Importance of Fertility in African Culture.Paper

Importance of Fertility in African Culture.Paper - Hannah...

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Hannah Fisher John Harris, PhD Dram 117 001 23 September 2007 The Importance of Fertility in Africa Every culture has issues that are of great importance to them. As it is seen in various plays written by African authors, the issue of fertility is one of great importance in African culture. Women who are not capable of bearing children are excluded from many of the benefits reserved for adults in the community, as well as belittled by the local population. Discrimination against infertile women is an issue that female playwrights have begun to address with hopes of overcoming it with their powerful words and firsthand encounters with the issue. In Africa, infertility and the way in which it is viewed has a large cultural role; in addition, it is also a way for men to oppress and express their dominance over women, particularly those who are infertile. In The Dilemma of a Ghost , by Ghanaian author Ama Ata Aidoo, part of the problem between Ato’s family and Eulalie rests in their desire for her to have children and their belief that she is unable to do so. During the beginning of the play, Ato and Eulalie decide to put off having children for a short period of time, something unheard of in the African culture that Ato comes from. Throughout the course of the play, Eulalie and Ato’s family do no get along due to her unwillingness to be open to the culture of the traditional Ghanaian people. Male dominance is embedded in the traditional African culture of Ato’s family and can be clearly seen in relation to fertility. One of the main reasons for the rift
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Fisher 2 between Eulalie and Ato’s family is that Eulalie did not give birth to a child early in the marriage, which is incredibly important to families in that culture. When Ato failed to inform his family of the couple’s decision to refrain from having children for the time being, he was allowing his people to begin to question Eulalie’s ability to have children. The fact that Ato’s family questioned Eulalie’s fertility and not Ato’s fertility is an example of male superiority and the controlling of the female body (Under Western Eyes 208-209). Ato is viewed more highly than Eulalie since he is a male, so naturally any problems in conception would be blamed on the female. This male dominance also comes into play when men like Petu and Ato’s other male relatives took it upon themselves to solve Eulalie’s supposed fertility problem. When it was decided by Ato’s family that Eulalie had a problem conceiving, they brought numerous traditional African remedies which they intended for Eulalie’s use. If Ato did not step in and say that they were not attempting to have children, his relatives would have used these remedies on Eulalie. It would not matter if she wanted them or not, they would have been used on her. This is similar to female circumcision; if the male governing body thinks it needs to be done, it shall be done. In this manner, African women do not control their bodies; it is the leaders in their community, the men, which
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This note was uploaded on 03/26/2008 for the course DRAM 117 taught by Professor Harris during the Fall '08 term at UNC.

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Importance of Fertility in African Culture.Paper - Hannah...

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