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Gender Issues in African Female Writings in Ama Ata Aidoo Anowa and Alice Obongeren The Maiden Dilemma

Gender Issues in African Female Writings in Ama Ata Aidoo Anowa and Alice Obongeren The Maiden Dilemma

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This research work portrays the gender issues in African Female Writings in Ama Ata Aidoo’s Anowa and Alice Obongeren’s The Maiden’s Dilemma. No doubt, the two feminist’s works critically pictures the negative effects of African cultural practices against women during marital rites and custom. In word of Beauvior Simon’s The Second Sex he says gender issue and patriarchal domination are common in every society of the world today. It is discovered over the years that African cultural practices have been the major issue affecting the female folks in the society.

The study further revealed that African culture favours the male folks and causes affliction to the female by restricting their rights in their family inheritance. In The Maiden’s Dilemma for instance, Ndud blames his wife Emenda for their daughter’s pregnancy. This shows the level of patriarchal domination were a husband inflicted problems of their female children on their wives.

In The Dilemma of a Ghost, the author also portrayed Ato as an Africa man over his marriage with Eulallie, an American woman, whose culture differs from African. Ama therefore depicts this effect of cultural practices as Ato accepts Eulalie’s decision by postponing having children until they are ready.

The study therefore recommends parents should always treat their children equally irrespective of their sex. Some obnoxious cultural practices in our contemporary African that discriminates against women should be allayed as seen in The Maiden’s Dilemma. It is recommended that female children should be given equal rights like that of male children.



1.1       Background to the study

1.2       Statement of the problem

1.3       Purpose of the study

1.4       Significance of the study

1.5       Objectives of the study

1.6       Scope and Delimitation of the study

1.7       Research Methodology

1.8       Bio-Data of Ama Ata Aidoo

1.9       Bio-Data of Alice Obongeren

1.10 Definition of Terms


Review of Related Literature


3.1 Analysis of Aidoo’s Anowa

3.2 The themes in Aidoo’s Anowa     

3.3 Style in Aidoo’s Anowa               

3.4 Characterization in Aidoo’s Anowa         


4.1 Analysis of Alice Obongeren’s The Maiden Dilemma

4.2 Themes in Alice Obongeren’s The Maiden Dilemma                  

4.3 Style in Alice Obongeren’s The Maiden Dilemma          

4.4   Characterization in Alice Obongeren’s The Maiden Dilemma               


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5.1 Summary

5.2 Conclusion

5.3 Recommendations

Works Cited

Gender Issues in African Female Writings in Ama Ata Aidoo Anowa and Alice Obongeren The Maiden Dilemma



1.1 Background to the study

Gender issues, imbalance, crisis and discrimination have been a problem affecting the female folks globally. The foundation of gender issues was laid in the nineteen seventies. The issue of male dominance in relation to gender have become a canker-worm that has eating deep into the fabric of female’s life span. For instance, the Ghanaian author Dick Masterson in his article entitled The Mind of Male Chauvinism opines that, “men are better than women in all ramifications” He says:

I don’t hate women. I am just aware of the mountain of evidence throughout history and science which concludes that Men are better than Women. Who invented the V8 engine? A man who discovered the teachings of Jesus? ’’Men Are Better Than Women’’ (4).

Based on Masterson’s point of view, women are seen less privilege than the men. In the same vein, African cultural practices give men authority and freedom while the female are disadvantaged and have little rights. This point also makes the Ghanaian feminist Utoh- Ezeajugh in her novel Nneora, top or tray the effect of gender discrimination and while female folks are given less concern. She captures such archaic mentality where the characters in the play named Nneora and Linda discuss thus:

Nneora: Well, what can I say? We have no right to complain and we have no options. We are women and once we marry as the tradition demands, we must stay under our men. Linda: Nneora wake up. We actually have rights; it is just that we have been brought up in a hypocritical society, a society where men gang up to steal everything that belongs to us, including our God-given right of existence.

And you know what bothers me most? For centuries, we women have been silently maltreated by the obnoxious cultural practices, oppression and afflicted with pains by the men. We need to endorse this social gang up (70).

In the above conversation, Utoh- Ezeajugh uses her characters to echo what she believes the situation of women is like in Africa. No doubt, African culture gives the women less rights compared to the males. In line with Utoh- Ezeajugh’s point of view, Florence Dolphyne agrees with this point of view and notes that:

in spite of the differences in culture, in levels of education and in economics and industrial development of their countries, women all over the world have suffered similar types of injustice, humiliation and discrimination within the family structure, in marriage, in employment, in education and in access to professional training and so on (ix).

