Heroic African Women

A comparative essay on two novels written by women of African descent – “Efuru” by Flora Nwapa and “Woman at Point Zero” by Nawal El Saadawi.

The paper analyzes and compares two novels dealing with African women. It shows that in “Efuru”, Flora Nwapa depicts the image of a traditional Igbo African woman and her role in African society as a woman, mother and provider. The paper examines how “Efuru” personifies all the qualities of a female hero within her society by focusing on her beliefs in the manifestation of spiritual power and strong cultural ideals. The paper then looks at “Woman at Point Zero” by Nawal El Saadawi in which the main character, Firdaus, is jailed for committing murder. It shows how “Woman at Point Zero” introduces a heroine of a different sort. Firdaus is a strong woman who makes adjustments in her life to achieve her wants and desires in life and to compensate for her lack of social and economic opportunity in a materialist and patiarchal society.
“Efuru’s strength manifests itself in her spiritual connection with the woman of the lake and spiritual consciousness from within. After being summoned in her dreams by the woman of the lake and accepting her role as a worshiper of Uhamiri, it becomes apparent that changes begin to occur in Efuru’s life. As a worshiper must reserve “Orie” night for Uhamiri by wearing white, which may symbolize the purity and goodness in Efuru. With this new stature she has inevitably become more successful in her trade and more logical in her reasoning. The environment, especially the lake and the moon, represents and suggests where the life force and spirituality of the community is derived.”