Representation of Women in Udje, an Urhobo Men’s-Only Oral Poetic Performance Genre

Authored by: Enajite Eseoghene Ojaruega

Routledge Handbook of Minority Discourses in African Literature

Print publication date:  May  2020
Online publication date:  April  2020

Print ISBN: 9780367368340
eBook ISBN: 9780429354229
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter examines women’s marginalization, deliberate exclusion, and near absence from udje, a song-poetry performance tradition of the Urhobo people of Delta state. It engages a selection of udje songs to show the minority status imposed on women by the men who are the composers and performers of this traditional genre through enforced silence, misrepresentation, and many other forms of patriarchal marginalization of women. On the surface, women are excluded for reasons of the bare-chested nature of performers, extraordinarily vigorous athleticism of the dancers, and the spiritual rituals involved at some stages of the compositional processes. However, the issues of gender, patriarchal constructs, spirituality, and male exclusivity are among the real reasons used to keep women from the performance, even though women are subjects of many songs that they cannot respond to or counter in the same arena.

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