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  • Background of the Study

According to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (8th Edition), unfaithfulness refers to the act of having sex with somebody who is not your husband, wife or usual partner. It also went on to say that unfaithfulness can also be one’s carelessness towards a duty or relegation of duty assigned to a person.

Generally, literature does not develop in a vacuum. Literature is an imitation of reality and every work of art is a product of its social and cultural milieu. Consequently, every writer is a product of his/her socio-cultural and historical milieu. The African novel as a medium of communication is not an exception, because the society remains the material that inspire writers. Every society has gone through or is still undergoing one experience or the other: such experiences are what writers depict in their writings. The purpose of such depictions or portrayal is either to praise or criticize the trend. Mostly common in literature is the depiction of unpleasant realities of life. It is in the light with this that the works of Fatima Pam becomes relevant, (Akujobi, 2011).

The works of emerging writers have given attention to patriarchy as the only system that subjects women to oppression. Consequently, their works show a great deal of consciousness, serious concern and interest in the political, economic and social environment in their attempt to emancipate the feminine gender.

According to Okoma, (2003), in a patriarchal society like Africa, women are seen as objects of possession by men. They are seen as home makers, therefore, the male folks tend not to respect their feelings talk less of listening to their voices. The male folks do anything they feel is good for them including being unfaithful in the marriage institution.

In a similar vein Tobrise (1998), says that in the contemporary African society, the tears of women in marriage institutions have flowed everywhere. This is due to the oppression they face in their various matrimonial homes. No woman wants or enjoys sharing her husband with another woman: she sees it as an act of betrayal on the part of the husband. The pains seem so deep that it takes, sometimes, a very long time to heal.

The men have it as a tradition to marry as many wives as they can. They feel women are objects which they can possess as much as they want. Since the days of old, a man can marry as many wives as he can: that was the nature of unfaithfulness. Today’s man sees marrying so many wives as an act of unfaithfulness to the wife, but he sees nothing wrong in flirting around with other women outside the marriage institution. Getting married to so many wives is expensive and stressful, therefore, the men folks resolve to keeping concubines and mistresses outside their matrimonial homes: reducing these concubines to objects of gratification. This has become unbearable for the African women and therefore, they have decided that enough is enough by letting their voices out.

The feminist writers have decided to use different types of feminist approaches to stop this act of male domination, patriarchy and consequently their unfaithfulness in the marriage institutions.

  • Statement of the Problem

Patriarchy has continued to be one of the most discussed issues in most feminist texts today. It is clear that in the African society, women are seen as weaker vessels hence they are treated as such. They are seen as objects to be possessed by the male folks. The men on their part see themselves as superior to the women therefore they do whatever they feel is good for them even if it is to the detriment of the women.

Unfaithfulness of men in the marriage institution today, is on the increase. This to a large extent, can be seen as an inherited phenomenon. Right from pre-colonial society, men used to marry as many wives as they want. Today, unfaithfulness by men has taken a more civilized dimension. They prefer to keep concubines and mistresses outside their matrimonial homes thereby at times abandoning the legal wife or creating unnecessary fights in the home. The wife at home is always at the receiving end. This needs to change especially as the females are agitating for equality in their treatment in all ramifications.

  • Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to look at the way women are portrayed

in the society in the text of study. It is also aimed at analyzing how women react differently to the unfaithfulness of men in the African setting and to exhume the effects of men’s unfaithfulness in marriages. The study also evaluates how the writer has tried to resolve the various acts of unfaithfulness in the text and proffers other possible ways of ensuring happy married life of couples.

  • Significance of the Study

This research is significant especially now that society is drifting towards destruction as a result of moral and social decay occasioned by modernism. This has also become necessary with the advent of HIV/AIDS pandemic as well as hepatitis which are ravaging societies. It is therefore, necessary for the human society to be sensitized to avert the looming calamity that affects mostly the women. This is not to talk of stigmatization which also affects mostly women. It is in view of these negative consequences on women that this researcher seeks to educate society Pam’s novel.

Parents will also benefit from this study as they will train and advise their male children on the dangers of being unfaithful when they grow up and marry.

  • Scope and Limitation of the Study

The research work is based on the unfaithfulness of men in the marriage institution in Fatima Pam’s Once Upon a Country. Due to time and financial constraints, the research work will be limited to this topic and the text in question.

Therefore, the analysis, even though is restricted to Pam’s chosen novel: it will include cursory references to other critical and artistic endeavours that are relevant to the study.

  • Methodology

The method of data collection and analysis employed for this research is basically textual analysis of the primary text and other materials that are relevant to this study. This will involve the use of the college library for books, novel, journals, magazines, periodicals and other relevant materials. It also involves critical works written by other artist on the topic or about the author that has any relevance to this study. Included for this research is also the use of internet to source for materials.

  • Contextual Definition of Terms

Unfaithfulness: It is the act of having an affair or attaching emotions to someone other than your wife or partner. This can also refer to disloyalty, non-adherence to obligations, duties and promises.

Marriage: It a legal and social contract between individuals that unite their lives legally, economically and emotionally. This implies that the couple has legal obligations to each other throughout their lives or until they decide to divorce.

  • Author’s Biography

Mrs. Fatima Pam of Plateau State has been a writer since her teenage years, she has distinguished herself as a writer of children’s fiction since 1989. Some of her popular creative works include Amina the Milk Maid which won the Noma Award nomination in 1989. Mustapha in the Desert, Mustapha Rescue the Princes, Hassan and Husseini, Yakubu and the Drum, and A Fortune for Bose.

Born in Sierra-Leon, and of Nigerian and Arah – Nomadic parentage, Fatima Pam had her first degree in French in the United States of America. She also has a working knowledge of Portuguese and the command of the English language. As T. S Elliot has implied in his article, “Tradition and the Individual Talent” (1986:429-439), all the cultural influences which form Mrs. Pam’s social background have gained expression in debut adult novella, the Tender in the Fury (2005).

1.9. Theoretical Framework

The theoretical framework of this research is therefore, feminism. This is in line with the two types of feminism that Fatima Pam uses to portray the unfaithfulness of men in marriage institutions: radical and subtle feminism. Feminism as a social and literary theory, seeks to promote the rights of women. As a literary theory, feminism evaluates the portrayal of the feminine gender as characters in modern literary texts to make amends.

It is therefore, no wonder that Pam has seen the predicament of African women in marriages and decided to voice it out in her novel, Once Upon a Country. This research shall therefore, dwell on elements of unfaithfulness of men and how the writer has successfully portrayed them.

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