Toronto Metropolitan University
Chowdhury-Mohammad, Shadman-MRP.pdf (350.07 kB)

Gender and Feminism in Pre-colonial and Postcolonial Nigerian Literature: Reading, Achebe, Adichie, and Atta

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posted on 2022-12-06, 15:53 authored by Shadman Chowdhury-Mohammad

For more than a century since British colonization of Nigeria (1914-1960), the voices of Nigerian women have largely been silent, both in Nigerian literature and in society. Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart (1958), which is widely regarded as one of the literary works that ushered in modern Nigerian writing, provides evidence of the existence and types of patriarchal structures in pre-colonial contact Nigeria that silenced women. Achebe’s novel has influenced an entire generation of late twentieth century and twenty-first century Nigerian authors whose writings engage with female silence/silencing, and with Nigerian women’s resistance to that silencing, in the postcolonial period. This silence/silencing is a consequence of anti-woman norms embedded in both local Nigerian customs and traditions and in beliefs and practices held over from colonial times. 

In this paper, two of these contemporary Nigerian works—Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus (2003) and Sefi Atta’s Everything Good Will Come (2005) are compared with Things Fall Apart. Adichie’s and Atta’s novels are both set in the latter part of the twentieth century; and, when analyzed in tandem with Achebe’s, they offer an exploration of the ways in Chowdhury-Mohammad 4 which the combination of Nigerian customs and the remnants of British colonial influence impact on Nigerian women’s ability to make themselves heard. 

For the analysis of the novels, this paper draws on writings of notable postcolonial and feminist theorists such as Frantz Fanon and Simone de Beauvoir, as well as the writings of “Third World” theorists such as Gayatri Spivak to contextualize the discussion of female silence/silencing.





  • Master of Professional Communication


  • Literatures of Modernity

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type

  • MRP

Thesis Advisor

Hyacinth Simpson



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