Language Of Gender Discrimination In African Literary Works (In Purple Hibiscus And Yellow-Yellow)

Project and Seminar Material for English Language

Language Of Gender Discrimination In African Literary Works (In Purple Hibiscus And Yellow-Yellow)


This project basically examine the language of gender discrimination in African literary works with special reference to PURPLE HIBISCUS and YELLOW-YELLOW. In the past few years, women folk have been rendered invisible or stereotyped by their male counterparts. As a result, women voices are not heard, they are relegated to the background.

Gender is a central organizing principle of societies and often governs the processes of production and reproduction, consumption, and distribution. Gender roles are the ‘social definition’ of women and men, and vary among different societies and cultures, classes and ages, and during different periods in history. They vary greatly across the Nile Basin and sub-Saharan Africa at large. Gender-specific roles and responsibilities are often conditioned by household structure, access to resources, political stability, and ecological conditions. Gender research in rural development is therefore essential in poverty reduction and sustainability of development interventions. With the feminist movement, there is a fight for female emancipation and as a result, the feminist rose up for equal gender in African society.

Table of Contents

  • Page
  • Title Page
  • Certification
  • Dedication
  • Acknowledgements
  • Abstract
  • Table of Contents

Chapter One


  • 1.1 Background of the study
  • 1.2 Statement of problem
  • 1.3 Objective of study
  • 1.4 Significance of study
  • 1.5 Scope of the study
  • 1.6 Research methodology
  • 1.7 Definition of terms

Chapter Two

Literature Review

  • 2.1 Language use in African Literature
  • 2.2 Gender matters in Africa
  • 2.3 Gender Discrimination
  • 2.4 Women empowerment
  • 2.5 Gender equity
  • 2.6 Women human rights
  • 2.7 Historical background of women
  • 2.8 Emerging issues
  • 2.9 Feminist belief
  • 2.10 Normative and descriptive components
  • 2.11 African view about feminist
  • 2.12 Feminist contributions

Chapter Three

Background Analysis of the Case Study

  • 3.1 Background of Purple Hibiscus
  • 3.2 Language of gender discrimination
  • 3.3 Background of Yellow-yellow
  • 3.4 Language of Gender
  • 3.5 Comparison of the novels

Chapter Four

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations

  • 4.1 Summary
  • 4.2 Recommendations
  • 4.3 Conclusion
  • References

Chapter One


1.1Background of the Study

Language is a means of communication among human beings. There are further classifications of language into formal or informal verbal or non-verbal, written or unwritten. Chafe (1996) defines language as a system which mediates in a highly complex way between the universe of meanings and universe sounds. Chomsky and Halle (2000) see language as a system of rules which determines the relation of sound to meaning for infinity of sentence for that language.

Language is purely human and non-instructive method of communicating ideas, emotions and desires by means of voluntarily produced symbols. Language is considered by other linguists as a vehicle of culture. J. F. Weredu (1994) asserts that language is uniquely human and this appears to be the most important distinctions.

Further still, there are some characteristics of language, which make the meaning, function and mode clearer. Nobody can deny that we live in an era of rapid and radical change which will inevitably affect the position and status of women, even in the darkest part or most backward corner of the globe. It is therefore in humanity’s interest to encourage rather than resist a change. Today, urbanization, advance in technology and medicine provide women with unparalleled opportunities to reach out for self fulfillment and more than ever before, women have the ability to control their own fertility and need not continue to procreate until they reach menopause as was the case in the past.

1.2 Statement of Problem

In defining the problems of this research, it would be good to appraise the role of women in the society. “Women” is an indispensable subject in a progressive society. Behind a successful man, there is a resourcefully woman. The society remains adamant where women do not exist. Women are really good companions and partners in progress; not the fair weather type. Women try to appease the heart of their male counterparts, they try to manage the miserable conditions of the undesirable men. At last, the whole attributes go to the men(Elechi Amadi) while the blame bounces back on the women, poor women yet they preserve. Women your attributes are in definite, your status is worthy of emulations.

In Achebe’s earliest works such as Things Fall Apart and Arrow of God, he portrays women’s life as revolving round the kitchen, the bedroom and the labour room. Male children are discouraged not to sit with them so as not to get polluted with their feminine ideas. But the word ‘women’ does not mean inferiority.

The women hardly knew anything that is not thought to be important, they could only imagine what was inside ancestral but they were allowed to see the inside even though they did the painting. When Akuekue’s bride price (dowry) is to be paid, the men did all the negotiations while the women only brought in the food afterwards. Achebe’s recent works like Girls of War portray women as heroines.

