Fate at Cross-Road with Courage: Gender Issues inMr. and Mrs. and Maami
Yemi ATANDA, PhD
Department of Performing Arts
School of Visual and Performing Arts
College of Humanities, Management and Social Sciences
Kwara State University, Malete, Nigeria
This paper focuses on the gender problems in patriarchal societies in Africa. The implicit categorization of women as ‘weaker’ vessels, and men as ‘stronger’ vessels has its “subjectivity” defined by patriarchal power. This power finds its seed in the millennial soil of culture and tradition, history and social indices (sexism and racism), politics, economy, religion, mysticism and occultism. However, over ages, women like Mythical Moremi of Ile- Ife, and Amazon like Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, have risen to the occasion to confront the dialectics of the “Imperfect” that man represents and “Incidental” that woman represents as Thomas Acquinas espoused. The concern of this paper is to examine the courage displayed by the female characters in the paradigmatic representatives of African cinema, challenging the burden of fate of weakness using Mr. and Mrs. by Ikechukwu Onyeka and Maami by Tunde Kelani. Based on the selection, there is the need to resolve the contention between the films made by Africans, and films made for Africans, which lead to critical analysis of the films selected; focusing on the gender theory within the prism of the use of patriarchal power in the face of global trends. The need for gender balance is to draw the image based on human conscious apprehension of what to be, and to becoming of partners in progress.
Key Words: Fate, Courage, Gender theory, To be and To Becoming.
It appears that man and woman are ‘helpless’; they must always need each other. Are they chained together? Such that a truism says that man is in chain. Man in this context is a subjective being who has the overriding influence over the phenomena, and a woman is his ‘appendage’. It is, therefore, an incontrovertible assertion that, not only man is in chain, woman is equally in chain. Why is this inseparable condition? Could man not live without woman, or woman without man? Could man be a concrete fact, while woman remains a material superstition? Or woman a mere configured image within the imagined structure of man’s psyche? These questions are endless.
The fact remains that woman and man are diametrically opposing sexes – in the sense that a male human means a man, while a female human means a woman. Etymological position portends that there had been the age-long intricate connection between the male sex and female sex as Bosworth & Toller (1011) give the spelling of woman in English progressing from “wifmann to wimmum to wumman, and finally to modern spelling woman. However, wifmann, means, female human, while wer means, male human. Biologically, a man is remarkably marked out differently from a woman (OED Online). Yet, they are both intrinsically and extrinsically attracted to each other. They are, because of their distinctive genitalia. Female genitalia consist of labia, clitoris, urethra (vagina inclusive), and well developed breasts, while a male has penis and testicles; these could be used for sensuous satisfaction and for reproductive necessity. Female gametes called eggs could be fertilized by male gametes, otherwise known as sperm. Foetus develops into male has a Y chromosome from the father; otherwise, the foetus develops into female, when it has X chromosome from the father (Ann 71). In this biological transmutation, male and female appear to be partners. For male spermatozoa to fertilize the female egg, and that male contributes his chromosomes to determine which sex the foetus forms; male appears dominant; yet he cannot do it alone. I shall return to the concept of dominance in due course, which forms the basis for this research. In this direction, there is need to answer the question, why does patriarchy obfuscate women?
The biological position, which is considered above appropriates, and definitely unmasks the theological position that ‘woman comes from man’, when the metaphorical enunciation of woman being formed out of a ‘rib’ from man is being considered (see the Biblical account of Adam and Eve). Deductively put, if woman is a ‘rib’ from man, it therefore suggests that woman is an integral essence of man, a part, not a whole. It suffices, to say that ‘man does not come from woman.’ The antithetical understanding of ‘woman comes from man’, or ‘man does not come from woman’, is directly pointing to metaphoric construct of ‘dominance’ that places man at the centre of action. Whereas, biology draws a partnering process of procreation, even though male gametes pollinate female gametes; it suggests fusion of essences.
In contradictory progression, human history develops, and change becomes a constant phenomenon. Man, therefore, strives constantly to free himself from the bondage of his mind and the environment he lives. The more he struggles to extricate himself, the more he becomes more entangled and “the highly developed is always replaced by the undeveloped, the civilized by the barbarian. This is the inevitable course of history” (Harding 8) posits. Perhaps, this is the fate that conditions man, in his mind he forms his opinions, and his opinions form, or influence his environment. However, in dialectical reality, his environment influences his opinions. The nature of man, therefore, is both ‘subjective’ and ‘objective,’ and so is the nature of woman; it inclines that man and woman are both spiritual and physical.
