RESISTANCE IN J.C. DE GRAFT’S SONS AND DAUGHTERS AND STELLA DIA OYEDEPO’S THE REBELLION OF THE BUMPY CHESTED. Abstract This study examines the depiction of resistance in J.C. De Graft’s Sons and Daughters and Stella Dia Oyedepo’s The Rebellion of the Bumpy Chested. This study limits its scope to Graft’s Sons and Daughters and Oyedopo’s The Rebellion of the Bumpy Chested and these texts are selected because they capture the portrayal of domestic and societal rebellion very well. The method of analysis adopted in this essay is the qualitative interpretation of text that is, it is text based. The two primary texts are analyzed based on the researcher’s knowledge and secondary material sourced from academic journals, text books, and the internet. In the course of the study, it is discovered that; revolt in J.C De Graft’s Sons and Daughters and Stella Dia Oyedepo’s The Rebellion of the Bumpy-Chested reflect dissatisfaction of characters with parental control and patriarchy at the domestic and societal level. In sum, this study argues that people kick against all forms of restriction that stand in the ways of their personal happiness. The characters presented quest against the injustice they perceive in society. TABLE OF CONTENTS CHAPTER ONE Introduction - - - - - -- 1.1Scope of Study- - - - - - - Purpose of Study- - - - - - - Methodology- - - - - - - - - 1.4 Theoretical Background - - - - - 1.5 Review of Related Scholarship and Justification of Study - - 1.6 Thesis Statement - - - - - CHAPTER TWO DOMESTIC/SOCIAL REVOLT IN J.C. DE GRAFT’S SONS AND DAUGHTERS 2.1 Rejection of Parental Choice of Career 2.2 Revolt against External Influences in Sons and Daughters CHAPTER THREE DOMESTIC/SOCIAL REVOLT IN STELLA DIA OYEDOPO’S THE REBELLION OF THE BUMPY CHESTED 3.1 Confrontation of Patriarchal Control 3.2 Quest Against Economic Limitation 3.3 Opposition against In-law’s Interference CHAPTER FOUR 4.1 Conclusion- - - - 4.2 Works Cited - - - - - CHAPTER ONE 1.0 Introduction 1.1 Purpose of study The purpose of this, study is to examine the portrayal of resistance in J.C. De Graft’s Sons and Daughters and Stella Dia Oyedepo’s The Rebellion of the Bumpy chested. 1.2 Scope of study This study is limited to Graft’s Sons and Daughters and Oyedopo’s The Rebellion of the Bumpy Chested. These texts are chosen for this study because they capture the notion of domestic and societal rebellion very well. 1.3 Methodology This study uses qualitative interpretation of text that is, it is text based. The primary texts are analyzed based on the researcher’s knowledge and secondary material sourced from academic journals, text books, and the internet. 1.4 Theoretical background Rebellion This essays adopts the concepts of rebellion in an effort to enrich of this study’s review of literature. Aya Mohammmed Kassasbeh defines Rebellion as: a social phenomenon that has been known since ancient times which often leads to changes in the political and social structures. It can be defined as a sudden and substantive change or a material change to any predominant system. The concept of rebellion varies from one person to another. (1) Kassasbeh’s definition of rebellion is apt in that it embraces all the scope of rebellion and highlights on the primary goals of rebellion which are to express dissatisfaction and effect necessary change. Kassasbeh states again that, “rebellion has been associated with literature because literature is the only outlet to express what is going on inside human beings. In any literary work, there is a very great ability in providing the reader with feelings and sentiments that help him/her to come to terms with a period full of social and intellectual contradiction and challenge” (1-2). Much as the researcher agrees that literature is one of the modes of expressing dissatisfactions, the researcher disagree with kassasbeh that “literature is the only outlet to express what is going on inside human beings. ” There are other outlets like guerrilla warfare, street protest and the deployment of satirical music. Literature only enables writers to freely express their annoyance in different ways that suit their taste, that is, by a way of direct or indirect satire or allegory. Rebellion is a stiff resistance of authoritative domination or suppression of people’s rights. People with radical minds hate whatever can hinder their freedom and happiness. In most cases, rebellion leads to a forcible overthrow of a social or political order. Literature is one of the modes of seeking freedom and people across the world have often engaged it in their quest for emancipation. This is the very reason we have protest or revolutionary literature. Drama is a foremost genre of literature which has been at the forefront of struggles to liberate individuals and society from domination and suppression. Chidi Amuta write that: the rise of revolutionary drama in a given society requires the existence of social, economic and political situations requiring revolutionary intervention. But more than the other forms and perhaps only to poetry, drama is very amenable to revolutionary expression and can become very instrumental to revolutionary situations for reasons that are intrinsic to the nature of both drama and revolution. (155-156) In agreement with the above assertion, literature gives room to activists