Women, power and subversion in orature: A palace performance in Yorubaland, Nigeria
Journal of Gender Studies
Department of English, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria
It is our contention in this paper that though royal wives in Oyo-Yorùbá community are invisible in some social, political and religious lives of their people, they are visible in the sphere of poetic creation. We opine that Yorùbá kings are powerful in most spheres, but in orature, the power of women in general, and royal wives in particular, cannot be underestimated. Through the examples of 'yùngbà' and 'igbátítí', two poetic spheres created by tradition for royal wives from Oyo-Yorùbá community, this paper argues that royal wives reposition themselves as channels of poetic utterance. They use poetry to redefine their position as wives and women, reassert themselves and subvert unwanted values. In particular, they use their creative power as a weapon for subverting male-constructed structures and views in society. In exercising their creative power, the women use their power to speak, to perform and to decide the course of action. In conclusion, we state that contemporary women writers also enhance the efforts of women in orature. In this regard, the paper refers to Emecheta's novels that condemn the economic, sexual and social exploitation of women. Like the royal wives, Emecheta creates protagonists who use their intellectual power to decide on issues that concern them. © 2006 Taylor & Francis.