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Tell It to Women, Book Review Example

Pages: 1

Words: 836

Book Review

The play ‘Tell It to Women’ by Tess Onwueme’s is set in a postcolonial village in Africa. The playwright explores traditional way of life versus modernism, and the way in which diverse cultures interact. The major thematic concern is the contribution of women in Nigerian society, and the conflict between new and old way of life.

The major antagonists in the story are Yemoja, Daisy, and Ruth. Ruth and Daisy are the masterminds behind ‘better life for rural women’, a movement that mobilizes women to believe that they are equal to men, and superior to some of them. The movement causes strife in the village between men and women particularly with Yemoja’s father and husband. Daisy is always fighting with her husband because of the movement, and as the story goes on, it appears women are serious on being liberated from the patriarchal society.

The title of the story ‘Tell It to Women’ matches the story because Yemoja, Daisy, and Ruth attempt to radicalize their fellow women against their male counterparts. The women are being told to rise up against their male counterparts and to remember they are their equivalent. The author has presented the story in a clear and readable language for the western people because she uses some local languages in passing her message such as the chant, “Idu, Kwenu!…Eeih!”, which is repeatedly used in the play. Even so, the playwright failed to consider that the play would be read globally, and as such, failed to explain the meaning of some terminologies she used in her mother tongue. The story lacks the flow as one fluid piece, exposing it as having a very chaotic and disorganized plot, and some instances of correct spelling. Some of the stage instructions remain unclear, some cases of confused punctuation and proofreading. For instance, she uses ‘hone in’ instead of ‘home in’. In some cases, repetition has been evident in the play. In page 207-8, the same thing has been said using different wordings:  “Have we not been silenced . . . silenced not by others but by our own kind?” “Have we not gained new masters, deceptively speaking in feminine voices, and all in the name of liberation?” “Have we not exchanged our old masters for new ones, except they parade in the form of women?” “Were we not lured to the slaughterhouse by our own kind?” (Onwueme 207-8).

Notably, the author has explained some native terms she has used in the play. For instance, when the women in the village sing a song on page 127, she translates it for the readers to capture the meaning. Even so, not in all cases, and a perfect example is the chant used by women throughout the play “Idu, Kwenu!…Eeih!” The author leaves the reader to make some weird clues on the meaning of this chant. In a few other areas, Onwueme does not define some words. In terms of biasness, the play has some instances that are extremely biased. While reading the play, it is obvious that the playwright is biased because her intention is to elevate women, but she ends up portraying others in bad light. From when the play opens, it is obvious that she detests western feminism. This is what Ruth says when she hands in a plaque to Yemoja for joining them in the campaign “It is my singular honor to present to you this ‘plague’…I mean PLAQUE on behalf of all women…” (Onwueme 51). In view of the quote, it appears western feminism is deemed as a plague that has a negative influence on people. Onwueme elevates the Idu traditional lifestyle, and undermines the Western lifestyle. Although the play brings up the issue of homosexuality, something that Idu women disallow, it is not brought into the public, in order to receive condemnation.

In terms of weaknesses and strengths, the story has not been left behind despite the subjective nature of the playwright. Some of the strengths are noticeable in the employment of vivid description in the values and beliefs of both the western educated women and the Idu village. Readers have been taken through the plight of African women, and the author ensured to make a contrast with the form of life led by women in western countries. The major weakness noticeable in the story is the way it ends. The plays outcome is extremely predictable. It ends in an abrupt manner than the expectations of the readers, making it appear incomplete. Another major weakness is evident in the lack of evidence by the author to support her assertions on feminism. The support she gives appears shaky and sketchy and sometimes it is more of guesswork for lack of background.

The play ends when Adaku dies and daisy is screaming to Ruth. With such unexpected ending, it leaves the readers questioning what transpires between Ruth and daisy. Even so, the play is helpful because it explores feminism, lesbianism, and colonialism in Africa and western world.

Works Cited

Onwueme, Osonye Tess. Tell It To Women. Michigan; Wayne State University Press, 1997. Print

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