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Impressive Affecting Story - Good Thought Provoking Read
le 15 mars 2000
This is a well-told story of a beloved girl child from a traditional Nigerian village family in the early to mid twentieth century who grows to womanhood. It chronicles the twists and turns her life takes when she is married and fails to conceive. She is judged to be the thing that is only spoken of in whispers -- barren. The protagonist, Nnu Ego, is first revealed as a simple woman who wants to fulfill the traditional role of wife and mother. Her first husband judges her unworthy in her barrenness and returns her to her family in disgrace. She is then married off to an older man who earns his living as a domestic worker for a white couple in the city. She is at least a wife, if not a mother. Lo and behold, she is not barren and conceives children with this man. She must and does find work as a petty trader to support her children, which is urgent because her husband's income is inadequate to feed his family. Nnu Ego must also do without the traditional supports for her position that could be found in village life. Like many third world women, she finds that she has all of the myriad responsibilities of wife and motherhood, with little of the rights and honors that would normally be bestowed on her as the chief or first wife. Her problems are manifold; she and her children almost die of starvation when her husband goes away to fight in the European war. He marries another wife on a seeming whim as is his right. They are all housed in one room in the servant's quarters. The second wife must also scrape to survive and she and Nnu Ego are ever locked in a battle of wills while at the same time trying to maintain their dignity and feed and educate their children even though they are illiterates themselves. The only way she can raise her children is to sacrifice her strength, pride, and well-being. One of the recurring themes of Ms. Emecheta's works is the encroachment of European society which negtively overlays the traditional partiarchal African culture and thus makes women in Nnu Ego's position especially vulnerable to misuse and ignominy. All of Nnu Ego's choices are painful, yet she accomplishes the seemingly impossible task of singlehandedly bestowing a decent life on her eight children that survive to adulthood. There is no place and no impetus, in this new and entangled euro-africo culture, to honor or mourn Nnu Ego. Nor is it imagined by members of society that it is right and necessary to recognize that it is her love and dedication to her family that enables her to accomplish the extraordinary; and that without her, and the countless women like her, the family, the culture, and the society would have fallen completely. Nnu Ego desired and had earned love from those to whom she had given all -- indeed a universal desire of women. Ms. Emecheta's story will make you wish, hope, hold your breath, and cry as you follow the heroine on her fateful journey. This book will transform you.