Irony In Aminata Sowfalls The Beggars Strike

Project and Seminar Material for English Language

Irony In Aminata Sowfalls The Beggars Strike

Chapter One

1.0 Introduction

1.1 Purpose of Study

This study examines irony in Aminata Sowfall’s The Beggars’ strike with the purpose of bringing out how irony is used to realize the themes in the work.

1.2 Scope of Study

This essay examines The Beggars’ Strike as a novel in which Aminata Sowfall uses irony such as situational and verbal irony to demonstrate themes.

1.3 Methodology

This work is carried out using the primary text, Aminata Sow Fall’s The Beggars’ Strike,internet, library research and other subject related articles.

1.4 Theatrical Background

This research work is based on the sociological theory which Kenneth Allan defines as “abstract and testable propositions about society” (Web) it often relies on the scientific method which aims for objectivity and attempts to avoid passing judgment. “The field of sociology, itself and sociological theory by extension is relatively new, both date back to 18th and 19th centuries. The drastic social change of that period such as industrialization, urbanization and the rise of democratic states caused particularly western thinkers to become aware of society. The oldest sociological theories deal with broad historical process relating to these changes. Since then sociological theories have come to encompass most aspects of society including communities, organizations and relationships. Sociological theory attempt to answer the following three questions, what is action? What is social order and what determines social change.” (Web). Sowfall’s The Beggars’ Strike conforms to the sociological theory since it gives a picture of modern society, highlighting societal problems such as poverty, religious hypocrisy, corruption and alienation in a realist vein.

1.5 Review of Literature

This review examines Aminata Sowfall’s The Beggars’ Strike in line with what Critics have said about the novel.

Irene Udosoro says – Sowfall is very humorous, she knows how to throw her readers into fits of laughter. One of such case in The Beggars’ Strike is when Mour Ndiaye went to the beggars in their encampment to persuade them to come back to the city so he could perform his sacrifice in terms of characterization Sowfall’s characters are more or less carriers of her thought one way or the other they pullout of a debilitating social conditionor statusquo with a view to ushering in new values. Further more, she also opines that the award-wining novel presents a town, which critics believes is Dakar, the capital of Senegal, but which infact could be any major African city. The administrators in the said town claims the capital is defaced, fifty and unattractive because of the beggars who station themselves in strategic positions in town to beg for alms. (68, 70).

Patrick Naagbamton in his article “Our Beggars on the Rampage. Again” states that The Beggars’ Strike tells the story of Senegal an Islamic country entrapped between the influences of old and new values. In the novel, Fall protest against a cruel society, revolts against induced poverty and underdevelopment. He further says that the novel is a light political satire that is symbolic of the decay in our society. (Web).

According to Mark Beeman Sow Fall’s The Beggars’ Strike is an account of the fictional strike in a West African society. He argues that Aminata Sowfall presents the institution of begging from the point of view consistent with the structural functionalist sociological approach. (Web).

Emmanuel Sarpong Owusu-Ausah says the novel is a political satire setina muslim dominated African community. (Web)

Also, Martins Nicolls says The Beggars’ Strike is set in a city known only as the capital. Undoubtedly, Aminata Sowfall writes of her own experience and the novella is a long short or a short long story of only 99 pages full of wit and succinct dialogue. (Web)

Tessa asserts that the novel’s alternative tittle is the dregs of society and the story portrays how all elements including the dregs are vital part of humanity. (Web)

Shittu Kelani Okunade says Aminata Sow Fall has creatively demonstrated that leadership is the bane of our society in her novel The Beggars’ Strike and like a social realist that she is, she has made the beggars to show Mour Ndiaye that power belongs to God and that the masses are repository of such power because it is the masses that will give the leader the mandate through which he will exercise power. Furthermore he also observe that the author of the Beggars Strike seems to approve of begging which goes against the tenet of Islam as a religion does not support begging rather it preaches hard work. Sowfall, a Muslim adherent who hails from an Islamic society should have impressed it on her audience that despite. The fact that the state should take adequate care of its citizenry, the citizens should also work hard to get their daily bread rather than begging. (77,78).

