides a feminist but distinctly non-Western analysis of the Yoruba concept of Aje and its appearance through a wide variety of Africana literature. In part 1, the author identifies Aje both as a creative and life-giving power and as the people, usually women, who wield it. She lays out the place of Aje in Yoruba cosmology: its revelation in the praise song Itan-Oriki Iyami Osoronga and its passage in new forms, including hoodoo, to new lands through the African diaspora. In part 2, Washington interprets important Africana works as manifestations of Aje, showing particularly how displaced peoples of Africa have called on Aje to combat or make sense of oppression based on race, politics, or gender. Washington argues that traditional readings of, for example, Toni Morrison's Beloved, Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God, and Gloria Naylor's Mama Day are based on inappropriate Western assumptions and values. Certainly readers will find new ideas here--surprising and illuminating readings that reveal the female protagonists' control of and by Aje. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper--division undergraduates through faculty."

    - C. A. Bily, Adrian College, Choice
 
 
"This important book will be welcomed into Black, women's, post colonial, and literary studies, but it deserves a still wider audience. Incorporating the work of earlier critics, yet reaching well beyond earlier findings, it delineates a system of traditional African cultural expression encrypted in contemporary literary forms and manifest to those with eyes to see it; but more importantly, it goes far toward re-empowering the Africana image of the female elder."

      - Menoukha Case, Empire State College
 
 
"Washington writes supple and thoughtful prose and creatively integrates African and African-derived terminology, which never distract the reader. I consider Our Mothers, Our Powers, Our Texts not only a brilliant study, but also a model to be emulated."

     - Ousseynou B. Traore, William Paterson University
 
 
"Patiently,Washington takes the reader through the complex cosmology and practices of Yoruba religion and philosophy. It is a much needed affirmation of feminine power and resource, and is essential reading for anyone attempting a greater understanding of the work of contemporary Africana writers."

     - Janie Franz, Elevate Difference
 
 

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