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Female Self-Assertion in Mariama Ba’s So Long a Letter and Zaynab Alkali the Stillborn

Female Self-Assertion in Mariama Ba’s So Long a Letter and Zaynab Alkali the Stillborn

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 Abstract

The study examines female assertion in Mariama Ba’s So Long a Letter and Zaynab Alkali’s The Stillborn. From findings, in the two selected plays the study has shown that, several cultural practices in African humiliates and affects the women emotionally as seen in Ba’s So Long a Letter. In another instance, the persistent inequality between men and women in African society and Nigeria society precisely Alkali’s The Stillborn has portrayed the general disempowerment of women.

This study has further discovered that education of the female children is a rarity in Northern Nigeria; This has affected noticeably the quality of life that the female children experienced as seen in Alkali’s The Stillborn. Based on these issues, Alkali and Ba therefore, use their literary play, to portray education as the most essential weapon for challenging one aspect of gender inequality which is the educational disempowerment of the women.

The study further reveals that education plays a major role in women emancipation and liberation in a patriarchal society. It is therefore recommended that both sexes should be equally trained for the joys of motherhood to be fully realized and that education underscores a fundamental necessity for the mental and material liberation of women from male domination in the society.

Female Self-Assertion in Mariama Ba’s So Long a Letter and Zaynab Alkali the Stillborn

 CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1    Background to the study

Feminism is a social theory and movement primarily motivated by the experiences of women in the society. It gives the women a sense of belonging of self as worthy, effectual and contributing human beings. As a theoretical and ideological frame work, it directly opposes sexism by supporting gender equality. Consequently, this form the basic point of his study on female assertion in Mariama Ba’s So Long a Letter and Zaynah Alkali The Stillborn.

Thus, Mariama Ba and Zaynah Alkali are strong feminist writers who see feminism in as a reaction to such stereotype of woman whereby woman are seen as helpless, dependent, humiliated, discriminated, oppressed and voiceless in the society. This make scholar Katherine frank in her essay titled Feminist criticism and the African Novels, an article which analyses the relevance and usefulness of feminism to the study of African female writers, gives the impression that the feminist ideology in its emphasis in individualistic growth and interests must necessarily be opposed to traditional tendencies which place values on group interests.

She further asserts “feminism as a profoundly individualistic philosophy. It values personal growth and individual fulfillment over any communal needs or goods” (45).

Female Self-Assertion in Mariama Ba’s So Long a Letter and Zaynab Alkali the Stillborn

Mariama Ba as a feminist portrays in this novel, So Long a Letter the issues of polygamy and it devastating effect on the girl-child in a cultural context and as a constraints on the happiness of couples who are usually separated. On the other hand, Alkali Zaynah is not guile different from her writings as seen in The Stillborn, a novel that captures the dream of emancipation, triumph and elevation of a African woman who is been truncated by cultural  or traditional conjectures and the attendant unwanted rejection, scorn or judgmental reaction of society castigating or condemning the women prey in African societies.

In the reading of So Long a Letter and The Stillborn these two writers were able to uphold the view that African women should not be taken as under dogs; they also tried to portrayed that women should not oppressed and humiliated. They have uses their literary novels in order to give a new kind of hope to all African women.

Female Self-Assertion in Mariama Ba’s So Long a Letter and Zaynab Alkali the Stillborn

1.2    Statement of the problem 

The novels of Mariama Ba and Zoynah Alkali under study explored how African cultural practices underrate women and humiliate them. These novels also explore the women’s quest for identity as they seek for freedom and independence.

1.3    Purpose of the study

The purpose of this research work is to investigate female assertion in Mariama Ba’s So Long a Letter and Zaynh Alkali’s The Stillborn and its contribution in the society.

1.4    Significance of the study

The study will be significance to African women with regards to cultural domination. The study will also be of significance to students of English and literature and other researchers who will find this work important.

1.5    Objectives of the study   

The following are the objective of the study;

(i)      to investigate female assertion in the novels under study as portrays by the authors.

(ii)     to examine the important of female assertion in African societies

(iii)    to investigate the impact of female assertion in the novels under investigation.

1.6    Scope and Limitation of the study

The scope of this s tudy will be limited  to the work of Mariama Ba’s So Long a Letter and Zaynah Alkali’s The Stillborn, while literature novels, articles, journals, internet and library works will be added as its secondary sources for more information.

1.7    Bio-Data of Mariama Ba

Mariama Ba was born on April, 17, 1927, and died 17 August, 1981. She was a Senegalese author and of feminist who writes in French and was also born in Darka. Ba was raised a  Mulism, at the early age, she came criticize what she perceived as inequalities between the sexiest with regards to African culture and traditions. She was married to a Senegalese member of parliament, she Obeye Diop Daouda but divorced him and was the left with nine children to cater for.

She was the minister of Health in 1956 while her grandfather was an interpreter in the French occupation regime. After her mother’s death, Ba was largely raised in the traditional manner by her maternal grandparents. She received her education in French, while at the same time attending Koranic school.

Ba was a prominent law student at school. During the colonial revolution period and later girls faced numerous obstacles when they wanted to have a higher education. Ba’s grandparents did not plan to educate her beyond primary school. However, her father’s interest on giving her an opportunity to continue her studies. She was also a etcher, novelist and a feminist, active from 1979 to 1981 in Senegal West Africa.

Ba writes novels which include;

So Long a Letter (1981), Scarlet Song (1986), La function politique des literatures Africaines ecrites (1981). She was also awarded the first Noma Award for publishing in Africa.

1.8    Bio-Data of Zaynah Alkali

Zaynah Alkali was born in 1950 in Borno State in the Northern part of Nigeria. She attended Queen’s College and later went for further Degree in English before talking up the post of principal of Shakaka Girls College, Kano in 1976. She was also appointed a senior lecturer at Bayero University, Kano.

Zaynah Alkali belongs to the group of African feminist writers that fervently decry the condition of African women. Her published books are; The Stillborn 1984, The Virtuous Women 1986, The Descendent 2003 and other short stories collection Cowbells and other stories 1997. Her pre-occupation is the plight of women in a society where the only means of survival, physical and emotional  is to attain considerable level of education and economic independence.

CHAPTER TWO

REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE

CRITICAL REVIEW OF MARIAMA BA’S SO LONG A LETTER AND ZAYNAH ALKALI’S THE STILLBORN

One of the major aims of feminist writing is the effort to emancipate women from maltreatment by men in the society. To demonstrate how males are instructive, Mariama Ba uses female rationality and responsibility in her writing. She also portrays men’s irresponsibility by using their sexual instincts. Consequently, this makes scholars like Frank Catherine Contended that, “Ramatoulaye in Ba’s So Long a Letter assumes that posture of the traditional, obedient African wife and submits to her husband’s second marriage” (18).

But even though Ramatoulaye does not physically leave the house, she does psychologically leave the marriage. According to Irene Assiba, he maintained that “one of the key concepts that emerge from Mariama Ba’s novels is that of choice” (24). He further asserts that “this act of choosing is show as being pivoted in human experience. It is indeed a powerful act which gives shape and direction to human existence” (161). However, this quotation has shown that, Mariama Ba’s heroines’ accomplishments which undermines its importance.

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