Realism and Determinism in the Works of Buchi Emecheta’s the Joys of Motherhood and Zaynab Alkali the Stillborn


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The study examined realism and determinism in the works of Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood and Zaynab Alkali The Stillborn. From findings, in the two selected novels, the study has shown that, there is persistent inequality between men and women in African society and Nigerian society. Precisely Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood and Alkali’s The Stillborn has portrayed the general reality and determination of women for self independence.

This study has further discovered that education of the female children is a rarity in Northern Nigeria; this has affected noticeably the quality of life that the female children experienced as seen in Alkali’s The Stillborn. Based on these issues, Alkali and Buchi therefore, use their literary work, to portray determinism and realism of female in fighting gender inequality among women in African society.

The study further reveals that education plays a major role in women’s emancipation and liberation in a patriarchal society.




Background to the Study

The concept of realism is a social theory and movement primarily concerned with facts or reality and the rejection of the impractical and visionary ideas. It gives a sense of belonging of self as worthy, effectual and contributing human beings knowing their existence. As a theoretical and ideological frame work, it directly opposes nominalism by supporting reality and facts.


Consequently, these forms the basic point of this study in Buchi Emecheta’s Joys of Motherhood and Zaynab Alkali The Stillborn.

Thus, Buchi Emecheta and Zaynab Alkali are strong writers who see realism and determinism in as a reaction to such stereotype of woman whereby women are seen as helpless, dependent, humiliated, discriminated, oppressed and voiceless in the society. For instance, these female writers have determined in advocating for women’s right in their works of art. It is in this light the critic like Sam Adewoye in his article entitled The Role of Women in Traditional Literature opined that:

African women are not given their due recognition because of obnoxious cultural practices. He further asserts that pre-literate women suffered the stroke of the tragedy as literate men and women… do not want to accord them their due recognition.


Based on Adewoye’s point of views, women have determined especially the female writers to contribute to their societies. On the other hand, realism is one of the major aims in feminist writers (34).


Furthermore, these feminist writers have over the years been writing about men discrimination against women and forcing them to do what they do not want to do because of their gender. For instance, female writers like Chimamanda Adichie, Zaynab Alkali, Buchi Emechita, Nawap El-Saadewi, Ifeoma Okeye and Zaynab Alkali write about the reality that is happening in the society of Africa.

No doubt, African female writers writes about the realities in African societies. For instance, in African culture, women have been subjected to oppression. Also, depression, suppression, rejection, and segregation and unfair and undue visitations. This therefore formed the background to which this study examine realism and determinism in the works of Buchi emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood and Zaynab Alkali The Stillborn.


  Statement of the Problem

African female writers seek to address the plight and cultural issues affecting the women in most African societies in their works. The advent of women into an exclusively male world was possible with an increasing sensitivity to inequalities of sexism. This issue forms the base of the African women writers.

This point forms the bedrock to the research problem. With a view to examining the realism and determinism in the writing of Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood and Zaynab Alkali The Stillborn.


Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this research work is to examine realism and determinism in the works of Buchi emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood and Zaynab Alkali The Stillborn.


1.4              Significance of the Study

This research work will be of significance to other feminist writers to write more novels that would reflects the reality. In other words, how some African societies still practice some obnoxious practices that affect the female folks in the society.

The study will also serve as a reference material to researchers. Who would wish to research more on reality and determinism particularly using the works of Emecheta and Zaynab Alkali. The study will also be of importance to students of English and literature. To understand better aspect of realism and determinism in the two novels under study.


1.5              Research Methodology

The primary method in this work will basically focus on Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood and Zaynab Alkali The Stillborn, while one secondary method will examine the novels from other feminist writers, article, internet and library for more information.


1.6              Scope and Limitation of the Study

The scope of this research work will be limited to Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood and Zaynab Alkali The Stillborn.


1.7              Objectives of the Study

                   The objectives of this research work are:

  1. To examine realism and determinism in the two novels in this research work
  2. To investigate the aim of Emecheta’s and Alkali’s writing The Joys of Motherhood and The Stillborn.
  3. To proffer solution to the issues affecting the women which these female writers writes in their novels.


1.8              Bio-Data of Buchi Emecheta

Buchi Emecheta was born on august 14, 1944 in Lagos State Nigeria. She was born to Jeremy Nwabuchike and Alice Okwelekwo. Emecheta’s father was a railway worker but he died when she was young. She attended Methodist Girls High School, Yaba Lagos. At the age of 19, she followed her husband to London, when he was a student.

Her writing career which she started got her husband Sylvester Onwordi Upset that he burns her first novels. She however choose her career over husband, thereby divorcing him after six years of marriage.


She has written many novels that focus on her life. Both books revolve around a young Nigeria woman named Adah and her search for a better quality of life. Other novels like The Slave Girl 1977, winner of the New Statesman Jock Campbell Award and The Joys of Motherhood 1979. An account of women’s experiences bringing up children in the face of changing values in traditional  Igbo society.

Her other novels include Destination Biafra 1982, set during the Civil War in Nigeria. The Rap of Shavi 1983, and allegorical account of European colonization in Africa. Gwendoben 1989, the story of young West Indian Girls living in London, and Kehinde 1994, about a middle-aged Nigerian wife and mother who returns to Nigeria after living in London for many years.


She is also the author of several novels for children including Nowhere to Novel 1980 and The Moonlight Bride 1980. She published a volume of autobiography, Head Above Water, in 1986. Her television novel, a kind of marriage, was first screened by the BBC in 1976.

In 1983, she was selected as one of the friendly Best of young British writers by the Book Marketing Council. She lectured in the United States throughout 1979 as visiting professor at a number of Universities and returned to Nigeria in 1980 as senior research follow and visiting professor of English at the University of Calabar. She runs the Ogwugwu Afor publishing Company with her son.


It has branches in London, where she lives and in Ibuza. Since 1979, she has been a member on the Home Secretary’s Advisory Council on Race. She was a member of the Arts Council from 1982 to 1983 and is a regular contributor to the New Statesman, like Times Literary supplement and the Guardian.


Bio-Data of Zaynab Alkali

Zaynab Alkali was born in 1950 in Borno State in the Northern part of Nigeria. She attended Queen’s College and later went for further Degree in English before talking up the post of Principal of Shakaka Girls College, Kano in 1976. She was also appointed a senior lecturer at Bayero University, Kano. Zaynab Alkali belongs to the group of African feminist writers that fervently decry the condition of African women.

Her published books are; The Stillborn 1984, The Virtuous Women 1986. The Descendent 2003 and other short stories collection Cowbells and other stories 1997. Her pre-occupation is the plight of women in a society where the only means of survival. Physical and emotional is to attain considerable level of education and economic independence.

Joselyn Nya

My Name is Joselyn Nya A Publisher in Project Boss Team. I'm a Nigerian I'm a graduate/Educational Researcher. Project Boss Team. We are the best for Project materials and project writing services. Email:

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