The research paper deals with marital violence and its effects on the characters of the novel the joys of motherhood by buchi emecheta. The purpose of writing this research is to find out how marital violence has been inculcated in the lives of the Africans especially the women of Africa. We will take marital violence in general Africa and then references from the said novel. The aim of this paper is to study the key points of this concept of martial violence and its development throughout the ages. Domestic violence in Nigeria or the whole of Africa is studied in this paper. There is a deep cultural belief in Nigeria that it is socially acceptable to hit a woman to discipline a spouse. So, it’s kind of their tradition and is practiced by every single person in Africa. Women often face physical violence at the hands of their family members. The most common forms of physical violence include rape, murder, slapping, and kicking. Some of the reasons that were given for physical abuse include their husbands being drunk, financial issues, and the rejection of a partners sexual advances. Mostly this violence occurs when the wife is trying to be at an upper hand than the husband. For example, if she’s making more money, she’ll probably be making her husband feel like he’s inferior and thus, forcing him to do something to show her that even though she’s earning more than him, he’s still the stronger one.
This research paper deals with the themes of marital violence and its effetcs on the institute of marriage and society. Marital violence is also termed under domestic violence. It can be either abuse, violent behavior or rage by one person against another in a domestic setting such as home. It can be of religious, emotional, physical, sexual or verbal form. This violence has a deep psychological and social effect on both the women suffering and the institutes of the society. Marital violence can cause long term psychological issues not only to the women but also to their children and their home. this violence can lead to women leaving their home and going back to their Homeland. also, it can hurt the psyche of children who see their parents abusing each other. marital violence in African literature can be seen as an escape for the men to maintain their hegemony over his house old. Many a time women facing marital violence suffer in Silence because of few reasons these may be because of their children and thinking that they would lose contact with them another reason could be that they I have no way to go incase tell husband cakes them out the most common reason is that this year too much of what their parents and their people will think about them. Like in joy of motherhood play when Nnu Ego is of marrying age. She is first engaged of amatokwu, after few year when Nnu Ego not become pregnant , that why both relationship end because in African society the birth of children is more important as like money for them, because African people concept about children is that children will help them in future
In many African novel and also short story, the chief has concept of polygamy mean the chief have many wives as much he need like in play the joy of motherhood the play start that Agbadi had many wives but he also loves Ona. He was chief he choice to do sex he will be my, it means African man use women for their need only.
All the author gives image of African people because they are post-colonial. But in their mind and thought are not change thats why in joys of motherhood buchi shows marital violence. Different writer talks about these things because the effect of colonialism is present. The old concept in their mind was present. The treatment of husband with wife is old and shows marital violence. The most popular writer of African literature ben okri also discuss the impact of post colonialism. Ben try to change their old tradition by motivate peoples changing their old ideas which was present after colonialism. He change the concept of husband and wife to remove marital violence but there is no change this was present.
As buchi emecheta she tell about Nigeria women and men in his play the joy of motherhood in chapter 2 , the chapter she is telling about the mothers mother it mean that how people treat the women that agbada had many wives and he also love Ona like the concept of polygamy in African custom but Ona father dont want to give Ona to Agbadi because Ona take care his father it mean women are for their need only like agbadi and Ona father.
If we talk about Nnu ego and Nnaifes relationship well find that it was a marriage not free of abuse and violence. At first when Nnu ego arrived in Lagos she used to dislike Nnaife for his appearance, she thought he looked like a pregnant woman with his round belly. This attitude of Nnu ego was what drove Nnaife into feeling insecure and threatened by her dominant nature. Though he was used to washing womens underclothes, being submissive to s woman, but deep down like every eastern man he had a desire to be dominant and to dominate someone. So, he had to be dominant in his marriage to fulfill his need for power, thus, committing marital violence
Also, in nnaife and adakus relationship, when nnu ego and adaku ask nnaife for some extra money we see adaku screaming for help help! Help! hes going to kill meyou madman (emecheta, 135). This shows nnaifes abusive nature and his attitude towards his wives.