Mike Edung states that The Beggars’ Strikeis a work of art actually communicated environmental health hazard among the other problems they pose in then society. The beggars’ strike has gone to present the idea that cultural belief and practices could seriously threaten the success of measures aimed at tackling this social problem. (57, 58).

Mbye B. Cham in his essay “Islam and the creative imagination in Senegal” states that The Beggars’ strikeis the story of Mour Ndiaye, Director of Public Health, whose efficient yet inhuman removal of beggars from the city in the interest of tourism thwarts his hopes of being appointed to the newly created post of vice-president of the country. The novel also details the disarray of individual like Mour Ndiaye who seesthe beggars’ strike (that is, their refusal to accept arms in the city as the bane of their selfish objectives. In exploring the divergence between the principle, Aminata Sowfall strongly indicts the society’s obsession with the material which fosters on psychology of dependence easily exploited by charlatans masquerading as deviant venerable marabouts. Deviation from the true altruism of zakat bastardizes it’s moral and philosophic intent leading to one of the beggars to lucidly observe that people no longer give out of the goodness of their heart but out of an instinct of self-preservation and improvement. (Web).

According to Catherin Keating Sowfall’s portrayal of the beggars allows the reader no possibility to view them as anything other than a group of sentient thinking individual with a complex social network, who enjoy relationship with friends and family and whom are subject to the same joys and disappointment which affect each of our lives. More importantly, they are presented as unique as any other living creature and therefore as deserving of consideration as moral beings.

Several areas of interest have been explored in Aminata Sowfall’s The Beggars’ Strikesuch as leadership, characterization, environmental issues. This essay however explores other areas not sufficiently explored-irony, the major types with the aim of adding knowledge to already existing knowledge.

1.6 Thesis Statement

This study focuses on the use of Irony, such as situational Irony, and verbal Irony for the realization of themes.

Chapter Four


This study begins with an introduction which explains irony. The theoretical background describes the sociological theory and also a literature review on Aminata Sowfall’s The Beggars’ Strike.

This essay has also depicted the utilization of irony by SowFall for the portrayal of diverse themes such as alienation, Dignity in Destitution, Beggings as a lucreative profession, social injustice and moral decadence.

There are diverse forms of alienation in Sowfall’s The Beggars’ Strike the beggars are socially alienated through the instrument of states power, mour Ndiaye is politically alienated since he could not become vice president and the general public excluding the beggars are religiously alienated. Since they could no longer easily perform their religious obligation that is alms giving. The people including, the sick trek long distance in order to make their sacrifices to the beggars and this is as a result of the fact that the beggars has been cleared off the streets with the aim of cleaning up the streets and attracting foreign investors.

Dignity in Destitution is a dominant idea in sowfall’s The Beggars’ Strike and it is portrayed through the complaint of one of the beggars and Keba Dabo’s childhood story. The beggars point to the fact that every human being is disirious of some respect no matter his or her standing in society. Some of the beggars grumble thus “we are beginning to get fed up with the way we are treated (B.S1) in other words they arenot happy with the way their pride and honour as human being are being descreted by agents of the state. Also, Keba Dabo uses the story of his childhood to demonstrate that poverty has never excluded self respect. He tells his secretary how his mother has never stretch-out her arms to begg no matter her state of destitution.

Social injustice is depicted ironically through the action of Mour Ndiaye the Head of the Departmentof Public Health and Higene who orders his assistant Keba Dabo to forcefully remove the beggars from the city streets to a camp on the outskirts of the town.

Sowfall uses verbal irony to despite the diverse forms of moral decadence such as dishonesty and deceit in the art of fortune telling. Most of the characters with leadership roles claims standards, qualities, virtues and opinion that they do not actually posses.

Poverty which is a state of being poor is ironically revealed through the story of Keba’s childhood experience where his mother feeds the children with tasteless rice and at times she placed empty pot on fire and tells the children that the food will soon be ready.

Finally Sowfall’s The Beggars’ Strikeis developed around the technique of irony. It is not just the major irony of the table being turned against the person who has won honor for driving away destitute from the city streets requiring the assistance of the same beggars but also, there is a string of connected ironies like situational and verbal ironies which help to shape the plot in a rather enjoyable manner.

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