Abstract: This research work examines the effect of cultural discrimination against women in Zaynab Alkali’s The Still Born and Mariama Ba’s So Long a Letter. This study shown that Zaynab Alkali and Mariam Ba are prolific African female writers because their writings call for the emancipation of African women from the shackles of male oppression and African socio-cultural practices affecting the women. This study has also shown that culture and discrimination are the major issues affecting the female folks in contemporary African society. This consequently makes these writers to portray the above mentioned effects of negative cultural practices in African societies thereby creating awareness for the eradication of women’s oppression and humiliation. The study therefore recommends that the two novels under investigation should be introduced into the Nigerian educational system as they would help to eradicate the obnoxious cultural practices in African society. The recommendations will also favoured students of English and literature as well as the reader of this research work in understanding the world of literature and what it entails.
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background to the study
African female writers over the years portray in their writings how culture and discrimination affect the female children. Their writings dramatize the effects and consequences of cultural suppression and affliction and how they discriminate against the female children and favour the male ones. Few of these female writers are; Buchi Emecheta of Nigeria, Mariama Ba of Senegal and Ama Ata Aidoo of Ghana. So many others write to protest against these obnoxious cultural affliction, suppression, patriarchal domination, dehumanization, political enslavement and social oppression on the women. Female writer like Cora Kaplan for instance posits that:
The reality is African cultural practices codifies both married women and young girls to cultural abuse and disrespect. There is so much oppression, depression, suppression, rejection and unfair as well as undue victimizations towards the female folks. And the running of the Africa world is preserve only for the males and thus there should be absolute equality of both sexes in all spheres of life. The rights of women should be recognised with that of the men (162).
From the foregoing, one can see that women have not had a good life and a better deal in their lives because of the negative cultural practices that discriminate against them.
On the other hand, Damilola and Boukari opine, the cause of African women suffering is the patriarchal culture that has dominated by African cultural practices. Based on Damilola and Boukari’s point of view, African women truly suffer on the negative cultural practices and the patriarchal domination ruled by the men. In the same vein, due to cultural discrimination, even the female writers’ works are not appreciated by the men.
In addition, female writers like Dollar and Gatti assert that, women in Arab countries are always giving permission from their husbands in all their doings. The husband‘s permission is always needed if his wife has to travel, but the husband needs no authority nor permission from the wife (4). They further asserts that the idea of educating the male child more than the female is as a result of the obnoxious cultural practices and this backed by the fact that the female child will probably one day leave her father’s house to marry another man and become part of the family, but the male child will bring a wife, who will bear children and continue the family’s lineage (7). The above have consequently show how superior the men’s right supersite the female ones. It is on the above mentioned issues the background to this study aims at investigating how African cultural practices discriminate against the women using Zaynab Alkali’s The Still Born and Mariama Ba’s So Long a Letter.
Cultural Discrimination against Women in Zaynab Alkali’s the Still Born and Mariama Ba’s so Long a Letter
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Traditionally, male and female children right from birth are assigned different roles, values and status. In the same vein, preference for male children neglects, deprives and discriminates against the female children to the detriment of their physical and mental health.
On the other, due to the great importance placed on the male children, mothers become desperate to have male children for their husbands and to regain their position in their homes. This consequently makes Zaynab Alkali and Mariama Ba’s writings to portray the above mentioned effects of negative cultural practices in African societies thereby creating awareness for the eradication of women’s oppression and humiliation as the statement of the problem.
1.3 Purpose of the study
The purpose of this research study is to investigate the effect of Cultural Discrimination against women in Zaynab Alkali’s The Still Born and Mariama Ba’s So Long a Letter.
1.4 Significance of the study
This work is significant to English and literature students and precisely to feminist students on how to contribute to eradicate such unfavourable cultural discrimination and negative cultural practices in African societies. The study will also be of significant to researchers who will find this topic reliable on how African cultures affect the women.
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