Portraiture Analysis and Interpretation of Ibibio Societal Stereotypes on Nursing Mothers / Babycare in Glory Usenobong’s Cradle Craze

Portraiture Analysis and Interpretation of Ibibio Societal Stereotypes on Nursing Mothers Babycare in Glory Usenobong's Cradle Craze
Portraiture Analysis and Interpretation of Ibibio Societal Stereotypes on Nursing Mothers Babycare in Glory Usenobong's Cradle Craze

ABSTRACT: This research work on Portraiture Analysis and Interpretation of Ibibio Societal Stereotypes on Nursing Mothers / Babycare In Glory Usenobong’s Cradle Craze seeks to examine the various traditional practices observed by post – partum mothers in Ibibioland. In Nigeria, Ibiobio society precisely, cultural and traditional beliefs has effect on people’s behaviour and way of life. Playwriting is an art form which possesses the unique ability of documenting societal practices of all sorts. To this end, this investigation seeks to use the elected case study: Cradle Craze to record the various traditional / stereotypical practices on nursing mothers in Ibibioland. The methodologies used in analyzing and recording the findings on the subject matter includes the content analysis of the script / its stage production and library research work on sources relevant to the study.

Findings reveal that nursing mothers in Ibibioland undergo all forms of post-partum practices ranging from; the hot water therapy, body massage, etc.  This research work therefore submits that society uphold theatre and playwriting for its attribute in portraying salient aspects of Ibibio tradition on nursing mothers and baby be upheld while the stereotypes be overlooked.


Portraiture Analysis and Interpretation of Ibibio Societal Stereotypes on Nursing Mothers / Babycare in Glory Usenobong’s Cradle Craze




Nigeria, one of the most populated countries in Africa has so many cultural practices especially as each ethnic group strives to maintain and continually evolve their unique ways of life. These practices extend their tentacles to virtually all aspects of life including women / child care and the natal practices favoured and acceptable by these societies or group.

Some of these cultural practices, which have endured centuries of practice work for the people. It is not uncommon to think of something crude and bad whenever one talks about cultural practices as it concerns health. Not all cultural / traditional practices are bad, however, some have stood the test of time and others are uncertain and negatively harmful. (Idehen, 2007: 118).

According to Aziza, “culture is the totality of the pattern of behaviour of a particular group of people. It includes everything that makes distinct from any other group of people for instance, their greeting habits, dressing, social norms and taboos, food, songs and dance patterns, rites of passage from birth, through marriage to death, traditional occupations, religious as well as philosophical beliefs”. (2001:31). In the Ibibio society, a tribe in Akwaibom state located on the south southern part of Nigeria. The Ibibio is not bereft of traditional practices on nursing mothers and childcare. Society has laid down traditional practices pertaining to ante-natal/ post-natal and these practices have been handed down from generation to generation with judicious conformity to them.

The Ibibio’s believe in the effectiveness of these practices is primarily fuelled by the fact that they were handed down by their forbears and secondly by their efficacy. To this end, there is wide consensus in Ibibioland that these practices must not be truncated if the nursing mothers and child must be well cared for.

Indeed, traditional health care practices are shaped by beliefs in ancestral beings. Historically, women cared for by traditional birth attendants (TBAs) who mainly rely on the use of herbal medicine (Izugbara et al: 2005).

Traditional health care practitioners are often referred to as native doctors / healers, and they were the only available health care providers in the pre-colonial period. (Izugbara, 2000). As lofty as the above are, there are however, other mainstream practices which are typically, if not totally stereotypical. This work therefore focused on unearthing and interpreting some these stereotypes using Glory Usenobong’s Cradle craze as the elected case study. The aim is to show that though, most of these cultural practices are indispensable and effective, some of them however, become more stereotypical ventures which might be inimical to the health of the mother and child. It has been observed that cultural practices that compromise nutritional health such as protein and non-protein, food restrictions and eating limits or food taboos in pregnancy (Chukuezi, 2010) are common among diverse ethnic groups in Nigeria.

