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A Clash Between Traditional African Value and Modern Africa in the Play, The Broken Calabash by Tess Osonye Onwueme
The Broken Calabash is a play that explores the themes of modernity againstthe decadent traditional African value system (of the caste order, where the individual conviction of genuine love for another person reigns supreme) in spite of traditional attitude of discrimination against the outcast. Ona, a female undergraduate and an only daughter and child of her parents, is an Idegbe, the name given to an only daughter and child of a marriage in Ogwashi Uku clan of the Delta State, Nigeria. She is expected not to be married out but to remain at home to propagate their lineage. However, she has the choice of marrying another female into the family to take up her role of child bearing. Her modern concept of freedom of will, independence and individualism renders this alternative unsavory. To Ona, marrying Diaku, an “Osu” (an Osu is an outcast, a person, not recognized as a bonafide member of a community he claims to come from; he has no freedom to participate or associate with other members of his claimed community. He is dedicated to serve the gods) would help her succeed in breaking this ossified and decadent tradition. In this paper, we highlight these issues and argue for the freedom of choice for the female, in support of Onwueme’s views. It is hoped that, readers, especially the traditionally minded ones will come to terms with this innovation. It is suggested that, time has come to do away with unprogressive traditional norms that deny the individual the right of choice and association as a person. Therefore, women must have a right to choose in the society, for the purpose of collective and sustainable societal development.