to express their dissatisfactions therefore it is highly instrumental in the quest for emancipation. This assertion finds a place in Oyedepo’s The Rebellion of the Bumpy-Chested and Graft’s Sons and Daughters. The two revolutionary plays seek freedom for oppressed children and wives. The aggrieved wives fight their husbands to a standstill and the non-conformist children dare their parents. Rebellion against a domineering authority often leads to revolution either on a small or large scale. Amuta defines revolution as, “a collective activist phenomenon with far reaching implications for social political and cultural lives of society” (156). As noticed in the plays under this study, the homes of the characters experience different degrees of crises which take away their happiness and unity. Rebellion, revolt, resistance and insurgency share similar ideology which is to effect change in a given society where there are restrictions and suppression of human rights. I . S. Ogundiya writes that: An insurgency is an armed rebellion against a constituted authority (for example, an authority recognized as such by the United Nations) when those taking part in the rebellion are not recognized as belligerents. While the goals of the rebels, and insurgents and terrorist may be similar, perhaps the distinguished features are: the nature and intensity of the agitation, method and strategy of pursuing the grievances. (26) The activities of women under Captain Sharp in The Rebellion of the Bumpy chested portray them as insurgents who fight to have their rights as wives protested from the grip of patriarchy. Patriarchy is an aged long institution which has played a key role in the stratification of society. For example, men are often considered heads therefore patriarchy puts them first when decisions are to be taken. In homes, offices, religions gatherings and in the political terrains, men seem to dominate their female counterparts. Radical wives with reckless id however fight to undo the influence of patriarchy. Rebellion always arises where one generation stands to resist the influence of the other. Prior to the composition of The Rebellion of the Bumpy chested and Sons and Daughters, wives and children have obeyed patriarchal authority with less resistance. In the 20th century, resistance of the old order gains ground thus wives revolt against husbands and children kick against their parents. Transition from one generation to the other is hardly taken or tolerated without confrontation. Sonika Sethi argues that, “transition is never an easy process and Adichie has aptly demonstrated the fact through her characters belonging to three generations” (Web). Like Graft and Oyedepo, Adichie presents a wife and children who fight against patriarchal and all forms of suppression. The revolutionary actions of characters in the plays under study shows that new generation lays the old aside in order to fashion out a new order that will suit modern life. Sons and Daughters and The Rebellion of the Bumpy Chested are classic examples of literature of revolt. kassasbeh writes that: Literature of revolt was known in many civilizations and cultures, such as the French, German, British, American and even Arab. This type of literature does not appear vainly, but it appears for several reasons among these reasons is the existence of social and political contradiction between the dictates of the authority and the aspirations and dreams of people. (2) Literature of revolt seeks to overthrow an old order with the view to establishing new ones. The temperament of individuals is controlled by the interrelationship between the id, ego and superego. Rebellion or revolt is inevitable if the id dominates the influence of the ego and superego which ensure that everybody maintains moderation and orderliness. This study employs Sigmund Freud’s Psychological criticism to understand how the human mind (Psyche) provokes reactions towards oppression persecution and undue limitation human rights and freedom. Commenting on the psychological criticism, M.H. Abrams writes that it is a literary theory which “deals with a work of literature primary as an expression in an indirect and fictional form of the state of mind and the structure of personality of the individual author” (289). Writers compose their works from the recess, that is, inner part of their minds. The contents of their minds are expressed through characters who they craft to pass their messages across to readers or audience. Abrams asserts that: also present in the unconscious of every individual, according to Freud, are residual traced of prior stages of psychosexual development from earlier infancy on ward, which have been out grown, but remain as “fixations” in the unconscious of the adult. When triggered by some later event in adult life, a repressed wish is revived and motivates a fantasy, in disguised form of a satisfaction that is modeled on the way that the wish had been gratified in infancy or early childhood, the chief enterprise of the psychoanalytic critic, in a way that parallels the enterprises of the psychoanalyst as a therapist, is to decipher the true content, and thereby to explain the emotional effects on the reader, of a literary work by translating its manifest elements into the latent, unconscious determinants that constitute