chapter  6
Women as the Bearers of Supernatural Powers in the African
Pages 10

The lack of the portrayal of women as the true heroines in African oral literature undoubtedly emanates from the bias that Western scholars as well as African ones have had about women and their roles in African societies. The problem here though, is not that positive images of women and their priceless contributions to the survival of their respective societies is not well documented in the oral tradition (See Lee, Oyesakin, Ogunsina, Mbele, 2000 & 2006), but rather one that shows a consistent and persistent neglect, downplaying and subjection of women’s actions and roles to those of her male counterparts. Tackling that issue of the underestimation of women’s empowerment and leadership in African literature, Kolawole (1997) affi rms that, “most male writers continued to fi ctionalize women as objects or mirror characters that are vehicles for fostering a world of male heroism.” (p. 79) There is thus, a need to move from the portrayal of women as passive, docile, and marginal, to a depiction of women as the active, dynamic, positive and indispensable protagonists that they have always been in African societies. This chapter is therefore an attempt to incorporate a more woman-oriented approach to the study of the African epic.