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Between Aidoo’s Feminism and Sofola’s De-Womanisation: Issues and Perspectives in African Gender Discourse

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Abstract:

Ama Ata Aidoo of Ghana and Zulu Sofola of Nigeria are matriarchs of African Literature because of their active involvement with female self-assertion in Africa. Whether in the novel of drama, Aidoo’s women are assertive and individualistic; but female assertion in Sofola’s works functions within cultural boundaries because she abhors the tendency in Western civilisation to “de-womanise” African women. Both positions have implications for African gender discourse because they raise issues about women’s self-definition and actualisation which border on the relationship between the sexes. Did African women experience gender oppression before their encounter with Western values or is it a product of colonial education? Should African women define themselves based on the parameters of their Western counterparts? Is gender cooperation or conflict the panacea for gender equity in Africa? This paper uses Aidoo’s and Sofola’s plays to examine the different attitudes of African scholars and theorists to gender discourse in Africa and propose a direction for gender relations in the twenty first century.

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