Feminism Using Buchi Emecheta’s ‘The Joys Of Motherhood’ And Zaynab Alikali’s ‘The Still Born’

Project and Seminar Material for English Language

Feminism Using Buchi Emecheta’s ‘The Joys Of Motherhood’ And Zaynab Alikali’s ‘The Still Born’


Feminism, as a worldwide ideology is aimed at changing the existing power between men and women as it highlights the inequalities in the male and female relationship in the society.

However the aim of the work is to look into feminism using the works of Buchi Emecheta and Zaynab Alkali’s The Joys of motherhood and The stillborn respectively. This will be done through textual analysis of both text. The central aim of this study therefore is to shed light on the acceptance of woman’s contribution to the economic & social growth of their society.

Chapter One

General Introduction

1.0 Introduction

This chapter will look into the background and the general introduction of feminism using Buchi Emecheta and Zaynab Akali’s ‘The Joys of Motherhood and ‘The Stillborn’ respectively. Also, it shall discuss purpose and scope of the study and finally the biography of the two authors.

1.1 Background of the Study

Feminist ideology is found on the need to develop a female tradition of creativity to cause awareness on the plight of women as the oppressed, deprived, subjugated and unfulfilled gender. This ideology is known in European Africa continents.

On the European scene, in the 18th century, the male writers like snake spare, Chaucer, John and Milton had made their names as great author and set tradition for stale and form in literature. However, their writings hardly focused on the female character but when female authors like Austen, George Eliot came to the scene in the 19th century, their works suffered rejection for what was regarded as ‘19th century critics’ as their female trivialities and frivolities in their choice of themes and in their characterization.

Feminism is seen in Africa as an imported ideology alien to the African society and it is seen as the newest form of neo-colonialism and so because of this most of African female writers preferred to be referred to as motherist or womanist instead of feminist because Africans believe that most matrimonial homes have being ruined because of feminism. Womanism according to Alice Walker means matured, responsible, courageous behaviour of girlish gender.

In Nigeria, women have gone into professions that were once regarded as exclusively for men. This is to say that Nigeria women are achieving more of her goals and gradually asserting herself. Religiously, feminism is believed to be evil and being regarded as a rebellious act of the female gender. Feminism is believed to be the lie of the Devil {Gen.3:6). According to Pastor Jack, he referred to feminist as ‘Goddesses who have being forced into amnesia by primitive white men trying to keep them from their true potential’. He added that feminism is a spiritual movement partly on reawakening goddesses consciousness and its real goal is matriarchy not equality. Socially, women are climbing the ladder of success as women now earn as much as men, after taking into account such as family status, education, profession and the number of hour worked.

Putting all these argument together, one can come up with a working definition of feminism as a political, cultural and economic movement aimed at establishing greater, equal or among a minority superior right and participation in society for the female folks.

There are many issue militating against feminism in Nigeria and Africa as a whole. This is because feminism is viewed by men as an unpardonable drive for equality between sexes in a rather negative outburst which is a reflection on the dominant cultural attitude in Nigeria. A newspaper article of Nigeria Dailies covering a period between March and November 1996 describe feminist as ‘——- iconoclasts who want to subvert tradition, treat religious injunction with disdain and pick holes in the sociological make-up of the people it is therefore obvious that such negative and conservative motion persist with regards to feminism in this jet-age of liberation of anthropologist, sociologist, political growth.

Different supportive organizations have being raised to assist the female forks examples are National Council of Women Society (NCWAS). The Women in Nigeria (WIN). The Nigeria Association of Women Advancement (NAWA). However, despite the achievement and the effort made by both governmental and non-governmental organization, feminism has not reached dominated society and westerly influenced both locally and internationally.

Olu Obafemi remarked that ‘as a result of the prevalent nature of the systematic obfuscation of ideological perception of the society ——— a deliberate mystification by the perpetration of the status quo clear ideological position and friends are yet to gain objective, appreciation, tolerance of expression and responsiveness from the dominant socio-political system’ it is from within this social milieu that the few feminist novel in Nigeria have emerged a society that promote the mystification of feminism to portrait dehumanization of women can hardly produce a large number of feminist writers and writings of a thoroughly uninhibited feminist discourse, hence, on the literary scene, we have situation where by women writers and critics are apologetic on behalf of feminism. Feminist therefore prefer to be appreciated rather than being criticized for their effort, they also want to be supported though encouragement to work harder and alongside the opposite sex.

1.2 The Purpose of the Study

This work examines the concept of feminism and various roles women play in the society through the work of both gender writers.

It also examines the response of the females to the male dominated society and bring out the feminist perspective in the works of various writers. It also examines that women too have played great roles in the growth of the society and their immediate families, thus, they deserve to be acknowledged and appreciated by the male gender.

1.3 The Scope of the Study

The scope of this study is limited to feminism as portrayed in the work of Buchi Emecheta and Zaynab Alkali’s ‘The Joys of motherhood’ and ‘The stillborn’ respectively.

In order to make a thorough investigation, the research has adopted two authors as a case study with the view of scholars in other works reviewed in the study.

1.4 Justification of the Study

This study is being undertaken to find out what is slowing down the emergence of feminism in Nigeria and Africa as a whole and also to determine the feminist inclination of both works in the society.

Another significance of this work is the contribution unto the knowledge which hopefully will make a new insight into the literary merit of the two author’s novel.

