Don highlights women's voices in francophone African Literature

By Ikechukwu Onyekwe
Prof. Doris L. Obieje ( NOUN 24th Inaugural Lecturer)


Prof. Doris L. Obieje, a professor of French Language and Literature at the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), delivered the 24th Inaugural Lecture Series on Thursday, 22nd February 2024, at the university's newly constructed virtual laboratory.

 The lecture l, titled Herstory in the Words of Francophone African Novelists, explored the works of various francophone African women writers who have challenged the male-dominated and colonial narratives of African Literature.

Obieje said that francophone African Literature, which emerged in the first decades of the 20th century, has often portrayed African women as passive, oppressed, or exoticised.

A Cross section of participants at the lecture


She said that francophone African women writers have created complex and nuanced female characters, who assert their agency, identity, and creativity in different contexts such as betrayal, adultery, and poverty.

She coined the term Herstory to describe the perspective of these women writers, who have given voice to their own stories and experiences.

Some of the writers that Obieje analysed in her lecture included Mariama Bâ, Aminata Sow Fall, Eric Touya de Marenne, Calixthe Beyala and Aurore  Koechlin.

Group picture at the end of  the event


Others were Aja Awa Thiam, Claire Marie Matip, Therese Kuoh Moukory Hemley Boum, Maïssa Bey, Ken Bugul, Nafissatou Diallo, Marie Ndiaye, and Fatou Keita among others.

The lecturer said that these writers represent different regions, generations, and backgrounds of francophone Africa.

She also said that these writers were influenced by various literary movements, trends, and  societal norms.

R-L: Prof Obieje presenting  the 24th Inaugural Lecture booklet  to the VC


The lecture was well received by the audience, who were captivated by Obieje's passionate delivery and insightful analysis of the themes presented in the works of these novelists.

Many attendees expressed their desire to further explore the rich literary traditions of francophone Africa.

Prof. Olufemi Peters, the vice-chancellor of NOUN, praised Obieje for her scholarly contributions to the field of French Language and Literature.

VC making his remarks


He commended her for her dedication to promoting the study of francophone African Literature and for her commitment to advancing gender equality in the academia.

Peters described Obieje’s inaugural lecture as "the first of its kind" and said it sparked important conversations about the role of women in African Literature and society.

Prof. Chiedu Mafiana, deputy vice-chancellor (Academic), who organised  the inaugural lecture, thanked the academic community for honouring the event and urged the university community to watch out for more events coming from the Faculty of Arts throughout the year.

Prof. Omolara Nwabueze, dean, Faculty of Arts, presented an award to Obieje for her outstanding lecture.