Sharon Smith’s critical essay on “Engels and the Origin of Women’s Oppression” poses a question, “how can we end women’s oppression?” (1), or in his hypothetical enunciation, he asks again: “why are women oppressed?” His questions create image of circumscription: for us to envision ‘how’ to end the oppressive situation women are, then we must find out the reasons that engendered it, without this attempt; there appears no end to it. He, however, locates the reason to class society, as an integral essence. In the analysis of this work, it becomes expedient to return to issues of ‘class’, to enable us see how patriarchy, in its obtrusive power consigns women to be mere instruments of production. However, I agree to Smith’s position, only in furtherance to locate the very reason of oppression in the nature of man, that is, his fate conditions him to be oppressive. Then, should women be docile and complacent? As Engels espouses the metaphoric perception of the instruments of production which are to be exploited “in common” (27). It may be understandable, if the bourgeois sees his wife as one, then naturally it is conclusive to say women fall to a lot of being common. Women, therefore, become victims of oppression. It is, therefore, becomes imperative for victims, in time and place, to display, overtly, or covertly, the scars of oppression as Nocolas Powers asks” “should victims of systemic oppression not show symptoms?” (qtd by Ikard 17). Women, as it may be understood, within the prism of dialectics of action, and reaction, may become oppressive. It is no wonder, why Feminists theorists advocate equality for women, in the system that is so oppressive, with men. They are consciously displaying the scars of oppression. Or may I ask if occasion demands for the matriarchy to oppress men two, when possessing power to do so? Or do women oppress women, as it could be found that men oppress men? These are among the research questions this paper will attempt to answer.
However, in this essay, I read into Mr. and Mrs. by Ikechukwu Onyeka and Maami by Tunde Kelani the abuse of patriarchal power, debates about gender, class, sexuality and sexism, and the oppressive conditions women are. In doing this, I discover that women need to extricate themselves beyond the restriction of binary oppositions within the images of power/powerless, superiority/inferiority, sun/moon, day/night, autonomy/dependence through which femininity has consigned to second elements in a series of binary opposites down the ages just as Thomas Aquinas gives the Christian theological reading to depict Imperfect/Incidental on the binary opposites of man/woman. The courage to do this lies in women themselves, who over time immemorial being limited to “diverse positive and negative stereotypes” (Oyewo 130). Women in history and mythology had demonstrated courage to confront the position of the ‘second fiddle’, it appears fate binds them. In Nigeria, we had great women like Madam Tinubu, Queen Amina, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, and mythical figure like Moremi of Ile-Ife, among others. It may be this bold attempt by feminist or womanist scholars, who having discovered the limitations imposed on women by patriarchal nature of human society across the world, aim to ‘fight’ the way women are conditioned in society and the way they are being represented in the arts and literature. In due course, the understanding of this study makes an attempt to accord balance in respect for humanity in both sexes to bring into tandem sense of ‘equity’, not necessarily ‘equality’; because nature itself does not endow them equally in their physiognomic and natural responsibilities. Only, that they are expected to be partners in playing their complementary roles in the theatre of life.
Patriarchal Power of Oppression on Women: To Be, or Not To Be?
In myth or reality, when did the patriarchal power begin to supress women? Esther Harding, on her foot note on myth of the moon as giver of fertility, makes reference to Robert Briffault’s monumental work, The Mothers. To the savage and primitive mind, the moon and woman “are of like nature” (Harding 24), in that the ‘seed’ that grows in woman’s tummy, cannot without the fertilising influence of the moon, even in her menstruation. The beliefs could appear primitive and naïve, yet some notions are extant today in customs, proverbs, folk songs and tales. A Yoruba woman would say, ‘nkan osu’ (monthly experience), in reference to her menstruation. It was not surprising that the moon-goddess became the central deity, well above the sun-god. Then at what stage did myth replace the moon with the sun as a fertilising agent, or the central god? Harding draws the essence of feminine principle (eros) which is conscious in women, but unconscious in men. Men, contrarily is drifted towards the gravitation of ego- his conscious self, and the feminine principle his soul. However, his ego, the masculine power became the emblem of his patriarchal notion, especially when he began to “accumulate personal, as over communal” (Harding 31). Man’s personal ego translated to his personal strength and prowess, and invariably, his personal possessions. In his wake state from his dream, man found it convenient to substitute the ‘symbol of mother, the moon, for the masculine power, the sun. No need reminding ourselves that on the binary axis, the sun rules the day, while the moon rules the night. It is little wonder then that day stands for the sun, masculine fertility agent, while night is the essence of the moon. Or could it be the reason that witchcraft power in gelede tradition is associated with women. And women, however, became the symbol of the night; to this men refer in trepidation as ‘eyin iyami olokiki oru (Mothers of great night). In religious concept, the worship of divine mother, from Babylon, the goddess mother, Semiramis, and her child, Tammuz, finds their relevance in the Virgin Mary, and Jesus Christ in Rome.
