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In African society, women are seen as inferior to men and are not incorporated in some activities especially those that has to do with rituals and performances. With mindset women’s portrayal in African plays are always those of minorities. It took time and efforts of playwrights like Emeka Nwabueze and many other modern writers to acknowledge the important roles of in the society as portrayed in African and Nigerian plays.
Looking at the play, When The Arrow Rebounds by Emeka Nwabuezeit is very obvious that this playwright though not a feminist recognized the indispensable role of women in the African Igbo society. Unlike the normal insignificant portrayal of women in most plays we see this writer bringing womanhood to limelight. At the beginning of the play we see Ugoye and other women playing an important role; something that Achebe refused to notice or what he might have thought unimportant in his work Arrow of God. Ugoye takes the stage and proudly interceded for the whole people.
EZEULU: Great Ulu who kills and saves, we implore you to
cleanse our household of all defilement whether we have
spoken it with our mouth or seen it with eyes or have heard
it with our ears or stepped on it with our foot, or if it had come
through our children or our friends or kinsfolk, let it follow
Normally, women have no right to come into the shrine, let alone speaking on behalf of the people but it is the wish of the playwright to project womanhood and thus creates gender sensitiveness in the minds of the reader as regards the importance of women in our contemporary society.
Through other acts of Ugoye in the play like when she was trying to bring to the notice of Ezeulu that he should be the one answerable to Oduche’s strange behavior as he was the one that sent him on the mission which transformed him. The playwright was able to affirm the validity of womanhood through this play.
Ray “KatiNns” Chukwuma Agwu
B.A. Theatre and Film Stuies, UNN.