Gender Discourse In The Nigerian Society (A Case Study Of The Female Gender In Tess Onwuemes Go Tell It To Women)

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Gender Discourse In The Nigerian Society (A Case Study Of The Female Gender In Tess Onwuemes Go Tell It To Women)


Genderism, an apt neologism for gender equilibrium in literary discourse and creativity is a sequel to feminism following the emergence of gender studies in the last quarter of the twentieth century.

Since 1975 – declared by the United Nations as the international women’s year, there has been an uprising in the global ferment of female activism which through all fields of human endeavour, from the art of politics to the politics of arts. Feminism was initially founded on the shifty grounds of a superfluous doctrine tagged women’s liberation before being firmly anchored on the ideology of women empowerment and self – determination in all spheres of life.

Harold smith (1990: 1-4), feminism as an ideology attempts to improve the status of women. So this research work talks of feminism, the level at which this struggle has been imbibed into our culture and the areas untouched. We look forward to explore feminism as in the African content using most of less on women’s plays as a minor into the society.

Chapter One


Background Of Study

All through the years and for several millennia, from the Stone Age to the modern age – the struggle for dominance and superiority between the two known (exes female and the male gender) has never abated. Patriarchy – adjudged and described by feminists as the conscious minimization and subjugation of the women folks, deploying ideologies, cultural and metaphysic and ever religion of all kinds form western Christianity, Islamism, Buddhism and African traditionalism have spoken with one voice in favour of a male dominated world.

Ever since, especially through the emergence of democracy, the struggle by women to negotiate their vice into mainstream of participation in cultural, economical social and vocational and even political aspect of the society has been a permanent feature in the world’s development.

As such, feminine dislocation has become a discourse in our current past-colonial society. This arose out of the tension and challenges in the nineties that characterized feminist works in many parts of the world. It had its origin in experimental theatre groups and vari0ohjs women’s movements of the sixties and seventies and even through the eighties.

These issues concerning women have generated arguments amongst the critics with shares minds to investigate as forte (1996:19) observed that “the structure of realism and narrative structures which a re implicated in religious to patriarchal ideology”

Purpose And Significance Of Study

The burden of this research work is to take a cursory view of the theoretical and ideological propositions majority of the female gender in the contemporary Nigerian democratic society in order to establish the trend of female participation in the political and development processes of the society. The exemplification will be derived from the experiences and the responses of the Nigerian literary producers to gender imbalances in the society.

We majorly make use of Tess Onuwenes’s Go tell it to Women (1991). In this play we see how cultural practices such as female marginalization, forced marriages, early marriages. Forced docility etc has been retrogressive to the feminine gender in Nigeria and that have also situated women as mere shadows of themselves in their immediate society.

We also want to bring to light cultural practices in Nigeria that advocate’s docility, intelligence or only allowed to give supportive roles to men. Our pole Wright has created women in their individual capacity to speak in their own voice of their plights as women in the Nigerian society.

This study therefore looks forward to trying to pose the already existing problems and prefer solutions to help re-evaluate these rights in the Nigerian society which are slow to progress.

Methodology / Research Approach.

Our methodology is the concept of feminism with emphasis on its Africa faction, “Womanism” which is a spectra of female empowerment and a typical African feminist approach.

Feminism and womanism which are at once mutually inclusive and exclusive on a strangely paradoxical configuration while the former is Eurocentric and more radical in nature the latter is essentially afrocentic and more composing. For the African woman female empowerment is meant to be conscientiously pursued within the broad context of womanly dignity and social responsibility. Radical feminism on the other hand threatens to replace male hegemony with female domination which runs contrary to the African socio political experience.

The primary material is the play in focus: Go tell it to women and relevant references from the texts by other written used will be examined briefly in the course of this research. Our secondary materials are sources from libraries, intent material and extensive consultations to othr critical writings.

Scope And Limitation Of Study.

The scope of this study with a view to admonish the excesses and maltreat melted out on women by the particular society in the post colonial Nigerian society. This study is extensively within the south west geopolitical zone (the movement setting in Go Tell it to women; Lagos) in this study we limit our research to only feminism as an ideology and woman as revealed in the African context with the literary work of a feminist; however occasional references may be made to other works made to other relevant works which centre on feminism to place the study in its proper perspective.

Material sources are Tess Onuwene’s Go tell it women and other critical works that shed more light of feminism.

In this chapter, we have been able to do certain important things like; 1) we have been able to introduce female empowerment as a source of female liberation in the Nigerian society. We also had a bit of insight on what an average Nigerian woman suffers in her immediate society. We have also been able to know the author of the play text that will be used as we proceed in this research work as Tess Onwueme who is a feminist .

In all we have been able to understand the level of gender is course in our society and the plan to understand the efforts of fight backward also the responses of some literacy authors.

The next chapter goes into works that are feminist oriented and also into the history of feminism.

Author’s Background.

Osonye Tess Onuweme was born on September 8, 1955. she is a Nigerian playwright, scholar and a poet.

She was born in present day Delta state to the family of chief Akaeke and Maria Eziash. She attended Mary mount secondary school. After her secondary school education, she got married and bore five (5) children . During that time, she attended University of Ife for Bachelor and Masters Degree in Education. She got her Phd in the University of Benin studying African drama.

She is also a professor of cultural diversity and English language at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire in 1985. She won the d prize from the association of Nigerian authors


Onwueme’s rise to fame came from her award winning play “Desert Enroaches” 1985.

In her plays the portrayal of power and powerlessness in her female characters reveals an attempt to striking a balance between both sexes.

Among Tess Onuweme’s plays are ; (1 ‘A hen too soon (1984), 2) ‘The broken calabash’ (1985) 3) ‘Ban empty barn’ (1986), 4) ‘The artist homecoming’ (1986), 5) ‘Cattle Egret versus Nana’ (crime patrol unit) 1986 6) ‘Mirror for campus’ (1986, 7) ‘The reign of wazobia’ (1988) ‘Legacies’ (1986), 9) ‘Go tell it to women’ (1992), 10) ‘Shakara; the dance hall queen’ (2000), 11) ‘Then she said it’ (2000) and 12) ‘The missing face’ (2000).

The plays published between 1984 and 2000 relay feminist and womanist concerns in drama using the African sixtieth and the black Diaspora as crucial backgrounds in her book.

Tess Onwueme may be seen to have achieved some degree of success in regard of creating strong and positive female characters, which is worthy of commendation. Her plays propel ideologies that favour female autonomy and self actualization. She fights for the cause of both modern and traditional women. She is well known for works that promotes social justice. She is chronologically the second important playwright in Nigeria the first being Zulu Sofola. She has succeeded in being the voice of many voiceless Nigerian women.

Gender Discourse In The Nigerian Society (A Case Study Of The Female Gender In Tess Onwuemes Go Tell It To Women)

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Gender Discourse In The Nigerian Society (A Case Study Of The Female Gender In Tess Onwuemes Go Tell It To Women)


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