A Woman of Africa
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
‘I am an African woman. That’s not a political statement. I am not a Whoopee Goldberg or an Oprah Winfrey, a middle-class American in search of an identity or asserting a political right. I am a woman and I am African. That is all there is to it, and that is my tragedy.’
In Douala, Cameroon, an African woman relates her life as a woman of Africa to a white oil company worker. Her story can be seen as an experience which encompasses a range of issues that affect women in Africa today, it touches upon Aids tribal prejudice, prostitution, poverty and ignorance.
Viewing her life through the conflicting filters of religion and cynicism, her narrative is entertaining and moving. She relates, with no trace of self-pity, her life as a Biafran refugee, as a women in modern Cameroon and as an uneducated Anglophone in today’s Douala.
The story she tells starts from her birth during the refugee crisis of Biafra. She grows to be a willful child who realises there is life outside the ghetto. The book follows her as she develops into a young woman whose singular, eccentric and colourful character drives her to embrace life furiously. In doing so she challenges the social norms of her society.
Rarely self-analytical, she forces an almost existentist path through her limitations, frequently falling along the way but always pulling her self back up without a trace of despair. Through the force of her character she overcomes obstacles to succeed in her dream to become A Woman of Africa.
This is an important new novel – and a fictionalised reworking of real life stories told to author Nick Roddy in Douala by Biafran refugees. Nick’s own experiences in the region also inform this novel – while writing it he was kidnapped by MEND (Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta) and held captive in the Jungle for 3 weeks. Nick still spends part of each year living and in Douala.
taught me a lot. It wouldn’t have happened to Hassna; she had been wise. She had not moved out of the ghetto physically, but she had left it behind. I, however, out of arrogance or fear, I am not sure which, had taken it with me, and I had paid for my arrogance and it had branded me: a great weal had been opened across my face. Cutting the face, scarification, was how, during the traite nègre, parents had protected their children from being taken as slaves. I was not just scarred, I was
to go. I smiled at her. ‘Thank you; that was interesting. You know, maybe one day I’ll write a book about all the crazy things that happen in this city and I can put that in it.’ She looked relieved. ‘What’s your name?’ ‘Nathalie.’ ‘Nathalie, you’re from Yaoundé, aren’t you?’ ‘Yes, sista.’ ‘Well, listen to me, my junior sista, this is a hard city, not like Yaoundé. Be careful; there are many bad things here. Save some money and go home to your family. Douala is not a good place.’ After she
are serious, my junior sister, and I hope you are, it is about time you grew up. I have spent enough of my life worrying about you, so what do you want to talk about?’ ‘Being African.’ Ogechi gave me a long hard look, then sucked her teeth. ‘So all that time you were running about as a free girl – and yes, I did know; you almost killed poor papa – saying that all you wanted was to go and live in Europe, getting false passports . . . Now you have what you wished for, you don’t know if it’s
fists and infidelities, the injustices of poverty, erupting from it like an over-ripe pustulant boil. The treachery of her own daughter coming home looking like a Muslim! One of those who would show their ngash to anyone, the child of men who showed their arse to God five times a day. She was beating the tragedy of her life out of me. And lo, behold, I bled. I bled for my sins and hers, sins real and imagined. I bled. To this day my hands, feet and legs bear the scars of that beating, an
theme to which Theo often returned: balance. Mickey and Theo were both out. It was a few days before Mickey was due to go back. I had done my chores and was preparing to indulge myself in my favourite Brazilian soap opera, a habit that to this day I have not shaken. I sat myself down and let the soundless images from the adverts flicker past me. It was the first chance I had had to reflect alone since Mickey arrived, and much as I liked having them both in the house it was nice to have some time