The Demonization of Woman in Femi Osofisan’s Women of Owu

Ndubuisi NNANNA


Critical opinions on Femi Osofisan’s Women of Owu are largely stereotypical. They lament the plunder of Owu and compare it to that of Troy, drawing some parallels between Euripides’ The Trojan Women and Osofisan’s adaptation of it. There is a clear effort to assume some kind of historical and cultural affinity between the women of ancient Owu and Troy. But most of these assumptions are apparently contrived. It seems that there has been no attempt to consider Osofisan’s play in its own right. This study is an endeavor in that direction. It adopts the Reader-Response approach as a methodology to conduct a phenomenological analysis of Osofisan’s Women of Owu in order to discover the extent to which it truly reflects the picture of the Owu war of the 17th century and portrays the cultural identity of the women of Owu.  It also compares Euripides’ play with Osofisan’s version in the context of their individual historical backgrounds to examine how each play captures the realities of its specific cultural milieu. The conclusion of this paper is that in an attempt to find parallels to the source of his play, Osofisan has inadvertently extrapolated the cultural essence of a society that had little regard for women into the cultural history of an African community, where women had a lot of respect, and in the process, has demonized womanhood and given impetus to some flawed assumptions and misinterpretations of history. The recommendation of this paper is, therefore, that African dramatists should be conscious of the peculiarities of cultures and the danger in attempting to find contrived affinities between African and Western cultures in an effort to lend some kind of credibility to their creative endeavors.


Demonization; Womanhood; Owu; Troy; Adaptation; African Drama; Cultural History

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