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Life is a battle for struggle and survival. Struggle and survival are as
old as man. Every second, man is on the move, thinking of what to do and
how to do it in order to survive. This project, therefore, examines the ways
the two novelists presented their characters in their attempts to depict the
various methods people adopt in their struggles for survival in this hard and
harsh environment. This work also explores the artistic features as were
conveniently deployed in their works by the novelists. (There are injustices
in the world, because man is struggling for his survival and is important
man should mind the way he go about this).
Title Page i
Certification ii
Approval Page iii
Dedication iv
Acknowledgements v
Abstract vi
Table of contents vii
Introduction 1
Statement of Problem 5
Purpose of Study 6
Significance of Study 6
Scope of Study 7
Research Methodology 8
Review of Related Literatures ` 9
Struggle and Survival: The examples of Sinyangwe, A Cowrie of Hope and
Head‟s, The Cardinals 20
Artistry and Creativity in A Cowrie of Hope by Binwell Sinyangwe and The
Cardinals By Bessie Head 33
Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation 39
Works Cited 42
Life is full of struggles. Man lives in a hard and harsh environment
where he struggles, toils and labours from day to day in order to survive.
Every living thing on earth struggles for survival, both plants and
animals. Plants struggle, searching for sunlight to survive. Even lower
animals with low mentality struggle for survival. Human beings are not left
out. A baby that is still in the womb struggles for food and searches for a
way out during labour, to show that struggles of human beings start right
from the womb.
There are many types of struggles namely, political struggle,
economic struggle, family struggle and so on. But all these struggles lead to
one thing which is survival.
The seventh edition of Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary defines
struggle as “to try very hard to do something when it is difficult or when
there are a lot of problems”, while explaining survival as “the state of
continuing to live or exist, often despite difficulty or dangers or something
that has continued to exist from an earlier time” (1491). In a similar vein,
the Webster’s Dictionary enters struggle as “to use great effort to labor hard;
to strive; to contend forcibly; as to struggle to save one‟s life” (203).
Whereas all the above definitions are apt, we choose to align with an
online posted material which adds that “survival is meeting your basic needs
for food, shelter, clothing, transport and health care”. Survival goes hand in
hand with success.
Davil Salti, a Palestinian who lives in the Middle East says:
The one who does not know the struggle of life is
either an immature soul or a soul who has risen
above the life of this world. The object of human
being in this world is to attain to perfection of
humanity, and therefore, it is necessary that one
should go through what we call the struggle of life.
Because life means a continual battle. One‟s
success, failure, happiness or unhappiness mostly
depends upon one‟s knowledge of the battle.
Whatever be one‟s occupation in life, whatever be
one‟s knowledge, if one lacks the knowledge of
the battle of life, one lack the most important
knowledge of all (
As soon as man loses his courage to go through the struggle of life,
the burden of the whole world falls on his head. But he who goes on
struggling through life, he alone makes his way. One must study the nature
of life; one must understand the psychology of this struggle. In order to
understand this struggle, one must observe that there are three sides to it:
struggle with oneself, struggle with others and struggle with circumstances.
One person may be capable of struggling with himself, but is not sufficient;
another is able to struggle with other, but even that is not enough. A third
person may answer the demand of circumstance but that is not enough
either. What is needed is that the three should be studied and learnt, and one
must be able to manage the struggle in all three directions. The one who
struggles with himself first is the wisest, for he has struggle with himself,
which is the most difficult struggle. The other struggles will become easy
for him.
What is the nature of the struggle with oneself? It has three aspects;
the first is to make one‟s thought, speech and action answer the demands of
one‟s own ideal, while at the same time give expression to all the impulses
and desires which belong to one nature being. The next aspect of the
struggle with oneself is to fit in with others, with their various ideas and
demands. For this, a man has to make himself as narrow or as wide as the
place that ask him to fill, which is a delicate matter, difficult for all to
comprehend and practise. And the third aspect of struggle with oneself is to
give accommodation to others in one‟s own life, in one‟s own heart, large or
small as the demand may be.
