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From Sidi to Ene

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The Evolutionary Phases of the African Woman in Nigerian Theatre

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To say that African women have come a long way is to state the obvious. In economic, spiritual, political, and educational terms, African women have made significant contributions to Africa’s development. In literature generally, but especially in drama, the phases of the African woman are easily traceable. The maxim used to be ‘the place of a woman is in the kitchen’ or ‘women are to be seen and not heard’. Accordingly, African women were depicted in early modern African plays as docile, submissive, cooperative, and obedient. However, contemporary African drama shows that African women can no longer be tagged in this way. Therefore, in this essay, exploring various shades of feminism, we trace the evolutionary phases of African women from Wole Soyinka’s Sidi in The Lion and the Jewel to Tracy Utoh-Ezeajugh’s Ene in Our Wives Have Gone Mad Again, to show that African women have developed from the docile to the rebellious and even ruthless. We shall draw our illustrations from plays across Africa.

Affiliations: 1: University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria


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