Theme of Matrimony in African female writing in Ama Ata Aidoo’s the Delimma of a Ghost and Efua Sutherland’s the Marriage of Anansewa

Theme of Matrimony in African female writing in Ama Ata Aidoo’s the Delimma of a Ghost and Efua Sutherland’s the Marriage of Anansewa

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Based on the synopses and themes of the two plays, the first cultural issue that is raised in both of them is marriage in Akan traditional society. Marriage as an aspect of culture has been defined by Nukunya as: Any union in which the couple has gone through all procedures recognized in the society for the purposes of sexual intercourse, raising of a family, or companionship. To be legal, marriage must pass through the laid-down customary stages for the society.

Marriage is an important aspect of the way of life of Africans. Therefore, marriage is a duty. A requirement from the corporate society and a rhythm of life in which everyone must participate. Otherwise, he who does not participate in it is not only abnormal but under-human. The preceding quotation explains why Badua is worried about Anowa not getting married six years after her puberty rites.

This study has discussed the theme of marriage and how Emecheta. Uses it to develop the heroines in the selected novels. That is, the heroines move from a state of powerlessness and subjection to a state of self-awareness and maturity where they are able to take decisions for themselves, to break away from all forms of oppression (patriarchy inclusive) and to assert their individuality.





Background to the study

One of the global focuses in recent times is the effort to emancipate women from maltreatment by the society. Discrimination and bias against women have been in the human society since early times as reflected in the teachings of the influential philosophers such as Aristotle and St. Aquinas. This attitude towards women is reflected in many societies worldwide.


Women have therefore been seeking for a change of societal attitude towards them. They seek for an acceptance of the fact that women and men have equal potential for individual development. One movement behind women’s struggles is feminism.


On the other hand, since primordial times. The women have always been oppressed, victimized and dominated by men and the obnoxious cultural practices that sees them as second class citizens. To prove the above assertion, Female writers like Ruth and Dunker quoted Aristotle who sees the Women as so low that…he referred to them as a “misbegotten male” because they are “weak and cold in nature, in spirit and in soul” (98).

From the foregoing, it clear that Ama Ata and Efua Sutherland’s writings are related to the above mentioned issues affecting the female folks like in the society which consequently concerned  the researcher to examine the theme of matrimony in the two selected plays study in this research.


The presentation of women in the African novel has been left almost entirely too male voices. The likes of Achebe, Amadi, Ngugi, Ousmane, Laye, Beti, Armah and Soyinka who were the early writers to arrive on the scene. These male novelists, who have presented the African woman largely within the traditional milieu, have generally communicated a picture of a male-dominated and male-oriented society.


Among these female writers whose works helped to transform the presence of African women writers in literature include. Buchi Emecheta, Mariama Ba, Chimamanda Adichie, Ama Ata Aidoo and the rest of other female writers have also portrayed in their literary fictions on the experiences of African women in their Societies, countries and African in general.


According to them, African Women in general have suffered severe conditions. Such as growing and harvesting crops on farmlands during pregnancy, as well as fetching water and logs of wood with children strapped to their backs during nursing with little or no help from their husbands or guardians.


It is on this backdrop  critic like Kumah. Puts it, in many instances African women writers are marginalized by their male counterparts and their works. Either remain unacknowledged or tokenized by literary critics. In order to detect the origins of gender inequalities in the African artistic landscape.

Moreover, it is relevant to address the imbalances in the portrayal of female persona.  For example, Chinua Achebe, one of the celebrated novelists, presents his early women as victims of a society regulated by cultural norms and traditional values in his play, Things Fall Apart. The above mentioned issues form the background to this study.


The Theme of Matrimony in African female writing in Ama Ata Aidoo’s the Delimma of a Ghost and Efua Sutherland’s the Marriage of Anansewa


Theme of Matrimony in African female writing in Ama Ata Aidoo’s the Delimma of a Ghost and Efua Sutherland’s the Marriage of Anansewa

1.2   Statement of the problem


This study proposes the fact that, African women writers do not write in a vacuum. They write against issues concerning their fellow women in their matrimonial homes like; patriarchal domination, sexual abuses, oppression, subjugation, and abusive words by their husbands  and other  obnoxious cultural practices.


In the same vein, their works also portrayed problems like, oppression, discrimination, affliction by mother-in-laws, sister-in-laws and co-wives.

