Gender politics, home & nation in Zulu Sofola's king emene: Tragedy of a rebellion

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Abstract

They will say, in the traditional system, you are not supposed to be seen, you don't have a voice (Sofola, ‘The Black Woman Playwright’ 1988) Women have no mouth (Beti proverb, Cameroon) As a pioneer woman playwright in Nigeria, Zulu (short for Nwazulu) Sofola used her plays as platforms to address a variety of issues, including gender identity politics, culture, community, and nation as early as the 1960s. Despite her position as the first published woman playwright in Nigeria, her work has been ignored, lacking the critical attention which the works of some of her contemporaries – Wole Soyinka, Ola Rotimi, and J.P. Clark – have received. Her critics condemn her for being too rooted in the traditions of her people. One critic indicates that her plays have been described as showing ‘an uncanny propensity for the magical, the mythical, the legendary and the traditional’ (Obafemi 1989: 60), generally favoring the “preservation of the old” (60). Another asserts that she ‘shows an inclination towards the tragic mode, but her plays’ dynamics depend too much on a superficial study of the forces that act on the central characters’ (Nasiru 1978: 51).

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReflections and Retrospectives
Subtitle of host publicationAfrican Literature Today 30
PublisherBoydell and Brewer Ltd
Pages8-31
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781782040484
ISBN (Print)9781847010568
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012

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