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1.1       Background of the Study

Any activity carried out in human society employs the use of language. Language is usually seen as that which is purely human and none instinctive method of communicating ideas, emotions and desires by means of voluntarily produced symbols. Language is also defined as an arbitrary system of symbols which enables man to communicate an infinite number and variety of messages, meanings, intentions, through requests and items of information. It is a medium of communication which helps the members of a community interact and relate with one another. From the above definitions, one can say that language is a means or channel through which information, norms, views, ideas, intentions are disseminated. However, language in any society serves diverse functions and one of its crucial functions lies on language being a means of cultural identity. This thereby draws a relationship between language and culture.

In almost all societies, marriage is one of the cultural practices and it can be terminated by either party of the union for one reason or the other through a process called divorce. Divorce or dissolution of marriage is the final termination of a marital union, canceling the traditional or legal duties and responsibilities of marriage and dissolving the bonds of matrimony between husband and wife (The Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936). Divorce laws vary considerably around the world but in most countries they require the sanction of court or other authorities in conjunction with legal processes.

In most African societies, socio-cultural factors or conditions have over the years influenced divorce, and these have been matters of concern to spouses. Reasons that could lead to divorce abound. These include infidelity, early marriage, negligence, barrenness etc. Divorce thereby has many implications on the individuals or persons who are involved in it as well as the society. Instances are seen when children of divorced homes turn miscreants to the entire cultural, economic, religious and political values of society which in turn lead to holiganism, deviance or even terrorism as being experienced in today Nigeria. This situation then calls for a reconsideration of the causes and effects of divorce in society, exploring a more innovative solution to it in other to bridge the gap between the society and the practice of divorce.

Effort is also made in this study concentrating on the language use in the practice of divorce. This necessity demands an investigation into divorce in some selected Igbo novels using a sociolinguistic analysis since literature mirrors the society and its culture. Reasons that could lead to divorce could be found in Ọfomata’s Ihe Ọjọọ Gbaa Afọ, Okebalama’s Ọdi Ụkọ na Mba and Nzeakọ’s Nkoli.

1.2       Statement of the Problem

The issue of divorce has over the years defiled solution. Marital relationship for one reason or the other has ended in divorce. A number of reasons abound why couples go for divorce in the Igbo tradition. The following variables can lead to divorce- infidelity, infertility, impotence, stealing, prostitution, witch crafting, disrespect etc. The outward of a divorced home is always on the negative side because one party or the other is usually affected either psychologically or socially. That is why Weiss (1976) says that the effects of divorce on those who are engulfed in the situation tend to be stressful. It, therefore, means that the distress caused by the scourge of divorce is easier for adults to cope with the broken attachment because of their life experiences, maturity and alternate sources of support.

This persistent feature of divorce in Igbo setting over the years and its effect can be largely attributed to limited knowledge of the causes and effects of divorce. However, the detailed exploration of causes and implications of divorce in selected Igbo novels will equip individuals especially the youth and the married with multiple knowledge of issues surrounding divorce and these in turn will modify and guide them in their marital relationship so as to avoid any wrong step that could lead to divorce.

Furthermore, a lot of researches have been conducted in literature on literary texts using sociolinguistics approach but this is limited on divorce precisely. It is on this basis that this study tends to look at divorce in some selected Igbo novels using a sociolinguistic approach.

1.3       Purpose of the Study

The general purpose of this study is to explore the nature of divorce in Igbo tradition using Igbo novels. Specifically, the study sought to:

  1. evaluate the social and psychological implications of divorce on the characters implicated in the study texts.
  2. identify and evaluate the causes and types of divorce in the study texts.

iii.       identify and examine the extent language expressions of divorce in the texts of study reflect the Igbo tradition of divorce.

1.4       Significance of the Study

The result of this study will have both theoretical and practical significance.

