Background to the Study
This study was inspired by the excessive victimization and social humiliation experienced by childless women in traditional societies and in some African novels. The resulting image of these figures is very regrettable even in the African literature of the past and the present. These unfortunate women without children are often vilified, victims and even forced to leave their marital home. Of course, women were treated badly in all areas of their lives, be it in social, economic, educational, political or marital relations, compared to their male counterparts. This unfair treatment and prejudice is based on the patriarchal character of African societies, which attribute to women all the shortcomings of families. In this perspective, we will study childhood in Flora Nwapa’s novels.
The desire for posterity and the pursuit of more human capital has created grave concern among African couples. Fear disappears with the onset of the first pregnancy, while signs of infertility after a few years of marriage intensify the tension. The reason is that in African societies the expectation of every family is procreation. Africans appreciate children through marriage; For this reason, non-childhood remains a permanent stigma in the lives of couples, especially women.
Non-childhood is therefore a major problem that dissolves marriage, especially in Africa, and puts some couples in eternal torment. For example, in the Western world, marriages break mainly because of unfaithfulness, lack of trust and support from a partner, and so on. However, unlike in the Western world, child poverty is the major factor breaking marriage in African societies. This phenomenon is often attributed to the woman who is considered a reproductive object. The absence of childhood seems to be the biggest scourge that can affect any couple in Africa.
African women without children are not only confronted with family hatred, but also with contempt for society, ridicule and isolation. This stigma breaks their joy and makes them desperate in the family, in which they should fully realize themselves as wives. Above all, the absence of a child threatens the bond that binds a woman to her husband, thus reducing her to pariah status in her marital home. This is therefore still the cause of most of the family crises and unrest in African societies.
This woeful situation of childless women in Africa inspired Flora Nwapa, who uses her novels “One is Enough” to investigate the anomalies and injustices inflicted on childless women. Through this novel, these feminists reveal the emotional and psychological trauma that women without children suffer.