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Islamic-Hausa Feminism Meets Northern Nigerian Romance: The Cautious Rebellion of Bilkisu Funtuwa

  • Novian Whitsitt

This study of contemporary Hausa literature analyzes a northern Nigerian body of popular fiction currently referred to as Kano market literature and known to Hausa speakers as Littattafan Soyayya (books of love). The popularity of this genre of romance rests firmly upon its subject matter, one that has proven controversial within the conservative Muslim environment of Hausa society. On the surface, the novels are preoccupied with love and marital relationships, depicting the ordeals faced by courting lovers or married couples. However, on a deeper level, the novels have become an explorative territory for the socially, culturally, and religiously loaded issues of polygamy, marriages of coercion, purdah, and the accessibility of female education. In effect, Kano market literature reflects the rapid social change confronting Hausa society and positions itself as a voice offering a new perspective on gender relations. This article examines closely the works of arguably the most celebrated woman writer, Bilkisu Ahmed Funtuwa. Acutely aware of her rigid social and religious milieu, Funtuwa offers suggestions to young women who desire a greater level of control over their familial relationships and educational direction.


Cette étude de la littérature contemporaine Hausa analyse un corps de fiction populaire issu du nord du Nigeria et communément appelé littérature de marché Kano, et connu en langue Hausa sous le nom de Littattafan Soyayya (“livres d'amour”). La popularité de ce genre de roman à l'eau de rose est résolument fondée sur son sujet, lequel a été l'objet de controverses dans le milieu musulman conservateur de la société Hausa. En surface, ces romans se préoccupent de l'amour et des relations maritales, décrivant les rudes épreuves auxquelles sont confrontés les amants amoureux ou les couples mariés. Cependant, à un niveau plus profond, ces romans sont devenus un territoire d'exploration des questions problématiques sociales, culturelles et religieuses touchant à la polygamic, aux manages forcés, au purdah, et à l'accès des femmes à l'éducation. En réalité, la littérature de marché Kano reflète la rapidité des changements sociaux auxqucls la société Hausa se trouve confrontée, et se positionne en tant que voix offrant une nouvelle perspective sur les relations entre les sexes. Cet article fait un examen approfondi des oeuvres de l'écrivaine certainement la plus célèbre, Bilkisu Ahmed Funtuwa. Extrêmement consciente de la rigidité de son milieu social et religieux, Funtuwa offre des suggestions aux jeunes femmes qui désirent exercer un plus grand contrôle sur leurs relations familiales et sur leur orientation scolaire.

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African Studies Review
  • ISSN: 0002-0206
  • EISSN: 1555-2462
  • URL: /core/journals/african-studies-review
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