Flora Nwapa and Oguta’s Lake Goddess
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- Jell-Bahlsen, S. Dialect Anthropol (2007) 31: 253. doi:10.1007/s10624-007-9017-6
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The home of Nigeria's renowned Marxist anthropologist, Ikenna Nzimiro, and of the country's ``first lady of letters,'' Flora Nwapa, is Oguta, a sprawling commercial centre situated on Oguta Lake near the confluence of the rivers Niger and Urashi. Both authors have described their home town in their own diverging perspectives. While Nzimiro's account focused on the town's political organization and questions of state formation and authority, Flora Nwapa was a novelist concerned primarily with women's issues. She engaged her home town's custom and religious beliefs centring on the pre-eminent lake goddess, Ogbuide, in her quest to champion womanhood. This paper examines how the novelist took certain artistic liberties and critically deconstructed local custom in her cause to promote women. While Nwapa's primary concern was women's reproductive rights and welfare, she also cherished Oguta culture, voiced her critique with caution, and was increasingly critical of foreign intrusions.