Another significance of this study is the fresh argument which will raise as regards the question of feminism and male domination in the African novel.

1.5 Biography of the Two Authors

Zaynab Alkali according to wikipendia came from a Islamic family in a village in Borno state, Nigeria but they moved to a Christian village in Gongola state where she was brought up. The entrance of Zaynab into being fond of Nigeria female writers is significant to a historical scene as well as the scene of her contribution to our literary tradition. She a lecturer of English in the University of Maiduguri, since 1975 even a female voice from the North acute sensitivity to a typically female issue experience and problem, we may well expect that Zaynab would contribute illuminately southern female writer such as Flora Nwapa, Tessy Onwene, Cathererine Achlonu and others.

The female tradition of writers in which Zaynab is now itching her place is least now pivoted on how main stream on the other hand are the resolute of the feminist writer such as Buchi Emecheta and vigorous literary critics through their contently regorals writings. She attempts to correct prevalent erroneous male perception of women and demonstrate the class of female writers who just vigorously deny any claim to the ideology of feminism as in the example of Zulu Sofola and others in any case of their works who do not primarily concern themselves with the feminist literary concept.

Like her predecessors, Zaynab is deeply conscious of fundamental conflict that confronted the emergent and will as a Nigeria women whether she lives in the village or in the crowd of character that sometimes confuse the thread of the first story we can outline the emotional development of the precious girl-hero in an attempt to heighten Li’s role in the novel. Alkali surrounds her main character who plays only transient role in the story.

Buchi Emecheta according to Wikipedia was born on July 21, 1944 in Lagos to Igbo parents. Due to gender bias of the time, the young Buchi was initially kept at home while her younger brother was sent to school but after persuading her parents to consider the benefits of education, Buchi spent her early school at an All-girls missionary school. Buchi received a full scholarship to the Methodist Girl’s school a year after her father died, where she remained until she was married to Sylvester Onwordi at sixteen years old. After her marriage, she bore five children in six years but it was an unhappy oft-violent marriage. To keep her sanity, Emecheta wrote at her spare time, however, her husband was deeply suspicious of her writing and he ultimately burnt her first manuscript. At the of 22, while working as a Librarian at the British Museum, Dr. Emecheta left her husband and supported all five children while earning a Bsc degree in sociology at the University of London. She also wrote prolifically, publishing articles about Black British in several journals and newspaper. In 1972, she published her first book of shorts in the ditch’. The semi-autobiography book chronicled the struggle of a main character named Adah who is forced to live in a housing estate while working as a librarian to support her five children.

From 1969-1976, Dr. Emecheta was a youth worker and a sociologist for the inner London Education Authority. She then visited the United State as a community worker in Camden , New Jersey from 1976-1978. as a successful author and visiting professor, she has traveled throughout the world visiting Universities both locally and intentionally.

Dr. Emecheta once described her stories as ‘stories of the world (where) women face the universal problem of poverty and oppression and the longer they stay no matter where they have come from originally, the more the problems become identical’. In 1982, Emecheta and her journalist son ran the Ogwugwu Afor publishing company, whose intention was to promote and financially support the Black artist; Her works include ‘The Bride price’ 1976, ‘Our own freedom’ 1981, ‘The Joys of Motherhood’ among others. The Joys of Motherhood is a fictional record of her true feeling at a point in time.

Chapter Four

Summary, Findings and Conclusion

4.1 Summary

In this research work, the history of feminism as a concept has been traced shedding lights on the factors that prompted it and the foremost profounder of this theory, also, the ideas of other scholars have been looked into.
Subsequent chapters have looked into the critical review of ‘The joys of motherhood’ and ‘The stillborn’ by Buchi Emecheta and zaynab Alkali respectively. Also a study has being carried out on the authors’ position and the various angles they regard the female gender and the means through which they have expressed their views.

4.2 Findings

Women have always been seen according to traditional rights to stay within a certain confinement. Their roles in the society are seen as necessity than an opportunity. Societal norms projected women as being useful for procreation and nothing more, and any woman who dares to act against it was labelled a witch, declared an outcast or regarded with distain for going against traditional rights. Even women who strive hard to give their children good living and education are forgotten as in the case of Nnu Ego. This is therefore to say all genders should treated equally. Li broke through her father’s traditional belief and custom to be an independent woman.

However, the research work has been able to bring out areas which women have been deprived and also need to be emancipated.

Therefore, the researcher recommends that women should be allowed to fight and seek social position. Li sought for social position, she became the first woman to build a modern house in the community. Also woman should seek educational opportunity, through some traditions and customs forbids therefore seek emancipation, letting the society know the importance of the girl-education.

4.3 Conclusion

From the above findings, one could deduce that the struggle for political and economic recognition by straggle for political and economics recognition by women is a Universal campaign which would continue because what the men are willing to compromise is not enough to rate women as equal to men. The more women are economically independent and the more men continue to ignore their effort the more these women will feel subjugated.
Therefore, in an attempt to draw our conclusions, a comparative analysis would be carried out on both texts looking into their thematic compositions, positions, taking into consideration how they all affect gender issues. The call therefore is on women to exhibit good moral habit and also stand for what they are, refusing to be docile and inactive in the society, raising above any humiliating condition, looking forward to enhancing their status in the society. Also on men and the society to appreciate women and encourage their efforts to contribute to societal growth.

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