What is the role of women in Anthills of the Savannah?

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dymatsuoka | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Women play an important role in Anthills of the Savannah. The author, Chinua Achebe, is notable for portraying women as  strong, believable characters.  Women are instrumental as keepers of tradition in the tribe, even as the role of tradition is changing in the face of modernity, a history of oppression, and corrupt governments.  It is also the women especially who maintain a sense of morality and humanity during times of difficulty.

Beatrice Okoh is the most completely developed woman character in the novel.  She is the fifth daughter in her family, and it is significant that her father, having wanted a son, named her "Nwanybuife", which means "A Woman Is Also Something".  Beatrice is well-educated, intelligent, and independent.  Although she navigates the modern world with confidence, she is attuned to her culture and the common people of her tribe.

Through Beatrice and other strong women characters, Achebe develops the theme of the importance of women in the future of Africa.  Ikem tells Beatrice that women, who have always been oppressed, play a crucial role in "the future of nations".  At the end of the narrative, it is significant that, at the naming ceremony of Ikem and Elowa's baby, Beatrice does the naming, even though that role is traditionally fulfilled by a man.  Even more significantly, she gives the girl child a boy's name, "Amaechina", which means "May the Path Never Close".

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