Akachi Ezeigbo talks about the constraints and challenges of the woman writer (“Constraints and challenges of the woman glass ceiling crasher: The woman writer’s perspective”, Sunday Vanguard, November 21, continued November 28, 2004):
“Men controlled creativity in the written form and dominated all literary genres. This is illustrated by the ratio of women writers to male writers. There is also the fact that out of over a hundred male Nobel Prize winners, only ten are women. The tenth one won the prize this year (2004). Women are marginalized; hence the long delay in their acquiring the kind of education necessary for writing stories, plays and poems…”
“One of the most discussed constraints of the woman writer is gender discrimination. She suffers discrimination as a result of her gender. Many publishers do not want to publish a woman’s writing and many male critics shun her work and disdain talking about her writing. Some of them even say openly that women writers should be discussed and analysed by female critics, as if criticism is gender specific…” Funny enough, even Mobolaji Adenubi, former president of the Women Writers Association of Nigeria (WRITA) seemed to agree to this.
Akachi Ezeigbo continues: “The greatest challenge faced by the African woman writer is recapturing the storytelling skill of her foremother which was lost after the colonial intervention, when the art of writing was introduced. The woman’s role as storyteller was lost while the new storytellers became men who acquired the craft of telling stories in printed form.” Her argument was that it was best for women writers to tell the woman story “…because the male writer was telling it either badly or incorrectly.” She concludes:
“It is expected that many more women writers will crash the glass ceiling in future. As women continue to be given their writing inalienable right in society, as more women become educated and as they improve their writing skills, the glass ceiling crashing will be sustained. As some of the constraints of women disappear and as women face the challenge of writing, more women achievers will emerge in Nigeria in particular and on the continent in general. It is not easy to reach the top; women should bear this in mind…” Her inspiring poem of encouragement for all aspiring women and women writers has even made reference to the female writers that had died: Zulu Sofola, Flora Nwapa and the other women in the continent of Africa and the globe at large. Even Mcphilips Nwachukwu gives a general tribute to women writers (“Nigerian women writers re-invent the art of tale…” Sunday Vanguard, March 13, 2005):
“From all indications, contemporary women writers are changing the direction of the art of writing; especially the tale. The speed and commitment with which they engage in the art no doubt leaves the world with an impression that the new generation of female writers have emerged as modern grandmothers of weavers of tale.”
Prince John Obisonu is another man who praised the woman writer (“Women Writers and the Future of Literature in Nigeria”, Thisday, Tuesday, April 23, 2002):
“The future of literature in Africa and Nigeria appears promising and rosy. Candidly rosy not because more Nigerian women would have entered the list and swell the art of writing but because a complete new focus should inform the pulse to write creative works. The challenge on women is to compete with men side by side to change the tide of men dominating pen art. We should have more women squaring up with men, at least to cover other areas deserving to be exploited which men left untouched.”
A well-known writer, Jane Rogers tried her best in her lecture to give guidance to Nigerian women writers on the obstacles they would face as writers in the home front and the society at large (“What is Simpler Than to Write Books?” Thisday, Tuesday, April 30, 2002). Emilia Oko introduced a controversial perspective on and for whom Flora Nwapa writes (“The Oguta World View and Flora Nwapa’s Novels”, The Post Express, Sunday, February 17, 2002). Chioma Opara explores Saro-Wiwa’s writings as regards giving the feminine gender their proper due, as recognised by nature and environment (“Ecofeminism and the Writings of Ken Saro-Wiwa”, The Post Express, Sunday, March 3, 2002, continued March 17, 2002).
There are also female publishers as well. Mrs. Omotola Onyiuke is the managing director/chief executive officer of Swanlake Publishers Limited. She was interviewed by a combination of Mcphilips Nwachukwu and Benjamin Njoku (“Publishing should be an all season business – Onyiuke”, Sunday Vanguard, March 20, 2005). She has a passion for re-directing the waning culture of reading and books in the country. She spoke on the state of publishing and the fate of books especially in developing economies.
In the area of music, the powerful, soul-moving voice in the airwaves has to be that of a woman’s, just to show that the blessings of God on women are boundless. Miriam Makeaba is presently a great grandmother of over sixty years of age and has been given the prestigious position of Mother Africa because of her voice. Another star still in the skies is the late Brenda Fassi. There are too many female musical stars too numerous to mention, and there are many more coming in the future.
Let me bring to the reader’s attention the mention of several female characters found in certain newspaper articles, made as excerpts: Here is a story of a man who stood near his bedroom window to hear the interesting conversation between two female characters, Scarface and Stacy, two street prostitutes, the former in the profession to sustain her family and the latter who loves the profession. The chronically job-seeking man by the window made his own verdict between the two women (“Selling Triangles”, The Post Express, Sunday, May 27, 2001). A story by Blessing Mudiaga Adje illustrated the tradition of the unjust beheading of seven beautiful maidens and how the women in the community fought for their right to abolish that tradition (“Seven Beautiful Maidens”, The Post Express, Sunday, May 5, 2002).
Let me mention here that as much as Nigeria and certain countries around the world are trying to make homosexuality illegal, it has definitely become a secret practice in these countries. It is the woman-to-woman relationship that is very much practised and well-known more than man-to-man. One wouldn’t believe this but a lesbian romance book series “House of Love” was recommended for a course in a tertiary institution for the Year One students in the English department.
There are women of national and international repute who have placed their footprints on the sands of time. Their contributions to society are undisputable and because of that, their images are carved in gold and placed on a high pedestal for all to see and remember them for many years to come. An NTA network programme aired every Monday by 8pm called “Today’s Woman with Adesuwa” is one of these methods used to highlight such important women.
There is Margaret Thatcher, the first woman prime minister of Britain (could she be the only woman?). Because of her contributions to her country and the globe at large, she was called “The Iron Lady”. But then, she said, and I quote: “I cannot be Iron Lady without my husband.” There is Dr. (Mrs.) Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the present Liberian president and the first female president in Africa, who was sworn in on January 16 this year. In South American Chile, a woman became its president almost at the same time as Ellen. In the Philippines, there is a female president as well by the name of Mrs. Gloria Arroyo (or is it Corazon Aquino?). Germany has just voted its first female councillor by the name of Mrs. Angela Markel who is known to be very knowledgeable in economics.
To be concluded…