Conceptualization Of Motherhood Analysis

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The Conceptualization of ‘Feminism’ and ‘Motherhood’ in the African Feminist Perspective
African feminism: ‘Un-African’ Discourse?
The issue of African feminism has been one of contention and controversy. There has been a lot of issues raised starting from the coinage of the term to the matter of theorizing it. The controversy that surrounds African feminism is largely tied to the colonial history of the African continent. It is an undeniable fact that colonialism has shaped and reshaped the social, economic, political and cultural dimensions in Africa. Many view colonialism as a force that robbed Africa of its culture, history and philosophy. This reality consequently has caused antagonistic attitude and relationship with the west. Therefore,
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Historically, the concept has been central to the African reality. This notion has evolved through time both as a concept and institution in and outside of the African continent. The underlying objective of the (re)conceptualization of motherhood lies in the importance of its re-interpretation from the African perceptive and the analysis of whether or not the conception of ‘motherhood’ can empower women to be visible in other areas of human endeavor?
A leading scholar, Remi Akujobi, transcends the conventional definition of motherhood, conventionally understood as an “automatic set of feelings and behaviors that is switched on by pregnancy and birth of a baby” and explores the socially constructed meanings, religious mythologies and the dominant western perspective on motherhood. The central point of her work assumes that motherhood takes different names and forms depending on the society that is practicing it. (Akujoni. 2011:2). This argument invalidates radical feminist perspective such as Andrea Dworkin and Gloria Steinem that invariably portrays motherhood as a being a burden and
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Oyeronke Oyewumi, who is a strong advocate of the notion of motherhood, asserts that the notion in the African context goes further than simply birthing and rearing children, in that, ‘mothers are the essential building blocks of social relationships, identities and indeed society because a mother Symbolizes; familial ties, unconditional love and loyalty’ (Oyewumi, 2000: 17). For these writers, the African woman’s position is one that is cherished and revered by the community. This view is in sharp contrast to the dominant perspective within western feminism. The western feminist account of motherhood reduces it to be subordinated, disadvantaged and oppressed. African feminists strongly reject this perception and claim that a mother’s power over the infant and recognition as primary care givers grants them an indirect power and authority over the society. In other words, the mother teaches the child about society’s ways of knowing and doing things. Therefore, the mother becomes critical of development and maintenance of a certain
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