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Over the years, the major challenge facing the female folk is discrimination and unfair treatment in the society. This work discusses cultural practices that discriminate against women. This research work is a critical analysis of two African novels: Buchi Emecheta’s The Joy of motherhood, and Chimamanda Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus. For secondary sources, materials were got from the internet and library. It is discovered that several cultural practices discriminate and oppress the female folks. Such practices are identified in the selected texts for this work and critically examined. It is hoped that an awareness of such practices will eventually eradicate the social inequalities that are engendered by such practice in the African society.


Title page                                                                                            i

Certification                                                                                        ii

Dedication                                                                                          iii

Acknowledgement                                                                              iv

Abstract                                                                                              v

Table of content                                                                                  vi


BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY                                  

  •                                                                          1
  • Purpose of Study.                                3
  • 3
  • Scope and Limitation.     4
  • Research Problems.                                                    4
  • Research Methodology 4



2.0       Introduction                                                                            6

2.1       Origin of Feminism.                                                               6

  • Definition of Feminism.           7
  • Aims of Feminism. 8
  • Types of Feminism.                                                             9
  • Feminists in Africa. 10

2.2.0      Discrimination.                                                                     11

2.2.1    Type of Discrimination.                                                          12

2.2.2    Discrimination against Women.                                             13

2.3.0    Cultural Against Women                                                        14

2.3.1    Subordination of Women.                                                       15

2.3.2    Female Oppression in Widowhood Practices.                        17

2.3.3    Female Genital Cutting/Female Circumcision.                       19

2.3.4    Polygamous Practices                                                 20

2.3.5    Female Sacrifice                                                                      22

  • Background Information on Buchi Emecheta and a Synopsis of the Joys of

Motherhood                                                                            23

  • Chimamanda Adichie (Purple Hibiscus) 24


3.0       Introduction                                                                            26

3.1       Practices against Women                                                        26

3.1.1    Preference of Male over Female Child                                   26

3.1.2   Polygamous Practices                                                              30 Acquisition of Concubine                                                       31 Disrespect to Legal Wives                                                      32 Multiple Wives                                                                        33

3.1.3 Maltreatment of Wives by Husbands                                        34 Wife Battering                                                                                    34 Denial of Marital Rights                                                         35 Dereliction of Duties                                                              36

3.1.4 Marriage and Bride Price                                                           37

3.1.5 Female Sacrifice                                                                         38 Sacrifice of Life/salve Murder                                                39 Sacrifice to Gods                                                                    39 Sacrifice to Marriage                                                               40

3.1.6   Widowhood Practices                                                              41 Marriage to Deceased’s Brother                                             41 Maltreatment of Widows                                                        42 Effect of Widowhood Practices on Families                          42

3.2       Cultural Beliefs about Motherhood                                        43

3.2.1. Child Bearing (Male)                                                                43

3.3.2 Ensure Peace and Order                                                            44

3.2.3 Valuing Children                                                                       45

3.2.4 Being a Prisoner                                                                         46

3.3       Survival of Women without Men                                          47

3.4       Conclusion                                                                              48



4.0       Introduction.                                                                           49

4.1       Discrimination against women in Purple Hibiscus                  49

4.1.1    Violence against women                                                         49 Wife Battering                                                                                    49 Wife Enslavery                                                                       51 Wife Desertion                                                                        52

4.1.2   Preference of male to female child                                          53

4.1.3    Maltreatment of women by men                                             55

4.1.4    Interference in families                                                           56

4.2       Child Upbringing                                                                    57

4.3       Effect of Parentage on Children                                             60

4.4       Effects of Discrimination on Women                                     62

4.5       Survival of women without men                                            63

4.6       Conclusion.                                                                             65



5.0       Introduction.                                                                           66

5.1       Summary.                                                                               66

5.2       Findings.                                                                                67

5.3       Conclusion                                                                             70

5.4       Recommendations                                                                  71

Bibliography                                                                           73



Throughout history women generally have had fewer legal rights and career opportunities than men, wifehood and womanhood were considered as women’s most significant professions, and they were long considered naturally weaker than men. Their rights and being were taken for granted. Silence became the virtue of women but with education, the silence was broken. Chambers 21st.century dictionary (2004, p. 327) says:

Culture is the custom, ideas, values etc of a particular civilization, society or social group, especially at a particular time, and the appreciation of art, music, literature etc. improvement and development through care and training.


