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Abstract

The iconic Yoruba female personage of Ẹfúnṣetán Aníwúrà has, in several studies, been vilified; and at a first glance, it would seem that Akinwunmi Isola’s eponymous protagonist and heroine of that play reinforces the image of a villainous, wicked and self-centred woman. Contextualized within the Yoruba socio-political and economic national narratives of the late18th and early 19th centuries, this image appears both problematic and complexly contradictory. It is therefore useful to appropriately recuperate and verify the status of Ẹfúnṣetán Aníwúrà within the backdrop of Yoruba cultural context. This is illustrated through a feminist re-reading of Ẹfúnṣetán’s actions and character against the grain of the Yoruba masculinist cultural backcloth and the uneven devolution of powers of her time. In this essay, we make the argument that Isola’s heroine astutely resists and rejects the cultural prescriptivism and master narratives of the powerful masculinist oligarchy of that period. We therefore suggest that in spite of Isola’s seeming pejorative representation of Ẹfúnṣetán, the chieftain adumbrates possibilities for more equitable gender relations in her time.

Note on the Author

Omolola A Ladele is currently a Senior Lecturer in the Department of English, Lagos State University, Nigeria where she teaches several graduate and undergraduate level courses including: African literature, Postcolonial literature, Women and Gender Studies, Feminist literature, and literary theory. She has presented academic papers at international and local conferences in North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Nigeria. Many of these have appeared in peer-reviewed local and international journals. She is manuscript reviewer of local and international journals and she is, currently, Co-editor of LAPES –the LASU papers in English Journal.

Abimbola O Oyinlola is a Senior lecturer in the Department of African Languages, Literatures and Communication Arts, Lagos State University, Nigeria. She specializes in Yoruba Literary Drama and Film. She is currently working on her doctoral thesis. She has presented academic papers in in local and international conferences and these have also been published in reputable journals.

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