The African Woman
The book exemplifies how the majority of African women are being their own enemies. They seem to care very little about what happens to their colleagues next door, thereby retarding their pursuit of social recognition.
For instance, Lucia seems to have set her mind purely on getting education for herself. It certainly does not matter to her how she gets there, even if it compromises her social standing among the male folk. It can be boldly argued that her action serve to further entrench the male dominance over women because she entirely depends on the men to fund her education (Dolphyne, 2006). Although it sounds understandable that everyone would value her own pursuit of excellence, it must be noted that her education would not help her much if she does not socially liberate herself as a woman. Indeed, this is what happens in most societies that oppress women. Sociological research carried out among certain communities in Eastern Africa that perform genital mutilation, for instance, point to the fact that this culture flourishes because the women who should oppose it are actually promoting it.
The practice that was meant to reduce women’s sexual drive has been entrenched into the society to the extent that women view it as a part of their lives. The dates of these cultural events are strictly kept by women; the actual mutilation is often done by women themselves. Such attitudes must first stop if women wish to put a more spirited fight for their independence by approaching the issue collectively (Uwakweh, 1995). The conflict that is brought about by the colonial influence on the African culture clearly comes out in this story. The colonial rule has found in place a system that does not support women’s empowerment. However, as the society adopts the smallest bits of this influence, it becomes clearer that the society would soon be consumed by the culture of the colonialists.
Although Tambu acquires formal education just accidentally, it is perfectly understandable that she would someday struggle to give her daughter adequate formal education when she finally settles. Tambu is not the only woman who is getting access to this kind of education. Lucia would also soon be an educated woman in her own right. In spite of the fact that she does not portray the character of someone who would fight for social emancipation, it is clear that she puts a lot of value to formal education (Dangarembga, 1998). Perhaps, that is the reason why she can go an extra mile to do anything within her abilities to obtain a due education.
Besides, her education brings rather a radical change on the way she reasons about the society. She shows more concern and kindness when her sister gets sick. This can be interpreted to mean a humane feeling that has been injected into her by the formal education she has acquired. In the larger picture, it appears that the piecemeal formal education that women are getting prepares them for a spirited fight for their social independence, albeit slowly. (Walbert, 2009) Towards the end of the story, all situations point to the fact that women are finally liberating themselves and that the colonial culture has nearly replaced the more conservative African culture. This is seen when Nyash exerts a significant amount of rebellion using a disease that is alien to the African society.
The writer must have used the disease, anorexia, intentionally in order to depict the changing social dynamics in the African society. Moreover, even the fact that a woman of the Nyash’s stature would rebel against her male dominated society point to the serious paradigm shift in the mindset of the women folk. Indeed, according to Emecheta, the joy of motherhood comes from this social independence. Women are slowly but surely taking a more active role in shaping up their society in all spheres, including the political arena. In addition, a more recent look at the post-colonial African society supports the idea that formal education has created more proactive women than ever thought. This is further supported by the fact that Lucia, who was initially too self-centered to join in anybody’s fight, looks more certain about their low social standing in spite of their levels of education.
Her emancipation as a woman creates a perfect picture of a good majority of women who have opted to join the river of social change in their society for the good of future generations of their daughters (Emecheta, 1979).