CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background of the study
This study aimed to evaluate the Travail of the African woman: Reflection of Adebayo Abayomi’s Stay With Me and Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo’s The Last of the Strong Ones. These writers use fiction to express African female oppression emanating from patriarchy and colonialism. The writers realized the need for an agency to speak out on behalf of other women to dissolve their subjugation so that both genders can contribute equally in the family and public spheres. Their construction of literary voices is a way of discussing and sabotaging the patriarchal society of oppression. Kivai (2010) states that African female writers like Flora Nwapa, Buchi Emecheta, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Ama Ata Aidoo, Akachi Adimora among others, have written stories seeking to eliminate women’s marginal positions, and that their texts give the courage to the readers to expose subjugation and inequality . It is the aim of these writers to pronounce that there should be economic, social and political equality between men and women.
In furtherance of the argument on the importance of women writing about the female experience in literary texts, Aidoo (1996) submits that, ―Women writers write about women because when we wake up in the morning and look in the mirror we see women”.
Many female writers try to bring into focus their femaleness/femininity and personal experiences in their narratives and in doing so highlight power differences between men and women. As a result, women scholars and activists have pioneered a literary canon built on sexual politics aimed at stamping gender and feminism into both criticism and theory. This is with the aim of replacing a tradition that is viewed as masculine and domineering by female critics like Showalter (1985). She maintains that gender has become an analytic category whether the concerns are representation of sexual difference, (re)shaping masculinity, building feminine values or exclusion of female voice from the literary canon.
Gender stereotype is the attribution of character traits, behaviours and social roles to men and women in society. Women suffer most as a result of gender stereotypes, because often time positive characteristics are attributed to men whereas negative ones are attributed to women and this implies subtle gender inequality, sexism, and discrimination against women.
An African woman wants to escape the home confinement and exercise power and authority in her society so that she can actively participate in the public sphere. It is advantageous to have autonomous power because one can reach desired goals. For this reason, some women writers, as part of the “dominated individuals or groups are in perpetual search for forms of resistances, consciously and unconsciously, actively and passively” (Odiemo-Munara, 2008, p. 3).