Cultural Collision and Women Victimization in Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood

Mohamed Fathi Helaly


Buchi Emecheta is one of the most important female writers to emerge from Nigeria. She is distinguished for her vivid description of female subordination and conflicting cultural values in modern Africa. In Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood Nnu Ego, the protagonist, has to suffer as a wife both in the tribal environment in which she was born and the urban community in which she is compelled to live the rest of her life.  Nnu Ego has to suffer because these two environments have different cultures. She falls a victim of the tension of the collision of these two conflicting cultures. This collision occurs between the institutions of the traditional Ibo society and the institution of Western Europe.  The hardships that Nnu Ego experiences are the result of the clash between the Ibo traditions and the colonized Lagos. It is a clash of traditions, values and priorities. Nnu Ego is victimzed because of what the village (Ibuza) community demands her to do, on the one hand, and what the rules of a European political  regime requires her to be. She finds herself in a predicament as she has to assume different roles in accordance with the values of the surrounding communities in which she has to live. She escapes from Ibuza because she is not accepted as a wife who cannot produce children. She flees to the distant city of Lagos to start a new life with another husband with the hope of fulfilling her dream of carrying children. This dream is rooted in the cultural values of the Ibo society where motherhood is the primary source of female self- esteem and public status. In Lagos Nnu Ego fulfills her dream of motherhood and begets a lot of children but the pleasures associated with motherhood are negated by the difficult economic conditions of her new urban community and its norms and values. She has to work day in and day out as a street-side peddler to sustain her children because her husband is away working for the colonizers most of the time. Nnu Egos has to adapt to the system that is devastating to maintain her role as a traditional wife and mother regardless of the fact that this system works against the success of that role and ends up with contributing to her subjugation.



Motherhood, victimize, predicament, traditional, colonized, urban, tribal, clash, collision, subordinating, conflicting

Full Text:



Akujobi, R. (2011). Motherhood in African Literature and Culture. Comparative Literature and Culture. Purdue University Press.

Beti, M. (1989). Perpetue et L'habitude du Malheur. Paris, Chasel.

Chikodili, N. (2011). Thematic Exploration of Buchi Emecheta's The Joys of Motherhood and Second Class Citizen. Faculty of Arts, University of Ilorin.

Chukwuma, H. (2006). Women's Quest for Rights: African Feminist Theory in Fiction. Forum on Public Policy. Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Pearl Publishers.

Mathew. (2013). The Colonized Gelding: Material Violence in The Joys of Motherhood. The Catalyst, 3.

Derrickson, T. (2012). Class, Culture, and the Colonial Context: The Status of Women in Buchi Emecheta's The Joys of Motherhood. The International Fiction Review. University of Alaska Anchorage.

Easure, R. (2012). Review. The Joys of Motherhood. 12 Thursday JUL.

Fishburn, K. (1994). Reading Buchi Emrcheta: Cross-Cultural Conversations. Westport, CT. Greenwood Press.

Gjerde, Si. (2007). The Good Mother: Motherhood as Identity and Resistance in Toni Morrison's Beloved and Buchi Emecheta's The Joys of Motherhood. Unpublished PhD Thesis, University of Bergen.

Katrak, Ke. H. (1988). Womanhood/Motherhood: Variations on a Theme in Selected Novels of Buchi Emecheta. Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 22(1).

Mclean, Patricia. 2003. Buchi Emecheta's The Joys of Motherhood Resist Feminist and Nationalist Readings.

Nadaswaran, Sh. (2012). The Legacy of Buchi Emecheta in Nigerian Womwn's Fiction" The International Journal of Social and Humanity, 2(2).

Nnoromele, S. C. (2002). Representing The African Woman: Subjectivity and Self in The Joys of Motherhood. Eastern Kentucky University. Critique, 42(2).

Ogunyemi, Ch. O. (1996). Africa, Wo/Man, Palava: The Nigerian Novel by Women. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Serafin, A. M. (2000). Motherhood as Seen in Two Works of African Literature. Willa, 9.

The Joys of Motherhood English Literature Essay." 2013. All Aswers LTd. 112014.

Willey, N. (2010). Ibuza VS. Lagos: The Feminist and Traditional Buchi Emecheta. Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering,2(2).

Young, C. (1994). The African Colonial State in Comparative Perspective. New Haven: Yale University Press.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2012-2022 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD

International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the journal emails into your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.