Towards Institutionalising Gynocentric Aesthetics in Modern Nigerian Drama: The Emergence of Tess Onwueme

Authors: Issa Omotosho Garuba

Department of English

University of Ilorin

Published: January 2019

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Abstract

It is noteworthy that gender discourse in African literature is pioneered by female novelists, such as Bessie Head, Flora Nwapa, Buchi Emecheta, Ama Ata Aidoo and Mariama Ba.Through their writings, women’s social status is constantly being reconstructed. It holds therefore that gender discourse in African drama is relatively new as a result of the fact that female novelists surfaced, first, in the African literary scene before their counterparts in playwriting. Meanwhile,the first female playwright to arrive the dramatic scene, Zulu Sofola, is affirmed not to have made any significant contribution this wise. It is against this backdrop that this paper seeks to locate the subsequent emergence of Tess Onwueme in the dramatic sceneas that which essentiallyushered in gynocentric aesthetics in drama, as obtainable in fictional narratives. The study puts into perspective her dramaturgy, at inception,as aesthetically coloured with gynocentricism, thereby assuming thepioneer of gender discourse in modern Nigerian drama, in particular, and African drama at large. Two among her early plays, The Reign of Wazobia and The Broken Calabash, are analysed with a view to contextualising the thesis of the study.

Keywords: Gynocentric drama, Tess Onwueme, Modern Nigerian drama, African literature.