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This study undertakes a comparative analysis of the works of two Nigerian female novelists: Buchi Emecheta and Flora Nwapa, it looks at the contemporary African society which is dominated by men. Little or no recognition is given to women thus they have been oppressed, depressed, subjected and neglected. In this regards African female writers like Buchi Emecheta, Flora Nwapa, Ama Ata Aidoo, Mariama Ba, Zaynab Alkali among others fought on behalf of African women through their works by giving them significant roles which portray women as a virtue and instrument of honour in the Africa society.
Emecheta and Nwapa are earliest feminist writers, whose works serve as the starting point for the independence and freedom of African women in general. They wrote novels about the struggles of African women in a contemporary African society and portray the condition of women in the traditional African setting. Their works promote equality for men and women in political, economic, educational, traditional and social spheres. They believe that women are oppressed due to their sex based on the dominant ideology of patriarchy.
Patriarchy literally means rule by men or by paternal right. It is a situation whereby women are ruled or controlled by men, giving power and importance to men.
Were Nigeria and Africa oppressively masculinity? The answer is “yes” Ghana was known to have some matrilineal society such as Akans; but Nigeria’s traditional culture, Muslim as well as non-Muslim had been masculine – based even before the advent of the white man. The source, nature and extent of female subordination and oppression have constituted a vexed problem in African literary debates. Writers such as Ama Ata Aidoo of Ghana and late Flora Nwapa of Nigeria insisted that the image of the helpless, dependent, unproductive African women was once ushered in by European imperialists whose women lived that way. On the other hand, the Nigeria-born, expatriate writer Buchi Emecheta, along with other critics, maintain that African women were traditionally subordinated to sexist cultural mores.
Colonial rule aggravated the situation by introducing a lopsided system in which African men received a well rounded education like their European counterparts before the mid-nineteenth century, African women received only utilitarian, cosmetic skills in domestic science centers the kind of skills that could only prepare them to be useful helpmates of educated, premier nationalists and professionals such as Nnamdi Azikwe Nigeria’s first president, and the late Obafemi Awolowo of the Yoruba tribalist leader.
1.1 COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS AND INTERTEXTUALITY
Comparative analysis refers to the way of comparing and contrasting two things: two texts, two theories, two historical figures and so on. It is also item by item comparison of two or more comparable alternatives, processes, products, qualifications, sets of data, systems etc. it can be two similar things that have critical differences of similarities yet turn out to have surprising commonalities.
Comparative analysis shows the relationship between A and B and how two things are similar and/or different. It requires comparism between two things. It is also known as a compare and contrast essay.
According to (Irwin, 228) “intertextuality is the shaping of texts meaning by other texts. It can be referred to author’s borrowing and transformation of a prior text or to a readers referencing of one text in reading another.”
The term “intertextuality” has itself been borrowed and transformed many times since it was coined by post structuralist Julian Kristeva in 1966. If we were to look at intertextuality as a weaving, then it would become apparent that for a piece of fabric to be intertextual it would put together many different threads. It would be woven from threads pulled from many sources to create new weaving. The same can be said for books intertextuality results when the author echoes or refers to other texts and other authors. The electronic labyrinth claims that a literary work is not simply the product of a simple actor but of its relationship to other texts and to the structure of language itself.
In Africa, the early colonial era was pre-occupied by issues of cultural conflicts between Africans and western cultures, religion and world view but the post independent African countries experience further changes in themes, this brought about changes in African writers thematic focus of most of female writers such as Ama Ata Aidoo, Marima Ba, Buchi Emecheta and Flora Nwapa.
Flora Nwapa was the lone African female novelist’s voice lamenting patriarchy, in 1966, she published Efuru significantly in African feminist scholarship, it signals a long awaited departure from the stereotypical female portraiture in male-authored African literature but the prolific Buchi Emecheta joined the fray with The Joys of Motherhood (1980). Therefore as the female Nigerian critics, Chikwenye Okwonje Ogunyemi writes:
If Nwapa is the challenger, Emecheta is the fighter…
for the first time, female readers, through characters,
are aware of their subjugation by their fathers, uncles,
husbands, brothers and son.
Examples of feminist writers are Elizabeth Gilman, Charlotte Perkins, Julia Ward, Lockwood, Mary Wollstonecraft, Simeon De Beauvoir, Catherine Acholonu, Ama Ata aidoo, Marima Ba, Buchi Emecheta and Flora Nwapa.
1.2 AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
This research work will examine the two novels by comparing and differentiating the novels, since the writers share similarities and differences in their texts.
1.3 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The scope of this work is relatively wide. It will be determined by how affective or relevant a portion is to the study. The study will touch the mainline text, i.e. the area in which the topic is concerned.
It would have been worthwhile to use as many texts for this research but it will be limited to Emecheta’s Second Class Citizen and Nwapa’s Efuru.
