Onitsha Market Literature

A Woman’s pride is her husband.

Although this is one of only a few pamphlets written by a woman, this edition of A Woman’s Pride is Her Husband, probably from 1962, was “revised and enlarged” by Felix N. Stephen, another popular and prolific pamphlet author. Image from the pamphletThis situation raises the question of true authorship, for the title of the pamphlet suggests that the writer is, and should be, a woman. Yet the pamphlet’s style is consistent with Stephen’s, and he is listed with “Mrs. Chinwe Akaosa,” on the title page.

In the preface, Stephen describes the original author as “a Nigerian married woman” who “originally launched out” ideas “in the difficult issue of marriage.” (2) Her name is not given in the preface, and there is a distinct lack of details about her. The Onitsha pamphlets often include photographs of authors or publishers, but none are provided with this work. Perhaps Chinwe Akaosa is a fictitious author, for no other pamphlets are attributed to Akaosa. It is likely that Stephen, (a pseudonym for Nathan O. Njoku), described as a “Free Lance Journalist” on the title page, is responsible for much of the content here.

This pamphlet makes interesting claims about gender roles in 1960s Nigeria, including the opening statement, “Obedience is a charm for marriage life.” (3) Much of the material is similar to American publications from the 1950s that provide advice to ensure a happy home from the likes of Betty Crocker. The pamphlet argues that a marriage to an unloving husband is better than the plight of a widow, for example. A section of the pamphlet that begins on page 8 notes that “A Lazy Man is Mastered by His Wife.” And Stephen plays with the pamphlet’s title, A Woman’s Pride is Her Husband, when he states in the preface that he is “proud of the alertness of Nigerians, both male and female, in all fields, these days.” (2)

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