their real but repressed meaning. (291) The mind is the seat of man’s reasoning which produces physical actions that are displayed in individuals conducts. The mind is the faculty of man’s reasoning and thoughts. This psychological study of characters in Draft’s Son and Daughters and Oyedepo’s The Rebellion of the Bumpy Chested explores how their actions reveal the contents of their minds. Humans react differently to situations that confront them and this is based on the components of individual’s mind. Charles E. Bressler writes that “Freud developed various models of human psyche, which became the changing bases of his psychoanalytic theory and his practice. Early in his career, he posited the dynamic model, asserting that our minds are a dichotomy consisting of the conscious (the rational) and the unconscious (the irrational)” (121). The unconscious part of the human mind takes note of happening in the physical world and registers such happenings. As stated above, the unconscious part of our mind prompts humans to take actions about happenings that affect them negatively. That is why it is called the “irrational” part of the human psyche. Bressler observes that “Freud is the first to suggest that it is the unconscious, not the conscious, that governs a large part of our actions” (121). If this assertion is applied to the characters in Oyedepo’s The Rebellion of the Bumpy chested and Graft‘s Sons and Daughters, it will be revealed that the irrational part of their minds is fully awake. They resist what their psyche (the unconscious) perceives as injustice, oppression and inhibition. The actions of the female characters in The Rebellion of the Bumpy chested goes beyond the tenets of feminism. Feminism encourages all oppressed women to stand up against whatever is responsible for their suppression but it is noticed that some women ignore this clarion call while others fervently quest for their freedom. They fight very hard to undo the burden patriarchy places on them. The difference between the first and second set of women lies in their minds’ psychological makeup. This is well elaborated in Freud’s tripartite model. Bressler whose study is based on this model writes that the “model divides the psyche into three parts; the id, the ego and the superego” (123). These three psychological components govern human beings’ actions and inactions. Simply put, they act inter independently and influence or control the actions. Ann B Dobie commenting on the id writes that: the Id, which is the repository of the libido, the source of our psychic energy and our psychosexual desires, gives us our vitality. Because it is always trying to satisfy its hunger for pleasure, it operates without any thought of consequences, anxiety, ethic, logic, precaution, or morality. Demanding swift satisfaction and fulfillment of biological desires, it is lawless, asocial, amoral. As Freud describes it, it is “only a striving to bring about the satisfaction of the instinctual needs subject to the observance of the pleasure principle. (51) This part of the mind is highly irrational because it does not think twice before it propels humans to spring into action. It is aggressive thus it explains why a wife or a child may go against societal ethic or belief. Bressler supports Dobbie’s assertion about the id when he says that “containing our secret desire, our darkest wishes, and our most intense fear, the id wishes only to fulfill the urge of the pleasure principle and “unchecked by any controlling will, the id operates on impulse, wanting immediate satisfaction for all its instinctual desires” (123). Characters created by authors are given life which enables them to act as real humans. Most of the characters in the primary texts for this study have “secret desires” and “dark wishes” which manifest in their aggressive actions. Some of the wives kick against patriarchal norms to assert their individual rights and some of the children obstinately refute their parents’ high handedness. In other words, the act of resistance springs from the irrational part of the minds which the id stands for. Dobbie says that, “obviously the id can be a socially destructive force. Unrestrained, it will aggressively seek to gratify its desire without any concern for law, customs, or values. It can even be self-destructive in its drive to have what it wants” (51). This claim is valid because some of the characters studied in this essay do not care if they lose their marriage. The children examined also go against their parents’ control to assert their freedom of will. What all these characters crave for is the satisfaction of their own desires which is guided by their id. The ego is another part of the mind which acts to put the id under control. Bressler states that: the second part of the psyche Freud names the ego, the rational logical, waking part of the mind, although many of its activities remain in the unconscious. Whereas the id operates according to the pleasure principle, the ego operates in harmony with the reality principle. It is the ego’s job to regulate the intitule desires of the id and to allow these desires to be released in some non-destructive way. (123) Human minds under the control of the id is reckless despite societal regulations. There are non-conformists who act in contrast to societal