1.3 Objective of Study

This research aims at identifying the oppression of woman in Africa. With this awareness came an attempt to evaluate the ways in which women have been portrayed in African literature which coincided with the rise of women. Liberation and feminist movement gave the impetus to re-evaluate the role of woman in Africa societies and in literatures.

This research paper is intended to enumerate the roles of African women in politics and oppressive conditions of women in Africa with a view of identifying the problems that have been militating against ways of solving the problems and to highlights the results of the finding up to date especially as it concerns the use of language by African literary writers when female issues are being discussed.

1.4 Significance of Study

In carrying out this study, it is hope that it would correct the mistake that women are just sub-human as being portrayed by their male counterparts but they are real human and indeed substantial in qualities. The findings of this study would then be of great importance and benefit to the government, NGOs, African patriarchs and traditionalist.

1.5 Scope of the Study

This study will be limited to African women in that it will study two African novels written by African female writers. This limitation is due to time factor and besides, the various roles of women are similar, if not the same all over the world.

1.6 Research Methodology

This shall be purely descriptive in nature and cross-sectional by type. The cross-sectional approach through field study is viewed as quite appropriate for this study as the sample elements will cut across the market women, working class and housewives and other female characters available in the novels.

1.6 Definition of Term

Gender Discrimination:

The systematic, unfavourable treatment of individuals on the basis of their gender, which denies them rights, opportunities or resources


A means of communication among human beings

African literature:

Different languages and various genres, ranging from oral literature to literature written in colonial language

Gender Matters:

Distinctive patterns of ideas, beliefs, and norms which characterise the way of life and relations of a society or group within a society


Culture is sometimes interpreted narrowly as ‘custom’ or ‘tradition’, and assumed to be natural and unchangeable.

Chapter Four

Summary, Recommendation and Conclusion

4.1 Summary

Women from the onset have fallen victim to traditions. This is true but women themselves relegate themselves to the background. This oppressiveness lasted till the present generation because they failed to fight for their right rather than accepted any position or condition they found themselves due to cultural demands. Women aided this movement because they hate themselves forgetting that united we stand and divided we fall since they do not appreciate each others effort, reverse continue to be the case but a tree cannot make a forest, the African male writer could make a new innovation their style of work (women should be regarded as important in the community).

The situation could be super if women can appreciate each other’s effort because they say charity begins at home if you do not praise yourself nobody will ask for you they should learn to promote each other’s effort and remain firm to their decision. If this is practiced, women would rather be emulated rather than criticized.

The males should bear in mind that gender is not curse. Also bear it is mind that women do not detest of their traditional roles but rather would play these roles better if they are going to compromise.

In simple term, feminist seems to reconfigure the society by demonstrating that all along men had enjoyed privileges of existent and woman were excluded from such privileges. Out of biological factors which gave men more advantages, society has tended to centre many rights on men to the disadvantage of women. Men are analytical while women are sympathetic etc. All these categorization are non-scientific and can never be proven empirically. No society has relied on them as the bases for the conferment of position, power and privileges. This account for why women have always been disadvantaged, this is the submission of feminist. The goal of feminism is therefore to interrogate the existing power structure which had been disadvantageous to woman. Feminism manifests itself in all areas of life.

4.2 Recommendations

  1. Women should try to form the word ‘go’ to reject some inflicted roles and fight for their right. Give your children equal education chance. Avoid sexual discrimination no child is better than the other.
  2. African men and indeed the world all over should start to withdraw their statements and write-ups against women. Most African men writers paint women as ‘colourless’. Traditions also had reached its climax for renovation and innovation. Women are not sub-human objects or ignorant, please do correct your pre-conscious minds. Women are not what you think of them rather they are people of elegance.
  3. The researcher calls on the African patriarchs and traditionalists to always call to mind the theory of Odipus complex which emphasized the close relationship between daughter and their father from experience. 90 percent men have their mothers yet they have delight in oppressing women and daughter of their colleagues. It could be affirmed if every man can consider every female as his mother or daughter (ladies first), things would be better than it is.
  4. The researcher therefore appeals to African patriarchs to eschew bitterness as culture upholds and cultivate the spirit of tolerance. Women cannot afford or withstand any further oppression. I fervently believe that it is only in an atmosphere of peace and orderliness and development can be achieved.

4.3 Conclusion

In the two novels analyzed above, we have seen women in the different roles in which they can be found in the society, how well they play their traditional roles and the hindrances they encounter in the course of executing these roles.

Even illiterate women are beginning to look for a way of bettering their situations. They have found means of asserting themselves since it has become clear to them that passivity only serves as acquiescence to this oppressive system of female subordination and segregation. In the affirmation analyzed models, we have seen the women in their roles as daughters, the daughters in-law, sisters, gossips who can even kill joy.

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