In many cultures of the world, the “subordination of women” (Ahmed 1) to men had been factored to many reasons. Most of the attributed reasons find their place in perceived traditions and cultures of a given society, biological conception, politico-economic factors, and socio-religious tendencies; all at a point in time became anachronistic to women’s development. In her classic work on the conditions women and gender matters in Islam, Leila, contending the androcentric perception, finds in the pre-Islamic societies, respects accorded women as she says that “archaeological evidence suggests that women were held in esteem prior to the rise of urban societies and suffered a decline in status with the emergence of urban centres and city-states” (Ahmed 1). In this, consequently, the growth and human movements, advancement in politics and religious conquests are attributable to the decline women suffered in the Arab world. Ahmed, setting her objective unambiguously, not to investigate and be critical of oppression women suffered in the hands of men, but to deliberately situate the interactive roles women had in biology, warfare, religion, marriage, tradition and culture as against the gender discriminatory position of the orthodox Islam in the Abbasid society. This agendum, obviously appears, sets by Leila Ahmed to place in history the ‘honours’ accorded women in the Arab world and Islam to suggest egalitarianism, beyond the scornful and despicable readings of the “Western feminists and so-called experts, who scornfully dismiss Islam as sexist and bigoted” ( Asian Times, blur). Critically put, the objective fails to trace the complex nature of sexes, within the specific paradigms, that suggest disparity, historical developments in dialectical terms, and religious implosion of women per se.
On its accounts, the tone of the western feminism sets the antithetical relationship of the Self against the Other. The theory impinges on the scar of time, and the Other demands the Fundamental Right to become ‘who’ or ‘what’ she is against what society imposes. This situation warrants the struggles and the demands for right to work, right to form of marriages (heterosexual, or homosexual), right to suffrages, right to health and many more. This is simply a rising tide against men’s insubordination of women in the Western patriarchal society. It, therefore, brings us back to the normative “identity category” (see Butler 256) – the identity of sexes. In the wake of battles of sexes, the feminist ideologues have picked a pique by deconstructing the predominant male paradigms with great attempt to reconstruct a female perspective within the prism of dominating patriarchal society (Sotunga). The reinventing order has been a clear enunciation by the Eurocentric feminist theorists, who presumed to seek for equality of sexes in politics, economy, and socio-cultural ambience with sense of commitment to interpret or reinterpret the experiences of women being depicted in literature. To redress such negative tendencies in literature, many feminist theories evolved such as Segun Oyewo observes that, “negative representation of women…. This has brought different types of feminist theories” (131); such as radical feminism, Marxist feminism, liberal feminism radical, ecofeminism and post-feminism among others. In all of these categorizations, the common denominator is to decry the oppressions women suffer in relation to their sexuality in male dominated societies, stifling femininity not just a biological category, but also as a social category.
Black women’s reaction also border on identity problem. They criticise the Western feminist theories of being insensitive to what affects black women, who are emotionally attached to the cause of another woman, their children and their husband. Knowing that the Western feminism did not accommodate women of colour and African women, then considered, for a possibility of renaming, as Hudson-Weems views the ideological position of feminism without framework for the needs of African women, therefore, she called it womanism. This sentiment was tied to discriminatory black people, especially women of colour, suffered in Europe and America as it could be found in the works of Alice Walker, who observed that the Western feminism was racially biased, class-oriented, and focused more on sociological problems based on sexism in the Western culture- lesbianism. It was just recently that The Supreme Court of the United State of America gave gay marriage a legal backing for all the 50 states in America. Walker’s position is re-echoed by Mary Kolawole who asserts that, “to the majority of ordinary Africans, lesbianism is a non-existent issue because it is a mode of self-expression that is completely strange to their world view” (15). Emotion and sentiment attached to the womanist theories could subscribed to issue of identity that constantly brings into focus the dialectics of ‘self’ against ‘other’, a postmodern cultural phenomenon within the cross-current essence of universality. This means that if the Western feminist theorists are being accused of Eurocentric perception, therefore, the African womanist theorist could as well be accused of Afrocentric perception.
