A Critique of Tess Onwueme’s Tell It to Women Essay

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Pages: 5

In Tess Onwueme’s play Tell It To Women, we travel back to a Nigerian village in postcolonial Africa. The story enlightens the audience about the dichotomy of traditionalism versus modernism and the ways in which different cultures interact. It ends by revealing the true meaning of culture; the real quality in a society that arises from a passion for what is excellent in arts, manners, and customs. Overall, the play discusses the role of women within this Nigerian village and largely examines the conflict of whether it is better to advance with the rest of the world, or to hold on to the traditions that truly make a society independent and beautiful. The play begins with Yemoja, the most important woman in the village, in a house with …show more content…
She does all this without losing sight of what is most important to women of a small village like that. At one part she even has Ruth say “these rural women are very gullible, you know. All you need to do is make them feel they are important… we need them anyway, maybe even more than they need us.” The author is commenting here on the passive-aggressive attempts of Daisy and Ruth but also shows that the village women do not actually need to be modernized. Perhaps here, the author is a little biased because she is making Daisy and Ruth out to be selfish and slightly cruel. To a western reader, the play was not very easy to read. The names of the villagers were at times tongue tying and I found myself changing opinions about a character because I in fact, thought they were another. Onwueme also does not really explain the native African dialect and proverbial expressions that are used, which was slightly confusing as well. Many play-writes include footnotes at the bottom of the page to explain vernacular that is not known to the reader and that would have been very helpful here. That being said, the true meaning of the play was present the entire time. The clash of cultures and the lingering pains of colonialism in Africa come through wonderfully in the author’s interpretation. In one eloquent line we see that colonialism left its mark of the villagers. Sherifat says to Daisy that “it’s easier for those who