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Feminism in the Nigerian Theatre in Ofola Rotimi’s Our Husband Has Gone Mad Again and ’Tess Onwueme’s The Reign of Wazobia

FEMINISM IN THE NIGERIAN THEATRE IN OFOLA ROTIMI’S OUR HUSBAND HAS GONE MAD AGAIN AND ’TESS ONWUEME’S THE REIGN OF WAZOBIA

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CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION

1.1       BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

Feminism has altered predominant perspectives in a wide range of areas within Western society, ranging from culture to law, Architecture to Philosophy. Though the issues in contention vary according to areas of specialisation, feminist ideologists and activists have continued to campaign for women’s legal rights: (Rights of Contract, Property Rights, and Voting Rights). For women’s right to body integrity and autonomy, abortion and reproductive rights, including access to contraception and quality prenatal care.

Also for the protection of women and girls from domestic violence, sexual harassment and rape- these rights also includes workplace rights, including maternity leave and equal pay, against misogyny, and against other forms of gender-specific discrimination against women. These are the cardinal concern of feminism all over the world; the inalienable premise of feminism.

Feminism in the Nigerian Theatre in Ofola Rotimi’s Our Husband Has Gone Mad Again and ’Tess Onwueme’s The Reign of Wazobia

Whereas feminist champion this, there are also a large percentage of women who rather this is left alone. For they feel feminism is too confrontational and militaristic in it approached to a sociological issue as the gender process.  It is also factual that feminism cannot eloquently and conclusively speak for all women, as it is a movement that originated mostly from the West, by predominately white, working class women who rightly constitute a small percentage of the women in the world.

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These forms of feminism, with emphasis on the third world emerged after early feminist movements, largely white and middle-class to reflect Post-Colonial women, arguing that their reality transcends just the struggle for equality but also of overcoming a deliberate colonial ingrained mind-set of women, discarded in the administrative allocations and power structure of colonialism but even more about their voice, been actively engaging still, in the construe of family and the society.

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Postcolonial feminists argue that colonial oppression and Western feminism marginalized postcolonial women but did not turn them passive or voiceless. Hence, third-world feminism and Indigenous feminism are closely related to postcolonial feminism, based on the encompassing social realities and its shared similarities. These ideas also correspond with the rationale in the emergence of other variants of feminism such as Africanfeminism, motherism, Stiwanism, negofeminism, femalism, TransnationalFeminism, and Africanawomanism which as are all various forms of women struggle for equality but with peculiarities reflective of their history, sociology and, its inherited struggles.

Feminism in the Nigerian Theatre in Ofola Rotimi’s Our Husband Has Gone Mad Again and ’Tess Onwueme’s The Reign of Wazobia

Depending on historical moment, culture, society, traditions, and country, feminists around the world have different causes and goals, different aspirations and agitations reflective of the nature and issues of their immediate environments. Most western feminist historians assert that all movements working to obtain women’s rights should be considered feminist movements, even when they did not (or do not) apply the term to themselves. Other historians assert that the term should be limited to the modern feminist movement and its descendants.

In this study, feminism will be the encompassing term, used to connote the annotated agitation for the equality of the sexes listed above. Whereas to strictly replace it with other terms such as motherism or womanism, will only narrow the scope of themes of this thesis into a location-specific, monolithic brush of the issues of women rights and its representations. Nevertheless, by doing so, that is using feminism instead of the other terms, is not tantamount to discarding the validity of the argument for such specificities.

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Matter of fact, Feminism in this thesis is, is viewed from the prism of womanism, but solely used to as a term to show the issues that brought about their rise in the first place, but by not limiting the agitation to just location-base, cultural-specific historicities of womanism or other post-colonial feminism, this thesis seek to re-welcome them into a larger spectrum- that harbours and reflect the various agitations and peculiarities of the gender equality questions both from a third world perspective and global standpoint.

Feminism has found room in various fields of studies that traditionally flaunt men’s idea as finality, with the intellectualisation of the struggle for women’s rights, the composite of these fields of studies are now beseeched with new inquiry for re-evaluation. Hence, the deconstruction in the theatre also, for a relook at the various forms and themes that has occupied the Theatre all through the years especially   as interpreted with the prism of patriarchy.

Historically, Theatre as we have it today is a derivation from the Greek word, “Theatron”, which means, a seeing place. In ancient Greece, the word, theatre, depicted a structural setting, usually in the open air, used for the presentation of dramatic spectacles and plays. By the 17th Century, the term had come to connote the arts, as a whole, of which the building is an integral part.

Thus, theatre is that art, which the public gather to view, and still view today, as a basic nature of man’s means of expressing his internal perceptions of life. Theatre as an art form is often ascribed to have originated from ancient Greece. This position can best be explained by the realisation that most of the earlier original African theatrical presentations are very often related to Greek conventions, which is a result of the fact that these Greek underpinning even in earlier African plays points to the possibility of the origin of Theatre and as such, had been documented long before now. 

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Theatre captures the way of life of a people, it has been used as yardstick to measure the metamorphosis of the Greek people and the classical plays remain great source of material for a diverse field of scholarship. As with the Greeks, so it also true of all societies that engage theatre to communicate or depict stories- factual or invented. However, the issues remains of the theatrical representation, how true have they been, how validare the points raised in theatrical performances, how functional, relevance or engaging are the issues? There is no mistaking the vital role theatres plays in the socialization process and the acculturation capabilities of the stage.

For theatre, the society is its audience and participants, the message are craft from the society and for the society, and its value is in the society and for the society. This interconnectivity of theatre to the society is intricately linked, and functions in an oscillatory symbiosis

African Theatre as much as any African Art serves at least a dual purpose; Art in Africa is not just appreciated for its aesthetics but its functional essence, which transcends its mere physical features, presence or ambiance.

Traditionally, theatre involves individuals in a defined space re-enacting an imagination, whether historically constructed or abstractly conjured to an audience, who engage the enactment in a suspension of their immediate belief. These performances are not real in the sense of the reality in which they presently exist yet, the interlocking of the themes and stories, which these performances treat, are often not in insulation but to a degree is a reflection of the society- whether it is past, presence or future.

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