Fundamentally, we must not deny the fact that gender issues are problematic within the prism of identity. This theory is based on the paradigm of “being the same, or sameness”. In the sense that a man has innate essence that marks him differently from a woman, and vice -versa; this I have proved biologically and linguistically. Yet, a man and a woman have common identifiable relationship that would constantly enable them place sense of “complementarity” as, Yacim, Okposio and Ogbeche espouse, despite both sexes play their specific roles in all fronts (31). We must understand, however, that this brings the idea of communal ethos, not individualistic, when the ‘right hand assists the left hand’ in reversal of duty. On this ground, the voices of the womanists, especially women of African descent beyond feminist individualistic perception, especially female writers and theorists like Zulu Sofola, Flora Nwapa, Ama Ata Aidoo, Buchi Emecheta, Lauretta Ngcobo, Yvonne Vera, Mary Kolawole, and of course, Molara Ogundipe-Leslie, among other, always resonant. On this note, I intend to foreground that gender power should transcend the hegemonic tendencies beyond the political placation of Affirmative Action (AC) but to be accommodating and transformational, to avoid the combative ideology of sexism on the post-modern platform. In this regard, I intend to refer to Ogundipe-Leslie’s stiwanism; that she defines as, “Social Transformation Including Women in Africa” (STIWA) (550). Only that ‘inclusion’ here by Ogundipe-Leslie, means that women are integral essence of men, the partner-in-progress; but not mere appendage. This is simply mean to say we should have regard for the feminine principle to create equity between the sexes.
Synopsis ofMr. and Mrs.
Susan (Nse-Ikpe Etim) and Kenneth (Joseph Benjamin) meet at the university. They both go abroad for the Master Programme. Susan is a lawyer, but only being kept a house wife, while Ken is a Managing Director of Hills Oil and Gas, owned by his father. Susan is lowly born, a daughter of a wash-man, while Ken, a son of a Minister. Both have known each other for about sixteen years, but as husband and wife for ten years. Susan’s place remains the kitchen. Her husband does not want her to work, but burning her life out in drudgery domestic chores of repetitive boredom. Yet, Ken does not appreciate this; only to treat her with scorn, nagging with obvious wide gulf of social class difference. Until, her friend, Linda, who enjoys her own marriage, leads her to the clinic of Mrs Brown, a lawyer and psychologist, Susan picks up courage to confront fate of being a house wife. In the presence of Kenneth’s mother, they all agree to let Susan remain in the house, no devoice yet, till the governorship race Kenneth’s father is vying for is over without any form of obligation as a member of the Abbah family. The opportunity comes Susan’s way to gain back her husband by confronting Monica, an arranged woman made possible by Kenneth’s mother from Lesotho.
Courage Explodes on the Face of Fate in Mr. and Mrs.
It is imperative to understand the mechanism of fate and reality. This understanding may not be limited by the ideological enunciations between idealist and materialist perceptions. It is only foregrounding the dialectics between thoughts and actions. A popular aphorism says, as man, or woman thinks, so shall he/she become. If this is considered literally, without extenuating the essences of living and the influence of the supernatural, then we may have to concern with the necessity of existential provisions of life. Really, man is born a man, and a woman, a woman. In this truism, we need to understand the nature of man, or woman. The basic nature here, besides the subjective nature of both man and woman that defines the feminine principle has Esther Harding posits, is the gravity of hormones.
By gravity of hormone, I mean the anatomic secretions in the bodies of man and woman that cause attraction towards each other. As we were taught in elementary electrolysis, that ‘positive’ electrons move towards ‘negative’ electrons; that is unlike poles attract. Surely, when a man meets a woman, what comes first is the thought. Thought is the sedation of idea that triggers an action. The action, in this case, is that the man moves to woo the woman. Perhaps this condition defines the meeting between Ken and Susan. Remember, that Ken met Susan sixteen years before we know about their domestic problem. Then, Susan, a hundred level undergraduate, and Ken, a three hundred level undergraduate; in the time of the meeting, there was an attraction that pulled the two together. This pull brings to mind the conscious self and the unconscious self in each of them to take an action. In the long run, the action culminated into marriage. The action now is the dialectics between fate and reality. Fate is defined by dictionary to mean “inevitable destiny or necessity,” which finds meaning in their meeting on campus and reality which is defined by the same dictionary (Chambers) as, “the state or fact of being real; that which is real and not imaginary” (546). In this context, the second definition “which is real and not imaginary”, would be appropriate to capture the image of husband and wife between Ken and Susan. The reality is that Ken and Susan are no longer experiencing what is called “pointed laughter,” but “shared anguish” by (Rotimi 8). Susan is no more an adorable wife, but a slave – an object, a mere “thing” as Mrs. Abah, Ken’s mother says. This situation makes Susan to query Kenneth Abah, “why do you torment me Ken?”