Recognizing the authors similarities and differences is important. As Chidi Amuta explains in The Theory of African Literature: Implications for Practical Criticism, the relationship between the world of literature and world of reality is not mimetic but mediated by the author (1989, 81). Amutas work will be discussed in more detail below, however, it is pertinent to consider his notion of the mediating subject (one of his categories for a dialectical theory of African literature) here. This states that the authors: mode of representing socio-historical experience is a function of objective factors such as facts of biography, class orientation, ideology and political alignment it mean subaltern cannot speak their own voice because in African people there are living in modern live but their mind there is concept of colonialism and their mind and their thinking is like orientation not like oxidation .
The black male, living in an urban setting, knows that by living in this modern city he must be in an equal status with his women but considering that he is an African traditional man by birth, he has a desire to show his dominance or strength to his women. This dominance gives way to a violent nature often projected in marital violence. Marital violence in this novel can be seen in Nnu Ego and Nnaifes relationship as well As Ona and Agbadis relationship.
Probably, the marital violence that nnu ego suffers is the portrayal of buchi emechetas relationship with her husband. As we know that she was also married at a young age and then migrated to England where she and her husband along with her five children suffered a broken marriage. She was also abused and beaten many a times by her husband. So, maybe this is her own story in the form of nnu ego which is why this abusive marriage feels like a heartfelt part of the novel.
If we talk about Ona and Agbadi, though they werent married, still Agbadi did force Ona into fulfilling his desire. As in the text the scene is described as Agbadi slid onto her like a snake, seems like he wanted to attack her when she was least prepared. Agbadi didnt care for her feelings, although she was crying, he just went on cradling her in his arms. Agbadis insensitive nature is the same as every other man in this patriarchal society of Ibuza, where women were objectified by men and were considered as hurdles or goals that they must achieve in order to be respectful in the society. The fact that Agbadi was a chief and was used to getting everything he wished for, they took as many wives as they desired, women were like the jewels in their crown. Ona was the one thing he couldnt attain; this drove him into forcing her so that he could show his strength in the world and also to Ona. Thus, proving that marital violence was considered a portrayal of manliness and dominance.
If we talk about Nnu ego and Nnaifes relationship well find that it was a marriage not free of abuse and violence. At first when Nnu ego arrived in Lagos she used to dislike Nnaife for his appearance, she thought he looked like a pregnant woman with his round belly. This attitude of Nnu ego was what drove Nnaife into feeling insecure and threatened by her dominant nature. Though he was used to washing womens underclothes, being submissive to s woman, but deep down like every eastern man he had a desire to be dominant and to dominate someone. So, he had to be dominant in his marriage to fulfill his need for power, thus, committing marital violence. This gave him a way of maintaining is masculine identity and let out his frustration, it also gave him respect in the traditional sense.
For instance, when Nnaife gets the job of a gardener he becomes the one earning for the family and gains the status of the upper hand. This status gives him his much-needed fearful character in the eyes of his wife, Nnu ego would now fear her and he could abuse her as he wants to now that hes earning. This violence isnt in his culture but is due to the gender roles specified by the colonizers. Still, Nnaife uses his culture as an excuse for his animalistic abusive nature. Nnaife, in his rage also attacks Adaku when shes pregnant, not even caring for the baby shes carrying. Nnu ego however stands up for Adaku in this instant and tells Nnaife to leave Adaku alone.
In another instant Nnaife attacks both Nnu ego and Adaku sexually and they unlike the traditional women who bear in silence, they cry out for help.
This violence is not just marital but we see nnaife as an abusive person in many other instances. For example, when kehinde marries a man out of the tribe nnaife attempts to murder the man and his daughter just because she refused to marry the person nnaife wanted her to marry. Also, when oshia refuses to support his family nnaife becomes quite violent and shouts and curses him in his rage. This suggests that he was maybe suffering from some disorder of some kind or maybe he had an anger issue.
