Fighting for a status : liberation of females in West African society.
Ong, Winifred PeiQi.
Date of Issue2010
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Flora Nwapa’s Efuru (1966) and Mariama Bâ’s So Long a Letter (1989) address the issues on the female gender in West African society. Women are suppressed by their marriages and are expected to be submissive. They are regarded as possessions of the males. Furthermore, African women are also reduced to being a tool for procreation. As such, their values are largely based on their ability to procreate. Nwapa and Ba, in dealing with these issues, express the women’s urge for liberation and freedom. In the attempt to seek liberation, the female characters become independent by breaking away from the social roles and expectations, as well as detaching themselves from the males. Although the possibility of attaining female liberation does bring hope for the women in West African society, it remains questionable if these women are able to gain full liberation. Personal choice and a woman’s status—especially her economic status—determine if she is able to achieve liberation, and hence, freedom. In addition, women in West African society are still facing social constraints and traditions. They are after all, expected to perform certain roles, in particularly, that of being a mother. The two novels then suggest that coming to a compromise is the ideal situation, in which both sexes are seen to be equal. Women should be respected in the society and not to be seen as passive and mere objects. There is thus, a need to strive towards an elevation of a woman’s status in the society since it is associated with female liberation. Efuru and So Long a Letter do present an optimistic outlook on female liberation in West African society, and it is this hope that perhaps, steer West African society towards female liberation.
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University