1.4.1   Theoretical Significance

This study will be used to explore the validity of some major tenets of the divorce theories. It will also serve as a reference material for further researches on divorce in Igbo tradition. Specifically, it will help researchers who are interested in Igbo literature to see the relationship in an apt form, between literature and Igbo social life. It will assist readers to familiarize themselves with the causes and implications of divorce both at individual and societal levels in Igbo land and Africa as a whole using fictional characters. The language expression of divorce in the novels studied in this work as examined will further give researchers insight into how language is explored in relation to issues of divorce in Igbo tradition as well as provide research bases for lexicographers, linguists, ethnographers etc.

1.4.2   Practical Significance

Although this research is literary, it is important to note that its practical relevance cannot be quantified. The analysis of causes and implications of divorce in the texts under study as shown in the chapters of analysis  will serve as a mirror through which those involved in divorce will see their mistakes, readjust themselves and forestall further occurrences when it get to them. It is hoped that this work will be pasted in the internet, will be used as seminar topic, will be deposited in libraries etc.  Through these sources, information on it will be disseminated to the mass.  Specifically, the researcher hopes that teachers, students, authors, curriculum planners and government would derive some benefit from the study and through them; the society at large would also be involved in the benefit.

Since the knowledge about the implications of divorce can enhance low divorce rate, curriculum planners will see the need to include divorce into the school social studies curriculum so as to equip the students early enough with the knowledge before they get into marriage. As they will be fore warned, they will also be fore armed. The result of the study it is hoped wills trigger more researches and innovations in literary studies. Based on the findings, workshops and seminars on causes and implications of divorce so as to avoid the practice will then be organized and sponsored.

To the society, it will generally create awareness that divorce is detrimental to the society and that reading books, attending seminars or workshops etc. about divorce are not just for mere waste of time but can make a meaningful positive change on the high rate of divorce in our society. From this, parents will be enlightened to educate their children on issues about divorce.    Finally, the study would serve as an empirical basis for cultural research evidence and citations.

1.5       Scope of the Study

This research covers causes and implications of divorce in Igbo tradition using Igbo novels as analytic genre of study. The novels under study are Ọfomata’s Ihe Ọjọọ Gbaa Afọ, Okebalama’s  Ọdi Ukọ na Mba  and Nzeakọ’s Nkọli. These novels are chosen because issues of divorce which is the focus of this study replete in them. However, this research work does not claim total exploration of the nature of divorce in Igbo novels. This, therefore, means that areas where this work will not be able to cover shall form parts of interest for further researchers in the area of divorce.

1.6       Methodology

This section is subdivided into two, method of data collection and method of data analysis.

1.6.1   Method of Data Collection

In any research, collection of data is very important because without data, it will be impossible to arrive at a dependable result. The data collected for this research are further subdivided into primary and secondary data. The primary data for this study are gathered from novels of study. They are raw pieces of information collected from the novels- Ọfomata’s Ihe Ọjọọ Gbaa Afọ, Okebalama’s Ọdi Ụkọ na Mba and Nzeakọ’s Nkọli. The researcher read the novels closely and picked the relevant data needed for the study. The data gathered are those related to issues of divorce, which would lead to achieving the set objective(s) of the study.

The secondary data for this study are gathered by going to libraries to search for related literature on the topic of the study. These include texts books, journals, theses etc. The researcher also visited a good number of websites in the internet for more secondary sources which formed the basis of our literature review.

1.6.2 Method of Data Analysis.

Descriptive method of data analysis is adopted in this study. Data gathered from novels of the study are analyzed qualitatively. That is to say that no form of quantitative analysis is involved in this research since it is a descriptive one. Furthermore, data gathered are analyzed in excerpts, where pieces of related information are extracted from the texts under study and analyzed in sequence. It follows, therefore, that the data collected from the novels are separately but contiguously analyzed. Even the language analysis is descriptive since it involves critical literary and linguistic analysis.

1.7       Research Questions

            A reliable research must have certain questions to answer in order to achieve its set objectives. The following research questions are therefore, very important to this study.

  1. What are the causes and types of divorce identifiable in the texts under study?
  2. To what extent can divorce in Igbo tradition have social, psychological and emotional implications on the characters implicated in the texts of study?

iii.    To what extent can we say that language expressions of divorce reflect the Igbo tradition of divorce in the texts under study?


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