In Another instant when nnu ego gets married to nnaife and on the first day she doesnt even know him or the fact that shes going to stay with him or not, considering the fact that she wasnt expecting such a man. But still nnaife forces her into bed without her consent, so, thats kind of like marital rape. But neither nnu ego nor their tradition considers it something odd or ruthless, it’s basically their tradition that gives men the permission to treat women however they like since their bride price has been paid.
This marital violence is resisted by women in the traditional as well as urban settings. In the traditional setting, as nnu ego is beaten by amatokwu but as soon as her father knows of this, he takes his daughter with him saying that dont blame you for beating her so badly but let me take her to my house (1979, 35) and the marriage is over. Because amatokwu has proved his sexual ability by making his second wife a mother means he can beat nnu ego if he wants. This means that the tradition does protect women from this type of violence as they have the option of returning back to their home. On the contrary, in the urban setting women dont have this choice as they live far away from their homeland as nnu ego does. But women do have other options in these cases. As when nnaife doesnt have a job and nnu ego and adaku stand up to nnaife, he starts screaming at them both and even uses physical violence as a weapon to maintain his authority. At that moment they both refuse to cook for the husband and also to perform any household duties. This is the only way urban women can show their resistance to their husbands.
Such practices such as wife beating are considered by the people as mandatory to maintain the balance of power in the institute of marriage. The Africans think that if they beat their wives, theyll be able to keep their family intact and their wives in their fear. Also, there are several rules for wife beating, not all husbands are allowed to do that. Only those are allowed who can prove their strength in some way, be it sexual, masculine or any other. As nnaife only thought he could beat nnu ego after he started earning a handsome pay.
In another instant, we see that while nnaife lost his job and he and nnu ego are fighting about nnaife not looking for a job, as soon as nnu ego tells him to go look for a job, first he calls her a mad woman and then bangs his guitar against her head. Also, he exclaims if I stay here with this mad woman, I will kill her (emecheta, 91). Also, in nnaife and adakus relationship, when nnu ego and adaku ask nnaife for some extra money we see adaku screaming for help help! Help!, hes going to kill meyou madman (emecheta, 135). This shows nnaifes abusive nature and his attitude towards his wives.
She couldnt return to her fathers home since she thought what would her people think if she were to complain of her husbands ill-treatment. Men were entitled of beating and even raping them but this was of course inculcated in their culture. Then at the end of the novel when nnu ego asks nnaife whether her food is so bad that he doesnt eat it, he tells her that he curses the day nnu ego stepped into his life, damn you and your food nnu ego he repeats I wish I had never met you. now that nnu ego has sacrificed twenty-five years of her life and given birth to tons of children, nnaife thinks of her as a burden. Conclusion
As we see over all the play the joys of motherhood man controlled society in which Nnu Ego lived has traditional the standard for women values and women were behave like women has no identity of her own as far as the status , female are know or identity by the man without man women dont have values and also that female status become bad and people dont give value to that women like in play when Nnaife went to war than his wife Nnu Ego become helpless and it that after looking the condition than she choice wrong way to get money. Through the journey of Nnu Ego , the author Buchi Emecheta show that impact of the custom is very highly accountable of Igbo women status because it has on one hand, resolute the limitations between gender and one the other hand, women are really considered the second sex, essentially created for serving men, and in The road there is not female character at all. Like colonization has worn the Igbo custom which made Nnu Ego life a journey of boundless fights.
However, in the Joy of motherhood play the women character are less women in Nigerian custom because women are empty without husband and also women which have no children in society is like women are not married because for the children and also for enjoyment like Nnaife had another wife adankwo she had no children but had money that why Nnaife give important to andakwo.
Moreover , there are many marital violence in The Joy of motherhood because African people are living in city but also adopt the modern way but in mind of African people are like they behave badly with women that why they will not be able to build a better future for the upcoming generation because the Nigerian people mind are under the colonialism.