A Feminist Evaluation of Lola Shoneyin’s The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives

Akanmode, Olushola Ayodeji (2016) A Feminist Evaluation of Lola Shoneyin’s The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives. In: Essays in Language and Literature: A Festschrift in Honour of Prof. Kanchana Ugbabe. University of Jos, Jos, pp. 359-385. ISBN 978-978-905-319-3

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Feminism came into use in English Language as a concept for evaluating the politics of equal rights for women in 1890’s. Ogundipe-Leslie (222) notes that the word feminism is derived from the Latin word ‘femina’, which means all things that are related to ‘woman’. Before 1890’s however; there had been occasions of feminist protests in some places in Europe, for example, the 18th century document by Mary Astell ‘Some Reflections upon Marriage’ (1700) and Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) are written documents of feminist protests. What can actually be regarded as feminist literary criticism, however, started in the West in late nineteenth century with the works of writers and critics such as Virginia Woolf who wrote A Room of One’s Own (1929), Simon de Beauvoir, Second Sex (1974), Elaine Showalter, A Literature of Their Own. British Women Novelists from Bronte to Lessing (1977), Eva Figes, Patriarchal Attitudes (1970), Kate Millett, Sexual Politics (1969), Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique (1963), Germaine Greer, The Female Eunuch (1970). It took a long time for feminist criticism to take root in Africa. It actually started emerging in the 1980s and flourished in the 1990s. A few feminist critics from the West had written about the works of Flora Nwapa and Buchi Emecheta, who are among the first generation of female writers. Such Western feminist critics include: Sabine Jell Bahlsen, The Concept of mammy water in Flora Nwapa’s Novels (1995), Brenda F. Berrian, The Reinvention of Woman through Conversation and Humour in Flora Nwapa’s One is Enough (1990), Katherine Frank, Women without Men (1987), Kenneth Little, The Sociology of Urban Woman’s Image in African Literature (1980). It was however, not until African women critics, most of whom were Nigerians, came into the field of criticism that the women writers received the attention they deserved. Among the prominent feminist critics that changed the face of Nigerian literary criticism in the 20th century by analysing the works of women writers were Chikwenye Okonjo-Ogunyemi author of African Wo/man Palava, (1995), Helen Chukwuma, editor of Feminism in African Literature, (1994), Molara Ogundipe, author of Recreating ourselves, African Women and Critical Transformations, (1994), Catherine Acholonu, author of Motherism: The Afrocentric Alternative to Feminism, (1995), Akachi Ezeigbo, author of Gender Issues in Nigeria: a Feminist Perspective (1996), Mary E. Modupe Kolawole, author of Womanism and African Consciousness (1997), Mabel Evwierhoma, author of Female Empowerment and Dramatic Creativity in Nigeria (2000), Obioma Nnaemeka, author of “Nego-Feminism: Theorizing, Practicing and Pruning Africa’s Way” (2004). The challenge of putting women writers on the platform of criticism was taken up by these critics. Some of the women writers whose works have been critiqued by feminist scholars include Flora Nwapa (Efuru, 1966), Buchi Emecheta (The Joys of Motherhood, 1979), Tess Onwueme (The Reign of Wazobia,1988), Zaynab Alkali (The Stillborn, 1984), Ifeoma Okoye (Behind the Cloud, 1982). This study examines Lola Shoneyin’s debut novel, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives, using Akachi Ezeigbo’s snail-sense feminism, a recent model of indigenous feminist theory as a viable model for solving women’s problems orchestrated by patriarchy. Snail-sense feminism complements other contemporary African feminist variants that deemphasise the controversies that have deterred the progress of improvement in the integrity of the woman. According to Maduka (109), each feminist writer has used literary work to expose, and analyse the significance of the ‘quest for female identity in Nigeria/Africa’.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: Feminist model, indigenous, strategies, Snail-sense feminism, women emancipation
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Date Deposited: 13 Jul 2017 13:09
Last Modified: 13 Jul 2017 13:09
URI: https://eprints.lmu.edu.ng/id/eprint/849

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