1.4 JUSTIFICATION OF THE STUDY
There have been a lot of researches conducted on comparative analysis but only few researches has been done on comparing and contrasting the texts of two great African writers; Buchi Emecheta and Flora Nwapa. Therefore, this research work will do a vivid comparison between Emecheta’s Second Class Citizen and Nwapa’s Efuru.
Feminism is one of the broad literary criticisms in literature. According to (Joseph, 2003, p.161) feminism is a world wide ideology and political movement directed at existing power relations between men and women in patriarchal society. She goes further to assert that feminism is a kind of criticism which is the struggle of women emancipation and men in such society hide under the disguise of male supremacy to subjugate women by a system of sex role stereotyping. There are different types of feminism which are: Radical, socialist, cultural, eco-feminism, liberal, conservative and others.
Liberal feminism is the equality of men and women through political and legal reform. They want the eradication of institutional bias and implementations of fairer laws towards women. Features of liberal feminism include: focus on women’s ability to show and maintain their equality through their own actions and choices, it looks at the personal interaction of men and women as the starting ground from which to transform society into a more gender equitable place and it projects genders complimentarity and gives room to caring and nurturing of children.
Therefore this work will discuss feminism from liberal perspective because it contains issues relating to women’s suffering. Despite this, they remain strong, assertive and doubtful in their relationship with the other sex. Also, liberal feminism expresses predicament of the women folk and their suffering without retaliating but believes in endurance and perseverance.
1.6 BIOGRAPHY OF BUCHI EMECHETA
Buchi Emecheta was born on August 14, 1944 in Lagos to Igbo parents, Alice Emecheta and Jeremy Nwabudinke. Her father was a railway worker in the 1940’s. due to the gender bias of the time, the young Buchi Emecheta was initially kept at home while her younger brother was sent to school, but after persuading her parents to consider the benefits of her education, she spent her early childhood at an All-Girl’s Missionary School. Her father died when she was nine years old.
A year later, Emecheta received a full scholarship to the Methodist Girl’s School, when she remained until the age of sixteen. She married Sylvester Onwordi, a student to whom she had been engaged since she was eleven years old. Onwordi immediately moved to London to attend University and Emecheta joined him in 1962. She bore him five children in six years, but it was an unhappy and sometimes violent marriage (as chronicled in her autobiographical writings such as Second Class Citizen).
At the age of twenty-two, Emecheta left her husband. While working to support her children alone, she earned a B.sc degree in Sociology in the University of London. From 1965 to 1969, she worked as a library officer for the British Museum in London from 1969 to 1976 she was a youth worker and sociologist for their inner London Education Authority.
She has visited several American Universities including Pennsylvania State University, Rutgers University, university of California and Los angels. She was senior fellow and visiting professor of English in University of Calabar Nigeria.
Her major theme is child slavery, motherhood, female independence and freedom. She is the author of numerous books including; The Joys of Motherhood, The Bride Price, In the Ditch, Second Class Citizen, Destination Biafra and Head Above Water.
1.7 BIOGRAPHY OF FLORA NWAPA (1931-1993)
Flora Nwapa was born in Oguta, Eastern Nigerian, which was then a British colony. Both of her parents, Christopher Ijeoma and Martha Nwapa were teachers. She was educated at the University of Ibadan, receiving her B.A in 1957. Nwapa continued her studies in England, earning in 1958 a degree in Education from the University of Edinburgh.
After returning to Nigeria in 1959, Nwapa worked as an Education officer in Calabar for a short time, and she taught Geography and English at Queen’s School in Enugu. From 1962-1964 she was an Assistant Registrar at the university of Lagos. During the Nigerian Civil war, she left Lagos with her family. Like many members of the Igbo Elite, they were forced to return to the Eastern region after the end of the conflict. She became Nigerian writer, Teacher and Administrator, a fore-runner of a whole generation of African Women Writer.
Flora Nwapa is best known for re-creating Igbo (Ibo) life and traditions from a woman’s view point. With Efuru (1966) Nwapa became Black Africa’s first internationally published female Novelist in the English Language. She has been called the mother of Modern African Literature.
In 1982, the Nigerian Government bestowed on her one of the countries highest honours, the OON (Order of Niger). By her own town, Oguta she was awarded the highest Chieftaincy title, Ogbuefi, which is usually reserved for men of achievement.
As a novelist Nwapa made her debut with Efuru, based on an old folktale of a woman chosen by gods, but challenged the traditional portrayal of women. She died on October 16, 1993 in Enugu, Nigeria. She was married to Gogo Nwakuche an Industrialist. They had three children.
Flora Nwapa is the author of numerous books including Idu, Never Again, Wives at War, One is Enough, This is Lagos and Efuru.
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