A feminist analysis of ‘Dhako en …’ (A woman is …) proverbs among the Luo community of Kenya





Dhako en, objectification, female body, social degradation, social other


Postcolonial feminism conceptualises the female body as volatile to theorise the inherent vibrant activities of (re)identification of the self from the social masculine inscriptions. In addition to that, the female body is also understood as a subject of conquest in a political struggle to emancipate the self from the instigators of its suppression. Given this, the female body is highly political and attempts to emancipate itself from oppressive patriarchal hegemony. In spite of these efforts by feminist scholars to proclaim the inevitable transfiguration of the female body, and to elucidate a transformation towards autonomy of self, discourse in emerging oral tradition and emerging genres of oral literature in contemporary African societies derail the quest for recreation of an ‘envisioned woman’. In this study I analyse ‘Dhako en’ (a woman is) proverbs among the Luo community of Kenya, and investigate their dominant role in the objectification of the female body in contemporary society. These proverbs were collected from Facebook, and then analysed through a deconstructionist approach and postcolonial feminist theory of sexualised objectification. At the superficial level, ‘Dhako en’ proverbs are supposed to entertain by creating comic relief. I argue that the signified is a woman relegated to a mere object of misappropriation, and that the signifiers embody sexual connotations in the pretext of artful use of words verbally. I conclude that these proverbs become existential threats to the ‘transfiguration’ process of the female body and continue to ‘other’ the image of the woman, complicating the overall feminist struggle.


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Author Biography

Daniel Otieno, University of Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany

Daniel Otieno Otieno is a PhD student in the Department of English and American Studies, Faculty of Languages and Literature, University of Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany.


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How to Cite

Otieno, D. (2023). A feminist analysis of ‘Dhako en …’ (A woman is …) proverbs among the Luo community of Kenya. Tydskrif Vir Letterkunde, 60(3), 50–57. https://doi.org/10.17159/tl.v60i3.14482



Research articles