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Hidden Spaces, Silenced Practices and the Concept of Igba N'rira

Nkiru Nzegwu

Abstract


Igbo male literary writersChinua Achebe, Onuora Nzekwu, and Cyprian Ekwensihave been criticized for the sexism in their writings. Much of this charge is based on what is seen as their patriarchal representation of Igbo culture. As if to undercut the legitimacy of these critiques, the works of Igbo male legal theorists provide support for the writers views. For instance, in Modern Family Law in Southern Nigeria, S. N. Chinwuba Obi asserts that the smallest sub-division of families: consists of a man/patriarch and his wife or wives with their unmarried children and any other dependents such as wards and domestic servants (1966, 9). The society he described in Ibo Law of Property and the range of laws he examined were fundamentally patriarchal, masculinist and male privileging. There is no question that Obis description of Igbo family overlaps with Achebes picture of Okonkwo and his family. Okonkwo was a patriarch in the legal sense in which Obi defined it. In the words of his maternal uncle, Uchendu, he has many wives and many children...[is] a great man in [his] clan (134).

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West Africa Review. ISSN: 1525-4488 (online).
Editors: Adeleke Adeeko, Nkiru Nzegwu, and Olufemi Taiwo.

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