values and laws. The ego, however, restrains their id such that most of its destructive actions are checked to avoid chaos in society. Societies have norms, rules and regulations governing the lives and conducts of people. For instance, most African societies favour patriarchy. It is, however, noticed that sometimes some people go against norms put in place to guide conducts in such societies Each human is endowed with psychological trait which is responsible for his or her actions taken in the face of any difficulty. Edward H. Strauch says, “that man is born with certain patterns of perceiving, feeling and thinking which individual experiences actualize” (99). Society expects individuals to conform to its norms but individuals with unrestrained id do things in their own way. Some of the wives in The Rebellion of the Bumpy Chested fit into this category and some children in Sons and Daughters show that they have “certain patterns of perceiving” life different from their parents. There is a close relationship between the id and ego in relation to how man relates to his society. Strauch notes this when he says that the ego resembles what Carl Jung calls “persona.” According to strauch, “Jung also singles out the persona, which is a mask the individual wears in response to social convention and ethnic tradition. In contrast to one’s private individuality, the persona is the public personality and this persona grows out of the dominant archetype in one’s nature” (99). The ego in the mind of every one censors the actions of the id so as to prevent acts that are capable of sniffling life out of the smooth conduct of society. Some children as well as some wives in the plays used for this study do not rebel against their parents and husbands. Their reactions towards what they face show that their ego has strong domination over their id. It can be inferred that the ego makes people conservative and tolerant. In other words, a wife who is submissive and a child who has regards for his or her parent’s wishes have ego which enable them to tolerate others. They do not have aggressive mind set, that is, id which encourages rebellion. The superego is the third part of the tripartite model and it reinforces the activity of the ego which is to regulate the possible recklessness of the id. Dobie states that the superego: provides additional balance to the id, for it furnishes a sense of guilt for behavior that breaks the rules given by parents to the young child. Similar to what is commonly known as one’s conscience, it operates according to the morality principle, for it provides the sense of moral and ethical wrongdoing. Although parents, who enforce their values through punishments and rewards are the chief source of the superego, it is expanded by institutions and other influences later in life. (51-52) Dobie’s assertion really touches the core of this study. She mentions parent-children relationship which is pertinent to Graft’s Sons and Daughters. Parents are the first contact children have before they mix up with people and institutions in the larger society. They help children bring out their superego to the fore. M. H. Abrams writes that the superego is responsible for “the internalization of social standards of morality and propriety” (290). The superego creates a balance between individuals and society so as to ensure harmony. That is why parents tend to groom children to meet societal standards. Society for example expects every child to be law abiding otherwise upbringing given by parents will be blamed. The psychological criticism is applied in this study to help the researcher understand why some children are rebellious and others are cool headed thus they obey their parents’ wishes. This is also applicable to wives who also confront their husbands’ patriarchal power. This study explores the parts of characters’ minds which propel them to take actions at every given time. Their id has been identified as responsible for the processing and governing of their feelings and emotion resulting in attitudes and actions display at every given time. Put in another way, the mind is responsible for the daring quest of radical feminists like some wives depicted in Oyedepo’s The Rebellion of the Bumpy Chested. Moreover, it is responsible for the juvenile delinquency of some of the children presented in Graft’s Sons and Daughters. Leaning on Freud’s tripartite model which comprises of the id, ego and superego, this study examines how the mind informs some of these characters’ resistance as depicted in the primary texts. 