The torment is the depravity in the picture of the Hegelian concept of slave and master. This discordant reality is the hiatus that makes Susan realises that she is no more Ken’s wife, but a slave. For a long while, Susan endures the pang of being an house wife, of being restricted to the kitchen, of being only treated as a symbol of sexuality; then the spark-up comes and develops to mordant protest that she says can no longer endure it: “Just because I can no longer being a slave in my own home, just because I’ve lost myself esteem, just because I am no longer the woman I used to be.” Yet she is still sucking and crying; but no action to unchain herself, until Linda, her friend leads her to a Counsellor, who double as psychologist, apart from being a lawyer, Mrs. Brown. There the courage comes to lunge for freedom? But before then, the social class difference manifests.
Social Class Symbol as a Tool for Patriarchal Subjugation in Mr. and Mrs.
I have already established the social class strata as oppressive tool, using materialist ideology. Contrary to this, the idealist understanding stemmed on conception of society by Aristotle who “argued that the family was a unit rule by the biological superiority of man” quoted by (Wassen 2). Stina Wassen observes further, making reference to Gentry that, Aristotle positioned woman as the subject of the man’s oppression due to her innate inferiority (2). However, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels developed the theory of women’s oppression which was published as, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State in 1884. In this, the theory portends that, “the rise of class society brought with it rising inequality between the rulers and the ruled, and between men and women” (Smith 7). In their finding, Marx and Engels discover in historical materialism that class society led to both the rise of the state, a platform for class struggle, and the rise of the family, a means for the ruling class to possess and pass on private wealth. From this, it is obvious that the biological underpinning is no more a reason, but social class, for the subordination and oppression of femininity by masculinity. To say the social class difference between Susan and Ken is to say the obvious. His reason for not allowing Susan to work, or to socialize is based on image of class disparity. Ken, son of a minister, a wealthy politician, and Susan, a daughter of a wash-man, would not want to be embarrassed, when it matters to brag the social class.
Susan, on her part, is being dragged to the verge of unhappiness and neurosis; only to find solace in the conflict between the images of her father and her husband. She wants to be addressed as a daughter of a dry cleaner, not a daughter of a wash-man. She insists sarcastically, flaunts it sardonically and hits it courageously; until the moment comes to smash it on the face of Monica, the arranged woman from Lesotho. She shoves her out in the language to project her father’s image that “I will soak you; I will wash you, dry you and iron you.” Before now, she has been placid, feigning friendship and tolerance with Monica, in her own matrimony; not just only for the sake of her children, but to secure her freedom and love. Yet, she plays along with social class prejudice and torment from her mother-in law, Mrs. Abah, to remain in the stifling environment without matrimonial obligations, until the governorship race is over to prevent any political scandal consequence of devoice.
Mr. and Mrs., no doubt, in thematic concerns, stepped-up to confront the universal notions that, “sometimes the stereotypical, sometimes plain fallacious, which men tend to hold about women, and which women, too, strongly nurse about menfolk” (see Ola Rotimi’s Man Talk, Woman Talk). Obviously, the diegetic and non-diegetic resolves in the film, in framing and sequences, the montage, music and the dramatic action emphasise the aggression from Ken who appears impossible to be above the testosterone level, while Susan melancholically, on the defensive angle, projects the serpent-desire in Eve’s image to secure her love. This conflict is universal. The arguments continue; it appears no end to it as the Girl and the Boy in Man Talk, Woman Talk engage endlessly. Perhaps, in the sub-plot, Linder becomes oppressive to her husband as David Ikard quotes Sapphire that, “one of the myths we’ve been taught is that oppression created moral superiority. I’m here to tell you that the more oppressed a person is, the more oppressive they will be.” Linda has the preconceived notion that all men are egoistic, she knows this therefore, cages him, and leaves her husband, Charles, to take charge of the domestics with the help of the maid, even starves in sex. Linda’s action finds relevance in what the Girl says in Rotimi’s play, Man Talk, Woman Talk, by quoting Micere Mugo, the co-author of Dedan Kimathi, that, “… this uneasy feeling in women the world over. The feeling of being in perpetual fright, of being in perpetual flight….” Unfortunately, this sub-plot is shot-circuited; it remains a big minus not developing it.
