Dissension of Tradition and Modernity in Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood


  • Athira S. Kumar, Dr. V. Jaisre


conflict, tradition, modernity, superstition, womanhood


The paper discusses the conflict between the traditional beliefs of Nnu Ego and the modern life she is exposed to in Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood. Nnu Ego, the protagonist, was born and raised in the little Ibo town called Ibuza. She was born as the symbol of love of Nwokocha Agbadi, a wealthy local chief and Ona, the village's most beautiful woman. Nnu Ego was raised with the superstitious belief that she was the rebirth of the slave woman who died with the senior wife, Agenda. Amatokwu rejected her because she could not bear children for him. She is later married to Nnaife, who lives in Lagos. He worked for his white master, Dr. Meers, who works in the Forensic Science Laboratory at Yaba. Nnu Ego is exposed to the ways of a white man, and she is baffled by the appearance of Nnaife as he is short, fat and stocky, unlike the Ibuza men. She was surprised by the ways of Nnu Ego and his behaviour towards his white masters. She was also taken aback by the custom of women earning their family by doing small jobs at the local market. She is constantly caught between two cultures. It took her a lot of time to sail away from her traditional attachment. She is constantly caught between two worlds of tradition and modernity. The study aims to critically analyze Nnu Ego and her dilemma in the approach of modernity in her life.