Why African Women’s Writings Center on Feminism? 

Mariama Ba, the author of So Long A Letter

While growing up, the questions which revolve around equality popped up in me. I have always wondered why there is segregation, dichotomy, marginalization, balkanization, racism, and subjugation in our immediate world. As a black boy, it astonished me how the white think that they are superior to the black. I would think ” What parameter did they use to conclude before they made the assertion?” Are they specially created more than black people? Et al. 

Another phenomenon that permeates the present time is patriarchy, the conceived ideas that men are superior to women in all ramifications. Women are seen as lesser beings. In Africa, the society, right from onset, imposes obedience and servitude on them. 

 It is in Africa that a woman is seen as heritage, that is, a male family member of her husband can marry her after her husband’s demise. She doesn’t have her own will or say, since she is a woman. She has to worship her lord till he dies. And when he dies, another man, though belonging to her husband, will take her as inherited property. Her ego is bruised on the altar of patriarchy. 

Bayo Adebowale, the writer of the popular book, Out of His Mind, inserts the oppressions of women in his book, Lonely Days, which its geographical setting is situated at Kufi, a town in Akinyele Local Government, Ibadan. According to the setting of the book, it is an aberration for a woman to possess wealth because she must not rise to equal status with men. Yaremi, the main character in the book, positions herself to women bashers who think nothing is good about women. She is vilified, demonized, and traumatized. Yaremi declines choosing another man as husband. Consequently, she is condemned and incarcerated to unceasing solitude. 

Buchi Emecheta, the author of The Joy of Motherhood

In an advanced setting underscored by time, Buchi Emecheta decries patriarchy in her book titled ‘Second Class Citizen.’ Ada Ofili, the heroine, is the breadwinner, cook, maid, and baby factory in her marriage with Francis Obi. Obi, a patriarchal bigot sees his wife as a second class citizen despite the immeasurable contribution of Ada to the family needs. Just as every patriarchy African, Obi believes that Ada needs to be silent; her voice or cry should not be heard. He goes ahead to burn her manuscript, soon to be published; However, not only in Second Class Citizen does Buchi Emecheta express the agony, oppression, and denigration experienced by Women, but also in most of her books. For example, she stated the suffering of a black woman through a character named Nno Ego in her book, The Joy of Motherhood. The title of the book is ironic because, in a real sense, it states the sorrow of motherhood.   

Unarguably, experience nultures how writers write. It is not gainsaid when it is postulated that African women write about the experience they have in their ancient and contemporary societies. They know and read about the time when females had little or no advantage to formal education, the time it is gainsaid that female education would end in a kitchen, no matter how brilliant she is. And, at present, just as Chimamanda Adichie stated in her book, We Should Be A Feminist, men still are patriarchally assumed to be superior despite the proliferation of women in limelight and the sensitizing writings of women writers. 

Adichie inveighed the patriarchal dispositions of waiters and waitresses in restaurants, in We Should Be A Feminist. She recalled how a lady told her male friend to follow her to a restaurant. When they got there, the waiter addressed the man only, ” What do you want sir?” thinking the lady had only followed the man to spend his money, being oblivious that the lady wanted to foot the bills by herself. It is assumed, though stupid, that men would foot the bills when they go out with woman. The pain of such a scene would make one wonder, and become deep in thought. The pain of such an occurrence can never be obliterated. 

Many female authors, such as; Nawal El Saadawi, Lola Shoneyin, Chinelo Okparanta, Mariama Ba, and others, show their discontent about patriarchy. They all want a society which gives equal opportunities to both sexes. They decry the subjugation, ranging from patrilineal, inordinate suppression, as well as humongous servitude experienced by women. Being a female is not a crime, not a symbol of weakness. To be a female is a specialty. Men do not possess any qualities which make them superior. All is the framework of men.

To conclude, it is obvious that the status has been gradually changing. Some men now see that women are not in any way inferior to men. What men can do, women can do likewise, or do better. Feminism as a concept is not a concept about war against men nor is it a concept set to bruise men’s ego, but a call to have an equal world, an enabling society which makes everyone independent. Feminist are not misandrists. They only want a better society which allows women to be more expressive, productive and creative.

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