Synopsis of Maami
Maami, by Tunde Kelani, is a psycho-drama. It is a story of mother and child adapted from the story of the same title written by Femi Osofisan. A child raised by a single mother. Kashimawo Dare, the role taken by Adewale Ojo, now Wole Kashi adulterated by the British football fans who arrives the country, Nigeria, to be part of the team to play in the 2010 World Cup tournament hosted, first time in Africa, by South Africa. Here, Kashi weighs on his mind: a responsibility to the ghost of his mother, or to the country. It is a matter of to be, or not to be; then, what is to becoming? His mother, Ebunola, the role by Funke Akindele, runs with him, away from her matrimony; realising that her husband, Otunba Bamisaye, by Olumide Bakare may end up using Kashimawo for ritual money making, as he had used his elder brother, Korede. Mother and child go through excruciating bites of poverty. Hardly, no food to eat, when there is food, no meat; yet she struggles to educate her brilliant child, and teaches him moral lessons and African philosophies. Now, Kashi, a football superstar, rich and famous, but the mother is no more. She died thirteen years ago. For Kashi to lay rest ghosts of the past on his mind, he visits his biological father, Otunba Bamisaye, confronts him with stark truth, to let go his ritual phantom, so as to let him rot in hell!
Woman and Child; the Victims of Patriarchal Oppression in Maami
The Freudian concept of ‘Oedipus complex’ may relive itself again, when one considers the tie- the umbilical cord, between the mother and her child. It is a psychological theory that unconsciously impinges on the mind of son, the rivalry and hostility towards his father because of the attachment with his mother. Sigmund Freud’s studies deal with psycho-neurotic analysis based on the study of the Greek classical drama by Sophocles, Oedipus Rex. It is a story of a King of Thebes who solves the Sphinx’s riddle and unwittingly kills his father and marries his mother. It is a play being adapted to African, Yoruba setting, titled, The Gods Are Not To Blame, by Ola Rotimi. It has become a common question, who owns the child, the father, or the mother? This debate is beyond the contextual paradigm of this essay, yet it does not lose its relevance. Only that, it may be imperative here, to know what makes a woman being connected mostly to her child, especially, a male-child? Could it be the connection between mother and child in its mysteriousness that explains why many nations worshipped a mother and child- in one form or another – centuries before the true saviour, Jesus Christ, was born into this world! And the Catholic Church today, honours and worships Mary, the mother of Christ.
Furthermore, one tends to know, why do women, commonly among the Yorubas that I am conversant with, address a male child, oko mi – my husband? Could it be a shift of phallic attention, or social relationship? To answer these questions, we may want to know why women are giving out by their fathers to their husbands? And is the ‘loss’ of husband that makes a woman re-connect only to her male child, and finds solace in him as her husband (oko mi)? Or why a woman is straddled with images of her father and her husband? Yet the image of the son looms larger on her mind. As I said earlier, in gender discourse, many questions, and counter questions may ensue, yet unresolved. The resolution may only come from what is to becoming, from what it is to be, but not what is not to be. What is to becoming here is what I call social equity. This social equity is the fairness in the relationship between male sex and female sex. Kashi’s mother, Ebunola, overtimes addresses him as her husband, objectifying him as the only one she has. She showers him with love and attachment, care and raises him against all odds. She constantly makes reference to her father in heaven to protect and bless her only son. Kashi’s mother does not only beg and lie, but goes to mortuary to wash corpses, so as to get money to cook meat for him on his tenth anniversary birthday. That day she dies of injuries sustained in an auto accident.
Before her death, Kashi’s mother demonstrates ‘violence’ – a signal for “longing for, or existing link to motherhood” (Sjoberg & Gentry 34). When she confronts the leader of the government task force team that raids and destroys her stall in the market. She equally, violently and resolutely prevents herself being raped by the same man to defend dignity of womanhood. It is the same mind she demonstrates, when Kashi insists to see his father; instead of going directly to Otunba Bamisaye, she leads him to the ritual chamber. It is in there, she confirms that her first child, Korede, Kashi’s brother has been used for ritual money making. Also, she does fight back, when some men rob her of little amount she lies to get from a man by saying that she is a friend to his wife, Yemisi, in a cab. Here, I could examine in the filmic text that women are victims of oppression in the hands of men. Indeed, the debates between the Girl and the Boy in Man Talk, Woman Talk, bring back the dichotomy between the perceived notions of biological categories of ‘men’ and ‘women,’ as Butler asserts, “as both constitutive and supportive of social order,” not only in Africa, but globally. Even when men become sympathetic to women, the resolve may come from Oedipus complex, or perhaps through the phallic realisation to be sympathetic to the course of women.
