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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Saved by a Song: Patriarchy and Women's Experience in Chamba Tellings of 'The Girl Who Wanted an Unblemished Husband'
Authors:Boyd, RaymondISNI
Fardon, RichardISNI
Periodical:Journal of African Cultural Studies
Geographic term:Nigeria
folk tales
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Women's Issues
Cultural Roles
Marital Relations and Nuptiality
Sex Roles
Abstract:The tale of 'The girl who wanted an unblemished husband' occurs widely among the peoples of Africa south of the Sahara. It tells of a young girl's stubborn insistence, in defiance of the advice of her kin, on finding a husband without physical flaw. But the man's unblemished appearance conceals a ghastly reality, which the girl discovers only when she has been separated from her relatives. At one level, the story must be construed as a patriarchal homily on the na´vety of young women, which teaches a lesson about the wisdom of their deference to age and experience. However, a detailed analysis, relating Chamba variations of the tale collected in 1987, 1990 and 1992 to the social and cultural context of Chamba Daka speakers living in the Ganye and Jada Local Government Authorities in Adamawa State, Nigeria, suggests the tale may also be interpreted as a broader allegory of women's experience. All women leave their natal home and patrikin to live among affines who are strangers and potentially hostile. Marital life may be full of disappointments to be endured with ingenuity; but, like the girl in the story, women's suffering may be redeemed by song and dance. Eventually all women return to their patrikin when they die. The authors suggest that a more complex appreciation of what the tale conveys accounts for both its popularity among women, and for some of the respects in which Chamba variations of the tale differ from those told elsewhere. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum.