WOMANIST CONSCIOUSNESS IN AKACHI-ADIMORAH EZEIGBO’S LAST OF THE STRONG ONES AND ZAYNAB ALKALI’S THE STILLBORN
This project is on the Womanist Consciousness in Ezeigbo’s The Last Strong Ones and Alakli’s The Stillborn. It is geared towards reminding woman of the need to claim their true place in a society dominated by men.
Chapter one deals with the general introduction and background of the study.
Chapter two deals with scholars’ views on the subject under consideration.
Chapter three & four deal with the Womanist Consciousness in Ezeigbo’s The Last of the Strong Ones and Alkali’s The Stillborn.
Chapter five is the general conclusion of the work.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
TABLE OF CONTENTS…………………………………………………….v
A GENERAL INTRODUCTION
1.2 CONCEPTUAL CLARIFICATION
1.3 BACKGRUOND TO THE STUDY
1.4 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
1.5 STATEMENT OF THE RESEARCH PROBLEM
2.3 WOMANIST IDEOLOGY AND FICTION OF EZEIGBO AND
2.4 EZEIGBO AND HER PUBLIC
2.5 ALKALI AND HER PUBLIC
THE LAST OF THE STRONG ONES: AN ANALYSIS
3.2 A BIOGRAPHICAL ACCOUNT OF THE AUTHOR
3.3 THE SYNOPSIS OF THE NOVEL
3.4 WOMANIST CONSCIOUSNESS IN THE NOVEL
THE STILLBORN: AN ANALYSIS
4.2 A BIOGRAPHICAL ACCOUNT OF THE AUTHOR
4.3 THE SYNOPSIS OF THE NOVEL
4.4 THE STILL BORN: A TEXTUAL EXPLANATION
A SUMMARY OF THE TITLE
The critical power is lower rank than the creative True, but in assenting to this proposition one or two things are to be kept in mind. It is undeniable that the exercise of a creative power, that of a free creative activist is the true function of man, it is proved to be so by man’s finding in it his true happiness. But it is undeniable, also that men may have the sense of exercising this free creative activity in other ways than in producing great works of literature or art, if it were not so all but a very few men would be shut out from the true happiness of all men, they many have it in well- doing. Then may have it in learning; they may have it eve in criticizing.
- Mathew Arnold, the function of criticizing
The question is, apart from being an a Sademic constrain, what could make a young girl of my age who is being driven by the unpleasant social and economic situation of her society to an almost uncontrollable search of livelihood go into a tedious and time consuming research or exploration? The eternal answer to this question is motivation. A student must be motivated by a fact or what looks like a fact to write. A student must be motivated by what bothers her. A student must be motivated by some sense of inquisitiveness. A student must be motivated.
Part from being a prerequisite to acquire my degree of bachelor of Arts, this project is also a product of a sense of pedagogical frustration that I suspect many may share.
In the fictions of female writers in Nigeria Womanist consciousness has become a dominant force. Even now it has been considered as an integral part of the fiction of this part of the world and it plays an increasingly visible role in our society as we have a number of Non Governmental organization (N.G.O) purposely founded to promo be womanhood or may be women’s relevance.
Obviously, the content of the subjects of this piece is clear. It a literary study of a social issues that seems to be driving almost every woman, her status not withstanding, to a state of parricidal consciousness. Patriarchal consciousness, in this context, we simply means that woman are becoming too conscious of self that they assume the status of man, that they begin to patriarchal in their thought, in the attitude, in their feeling, and even in their act.
With unbelievable dexterity she grasped the trunk of the free and began to climb…….. We ran forward, pleading with her and begging her to come down.
……Suddenly Ejimnaka hugged forward, arming to grasp the boy’s leg and pull him down. She missed ………Ejimanaka lost her balance and fell off, crashing to ground. (page 170)
one may want to ask: does requiring strength naturally qualify a woman a man? What is womanist consciousness is it when women are conscious of their relevance in the society? Is it when are not what they think they are or when are what they think they are not? What is womanist consciousness? Is it the priority the society offers the women or self recognition of woman.
The questions need answers, yet the concept of woman consciousness the should provide the answers still remain elusive even to the most critical minds. Fiction writers like the ones that are going to be studied in this work who have attempted defining it appear to have rather complicated it as they consciously or unconsciously bring into question the issues of demostic responsibility the cultural right and duties of women the African view of morality and the cultural (African0 definition of woman.
Critics, however, have often engaged themselves with definitions, classifications, analysis and evaluation of such works in order to establish, on the basis of general principles, of a coherent set o terms, distinctions and categories applicable to the consideration and interpretation of such works, as well as the criteria by which they are to be evaluated in order to elucidate the complexities embedded in the concept. Hence we agree that the writing of this project is the product of a sense of pedagogical frustration that many may share, for the question remains. With these complexity what really is Womanist consciousness?
1.2 CONCEPTUAL CLARIFICATION:
One thing is common to all revolutionalists self-consciousness. This is the basis of his zeal and excitement to revolt against any order that seems or attempt to ulter what she/he sees of her/ himself that.
Perhaps one should be a bit elaborate here. By self-consciousness, in this context, we mean
i. Knowing who you are and who you are not.
ii. Choosing who you want to be and rejecting who you do not want to be.
This is the basis or the fundamental of every revolutionary writer like the two authors under study: they have seen who they are and who they are not. Thus they choose who they want to be by investigating this consciousness- - a dominant force in the lives of their characters.
A Womanist consciousness writer in this part of the world is a product of the identity of women’s experiences and interests because usually it is almost impossible to conceive of her art that could be detached from a shared experience of oppression. And in this regard, she sets a standard for every woman a patriarchal standard.
This point of this argument is clear Womanist consciousness is just patriarchy redefined. In other words, every woman in her society to consider herself recovering “patriarchal woman” patriarchal woman in this context means, a woman who has internalized the norms and valves of patriarchy, which can be defined, in shorts, as any culture, privileges men by promoting traditional gender roles. Traditional gender roles cast. Men as rational, strong, protective and decisive; they cast women as emotional (irrational), weak, nurturing and submissive.
These gender roles have been employed very successfully to justify such in equities as women are excluded from equal access to leadership and decision- making positions paying men higher wages than women for doing the same job (if women are equally able to get the job), and convincing them that they are not fit for careers in such a real as engineering.
Patriarchy is thus, by definition, sexist, which means it promotes the belief that women are innately inferior to men. This belief is the in born inferiority of woman, according to Lois Tyson, is called “biological essentialism’ as it is based on biological differences between the sexes that are considered part of our unchanging essence as men and women”. She speaks:
A striking illustration is the word hysteria, which derives froms the Greek word for womb (Hytera0 and refers to psychological disorders deemed peculiar to women and characterized by over emotional, extremely irrational behaviour as a concept in feminism.
Womanist consciousness does not deny the “biological difference” between men and women; but it does not agree that such differences as physical size, shape and body chemistry make men naturally superior to women; for example more intelligent more logical more courageous, or better leaders.
In the end, Oluada agreed to participate more intensely and vigorously in Obufo and to continue to represent the woman actively, in the political body- Ezeigbo page 10.
Cheri Register in recognition of the political nature of female writings, agrees that there is an energy and enthusiasm in such writings, an eagerness to raise issues and a health disregarded for objective judgments. To her a writer whose fundamental of writing is Womanist consciousness should have passion for a highly dogmatic form of criticism, conched in authoritarian language. Thus she asserts that womanist consciousness writing should ‘express female experience authentically”.
Wendy Martin suggest that, for any work to be classified as Womanist consciousness literature, it must provide role models who are self- actualizing, whose identities are not dependent on men. However, register stresses that characters should not be idealized beyond plausibility because ‘concrete political issues” have a place in Womanist consciousness approved literature and that place “must be consistent with the demands for authenticity and subjectivity’ she adds.
This argument is an indication that a crucial concept in Womanist consciousness is the belief in authenticity and in the revaluation of a true female identity.
Womanist consciousness investigating the patriarchal attribute women naturally acquire, seeks to distinguish between the word sex, which refers to the to the biological constitution as female or male, and the word gender which refers to the cultural programming as famine or masculine, which are categories created by society rather than by nature.
The belief that men are superior to women has been used, Womanist consciousness writers have observed, to justify and maintain the male dominance and monopoly of positions of economic, political and social power in other words, to keep women powerless by denying them the educational and occupational means of acquiring economic, political and social power. That is, the inferior position long occupied by women in patriarchal society has been culturally, not biologically, produce for example “it is a patriarchal assumption rather than a fact, that more woman than men suffer from hysteria” But because it has been defined as a female problem, hysterical behaviour in men will not be diagnosed as such. Instead, it will be ignore or given another, less damaging name such as “shortness of temper”.
Womanist consciousness will better be understood when discussing feminism. The reason is that, this concept is a facet of feminism which focuses attention to the requisition or revelation of woman true and authentic identity that are patriarchal in nature. In other words, it capture the very essence of woman exploits in a society which attaches more significance to men.
More shall be said on the concept when we do the textual analysis of both texts that are being used for this study.
1.3 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY:
This project is born out of a desire to learn about the concept of womanist from two author- Mothers or women who have been motivated by some basic facts in their societies to write in defense of women.
As it is universally accepted, literature is a product of the society. And it strives to achieve the ideal in all human conditions. To achieve this height, it uses a critical lens to examine situations which exists in a society with a view to drawing attention to deficiencies and lapses in human endeavours.
Consequently, there may be need to dwell essentially upon both formal and extended definitions of Womanist consciousness so as to have a direct, immediate and comprehensive grasp of the concept.
By formal/definitions, we mean brief and explanation(s) of the concept as a lexical item, which follows a standard three- parts structure. First, it presents the term to be defined, then the general class it is a part of and finally the qualifies that differentiate it to initiate our exploration, while extended definitions which, though included these essentials but do not follow a set pattern, adapt whatever techniques best suit the terms being defined and the writing situation will be employed to capture the very essence of the term under survey. Thus, techniques such as:
iii. Comparison and contrast
iv. Process and
Will be applied as a each is very instrumental in this enquiry as it helps define, by emphasizing some central characteristics, this concept of Womanist consciousness, a very strong social/ fact.
As earlier stated, a fiction writer and her material are produced by the society, and therefore necessarily contain information about that very society. The fiction writers is the teacher of the people, for fiction particularly African fictions, gives pattern for behavior, and is thus not only a source of information but also normative force in the society.
(Fiction), like pictorial art is also apparently universal and it is a sociological truism that what is found. Universally must be of some social use.
- Rockwell (1986).
To know the fiction of a society is to know what sort of stores are produced, and also, more significantly, to find in this mirror a reliable image of a number of hard social facts.
To a greater extent than is generally realized, the lesson of socialization….. are through by presenting a series of fictional actions and the consequences.
The inference, which may never have been formulated but is justified empirically by the universal use of the method, is that a fictional model is an effective guide to action, whether through limitation or avoidance.
- Rockwell (1986).
The didactic utility of the fiction of initial socialization is a they to the valves of the society which produces it. It is intended to influence behaviour to conform to the norms and this tells us what the norms are. Fiction can give two types of information about a society. First its specific information about whether a social constitution or custom exists or exited in the society which produces the fiction, the second, and more important, is the information about valves, norms and exceptions in society which may be inferred from attitude of the characters in the fiction. To achieve this Eghagha, (2003: 1 and 2) Says, it uses a critical lens to examine situations which are in the society with a view to correcting the vices and encouraging the virtues since “Society itself is an agglomeration of the hopes and aspirations of the people” Osofisan subscribes to this thinking when he says:
Art, born of society, comments back on that social matrix, and by commentary I am implying here both the possibility of consolidation and erosion of reaffirmation as well as contradiction. Sooner or later therefore it must collide or collude with authority, whether of state or shrine, or pulpit or classroom. Everywhere, whether in the close intimary of domestic life, or the expansive space of social being, no hegemony is sacrosanct to the probing impatience of art.
Commentaries are not always positive. In the process of serving as a mirror, fiction beings out the unsavoury with a view to correcting them. It is against this background this research work seeks to investigate woman consciousness from the perspectives of Ezeigbo and Alkali.
1. 4 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY:
Since this essay seeks to examine how the African society exists to keep women and men in traditional gender roles and thereby maintain male dominance, it has as its objectives the following:
i. Highlight and explain the concept of Womanist consciousness.
ii. Explore the intricacies and complexities of Womanist consciousness.
iii. Undertake on in-depth analysis of Womanist consciousness in the selected works under study to justify the point that fiction is a strong medium to address woman marginalization.
iv. Establish the influence of revolt in Nigerian fiction.
v. Justify woman’s perception of patriarchal dominance as a societal distress.
vi. Demonstrate how Womanist consciousness can encourage women liberation.
1.5 STATEMENT OF THE RESEARCH PROBLEM:
Since Womanist consciousness has been seen as an attempt by female writers to acknowledge and promote the patriarchal relevance and attributes of women, it becomes a difficult task to defend this concepts in a society that both male and female plays high valves on culture.
This is an academic research that also demands the conception or perception of the essayist. And as an essayist a female essayist who sees what is happening in the present political arena of her country. I initially though I would be handicapped by the unusual conducts of some women in political arena. However, after a deep knowledge of Womanist consciousness, one feels relieved as Womanist consciousness, one feels relieved as Womanist consciousness is being defined as patriarchy re-defined.
This suggests that, women have been polluted by the attributes of men. Thus they become corrupt as men.
Giving the above a second though a Womanist consciousness writer may be confronted with dilemma of representing the true picture of women or being ambivalent about the whole thing. By being ambivalent, we simply mean, presenting women as they are not concentrating entirely on the positive or the negative aspects of them.
In this regarded the problems is, can one accurately represent woman employing the concept of Womanist consciousness without being brased or subjective?
1. 6 CONCLUSION
Womanist consciousness, unlike feminism is not to oppose patriarchal valves; rather it is to acknowledge these valves in women. Thus studying the two texts that have been carefully selected, this essay intends to consider these attributes from the perspectives of the two authors.
This essay also seeks to relate whatever facts that would be gathered to the present day Nigeria in order to ask whether Womanist consciousness is still relevant. It must be noted that the settings of the two texts are different from the present sitting. In other words, Nigeria has matured politically, culturally, academically, economically and psychologically. After all, the authors under study are now lectures defining the tenants of their tradition. And one of them has even been elevated to the post of the head of department in a department dominated by male lecturers.
This informs the reason critics see Womanist consciousness as a concept in feminism, but taking an unusual stand in feminisms. This stand is, perhaps, to elevate or eulogize women by investigating their patriarchal attributes, and see who they have liberated the patriarchal society.