1.1 Background to the Study
The backward position of women in African societies contributed to the feminist ideology that is found on the need to develop awareness on the plight of women who are oppressed, deprived and subjugated.This had attracted the following feminist writers, Buchi Emecheta, Flora Nwapa, Ama Ata Aidoo, Ifeoma Okoye and a handful of others whose writings are concerned with social, political and economic inequality between men and women.Moreover, these writers use their fictional characters, themes and plot in their stories to ask questions and mobilize an awareness of women’s recognition. This is why Terry (2007), opines that African women are placed inferior to men and this makes it difficult for some women to participate in politics, economic and social activities.While men continue to dominate political activities and benefit from economic power, women are relegated to the roles of housewives, child bearer and trader.
Moreover, these female writers also portrayed to the entire society that woman’s identity is oppression and tied sexually. This is because woman and men’s biological differences are reflected in the organization of society most especially in the African settings. Based on these differences, women are treated as inferior to men, whether as a theory, a social movement or a political movement. For instance, Mariam Ba, another prolific African female writer, calls for the emancipation of women from the shackles of male oppression. She advocates understanding, fortitude and love between men and women as the principles that should guide the African women in the bid to cope with her oppression.
The above question on socio-cultural identity and issues affecting the female gender concerned this research work on the investigation of the question of identity in the novels of Ifeoma Okoye’s Behind the Cloud and Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood with the aim of investigating the main problems behind the obnoxious socio-cultural practices in Africa.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Ifeoma Okoye and Buchi Emecheta are African feminist writers who used their female characters in their novels to portray and depict how women were able to endure the struggles and challenges imposed upon them in the male domineering society. Their novels have also examined men discrimination against women and forcing them to do what they do not want to do all because of their gender. This goes with all areas of life which many women are politically, economically and socially discriminated.
Their writings therefore prove that African women have been contributing positively to their societies in one way or the other. Their contribution to the literary world is also prominent especially in the area of oral literature that brought about what is known as African women writers forum (AWWF). These African women writers write about the challenges faced by African women and the social injustices in their various works of artwhere African Women have been involved in revolution.
Also, many women in Nigerian society can now boast as: engineers, doctors, lawyers, large farmers and so on. Women can also boast of some professions, their identity therefore have to be recognized.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of this study is to examine the question of identity in the novels of Nigerian female novelists using Ifeoma Okoye’s Behind the Cloud and Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood.The study will also analyse various obnoxious African practices that makes many women not to be identify as well as alienated in many African societies.
1.4 Significance of Study
The study will be significant by justifying the fact that the role of women in the African society has promoted the society educationally: in many Universities, female lecturers teach students what education entails as well as socio-economic and political empowerment of more African women. The reader of this research work will also find this work important because one will have more knowledge on the writings of Ifeoma Okoye and Buchi Emechetawhat it entails and how their writings can promote, improve the women conditions in Africa.
This study will also be significant to students and researchers because they will have more understanding on women’s predicaments such as socio-cultural problems and economic deprivation of the women.