1.5 Review of Scholarship Oyedepo’s The Rebellion of the Bumpy Chested has attracted comments from different critics. One of them is Iyabode Omolara Daniel. She examines the play from a linguistic point of view. She states: Oyedepo succeeds in presenting a larger than life portrait of captain sharp. She also suggests that women can effectively organize themselves politically; the characters completely destabilize the status quo. Captain Ara sharp’s tactics of achieving her political goal are presented as questionable. In relation to the male characters the characters become empowered, both psychologically and physically; but in relation to their leader, this reality does not hold: they remain powerless. Captain sharp succeeded in excerting influence and power through language but achieves the state of affairs that she fought against; women without power. (99) Language is a powerful tool in which people shape and re-shape their world. Oyedepo is of the opinion that language is vital in negotiating equality with men, hence, she portrays Captain Sharp as eloquent. As noted by Daniel, the play emphasizes the power of language in the quest for emancipation. Captain Sharp becomes fierce and she encourages her comrades to follow suit. This results in a violent confrontation. Some critics of radical feminism however condemns the use of force either verbal or non-verbal. In his own assertion, John Yeseibo says that: the play addresses key gender issues such as bride wealth and basically challenge institutionalized male monopoly of leadership in political sheres and the need to reverse this trend. As an African feminist guided by its basic tenets, Stella Oyedepo believes that the liberation of me is a necessary condition in redressing the marginalization of women. She is of the unswerving view that rabid radical feminism in the Nigerian cultural context will not be able to ameliorate the denigrating status of women in society. This view she has demonstrated in The Rebellion of the Bumpy Chested. She therefore advances complementarity as the panacea for socio-political – economic transformation through the world of play. (4) Yeseibo strongly condemns Captain Sharp’s approach to women liberation because it is alien to African culture. He believes that radical feminism is not the right approach to women’s emancipation because it creates chaos and destabilization in society. Women in the play quest for liberation that will guarantee them equal right with men. To achieve this, Yeseibo notices that, “Sharp undertakes an indoctrination of the other female rebels in the play who effect the ideology of revolt in their homes” (2). Rather than making women responsible, radical feminism transforms them into revolutionaries. This is true and valid when viewed from African perspective. There will be no peace in any family where the husband and wife engage in daily confrontation. Society has many male oriented institutions which raise men’s ego. In another article, Yeseibo identifies patriarchy as the source of women’s suppression and limitation. He states that, “Clem and James tried to reduce a woman to a mere property. It is because of these perceived difference towards women that, according to sharp, the B.C.M “aims at the emancipation of women form the oppressive domination of the men” (p.73). she therefore vows to attack this patriarchal order that creates gender imbalance between the sexes” (142) for a long time, human societies have evolved and revolved but the idea that men is superior to women seems to wax stronger daily. Men project patriarchal ideology thus they are the target of women who aim to dismantle all forms of restriction which men symbolize. Osita C .Ezen Wanebe states: Stella Oyedepo’s The Rebellion of the Bumpy-chested (2002) is a farcial representation of all that radical feminism stand for. Ms. Ara Sharp, who chooses to remain single, gather women in a sisterhood spirit and forms a women liberation movement, Bumpy Chested Movement (BCM), aimed at the emancipation of women from the oppressive domination of men. The first enemy mapped out for attack and overthrow is the man, especially the husband of the members. (186) While some of the BCM members have husbands, Ara Sharp the captain of the group does not have any. She considers herself too supreme for any man to possess as mere property. Some who agree to marry do not allow their husbands to exhibit any form of patriarchy. This creates tension in most of their homes. Ostia does not support this because marriage is not a bed of roses however it should not be a thorn in the flesh of couples. Those who fight for supremacy must put the interest of their marriage above individual interest. African especially the women are peaceful and submissive hence most African women opt for conservative feminism. On the other hand, some women drum support for radical feminism. The African conservative feminists and radical feminists cause division in the concept of feminism as practice in Africa. Benedict Binebia lists Oyedepo’s The Rebellion of the Bumpy –Chested as one of the such plays. In his assertion, Binebai says that: Some African dramatists have written plays in which The Wives Revolt by J.P Clark; Our Husband Has Gone Mad Again Rebellion of the Bumpy-Chested by Stella Oyedepo, Mulkin Matta by Harghar, Beyond Nightmar by Ben Binebai and Dance on His Grace by Barclars Ayakoroma. But in some play texts written by women, women seem to be divided. Julie Okoh’s Edewede, Mask, Zulu Sofolo’s Wedlock of the Gods. This points to the fact that the women’s house of feminism is divided one. (148) Binebai sees series of confusion in feminist quest and this observation is apt. Different women pursue feminism from different directions. Binebai’s observation is affirmed by E.B. Adeleke when he says that: the army of wives, led by captain Sharp in The Rebellion, unanimously identify the enemy as man, specifically the husbands of member irrespective of whether the man is guilty or not. Jointly, they map out strategies not only to dethrone the man, but to take over his oppressive