The Price of a Woman (novel) and Bride Price and Literary Activism in Uganda (critical commentary)

Turner, Felicity Atuki. 2020. The Price of a Woman (novel) and Bride Price and Literary Activism in Uganda (critical commentary). Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

The Price of a Woman tells the story of a young girl’s fight to break free from the bondage of bride price – the payment made to secure marriage. The opening chapters are set in Achieng’s home and show the importance of her relationship with her childhood friend Obel. We learn of her determination to study, which is brought to an end when her father sells her into marriage. As the wife of the polygamous Raja she suffers numerous beatings, and her close friendship with her co-wife Min Kilo is brought to a brutal end. Unable to conceive, she puts this down to having been cursed by a resentful uncle. She eventually has a baby, but after another beating by her husband she runs away from home to live with her Aunty Nyarua, who opens her eyes to the injustice of bride price culture. She later settles in the border town of Malaba, where her business flourishes, but then her baby falls ill and dies. Meanwhile, Raja’s demand for the refund of bride price results in a court hearing, which occurs just as Idi Amin is being ousted from power. After many twists and turns, Obel and Achieng are reunited.

In terms of the readership, my novel is targeted at young adults, especially girls living in parts of the world where the tradition of bride price is still practised.

The critical commentary re-conceptualises bride price – which is the payment of cash or cows to secure marriage – as a human rights issue. It demonstrates how storytelling is linked to social and political action, through the case of the landmark ruling achieved by MIFUMI (the NGO which I co-founded) in its appeal to the Ugandan Supreme Court. Two Ugandan publishing initiatives, FEMRITE and WRITIVISM, are also analysed in order to investigate literary activism. I have also discussed key texts drawn from the wider feminist movement in the African corpus. In the final chapter, the author reflects on the potential of fiction to achieve results that other forms of intervention cannot.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Bride Price, Uganda, MIFUMI Supreme Court Decision, Literary Activism, Women’s Human Rights, Gender, Women, Property, Slavery, African Women and Culture, Harmful Practices, Polygamy

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature


31 January 2020

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

03 Jun 2021 11:57

Last Modified:

24 Apr 2023 09:16


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