The Effects of Double Colonization in The Joys of Motherhood

Della Grace Hethcox


My presentation titled “The Effects of Double Colonization in The Joys of Motherhood” will examine how Buchi Emecheta’s female characters suffer under the “double-colonization” created by traditional patriarchy and British colonization in Nigeria. My central research question is that in Joys, the female characters discover that they must each either work within these oppressive systems, or completely reject them and strike out on their own, forming a new identity outside of the traditional feminine gender role expected in Igbo culture. To support my argument, I apply the theories of Frantz Fanon and Kirsten Holst Petersen and their ideas regarding nationalism and feminism in a postcolonial context. Nigeria was a British colony until the 1960s, when Nigeria claimed its independence. Joys takes place prior to WWII, focusing on the interactions of women between colonial and traditional influences in Nigerian society. Emecheta’s main character Nnu Ego is a traditional Igbo woman who seeks fulfillment through motherhood and marriage. However, due to double-colonization, she is unable to find joy or succeed within these oppressive confines, despite fulfilling patriarchal expectations of womanhood and bearing her husband many children. Along with her junior wife, Adaku, the women struggle to find their identities in either traditional Nigerian society, or in British colonized Nigerian society. Additionally, these two forms of female oppression (patriarchal and cultural) are self-reinforcing because they seek to strip women of power and invest that power in men. Like colonialism, the patriarchy serves as a mode of oppression for women, restricting them to the sole identity of mother and wife, and further propagating the marginalization of women. In the application of postcolonial and feminist theories, Emecheta’s novel reveals that these theories share the same goal of resisting the double-colonization of Nigerian women, and encourages women to create new identities outside of the social norms.


Double Colonisation, Feminist Theory

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