A FEMINIST READING OF MOBOLAJI ADENUBI’S EMPTY ARMS AND HILARY ROUSE-AMADI’S AMINA, A RESEARCH PROJECT TOPIC ON ENGLISH AND LINGUISTIC
In the society, women are always reminded of their roles as wives and mothers in such derogatory manners. They are saddled with the responsibilities of producing, nurturing children and taking care of the home. Over the years however, women have embarked on a struggle aimed at affirming their identities, while at the same time, doing all they can to transform the societal, cultural or traditional perceptions of their gender. Women are striving very hard to change these perceptions through education and by creating awareness.
Female writers have helped greatly by making the female characters in their works more prominent. Their aim is to have female characters that are powerful and outspoken. This is because women in most male writings are often portrayed as subservient and dull. This is evident in some works of male writers like Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka among others, in whose works female characters are present, only to serve the image of African manhood, especially in Things Fall Apart and The Trials of Brother Jero respectively.
Eventually, this female silence was broken by Flora Nwapa in 1966, when she published her first novel, Efuru, which served as a kind of inspiration to other female writers. These women used literature to explain the state of their societies, either good or bad. They also use literature to explain the importance of female existence in the society. Some of these feminist witers include: Zaynab Alkali, Buchi Emecheta, Mobolaji Adenubi and Hilary Rouse-Amadi.
It has been established by critics that there are cultural practices that are oppressive to women. Such critics believe that culture is a social construct, a way of subordinating the female gender, to make the male gender dominant. Lewis (1995), as cited in Mama (1997) states that:
…African cultural practices have been weapons for enforcing
women’s obedience …culture has been seen as an edifice of
unchanging institutions, traditions and identities…
Also, Meena (1989), as cited in Walker (1991) says ‘women oppression has been located in some practices in traditional African societies’. She further states that ‘in the literary world, fictions of undiluted African culture bolster patriarchal goals and desires, while perpetuating the servitude of women’. It is important to examine some cultural practices that are oppressive to women because these form parts of the themes in the selected texts for the study, which are Mobolaji Adenubi’s Empty Arms and Hilary Rouse-Amadi’s Amina.
One of the cultural practices in Nigeria is the issue of bride price. In some parts of the country, a lady’s bride price is inflated in such a way that it would seem the bride is being sold. Although some African feminists do not see any evil in this practice, some feminist authors have expressed their displeasure, through characters in their works. Some of these writers include Buchi Emecheta in The Bride Price, Hilary Rouse-Amadi in Amina, Mobolaji Adenubi in Empty Arms among others. These writers try to prove that a female child is not a commodity. In Empty Arms,Auntie Pat refused to accept a bride price from Jide. She informed Mrs. Lawal that she was not selling off her niece. Mrs. Lawal also commented:
…Your Nike is being given away practically. Don’t
we know the amount of money usually demanded
of the groom’s families by the bride’s families as payment?