Undermining Patriarchal Ideology in African Literature: A Study of Ngozi Chuma-Udeh’s Echoes of a New Dawn

Ujowundu Cornel O.

Abstract


In a patriarchal society, women are faced with all sorts of dehumanisation ranging from deprivation, negligence, maltreatment, marginalisation, oppression, subjugation, exploitation, humiliation and even isolation, all of which emanate from aspects of the people’s culture. As a result, women now cry out for such aspects of the culture that undermine their wellbeing and emancipation to be eradicated. They, therefore, struggle for equality and emancipation in the male dominated society, especially the African society under study here. In this direction, literature becomes a tool for them to create awareness that the modern African woman through educational attainments is not just fighting for rights and privileges but also for something that must let the society understand that the women demand equal opportunities as human beings. Literature has, therefore, become a tool used to reflect the harsh realities of human lives, especially by the female writers like Ngozi Chuma-Udeh and some others concerning the socio-political, economic and religious realities of the womenfolk. Since literature has been found a veritable source of inspiration for national consciousness, it has become part of human life and existence, offering light, giving meaning and interpretation to man and his society as he struggles and aspires for a desired and cherished future. In the African society, for instance, women are seen not heard. They live under the shadows of men form their maiden homes to their matrimonial homes hence, they are regarded as second class citizens. They are usually neglected as their opinions are never sought before decisions are taken even in matters that directly affect them. In marriage, proposals are made to their fathers, or other male members of the family in the event of the father’s death. In fact, in the African society, which is under study here, women are seen as mere tools of necessity-housewives, child bearers, gratifiers of men’s sexual passion; and worst of all, not consulted in the decision making processes in their communities. The women as wives are expected to be submissive, obedient, unquestioning and servile while any challenge to these attributes attracts social disfavour. So the clearly defined roles for women are passed on to the girl-child as she grows. As soon as she is able to do things for herself, she starts assuming the roles society has mapped out for her: learning how to cook, care for the home, helping with everything else the mother does, and preparing for womanhood and matrimony. This paper, therefore, takes a critical look into Ngozi Chuma-Udeh’s novel that advocates a new dawn for the women. The novelist wants the men to reconsider their negative notions about women and to also appreciate their contributions in the well-being of their societies, their families and the upbringing of the children.

 


Keywords


Patriarchy, Ideology, Feminism, Emancipation, Marriage, Humiliation, Ignorance

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijalel.v.2n.6p.143

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