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Truly, women have been under cultural humiliation and discrimination by societal practices. They have experienced many problems from different angles because of the obnoxious cultural practices, family challenges and wives dissertation. In this view, Fiawoo Kwaponglaments that:

Historically society has perceived males and females differently. Inmost societies males have more advantage over females’ right from infancy to adulthood. Men and boys have been positioned by society to enjoy and inherit family properties. By virtue of being born male, men have access to power, position and resources on a preferential basis than women (3).

Consequently, the above views triggered the researcher to investigate the gender issues in African female writings of Ama Ata Aidoo’s Anowa and Alice Obongeren’s The Maiden’s Dilemma.

1.2  Statement of the problem       

The two feminist writers under study grew up to witness male domination and female marginalisation in Nigeria and Ghana respectively. Aidoo of Ghana writes on how women are oppressed, suppressed and marginalised in Ghanaian society, while Obong-eren writes on the general perception of women in Nigerian society. Their writings aimed at eliminating the marital suffering, injustice and discrimination in their societies.

1.3  Purpose of the study

The purpose of this work is to examine gender issues in African female writings of Ama Ata Aidoo’s Anowa and Alice Obongeren’s The Maiden’s Dilemma.

This research seeks to find out who actually is the marginalised, vulnerable, down-trodden, oppressed, suppressed, neglected or relegated to the background in the above plays? Is it men or women? Has the problem of gender, especially from the 60’s been well represented in the above plays to effect the necessary changes in Ghana?

1.4  Significance of the study 

This research work will add to the fast growing interest in the academic discourse of gender studies of female wrings. The work will also be significant to English and literature students and precisely to literary students on how to contribute to eradicate such unfavourable cultural practices in African societies.

This study is to also stir up the interest in future scholars for further investigation into other works of these playwrights in area of gender issues and how it relates to the Ghanaian and Nigerian society.


Gender Issues in African Female Writings in Ama Ata Aidoo Anowa and Alice Obongeren The Maiden Dilemma

1.5  Objectives of the study

The objectives of the study are:

  1. to find out the major issues in African female writings using Ama Ata Aidoo’s Anowa and Alice Obongeren’s The Maiden’s Dilemma as a case study.
  2. to investigate the effects of gender issues among men and women in Ghanaian and Nigerian society.
  3. to analyse the problems of gender issues and find solution to them.

1.6  Research Methodology  

This research work focuses on the two plays under study as the primary sources. The secondary sources of the work will be on internet, journals literary books from library and critical works of feminist writers.

1.7  Scope and delimitation of the study 

The scope of this work will be limited to gender issues in African female writings in Ama Ata Aidoo’s Anowa and Alice Obongeren’s The Maiden’s Dilemma.

1.8   Bio-Data of AMA ATA AIDOO

Ama Ata Aidoo is a Ghanaian poet, playwright and short story writer. She was to the family of Christina Ama Aidoo in Ghana in 1942. She had her basic education in the University of Ghana there she graduated and obtained a B.A degree in English.

She was a lecturer of English and African literature at the University of Ghana, Tanzania and Kenya. She began her literary career by winning a prize in short-story competition organised by Ibadan’s Mbari club, a famous cultural club of the early 1960’s.Her selected published works are, The Dilemma of a Ghost (1965), Anowa (1970), No  Sweetness Here(1970), Our sister kill Joy(1977)and Someone talking to sometime(1985).

1.9 Bio-Data of Alice Obongeren

Alice Obongeren is from Akwa Ibom State. She was an ex-student and also a former girl’s senior perfect in Community Secondary school Itam. She holds a BA (ED) degree in English from the University of Uyo and M.Ed (Admin) degree from the University of Lagos. She has worked as a vice principle in various schools in Lagos state from 1992-2014. She was the president of the favoured Ladies an (NGO), a Non-Governmental Organization in-charged of love and favour of Christ in schools. She retired from the teaching profession as a vice principal.

Mrs. Alice Obongeren is happily married with children. Her works include, Give Me a Chance (2005) English in poems (2007) Lines of Wisdom (2005) andThe Maiden’s Dilemma.

1.10 Definition of Terms

Gender issues: Gender issues may be defined as socio-cultural practices that affect the biological differences of opposite sex.

Mr. Harrison

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