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Title: The Presentation of the African Woman In Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah, Amma Darko’s Faceless, and Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye’s Coming to Birth
Authors: Awua-Boateng, Patience A. K.
Issue Date: 13-Jun-2010
Abstract: From time immemorial, men have been seen as breadwinners and women as trainers of children, cooks and providers of ‘a haven’ for their husbands when they returned home from work. The perception of and stereotyped attitude towards roles played by men and women have helped to sustain discrimination against the woman at home and at the workplace. The Victorian age saw a rise in gender polarization, when women were expected to stick to a defined sphere of domestic and moral duties. Lives of women were (and still are) often portrayed in negative terms. Although it is difficult to generalize about the lives of women from different cultural, racial, economic and religious backgrounds in a century of steady change, women are agitating for a change in status in various ways where generalizations can be made. However ‘the woman question’ has been seen as a tendency to define the role of women in terms of domesticity. Often, African women are treated as second-class citizens, disempowered and subjected to all kinds of discrimination and oppression. Truly, they have borne the brunt of poverty as economic systems exploited their labour and impoverished them at the same time. John Mkunu feels that this not withstanding, prescribed gender roles restricted women to domestic circles: as mothers and nurturers, being seen as of lesser importance and value than the tasks of men. Women were said to be natural nurturers and domestic laborers while men were perceived to be natural leaders and decision-makers. These roles were reinforced at home, at school and through the media, thus restricting women’s self-perceptions, disempowering their social and economic potential and limiting the possibilities for their future. The contributions of the African woman in the home, in food production, and to the national economy are acknowledged all the more these days. To the editor of Feminar (Launch Issue), this is mainly because of her “own energetic efforts to organize, articulate their concerns and make their voices heard… women communicate about everything”. This implies that the world can no longer ignore the woman when she wants to be heard. If in today’s world, “women influence a staggering 80% of all car sales, they buy 60% of all new cars, choose 80% healthcare plan, 88% buy kitchen appliances, 89% plan the family holiday and women make 94% of all choices relating to the home and family” , why then is society still patriarchal in its attitude towards women? Are the roles of women in today’s writings reflected in these statistics? It is believed that dealing with the root causes of the conditions women face or go through is a step towards Africa’s development and renewal. The empowerment of women being part of the central millennium development goals, it is imperative that we see the woman increasingly and continually empowered in literature, by both women and men. The literature domain has ceased to be one of solely men. Female writers are not only increasing, they are talking about their concerns as women, disproving the misconceptions some male writers have created about them. Likewise, male writers are beginning to cast women in more empowered roles like workers, responsible mothers who make informed choices, and helping to empower other women, not just portraying them as victims of marriage and other cultural prejudices. This thesis has therefore analyzed the works of one male and two female authors on their presentations of females. Both male and female authors not only empower the female characters but also let them take control of their destinies. Sometimes, the “weaker sex” surprisingly has more willpower than her male counterpart. Surely, if literature is a reflection of society, then, society is coming to terms with the changing role and status of women. In the words of Dr. Margaret Ogola, a Kenyan paediatrician and writer: The woman is the heart of the family, and the family is the corner stone of society, therefore it is very fitting that we should be … seeking new ways to enhance her well being, natural talents and gifts. The woman is a powerhouse of creativity, development and peace. Conflict between men and women is therefore unnecessary because a woman brings an equal and powerful complementarity to the common human condition. Women have been entrusted with the capacity to transmit life which is the most precious gift that any body can give or receive. Without life no other good is possible.
Description: A Thesis submitted to the School of Graduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Philosophy in English, August-2010
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/123456789/4703
Appears in Collections:College of Arts and Social Sciences

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