Projectguidelines Project Materials Female Assertion in Mariama Ba So Long a Letter and Zaynab Alkali The Stillborn

Female Assertion in Mariama Ba So Long a Letter and Zaynab Alkali The Stillborn

Female Assertion in Mariama Ba So Long a Letter and Zaynab Alkali The Stillborn

Female Assertion in Mariama Ba So Long a Letter and Zaynab Alkali The Stillborn  


The study examines female assertion in Mariama Ba’s So Long a Letter and Zaynab Alkali’s The Stillborn. From findings, in the two selected plays the study has shown that, several cultural practices in Africa humiliate and affects women emotionally as seen in Ba’s So Long a Letter. In another instance, the persistent inequality between men and women in African society and Nigeria society precisely Alkali’s The Stillborn has portrayed the general disempowerment of women.

This study has further discovered that the education of female children is a rarity in Northern Nigeria; This has affected noticeably the quality of life that the female children experienced as seen in Alkali’s The Stillborn. Based on these issues, Alkali and Ba, therefore, use their literary play, to portray education as the most essential weapon for challenging one aspect of gender inequality which is the educational disempowerment of women.

The study further reveals that education plays a significant role in women’s emancipation and liberation in a patriarchal society. It is therefore recommended that both sexes should be equally trained for the joys of motherhood to be fully realized and that education underscores a fundamental necessity for the mental and material liberation of women from male domination in society.



1.1    Background to the study

Feminism is a social theory and movement primarily motivated by the experiences of women in society. It gives the women a sense of belonging of self as worthy, effectual and contributing human beings. As a theoretical and ideological frame work, it directly opposes sexism by supporting gender equality. Consequently, this form the basic point of his study on female assertion in Mariama Ba’s So Long a Letter and Zaynah Alkali The Stillborn.

Thus, Mariama Ba and Zaynah Alkali are strong feminist writers who see feminism in as a reaction to such stereotypes of women whereby women are seen as helpless, dependent, humiliated, discriminated against, oppressed, and voiceless in society. This makes scholar Katherine frank in her essay titled Feminist criticism and the African Novels, an article which analyses the relevance and usefulness of feminism to the study of African female writers give the impression that the feminist ideology in its emphasis on individualistic growth and interests must necessarily be opposed to traditional tendencies which place values on group interests.

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Female Assertion in Mariama Ba So Long a Letter and Zaynab Alkali The Stillborn

She further asserts “feminism as a profoundly individualistic philosophy. It values personal growth and individual fulfillment over any communal needs or goods” (45).

Mariama Ba as a feminist portrays in this novel, So Long a Letter the issues of polygamy and its devastating effect on the girl-child in a cultural context and as a constraint on the happiness of couples who are usually separated. On the other hand, Alkali Zaynah is not guile different from her writings as seen in The Stillborn, a novel that captures the dream of emancipation, triumph, and elevation of an African woman who is been truncated by cultural or traditional conjectures and the attendant unwanted rejection, scorn or judgemental reaction of society criticizing or condemning the women to prey in African societies.

In the reading of So Long a Letter and The Stillborn, these two writers were able to uphold the view that African women should not be taken as underdogs; they also tried to portray that women should not be oppressed and humiliated. They have used their literary novels in order to give a new kind of hope to all African women.

1.2    Statement of the problem 

The novels of Mariama Ba and Zoynah Alkali under study explored how African cultural practices underrate women and humiliate them. These novels also explore the women’s quest for identity as they seek for freedom and independence.

1.3    Purpose of the study

The purpose of this research is to investigate female assertion in Mariama Ba’s So Long a Letter and Zaynh Alkali’s The Stillborn and its contribution to society.

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1.4    Significance of the study

The study will be significant to African women with regard to cultural domination. The study will also be of significance to students of English and literature and other researchers who will find this work important.

1.5    Objectives of the study    

The following are the objective of the study;

(i)      to investigate female assertions in the novels under study as portrayed by the authors.

(ii)     to examine the importance of female assertion in African societies

(iii)    to investigate the impact of female assertion in the novels under investigation.

1.6    Scope and Limitation of the study

The scope of this study will be limited to the work of Mariama Ba’s So Long a Letter and Zaynah Alkali’s The Stillborn, while literature novels, articles, journals, and internet and library works will be added as its secondary sources for more information.

1.7    Bio-Data to the study

Mariama Ba was born on April 17, 1927, and died 17 August 1981. She was a Senegalese author and of feminist who writes in French and was also born in Darka. Ba was raised a Mulism, at an early age, she came to criticize what she perceived as inequalities between the sexiest with regards to African culture and traditions.

She was married to a Senegalese member of parliament, she Obeye Diop Daouda but divorced him and was left with nine children to cater for. She was the minister of Health in 1956 while her grandfather was an interpreter in the French occupation regime. After her mother’s death, Ba was largely raised in the traditional manner by her maternal grandparents. She received her education in French, while at the same time attending Koranic school.


Ba was a prominent law student at school. During the colonial revolution period and later girls faced numerous obstacles when they wanted to have a higher education. Ba’s grandparents did not plan to educate her beyond primary school. However, her father’s interest on giving her an opportunity to continue her studies. She was also an etcher, novelist, and feminist, active from 1979 to 1981 in Senegal West Africa.

Ba writes novels that include;

So Long a Letter (1981), Scarlet Song (1986), La function politique des literatures Africaines ecrites (1981). She was also awarded the first Noma Award for publishing in Africa.


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