Rescuing the woman from the Achebean Periphery: The discourse of gender and power in Chinua Achebe’s Things fall apart and Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo’s The last of the strong ones

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Kalu Wosu
Jane Nnamdi


A great majority of African cultures are patriarchal, which is to say that the male members of such societies are responsible for the perpetuation of family/blood lines. Cultural practices such as succession rites, female genital mutilation, hereditary, widowhood rites, polygamy, kinship, etc., aggregate to marginalize African women, thus conferring absolute power on men. The perpetuation of the ruses of patriarchy is also enabled through writing. Since literature is ideologically determined, it is created by/through discourse; writing becomes an avenue through which male writers sustain the status quo. One author whose works have sustained patriarchal values among the Igbo is Chinua Achebe. In Things fall apart (1958), Achebe presents a coherent Igbo society whose internal dynamics revolve around an established hierarchical social structure which excludes the woman from the phallic games of power. Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo’s The Last of the Strong Ones (1996) subverts the patriarchal structures which undermine Igbo women. This paper discusses the cultural constructs which confer ultimate power on the men in Achebe’s Umuofia. Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo’s response to Achebe’s male chauvinism is realized through a counter discourse which seeks to reconstruct the battered image of the Igbo woman. Female Self-determination, re-appropriation of the female body, and breaking of silences are all discursive strategies adopted by Adimora-Ezeigbo in her attempt to rescue the woman from the Achebean margins. Textual analysis informs the methodology of this work, while relying on deconstruction and discourse analysis as theoretical frameworks.


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Wosu, K., & Nnamdi, J. (2019). Rescuing the woman from the Achebean Periphery: The discourse of gender and power in Chinua Achebe’s Things fall apart and Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo’s The last of the strong ones. Journal of Gender and Power, 12(2), 137-155.


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