Reuters .T. (2011, p.1) reports that; “Discrimination is to distinguish, single out, or make a distinction in everyday life, when faced with more than one option.” For the purpose of this research, the definition of women in chambers 21st century dictionary (2004, p.1631) will be used “women generally: the female sex.” Wikipedia (2010) assert that; “discrimination against women is the attitude and beliefs in relation to the female gender that they are less important, such beliefs and attitudes are of social nature and do not normally carry any legal consequences.”

With these definitions, we can therefore define culture and discrimination against women as the cultural practices against the female folks that support men. Discrimination against women has become customs passed from generations to generations. In African, many cultural practices are against women. Women are beaten by husbands and are always blamed for not been able to produce children. Even when it is not confirmed that they are responsible for the marital problems, they suffer for those problems. Married woman could be replaced at anytime by their husbands because culture supports that men could marry many women.

Female children are not always given the best upbringing; they are trained in the kitchen, instead of school. Male children are brought up well because they are known to be the people who will take their family from generations to generation. Therefore, with the use of Buchi Emecheta’s work, The Joys of Motherhood, many discriminatory acts against woman will be analyzed; to signify the cultural practices discriminating against women. Also, through the works of Chimamanda Adichie; Purple Hibiscus, discrimination against women will be identified. Cultural practices discriminating against women have been on for long and needs to stop.



The study intends to examine culture and discrimination against women, using two carefully selected novels as primary data, Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood and chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus. Using radical Feminism to show that women should be treated equally as men and that gender differences is no excuse for discrimination. This research work aim at bringing out how cultural practices affect women, the pain it brings and the survival of women.

1.2 JUSTIFICATION                                                        

Researchers over the year have worked on how to stop gender inequality, especially discrimination against women. However it is important we know that some cultural practices affect women.

This study is therefore embarked on to discuss the aspects of culture discriminating against women. Two aspects will be studied in this research the cultural aspect representing the old using The Joys of Motherhood and the religion aspect representing the modern period using Purple Hibiscus.

It is hoped that the proper analysis of this work will ginger writers to the awareness that much needs to be done on gender inequality in the society. This work will also contribute to the body of knowledge, and the society in general especially to the feminist and female folks.


The researcher finds it difficult to bring out so many cultural practices discriminating against women, as a result of limited time coupled with financial constrain available for the study.

As such this work will analyse culture and discrimination against women only in two selected novels. The research will also limit its scope on some materials from the library, internet and the two selected novels: Buchi Emecheta and Chimamanda The Joys of Motherhood and Purple Hibiscus respectively.



Women have for long been discriminated against, oppressed and not given equal rights in life and in literary works, also we cannot but obey the customs and traditions of our land, however some cultural practices affect women.

Thus, this study will investigate how some cultural practices discriminate against women, what women go through because of traditional beliefs and their survival.


This research work intends to carry out an investigation on culture and discrimination against women, through the proper analysis of the two carefully selected novels Buchi Emecheta and Chimamande Adichie: The Joys of Motherhood and Purple Hibiscus respectively. In analyzing these books radical feminism will be used. Sotunsa (2008, p.11) reports that:

Radical Feminism argues that, women’s oppression storms from being categorized as inferior to men on the basis of gender. Therefore radical Feminism aim to destroy the sex classed system.


The researcher uses radical Feminism to challenge male control. This work will present radical female protagonists, desperate to achieve their aim, not minding the consequences of their action. Through the female characters in the two selected novels, proper analysis of how cultural practices discriminate against women will be identified.



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