ENG-355 | African and African American Literature

Theme: Bessie Head – Understanding Leadership

Boats waiting in the river bank

After reading “The Deep River,” by (Bessie Amelia Emery (aka Bessie Head)), you realized that the content resembles her own livelihood experiences. As in the story, the river people are bound by attaining the land while trusting a chief to portray in the form of worthy leadership. Furthermore, the conditions of leadership become complicated as the truth about marriages and personal interests in intimacy get out in the open among family members and certain personalities of a large congregation of the river people. In relation, Head did experience a childhood (1937 – 1986) around people that she had to listen to without much bother; newly liberated southern Africa (once convincing and dreamlike (The Norton Anthology)). Her education level excels as she became a teacher within her zone. Similarly, her education was seemingly in the southern portion of Africa, where the white acquire a ‘better’ education, as compared to the inferior blacks whom regularly attend school only during the Monday through Friday week of schooling.

15920508 - father and son walking along the river bank
Man with child

In the meantime, Bessie Amelia Emery remained as an adequate observer of leadership qualities which is translated and then, contributed into her writing. For example, this week’s discussion topic relates to the importance of names. And in her story, as Chinua Achebe, the names are remembered in the name of leadership. Ironically, names were not as important in “The Deep River” while the people worked and lived as an ancient Talaote tribal society, in lieu of later noticing perceptions in labeling individual goals and motives ‘enough’ to cause a separation.

The Theme – the Importance of Names

The importance of omitting names, while using a reference, can be difficult in some North Americans societies. Conversely, certain religious groups, with attributes of folklore, cannot survive without knowing the specific names in order effectively complete a scenario. In reflection, the parts of Bessie Head’s past are manifested in her literature. Chiefly, southern Africa has been persuaded by European cultures of the past (i.e., the Dutch, French, and German); however, according to sources (ch.28), the Afrikaners are extremely loyal to Africa (Helgren, Israel, Sager, n.d.).

14269493 - businessman pushing digital button on tablet screen

As a result, Head, managed to release convincing literature about the changes in attitude that may influence acts of self-actualization (for the most part). Contrarily, to her actual health before she passed by age 48, Bessie Head set forth to communicate how leadership could have been perceived in Botswana during times of industrial growth (away from her actual neighboring towns) and farming agendas.
Copyright: ohmega1982 / 123RF Stock Photo

Video: Bessie Head (Courtesy of Coline Redeker)

Teacher’s Instruction

  1. Present the relation between Bessie’s life as she learned about her own reasons for being alive in Africa (Bessie Amelia Emery (aka Bessie Head)) was born adopted by the Heathcote family); however, she learned “only as a teacher” that she was a mulatta (black father/white mother).
  2. Explain the relation between Europe and South Africa.
  3. Learn about leadership (see video link<“What is Leadership?”>)

Student Assignment

  1. Identify any separations between the male and female roles in southern Africa, which relates to leadership.
  2. Discuss how the Europeans supported themselves among farmers; the inlands of southern Africa focused on livestock, while the industrial, coastal shores attained gold, farming, and fishing.


Helgren, Israel, Sager. “World Geography Today.” Holt, Rinehart and Winston

Publishers. New York, Toronto, Mexico City, London, Sydney, and Tokyo. ISBN 0-


Copyright: likephotoman / 123RF Stock Photo

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s