Kashimawo Dare, now Wole Kashi, has heavy burden on his mind. The psychological trauma, making the past to relive the present, makes him indecisive either to make a categorical statement to play for Nigeria, or not. This I shall discuss in due course in the next segment of this paper. Two things remain to be done by Kashi. These warrant him to ‘steal his time,’ before his Personal Assistant, Dolapo (Tamilore Kuboye), would come barraging him with the question, “would you play, or not play for Nigeria?” to go out earlier. He wants to see his father, and goes to place flower wreath on the grave of his mother at cemetery. Kashi meets Otunba Bamisaye, his father. Otunba is now paying for his ‘sins.’ This could be a balance between positive power relationship and negative power relationship. When the negative power relation weighs heavier, just as the giant scale on the stage of Man Talk, Woman Talk symbolically represents, either temporarily on either sex; whichever sides, the consequence would be- suffering. The mystical law of karma says “what you sow, you shall reap”, is a universal norm. Now Otunba Bamisaye remains on a wheel chair, only to be tended to by a nurse. Kashi meets him. He tells him the truth. He says, “You don’t look good, it has not been easy for me too in the past. He reminds him of trauma he had subjected him and his mother to in the past that made his growing up with untold suffering, apart from using his only brother for ritual money making. In anger, he pulls off the big chain from his neck, to let him ‘rest’ in hell. Thereafter, he goes to lay wreath on the grave of his mother and tell her, “My mother. My country needs me. And I’ve answered the call to serve.”
Psycho-analysis of Suffering in Maami
Mind and body are of matter. Soul is the spiritual germ in man. Man, therefore, is both physical and spiritual. What affects the mind, invariably, affects the body. In this paper, I have not set out to discuss the material and spiritual properties of the mind and body. However, it is imperative to measure the consciousness and unconsciousness of a character like Kashi in the filmic action to know the authentic intentionality that signals to the burden in the thesis of ‘to be’, the antithesis of ‘not to be’, and the synthesis of ‘to becoming’. Before I resolve to that, it is pertinent, as I set out from the beginning of this paper, that man is both subjective and objective. In other words, I mean that man is both of material and spiritual, or to say he is a conscious and unconscious being. If I say man, I also mean woman, since I have established that man and woman are chained together by fate. To really understand the conflict between thought and action, we must investigate his mental being, and what makes him to endure punishment, deprivation, hardship and all that afflict his psyche. When I say psyche, I mean the unconscious aspect of man that natural science may consign to the realm of superstition, it is the subjective, the inner essence of man as Harding posits that, “the subjective factor which came from the unconscious, and which contains just that part of man’s psyche of which he is unaware” (6).
Tunde Kelani uses dream as a diegetic filmic element with the combination of auteur’s’ style and non-diegetic elements that make him one of the leading lights in the New Nollywood film makers. Kelani may be located as an emerging strong force, or voice in this new genre, in Nigerian film history as Frank Ukadike, observes in the work of Souleymane Cisse, Malian film maker that his “concern for form and content clearly resonates in his exploration of camera pyrotechnics, special effects, and the social aspect of narratological patterns that reinforce cinematic codes and cultural conventions” (57), is exquisitely relevant in the study of Tunde Kelani’s works, especially, Maami
Stemming on the above, Kashi’s mind is wrenched between the time past and the time present. The dream patterns on his mind are oscillating in contrastive symbols. He begins to see on the screen of his mind the objects of the challenging past in his unconscious level, while the demand of the present pulls him on the conscious level. The ingrains of thoughts on the plate of Kashi’s mind become strained images as an adult, while those dreams are coded images of reality that manifest in his dreams as a lad; are revealing themselves now. The interplay of real and unreal like the dreams of Kashi being Termogene, the rascal in the city of Abeokuta, whose ego pushes him to the narcissist “libidinal investment” (Lacan 287), and his childhood’s dream to be a footballer magnifies in the symbol of masquerade in a scary moment. The interpretive understanding of dreams could be deduced from the “elements of dreams and the genuine things they stood for” (Freud 278). Sigmund Freud posits his frame-work on four cardinal relations, they are: the relation of part to a whole, allusion, the symbolic relation and the plastic representation of words. Really, as Kashi tells his mother, he never wants to be Termogene, he wants to be Segun Odegbami, Kanu Nwankwo, Daniel Amokachi or Stephen Keshi – the immediate past Super Eagles of Nigeria Technical Coach. One could even assume that, perhaps Kashi is the adulterated name for Keshi. Yet he acts the role of Termogene in his dream, while demonstrating in symbolic relation to a female teacher in the class room, the masquerade apprehends him and voices in the plasticity of reality that, “you have no father, I will kill you”. In his wake, on his birthday, on their way with his mother, he has the glimpse of his father, but insists he must dialogue with him. Only the ‘masculine principle’ (Harding 8) in her mother that prompts her determination and poignancy in the power of words save him, he could have ended being a replacement of his elder brother for ritual money making by his own father, Otunba Bamisaye. Unfortunately, Kashi could not dialogue with his father, he could celebrate his birthday, and he could not eat meat, he had been longing for. On that day, while his mother is dying, in a laden emotive persuasion, Kashi tells his mother that: “I do not want birthday again, I do not want meat again, I do not need a father; but you are the one I need.” The image of the ritual-room looms large in the symbolic dreams elements in both his conscious self and unconscious self, even in his adult life.
