Worth Reading? – Yes
I didn’t know what to expect from the Wole Soyinka prize winner because no summary was incuded at the back of the book as is usually the case however, I was pleasantly surprised.
Its a story that charts the life of a woman called Enita Taiwo in Nigeria (lagos in particular) from her childhood in the 1970s with a religious fanatic for a mother, through her teens at Federal Government College, Yaba, then studying law in London and moving back to Nigeria amist political disarray, military rule , human rights violations through retroactive decrees, illegal detentions, coup plots etc. Her relationships are particulary interesting- with her parents, best friend Sheri, boyfriends and eventually her husband.
I was blown away by how vividly and poignantly her descriptions of various aspects of nigerian culture were presented in the book. She explored a lot of the ironies Nigerians take for granted. I laughed out loud a few times and felt my eyes burn with the beginnings of tears once or twice. I could relate to a lot of the things she expressed. There is definitely a fiercely feminist undercurrent that drives the story forward. She exposes nigeria as a patriarchal society with all the arguments around that.
Theres a bit of the story where Enitan argues with her father. He claims that women dont speak up enough about the problems in the country and she retorts that women have lots of other problems to deal with as well.
“No husband, bad husband, husbands girlfriend, husband’s mother. Human rights were never an issue until the rights of men were threatened. There’s nothing in our constitution for kindness at home . And even if the army goes we still have our men to answer to. So what is it you want women to say?”
At the centre of the book is a woman who wants to make a difference regardless of the consequences. She’d risk her life to right social injustices even though her husband is firmly against her involvement in that kind of activism. I don’t know that a lot of women would make the choices she did or have the same attitude in life but its definitely encouraging and thought- provoking.