Criticism of the Boy Child Preference in Africa by Selected Nigerian Playwrights


  • Methuselah Jeremiah Department of English and Drama, Kaduna State University Kaduna, Nigeria


Many African playwrights have consistently criticised the emphasis that Africans place on the boy child. These playwrights have done so by projecting the pain and anguish that women who are unable to bear a male child are subjected to in their plays, the attendant stigma and downright  condemnation and hostility of all and sundry towards them. They have further explicated this issue by graphically detailing how the girl child is disdained, maligned or outrightly rejected in most occasions because she was not the expectation of the parents who would have preferred a boy child in her stead. They further expose how the girl-child is denied educational opportunities or even ‘sacrificed’ to make the boy child comfortable either by being ‘sold’ off to pay for his fees or lacking the attention of the parents in accessing some other basic needs of life. This plaintive cry by most of these playwrights is a reaction to the ‘voracious’ appetites and premium placed on the male child to the detriment of the girl child. This paper investigates
the phenomenon of the male child preference in selected plays from Nigeria. A content analysis of these plays is made to highlight this phenomenon which projects the sociological realities in many African communities whether traditional or modern. Findings by this study indicate that the quest for heirs among Africans and the erroneous views in some quarters that the boy child is more important than the girl child, among other issues, is  responsible for the boy child preference in Africa. This has the result of inflicting serious psychological trauma on women who are pressured as a result of the quest for the boy child.