Full Project – Feminism in African novels – a study of Amma Sarkos beyond the horizon and faceless

Full Project – Feminism in African novels – a study of Amma Sarkos beyond the horizon and faceless

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          One of the current trends in African literature is feminism. It is part of the struggle, which involves the radical transformation of the society in terms of recognition of the claims of women for social, economic, political and legal equality with men. The World Book Encyclopedia vol. 7 defines feminism as: “The belief that women should have economic, political and social equality with men (73).”

The term feminism emanated in mid 1800s. This was the period when the first British female writer, Mary Wollstonecraft, gave the first significant statement about the plight of women in her book, Vindication of Rights of Women. She locates the origin of women’s subordination in their physical weakness. She describes the state of ignorance in which the society keeps women. According to her:

Stripped of the virtue that should clothe humanity, they are decked with artificial grace that enables them exercise a short tyranny. (142).

She pleads for a better educational background opportunity for women in the society. In a male dominated patriarchal society such as we find in Africa, America and in different parts of the world, it is not uncommon to find that the general thinking is that women without men are nothing and, therefore, cannot realize their life’s goals and ambitions when left alone. But some feminist criticisms and female writers have proved this thought wrong. Feminism is a reactive discipline. It is a movement that encourages the women to fight for their positions in the society. This movement exists because in time past, the male folks regarded the women as inferior to men. The male chauvinist portrays the woman in her worst form. Nothing good is attributed to her. Rather, she is relegated to the background and treated as second-class citizenin the society.

In Africa, the relationship between the male and female is basically different both in nature and in roles. The sphere of the female is seen as domestic, private and emotional, while that of the male counterpart is public, social and intellectual. A woman should be able to play a complementary role and serve her husband, but there is a clear distinction between men and women in economic and social activities in the society.

Also, in the past, the African literary scene was dominated by male writers who have always presented the African Women in their novels largely within the African Tradition. . The portrait of the African women given by male writers like Chinua Achebe, Cyprian Ekwesi and Elechi Amadi, is stereotypical. The ideal female created by these writers often acts within the framework of her traditional functions as wife and mother. They present women as being meant for just the production of children, cooking and other domestic chores in the home. In their novels, we see women who are docile, contented and submissive. They are given passive roles to play. This is against the active roles given to their male counterpart who dominates the scene of events in these novels. The female characters are portrayed as mere shadows that hover on the fringe of the plot of the novels. It is in reaction to this negative portrayal of women by male authors, that the female novelists like Flora Nwapa, BuchiEmecheta, Mariama Ba, and Grace Ogot who believes in fighting the women’s cause, came out to respond appropriately to a male-oriented chauvinist art, by portraying and presenting active courageous and conscious female characters in their novels.

Feminist writers see women as being able to make their choices. They struggle to end stereotyping, sexual abuse, violence and male domination in the society. Before now, women were stripped of their dignity, enslaved, and were like machines for the production of children. By and large, the society sees women as inferior and treated them as such. All these ill treatment are what the feminists are fighting against.

Feminist writers tend to bring to the notice of women and everyone in general, the discriminations which women have been subjected to both in the traditional and the modern African society. Thus, rather than analyzing the characters of women using the standards set by men; these writers have used the experiences of women to analyze their situations in their works. These female characters play prominent and active roles in their works and they make them stand out against domination and oppression by men in the society.


The purpose of this research work is to lay bare the issue of female domination, subjugation and their subsequent revolution as regards the passive roles given to them in the society by their male counterpart. Its aim is to debunk the general thinking that women without men are nothing and therefore cannot realize their life’s goals and ambitions when left alone. Thus, Amma Darko’s Beyond the Horizon and Faceless are used in this research work, to analyze how the female characters are able to rise up against male domination and chart a new course for themselves.


Since the term “feminism” is a broad subject, there are several foreign and African works that deal on it. But for the purpose of this work, and in order to have a sense of direction, I have limited my scope to the study of the works of a prominent African feminist writer whose works dwell extensively of the issue of feminism in Africa.


In the course of this research work, it was difficult to get critical materials dealing on the issues and concept of feminism, especially in relation to materials on Amma Darko’s Beyond the Horizon and Faceless. There was equally time constraint as a result of the short semester, coupled with busy lectures, and inadequate finance to buy critical literary materials.


The method used in carrying out this research work includes, literary materials such as novels, encyclopedia, articles, and other materials, which are relevant to the work, using the feminist literary approach as a template.


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Full Project – Feminism in African novels – a study of Amma Sarkos beyond the horizon and faceless