When we consider the struggle with others, there are also three things
to think about of which the first is to control and govern people and
activities which happen to be our duty, our responsibility. Another aspect is
how to allow ourselves to be used by others in various situations in life; to
know to what extent one should allow others to make use of our time, our
energy, our work or our patience and where to draw the line. And the third
aspect is to fit in with the standards and conceptions of different
personalities who are at various stages of evolution.
This is a phrase originating in evolutionary theory as an alternative
description of natural selection. The phrase is today commonly used in
contexts that are incompatible with the original meaning as intended by its
first two proponents, the British polymath Philosopher, Herbert Spencer
(who coined the term) and Charles Darwin. Herbert Spencer first used the
phrase “survival of the fittest” after reading Charles Darwin‟s On the Origin
of Species. In his Principle of Biology (1864), he draws parallels between
his own economic theories and Darwin‟s biological ones, writing “This
survival of the fittest which I have here sought to express in mechanical
terms, is that which Mr. Darwin has called natural selection or the
preservation of favored race in the struggle for life” (vol. 1 p 444).
In Amanda Ripley‟s book, The Unthinkable Who Survives When
Disaster Strike – and Why? Is outstanding account of real life scenario of
people‟s struggle to survive different challenging situations, especially
disasters. It also provides psychological reason why they act the way they
do in this situation. The author discusses that during any type of disaster, a
person travels through three phases: denial, deliberation and decisive
moment. Reality is full of unforeseen events. The end results of these
unforeseen events depend on the choice the person makes during the three
phases the disaster occurred.
Tess Penniston outlines three survival concepts he thinks could save
life on his web page “Ready Nutrition” (May 2010) as first taking
responsibility for your own survival, second, sorely relying on someone else
to save you is foolish and naïve, and third, train yourself to act without fear.
Statement of Problem:
At the moment, there exist innumerable literary assessment by
scholars, especially the literary critics, on the creative works by African
writers. The volumes of “African Literature Today” (ALT) series and other
available critical works attest to this. Many books from the stable of many
renowned creative writers have been given some levels of attention by
Nevertheless, much has not been done, at project level on themes of
Binwell Sinyangwe‟s A Cowrie of Hope. This informs the desire to work on
this project, hence the theme of struggle and survival in Binwell
Sinyangwe‟s A Cowrie of Hope and Bessie Head‟s The Cardinals.
Purpose of Study:
The main objective of this project work is to take a critical look at
themes of struggle and survival in our primary texts namely, Binwell
Sinyangwe‟s A Cowrie of Hope and Bessie Head‟s The Cardinals. Struggle
for survival is what the organism goes through in order to survive in his
chosen environment. This project is subjected to critical examination of
how the characters struggle to wriggle themselves out of the harsh realities
life bestowed on them.
Significance of Study:
The problem of struggle for survival is as old as the human race. The
issue presents myriad of questions such as: Are we having pity against
ourselves? Why must man struggle in order to survive? Why must there be
much suffering and injustice? Many erudite scholars have dealt with these
questions over the years. Different view and debates on the subject have
tried often to offer a reasonable solution to the problems.
Apart from adding to the already existing literature, this work through
its illuminating insight is very significant especially in our contemporary
time, where there is quest for breakthrough. It will serve as a veritable
source of material for future researchers. It is hoped that it will continue to
give a critical evaluation for better understanding of the nature of struggle
and survival, especially as articulated in the two novels explored here.
Scope of Study:
The problem of struggle and survival is very complex. Its complexity
is to the extent that a single researcher cannot be exhaustive. It is, however
noteworthy that while acknowledging that there are other evaluations and
appraisal of problem by other authors which can help in understanding and
solving the problems of struggle and survival as it were, we shall limit our
analysis and critical evaluation in this research work to the two novels, A
Cowrie of Hope and The Cardinals by Binwell Sinyangwe and Bessie Head
Research Methodology:
The basic sources of information for this project are the novels, A
Cowrie of Hope by Binwell Sinyangwe and The Cardinals by Bessie Head.
Secondary materials are from the internet, library and journal articles.


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