roles. These women entertain no alternative other than the total uprooting and reconstruction of social structures. Differences in cultural context, individual situations, and mitigating circumstances are not taken into consideration. The reader witnesses an unreasonable bandwagon effect which has given rise to unfavourable view of Femi in spite of the fact that history and literature provide ample evidence of the woman’s oppression and subjugation, particularly in patriarchal social system. (129) Women are human beings who deserve to be respected or whose rights ought to be regarded as those of men. Much as it is important for women to fight and protect their rights, they must not throw society into confusion. This is the take of Adeleke and Binebai. They agree that men have structured society to favour themselves, however, they do not endorse women’s radical ideology which has tainted the feminist quest in Africa. Oyedepo’s The Rebellion of a Bumpy-Chested preaches radical feminism which makes it a favourite of most women. Male critics in contrast condemns it because it is seen as a negative influence on women. Sincerely, the quest for individual right must not create disharmony. Eli Dokosi is his criticism of Graft’s Sons and Daughters notes that the playwright presents two generations caught up in a tussle of supremacy of view about life and career. He writes that: in a typical African setting, elders are not to be challenged, more so when it comes to choices for their wards. James Osofu, father to Aaron Osofu and Maanan, believes education is pivotal to success and wealth as he will do his maximum best to educate his children in the best of schools and choose their profession for them even if they rather prefer some “lowly” and “useless” profession. Mr James Osofu expects his authority not to be questioned and wants his children to appreciate the sacrifices he makes for their education as his elder sons George the doctor and Kofi the chartered accountant seem to make him think, instead of the radical and non-conformist duo. Of Aaron and Maanan his youngest children. (Web) Sons and Daughters presents family conflict between father and children who see life differently. Aaron and Maanan are James Osofu’s children who think independently. In contrast to their elder ones who gladly pursue the careers chosen for them by their father, Aaron and Maanan kick against their father’s choice of career because they have a mind which affords them independent reasoning. Dokosi observes that there is a contrast between the older and the younger generation. The play, Son and Daughters also illustrates the evolution of a radical society from a conservative once. Dokosi concludes that the play shows, “a contrast of materialistic and idealistic motives, morality, degeneration, illiteracy, might and will” (Web). The children of James Ofosu that is, Aaron and Maanan have a strong will which their father’ highhandedness cannot suppress. Some parents do not see any sense in studying courses under arts and humanity. This is noted in an online blog, A Ghanaian Voice com. The blogger notes that, “many Ghanaians take pride in talking about their successful son/daughter who is a lawyer, doctor, engineer” (web). The older generation always creates future for the younger generation but Graft writes Sons and Daughters to call attention to the changing world. In a modern age, children choose what they want irrespective of parents’ perception. According Wikipedia, Sons and Daughters “is a contribution to debates about careers and values among secondary school pupils” (Web). Sometimes, strict parents want their children to study professional courses. The blogger referenced above notes that Graft ‘s Sons and Daughters, however, challenges such parents who do not respect their children’s views. The blog’s commentary reads that “the play reflects the mindsets of many Ghanaians back then when the play was written and it reflects the lax and perhaps small-minded attitudes of many Ghanaians towards the arts. Many Ghanaians towards the arts. Many Ghanaians feel that for one to make it in life, one must be a lawyer, doctor, engineer etc. Recognition is given to professions like law, medicine, business et cot the neglect of profession like play writing, acting, dancing” (Web). Society has changed such that children quest for professions or careers that are appealing to them. This is the core of Graft’s message in the play. 1.6 Justification of Study From the available reviews on Oyedepo’s The Rebellion of the Bumpy-Chested and Graft’s Sons and Daughters, it is clear that the focus is on women’s quest for freedom and the value of or freedom of asserting individual will. This essay attempts a fresh study with emphasis on the depiction of resistance to patriarchy and parents’ high handedness. This study is different from others because it attempts to investigate how characters’ psychology influences resistance. 1.7 Thesis Statement Revolt in J.C De Graft’s Sons and Daughters and Stella Dia Oyedepo’s The Rebellion of the Bumpy-Chested reflect dissatisfaction of characters with parental control and patriarchy at the domestic and societal level.
RESISTANCE IN J.C. DE GRAFT’S SONS AND DAUGHTERS AND STELLA DIA OYEDEPO’S THE REBELLION OF THE BUMPY CHESTED.
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