In Ibibio society, child birth practices such as insertion of herbs into the birth canal for cleansing or use of concoctions for labour induction are observed. These herbal concoctions may increase the risk of hemorrhage if used to hasten labour without full cervical dilation. Glory Usenobong’s “Cradle craze” has vividly portrayed the challenges women in Ibibio-land undergo in the course of delivery and nurturing. One of these practices is the tightening of the birth canal popularly executed with the use of hot water. More often than not, some Ibibio women, unable to withstand such rigours for an extensive period of time, cry out and rebuff it as evident in Mmayen’s lines. “Surely Nne, there must be a less painful way of tightening up my birth canal instead of daily subjecting me to this hellish ritual” (Pg 23)

For in-depth portraiture and analysis of Ibibio societal stereotypes on nursing mothers/ baby care, the researcher shall elect and use Glory Usenobong’s “Cradle craze” to portray the various cultural and traditional practices observed in Ibibio-land as evident in the script and use them as convincing backdrop for the stereotypical practices which shall constitute the major focus of this work.


Analytically, it has been proven and discovered that most cultural and traditional practices observed in Ibibio land are mere stereotypes. These issues on Ibibio societal stereotype can be limited if only the society investigates on the various cultural/traditional practices in order to identify the ones which appears as stereotype. The background of the study and the statement of research work shall give rise to the objectives of the study.


The main objective of this study was to conduct an in-depth investigation on the various stereotypes on nursing mothers/ baby care in Ibibio-land as exemplified in Glory Usenobong’s “Cradle craze”. Other objectives were;

  1. To investigate the cultural and traditional practices on nursing mothers in Ibibioland.
  2. To examine some stereotypical cultural practices on nursing mothers/ childcare in Ibibioland.
  3. To portray the challenges nursing mothers undergo in Ibibioland
  4. To analyze the various post – natal activities observed in Ibibioland.
  5. To examine the place of playwriting in combating societal stereotypes


Achieving the objectives of this study necessitated the following research questions;

  1. What are the cultural and traditional practices observed by nursing mothers in Ibibioland?
  2. Do the Ibibios engage in stereotypical cultural practices in the post-natal care of the mother and baby?
  3. What are the challenges nursing mothers undergo in Ibibioland?
  4. What are the various post-natal activities observed in Ibibioland?
  5. Can playwriting be used as a veritable tool to combat societal stereotypes?


The research study has the following significance; it will help in encouraging post-natal cultural practices in Ibibioland. It will document and encourage the women to brace up for the challenges they will likely encounter during / after child birth. It will analytical show the challenges nursing mothers undergo in Ibibioland in a bid to regain their health and realign their bodily organs and that of the baby. It will encourage playwriting as an inevitable art in the society for it portrays and solves pressing societal problems.


To narrow down the bulk of work on nursing mothers and child care in Nigeria, this investigation shall solely focus on the portraiture and interpretation of Ibibio societal stereotypes on nursing mothers and child care as seen through the purview of the elected case study, “Cradle Craze” by Glory Usenobong.


The researcher encountered diverse challenges which seriously affected the speed and scope of the work. They include; short time frame, inaccessibility to literary materials pertaining to the research work, lack of finances for the purchase of relevant materials and the COVID-19 lockdown which affected the production of the play.

Portraiture Analysis and Interpretation of Ibibio Societal Stereotypes on Nursing Mothers / Babycare in Glory Usenobong’s Cradle Craze


The following operational definitions of terms were used during the study;

  1. STEREOTYPE: A conventional and oversimplified or exaggerated conception about a certain social group or a type of individual.
  2. POST-NATAL: This is the period of time immediately after a baby has been born.
  3. CULTURE: According to Edward Taylor, culture is a complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, customs or any capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of a society. (1871)
  4. TRADITION: This is a part of culture that is passed from person to person or generation to generation.
  5. SOCIETY: This is a group of people involved with each other through persistent relations, and typically subjected to the same political or dominant cultural expectations.
  6. IBIBIO: This is the native language of the Ibibio people of AkwaIbom state. They are people of south-southern Nigeria
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Peter Hezekiah Lawson (Sir Pee). The CEO of onlineproject.com.ng. A reputable researcher, Web Developer, ICT Instructor and a publisher of many research works in Education.