Hausa Women Writers Confronting the Traditional Status of Women in Modern Islamic Society: Feminist Thought in Nigerian Popular Fiction

Novian WhitsittLuther College
Vol. 22, No. 2 (Fall 2003), 387-408

This essay explores a burgeoning corpus of contemporary Hausa literature from northern Nigeria. These popular romance novels are an exploratory forum for the socially and culturally loaded issues of polygamy, marriages of coercion, purdah (the Islamic tradition of seclusion), and education for females. While the writers themselves insist that their ultimate intention is to exemplify proper moral behavior, other socially reformative didactic intentions are unmistakable in these books. The article focuses on a conservative writer, Bilkisu Ahmed Funtuwa, and a progressive writer, Balaraba Ramat Yakubu, and shows that both are feminist in valuing education, justice under Islamic law for women, and reform in the name of Islamic law. Whether traditionalist or modernizing, this romance literature is the target of widespread hostile conservative criticism even while steadily producing national bestsellers; these works have assumed the thankless task of suturing diverse social attitudes.

Mary Wollstonecraft Sojourner Truth Margaret Atwood Abigail Adams Amy Tan H.D. Simone de Beauvoir Zora Neale Hurston Frances Burney Virginia Woolf

"The white saxifrage with the indented leafe is moste commended for the breakinge of the Stone."

— Turner, Herbal, III, 68 [1568]