Academic journal article Studies in Literature and Language

Feminist Dimensions in Sefi Atta's Everything Good Will Come

Academic journal article Studies in Literature and Language

Feminist Dimensions in Sefi Atta's Everything Good Will Come

Article excerpt

Abstract

Sefi Atta's debut novel Everything Good Will Come (2006) examines the growing up of a child from adolescence to adulthood. Through these various forms of growth the heroine becomes aware of her environment and how it affects her. This paper seeks to explore how these dimensions help in shaping the vision of the woman. The female characters in this novel are very assertive and utilize all means available to them to affirm their individualitsy. The paper also examines the socio-economic and political landscape of Nigeria and how its affect the psychology of the woman. The paper submits that the woman cannot continue in the space defined for her by the society; she must fight for her space both in the home and in the larger society. She must speak out because silence is no longer golden; it has become a destructive metaphor.

Key words: Assertiveness; Growth; Education; Rights awareness; Silence kitchen.

INTRODUCTION

The Nigerian feminist novels have moved from the themes of women in village or traditional settings with docile female characters who only look up to men as their benefactor to novels that have vibrant and assertive female characters. The new feminist novels explore new dimensions that would help the woman's cause. These dimensions include: education and career, activism and participation. The women are no longer the occupiers of the solitary spaces in the kitchen; they are now at the forefront leading other women to achieve their goals.

Feminism in the last six decades has dominated literary discourses around the globe. In Africa and Nigeria in particular, the debates and counter-debates continue to rage; as a result there have arisen dichotomies leading to various shades of the same theory. Nigerian feminist writers and critics have adopted the non-militant version of feminism in order to accommodate the peculiar Nigerian experience. While doing this, the force of the radical version is played down. However, the feminist novel has continued to educate, inform and enlighten the woman to rise and fight for her rights. Sitting no longer helps; as the saying goes "a snake will not eat to its fill when coiled". According to Lisa Tuttle (1986) the feminist theory is "the advocacy of women's rights based on a belief in the equality of the sexes"(p.107). Tuttle's position agrees with the later views of Charles Nnolim (2009) who argued that feminist writers and critics have "fought successfully for the right of women"(p.47). These positions show that the dominant tenet of feminist writings is the liberation of the woman and the drive toward equality among the sexes.

The Nigerian feminist novel differs from the Western brand of feminism. The differences in ideological perspective have accounted for the different strands of feminism. These strands include: Womanism, Motherism, Stewanism and Femalism. In spite of the different strands, one thing binds them together: the achievement of the common goal of liberating the Nigerian woman. According to Aduke Adebayo (1996), accepting the emancipating nature of feminism; "the African feminist has discarded its violent and militant approach"(p.4). This also agrees with Elizabeth Ogini's (1996) position that the new form of Womanism, "desires that the man and the woman should be in harmony in the home and society at large"(p15). The call for a harmonious relationship between the man and woman does not mean or translate to the woman giving up her right. Iniobong Uko (200) sees the theory as "a challenge of the status quo and a confrontation of the daily realities of women and women's oppression" (pp10-10). The African woman is no more the docile type; she is assertive and at the same time acknowledges the importance of her male counterpart. This is perhaps why Helen Chukwuma (1994) states that "African feminism is accommodationist not exclusive and negativistic. Men remain a vital part of the women's lives"(p.xvi).

The Nigerian feminist novel came as a counter discourse to the negative image of women in predominantly male authored works. …

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