The positive relation Kashi has with his mother becomes reflective thoughts on his mind; just like the negative relation he has with his father, his environment and people around him form prongs of challenge on his ontological being. But moral lessons and ethics based on the Yoruba philosophies strengthen his character. Morality according to Magesa is “a normal ordering…of the lives of persons with regard to the ways in which they can choose to relate themselves to reality” (3). Morality is ambivalent; it has two sides to itself. In relating with each other, it could be good or bad. This takes us back to binary relationship. From the primordial time, man accuses woman wrongly to be ‘bad,’ and woman does the same to her opposite. Ordinarily, in the idle moment, the gossip comes from either man against woman, or vice versa. Morality comes in there. Then is it ethical to gossip, or accuse wrongly base on the frivolous natural tendencies? Ethical system of a people may concern their morals and religion. Ethics therefore is the system of morals or rules in the study of normative order. Ethics is simply science of morality.
Otunba Bamisaye, no doubt, fails in his paternal care. The innate egoistic drive in masculinity to possess and accrue to self makes him to use his own son; not minding the repercussive end of action and re-action, that always end in equal and opposite as the natural law of motion defines. He does not care to use the only surviving son from the same women he drives away from his house, for ritual intent again. Kashi’s mother is his moral bank. Her words become living codes on his mind and they become his guiding principles. She tells him, “kindness, is like the baton in a relay race, when you receive it, pass it on.” It is of little wonder then to seeing him donate sum amount of Five million naira to an orphanage. This orphanage becomes a living image of his past, in that after the death of his mother, he was an inmate in an orphanage too. Just like the narrative of a boy from the hands of kidnappers who want to use him for ritual money making purpose, makes him vomit. This act becomes a purge of the past. Kashi’s mother also gives him another guiding principle that “life is a game.” Just as in the game of football, there are actual players, there are fanatical supporters that may ruin or die in the course hooliganism, while there are enthusiasts who are to be entertained, bemused and clap for the players. The concept of game makes deep meaning on his psyche. He is a football superstar. Having fulfilled his mission “to lay a few ghost to rest”, he tells his mother by the grave side that “whatever success I achieve; I dedicate to your memory. You taught me all I know.” Finally, he resolves the riddle of ‘to be, or ‘not to be’; playing for his country, Nigeria, is ‘to becoming’ as the resolution of the psycho-problematic.
In this paper, I strongly contended the subjective biological categorisation of sexes; of being ‘strong’ or weak, especially the feminine sex. These categorisation, has being a veritable means of the abuse of the patriarchal power to dominate, suppress and limit the course of women development to second axial binary option of strong/weak, superior/ inferior, good/bad, and many more. I have observed that biology, in the anatomical structure, delineates the difference between man and woman, but in procreation, a biological responsibility; man and woman are partners. Many cultures of many patriarchal societies, many religions of the world, and especially in Africa and, more importantly, Nigeria, consign women not ‘to be heard’, but to be seen, just like they think of children. No doubt, the consequence of modernity straining towards the post-modern urbanization of society plays vital roles in this. In reaction, feminists and womanist writers demand, not only to be heard, or seen, they want to be co-players in political, economic and socio-cultural developments in Africa. In contributing to the voiceless voices, this study has posited that, nature may not make man and woman the same, yet they deserve to be fairly treated which informs the notion of social equity as partners in the advancement of our world.
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