The Concept Of Feminism In Buchi Emecheta’s Second Class Citizen And Okoye Ifeoma’s Behind The Clouds

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This essay tends to explain what Feminism is all about. It tries to bring out the idea of feminism in two female writers work. (Ifeoma Okoye & Buchi Emecheta).

The review of various disciplines on feminism has been used by the researcher to emphasis on the female characters who strove to fight for themselves. The right and freedom of African Women are what the researchers seeks to unravel.

This will be carried out to portray Ifeoma Okoye & Buchi Emecheta as writers who celebrates feminism with the spirit of commoner’s living with their rights.



1.1    Introduction

1.2    Purpose of the Study

1.3    Scope and Limitation

1.4    Justification of Study

1.5    Methodology

1.6    Aim and Objective

1.7    Buchi Emecheta’s Background

1.8    Ifeoma Okoye’s Background

1.9    End Notes


2.1    Literature Review

2.2    End Note

CHAPTER THREE              

3.1    Introduction

3.2    Behind the Cloud


4.1    Introduction

4.2    Second Class Citizen


5.1    Conclusion

5.2    End Note

5.3    Bibliography



Feminism is a branch of social theory (autism) which symbolizes the struggle for participation of women in a literary world dominated by men.

In the African society, feminism has been deployed through a hostile barrier as the African culture itself regards it with so much disdain due to its belief that female emancipation and empowerment would jettison the essence of manhood as well as the roles of women in their matrimonial homes.

Femi Ojo-Ade (1983:158) African Literature Today views feminism as:

an accidental phenomenon that is gradually creeping into the forbidden land of African.

Therefore, most of the African female writers preferred to be referred to as matherists/womanist instead of feminists because of the way feminism is believed to have ruined many homes then.

Today, the feminist theory and in movement advocate a pattern of lifestyle, activities and mode of living.  An ideal woman should involve herself in the traditional African Societies, women were regarded as inferior, they dare not look their husbands or men in the face.  They were treated as housewives (almost servants) who must do all the domestic works and must always follow the dictates of their husbands without asking questions.

This shows that the typical African woman is the obedient servant who must do all her husband’s biddings without as much as asking him to explain.

This backward position of women in Africa contributed immensely to the late involvement of female writers.  Before the arrival of these female writers, their male counterparts have been presenting female characters as housewives, mothers, whore and dependent characters with their succor being men.  Such writers include, Meja Nwangi’s “Going Down the River Road”, Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart” and so on.

But when the female writers emerged, things started changing.  Although, not all female writers are feminists but each writer shows different feminist trends.  The African female writers have conceived themselves with changing depreciating characters.  They faced their challenge with all courage, bravery and a daring heart.

Viadimir Lemin sees women from a different point of view saying “we cannot go forward without women”.  He emphasizes more on women being the backbone, for any man for him to be successful thus proving right that common saying “Behind every successful man, there is a woman.”

It is even more pitiable to realize that women had existed in the world almost as long as men had.  The woman was created with the man.  In the Biblical Garden  of Eden, woman was created a short while after the man had been created and if it is not for the woman (Eve), man (Adam) may never know a thing in the world.  It is not that women had just been created in the 18th Century when the revolution or the feminist moment started.  But man had dominated all activities in the world and would not allow for equality with the women so that women could be known and heard at the same time with men.  This has put women far behind the men folk in all areas of life, the political, economical, occupational and educational aspect of life inclusive.

In most cases women are regarded as second class to men, they are not even recognized at all in some cases.  In Christian religion, women are admonished to be submissive to their husbands; doing only that which their husbands want them to do or approves of.  They must be very obedient and submissive; they must obey their husbands at all times and never refuse them anything even if it is not really convenient for the wives.

“Therefore, as the Church is subject unto Christ, so let wives be to their    own husband in everything”

The result is that women were put behind men as their submissive helper (servant).

Feminism is referred to as the belief that women should have economic, political and social equality with men.  Feminism is also referred to as a movement that works to gain such equality which movement is sometimes called the women’s liberation movement or women’s rights movement.

In view of this, this research will focus on the effort of women writers to make this movement a reality in Africa.

Women need to arise to stop what they do not want, and in particular to oppose whatever seeks to deny or deprive them of their rights.


The purpose of this research is to examine how Buchi Emecheta and Ifeoma Okoye two African feminist writers used their female characters in the novels to portray and depict how women were able to endure the struggles and challenges imposed upon them in the male domineering society and how they came out of it, and were able to challenge women to stop allowing themselves to be treated anyhow by men.


This research will only be limited to the struggle for survival by the female character in the works of Buchi Emecheta’s Second Class Citizen and Ifeoma Okoye’s Behind the Clouds.


This study is embarked upon because though it is believed that women are now being given a fair hearing in the society.  Feminism is yet to be embraced as an equal work on the Nigeria Literary Scene.

In reaction, a critical study will be carried out on the two fore mentioned texts bringing out the feminist features as observed in the text and to make women see the light of their freedom.


The major source for the material in the writing of this project work will be restricted to the library and the internet due to the inability of conducting a private interview with the novelists.


Looking at all this, this research will focus on the effort of women writers to make this movement workable in Africa.

We shall take a look at Buchi Emecheta’s contribution in her Novel Second Class Citizen and how she has achieved her goals.  Also Ifeoma Okeye’s Behind the Cloud will also be treated with focus on how she achieved her own feminist goals.


Buchi Emecheta was born in Lagos, Nigeria.  She was born of Ibuza heritage.  She is a Nigerian writer with a B.Sc degree.  She attended Methodist Girls High School, Yaba Lagos in Nigeria and University of London U. K.  She was appointed Senior Research Fellow, Department of English and Literary Studies, University of Calabar, Calabar Nigeria in 1980.

A member of Art Council of Great Britain, member of Advisory Council, Home Secretary on Race and Equity, London, U.K.  Her awards include Best black writer in Britain, 1978:  Jock Campbell awards, 1979, Daughter of Mark Twain, an American literature award.

She has many publications to her credit, they include the following:-  In the Ditch published in 1972, Second Class Citizen (1974), The Slave Girls (1976), the Joys of Motherhood (1979), Destination Biafra (1982) her auto biography, Head above Water (1986) and many others.

She is a mother of five children.  She is a sociology graduate of London University.


Ifeoma Okoye

Ifeoma Okoye started her writing career when she discovered herself to have the potentials for writing.  She also discovered that children did not have adequate books on children especially stories on Nigeria children, so she was surprised to write some children’s books which are The Adventures of Tolu, The Little Monkey, Eze goes to School, No School for Eze, Village Boy, Only Breed to Eze all of which were published in 1980.

Her first adult novel was men without ears she said she considered herself lucky to have got a publisher for the book which was published in 1984.  Her second Novel Behind the Clouds was published in 1988.  Her novel Men without Ears won the 1984 prize for the Association of Nigerian Authors best fiction of year.

She is happily married to famous husband, Mokwogo Okoye whom she respects and cherishes so much.  They have a son and four daughters.

1.9   END NOTE

(1)     Emecheta Buchi (1977) Second Class Citizen, London; Fontana / Collins.

(2)     Okoye Ifeoma (1983) Behind the Clouds  London:  Longman.

(3)     The Macmillan Dictionary of Women’s Biography (1982:  190) London:            Macmillan Press Ltd., Second Edition.

(4)     The World Book Encyclopedia Volume (1990)  U. S. A.:  World Book           Encyclopedia.

(5)     The Holy Bible

(6)     Femi Oju Ade (1933:  158)  African Literature Today.

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