Genderism, an apt neologism for gender equilibrium in literary
discourse and creativity is a sequel to feminism following the emergence
of gender studies in the last quarter of the twentieth century.
Since 1975 – declared by the United Nations as the international
women’s year, there has been an uprising in the global ferment of female
activism which through all fields of human endeavour, from the art of
politics to the politics of arts. Feminism was initially founded on the
shifty grounds of a superfluous doctrine tagged women’s liberation
before being firmly anchored on the ideology of women empowerment and
self – determination in all spheres of life.
Harold smith (1990: 1-4), feminism as an ideology attempts to improve
the status of women. So this research work talks of feminism, the level
at which this struggle has been imbibed into our culture and the areas
untouched. We look forward to explore feminism as in the African content
using most of less on women’s plays as a minor into the society.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PURPOSE AND SIGNIFICANCE
SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF STUDY
AUTHOR’S BACKGROUND(TESS ONWUEME)
FEMINIST PERCEPTION IN EUROPE AND AMERICA
FEMINIST LITERARY THEORIES
AFRICAN FEMINISM AND THE CONCEPT OF WOMANISM
GENDER DISCOURS IN TESS ONWUEME’S POLAYS(GO TELL IT TO WOMEN AND A HEN TOO SOON)
FEMINISM IN NIGERIA
ONWUEME’S CHARACTERS AS GENDER VICTIMS
THE FACETS OF THE FEMINISM IN ONKUEMEM’S PLAYS
THE REALISM OF FEMINISM AS PRESENTED BY TESS ONWUEME.
CHAPTER FOUR: SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
BACKGROUND OF STUDY
All through the years and for several millennia, from the Stone Age
to the modern age – the struggle for dominance and superiority between
the two known (exes female and the male gender) has never abated.
Patriarchy – adjudged and described by feminists as the conscious
minimization and subjugation of the women folks, deploying ideologies,
cultural and metaphysic and ever religion of all kinds form western
Christianity, Islamism, Buddhism and African traditionalism have spoken
with one voice in favour of a male dominated world.
Ever since, especially through the emergence of democracy, the
struggle by women to negotiate their vice into mainstream of
participation in cultural, economical social and vocational and even
political aspect of the society has been a permanent feature in the
As such, feminine dislocation has become a discourse in our current
past-colonial society. This arose out of the tension and challenges in
the nineties that characterized feminist works in many parts of the
world. It had its origin in experimental theatre groups and vari0ohjs
women’s movements of the sixties and seventies and even through the
These issues concerning women have generated arguments amongst the
critics with shares minds to investigate as forte (1996:19) observed
that “the structure of realism and narrative structures which a re
implicated in religious to patriarchal ideology”
PURPOSE AND SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
The burden of this research work is to take a cursory view of the
theoretical and ideological propositions majority of the female gender
in the contemporary Nigerian democratic society in order to establish
the trend of female participation in the political and development
processes of the society. The exemplification will be derived from the
experiences and the responses of the Nigerian literary producers to
gender imbalances in the society.
We majorly make use of Tess Onuwenes’s Go tell it to Women (1991). In
this play we see how cultural practices such as female marginalization,
forced marriages, early marriages. Forced docility etc has been
retrogressive to the feminine gender in Nigeria and that have also
situated women as mere shadows of themselves in their immediate society.
We also want to bring to light cultural practices in Nigeria that
advocate’s docility, intelligence or only allowed to give supportive
roles to men. Our pole Wright has created women in their individual
capacity to speak in their own voice of their plights as women in the
This study therefore looks forward to trying to pose the already
existing problems and prefer solutions to help re-evaluate these rights
in the Nigerian society which are slow to progress.
Our methodology is the concept of feminism with emphasis on its
Africa faction, “Womanism” which is a spectra of female empowerment and a
typical African feminist approach.
Feminism and womanism which are at once mutually inclusive and
exclusive on a strangely paradoxical configuration while the former is
Eurocentric and more radical in nature the latter is essentially
afrocentic and more composing. For the African woman female empowerment
is meant to be conscientiously pursued within the broad context of
womanly dignity and social responsibility. Radical feminism on the other
hand threatens to replace male hegemony with female domination which
runs contrary to the African socio political experience.
The primary material is the play in focus: Go tell it to women and
relevant references from the texts by other written used will be
examined briefly in the course of this research. Our secondary materials
are sources from libraries, intent material and extensive consultations
to othr critical writings.
SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF STUDY.
The scope of this study with a view to admonish the excesses and
maltreat melted out on women by the particular society in the post
colonial Nigerian society. This study is extensively within the south
west geopolitical zone (the movement setting in Go Tell it to women;
Lagos) in this study we limit our research to only feminism as an
ideology and woman as revealed in the African context with the literary
work of a feminist; however occasional references may be made to other
works made to other relevant works which centre on feminism to place the
study in its proper perspective.
Material sources are Tess Onuwene’s Go tell it women and other critical works that shed more light of feminism.
In this chapter, we have been able to do certain important things
like; 1) we have been able to introduce female empowerment as a source
of female liberation in the Nigerian society. We also had a bit of
insight on what an average Nigerian woman suffers in her immediate
society. We have also been able to know the author of the play text that
will be used as we proceed in this research work as Tess Onwueme who is
a feminist .
In all we have been able to understand the level of gender is course
in our society and the plan to understand the efforts of fight backward
also the responses of some literacy authors.
The next chapter goes into works that are feminist oriented and also into the history of feminism.
Osonye Tess Onuweme was born on September 8, 1955. she is a Nigerian playwright, scholar and a poet.
She was born in present day Delta state to the family of chief Akaeke
and Maria Eziash. She attended Mary mount secondary school. After her
secondary school education, she got married and bore five (5) children .
During that time, she attended University of Ife for Bachelor and
Masters Degree in Education. She got her Phd in the University of Benin
studying African drama.
She is also a professor of cultural diversity and English language at
the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire in 1985. She won the d
prize from the association of Nigerian authors
Onwueme’s rise to fame came from her award winning play “Desert Enroaches” 1985.
In her plays the portrayal of power and powerlessness in her female
characters reveals an attempt to striking a balance between both sexes.
Among Tess Onuweme’s plays are ; (1 ‘A hen too soon (1984), 2) ‘The
broken calabash’ (1985) 3) ‘Ban empty barn’ (1986), 4) ‘The artist
homecoming’ (1986), 5) ‘Cattle Egret versus Nana’ (crime patrol unit)
1986 6) ‘Mirror for campus’ (1986, 7) ‘The reign of wazobia’ (1988)
‘Legacies’ (1986), 9) ‘Go tell it to women’ (1992), 10) ‘Shakara; the
dance hall queen’ (2000), 11) ‘Then she said it’ (2000) and 12) ‘The
missing face’ (2000).
The plays published between 1984 and 2000 relay feminist and womanist
concerns in drama using the African sixtieth and the black Diaspora as
crucial backgrounds in her book.
Tess Onwueme may be seen to have achieved some degree of success in
regard of creating strong and positive female characters, which is
worthy of commendation. Her plays propel ideologies that favour female
autonomy and self actualization. She fights for the cause of both modern
and traditional women. She is well known for works that promotes social
justice. She is chronologically the second important playwright in
Nigeria the first being Zulu Sofola. She has succeeded in being the
voice of many voiceless Nigerian women.