However, by speaking for other African women. These  Ghanaian writers uses their literary works as a gate way of portraying what their fellow women are passing through…  and to find ways of eradicating the above mentioned issues under investigation and for the betterment of both sexes in the society.


Purpose of the study

The purpose of this work is to examine the theme of matrimony in African female writing in Ama Ata Aidoo’s The Delimma of a Ghost and Efua  Sutherland’s The Marriage  of Anansewa.


Significance of the study

This research will be of immense significant to men and women in African society on issue concerning marriage. The study will also be of Important as a means of eradicating issues affecting some marital homes in Africa. As well as how some women passes through cultural affliction, oppression from mother in-laws.


Objectives of the study


The objectives of the study are:

  1. To analyze the theme of matrimony in the two novels under investigation
  2. To portray the patriarchal domination and oppression faced by African women in their matrimonial homes.
  3. To proffer solution and it consequences of patriarchal domination by women in their marital homes.


Scope and Delimitation of the study

The scope of the study will be delimited to Ama  Aidoo’s The Dilemma  of a Ghost and Efua  Sutherland’s The Marriage of  Anansewa.


Research Methodology


In this study, Ama Aidoo’s The Delimma of a Ghost and Efua Sutherland’s The Marriage of Anansewa. Will be used as the primary sources of the research. While the secondary sources look at library sources, internet and materials from other literature novels.


Theme of Matrimony in African female writing in Ama Ata Aidoo’s the Delimma of a Ghost and Efua Sutherland’s the Marriage of Anansewa

Bio-Data of Ata Ama Aidoo


Ama Ata Aidoo was born in Saltpond in Ghana’s Central Region, Ghana. She grew up in a Fante royal household, the daughter of Nana Yaw Fama, chief of Abeadzi Kyiakor, and Maame Abasema since her father was a king it automatically makes her a princess.


Ama Ata Aidoo was a Ghanaian playwright and former Education Minister of Ghana. She has portrayed the role of African women in contemporary society. Also, she served as a research fellow at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, and as a Lecturer in English at the University of Cape Coast. Eventually rising there to the position of Professor.


Furthermore, she resigned after 18 months. Realizing that she would be unable to achieve her aim of making education in Ghana freely accessible to all. Morever, she has also spent a great deal of time teaching and living abroad for months at a time. She has lived in the United States, Britain, Germany, and Zimbabwe. In London in 1986 she delivered the Walter Rodney Visions of Africa lecture. Organised by the support group for Bogle-L’Ouverture publishing house.


Aidoo taught various English courses at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York , in the early to mid-1990s. She is currently a Visiting Professor in the Africana Studies Department at Brown University. She wrote the following novels: The Dilemma of a Ghost 1965 Anowa (1970). Our Sister Killjoy (1977), Someone Talking (1986)The Eagle and the Chickens (1986). An Angry Letter in January (1992),Changes a Love Story (1993). No Sweetness Here (1995)and The Girl Who Can and Other Stories, (1997).


Bio-Data of Efua Sutherland

Efua Sutherland was born Efua Theodora Morgue in Cape Coast, Gold Coast (now Ghana). Where she studied teaching at St. Monica’s Training College in Mampong. She then went to England to continue her education at Homerton College, Cambridge University one of the first African women to study the University and also at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. Returning to Ghana in 1951, she taught first at Fijai Secondary School at Sekondi, then at St.


Monica’s School from 1951–1954 and also began writing for children. In 1954 she married Bill Sutherland, an African American and Pan-Africanist who in 1953 had moved to Ghana. They had three children: Esi Sutherland-Addy, Ralph Sutherland, and  Amowi Sutherland Phillips. Therefore, she helped her husband in the establishment of a school in the Transvolta area.


She was a Ghanaian playwright, director, dramatist, children’s author, poet, educationalist, researcher, child advocate, and cultural activist. Her works include Foriwa (1962), Edufa (1967), and The Marriage of Anansewa (1975). She was the founder of the Ghana Drama Studio, the Ghana Society of Writers, the Ghana Experimental Theatre, and a community project called the Kodzidan (Story House).


As the earliest Ghanaian playwright-director she was an influential figure in the development of modern Ghanaian theatre, and helped to introduce the study of African performance traditions at the university level. She was also a pioneering publisher, establishing the company Afram Publications in the 1970s.


She was a cultural advocate for children from the early 1950s until her death. Also, she played a role in developing educational curricula, literature, theatre and film for and about Ghanaian children. Efua Sutherland died in Accra at the aged of 71 in 1996.

Joselyn Nya

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