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by - June 16, 2020

Buchi Emecheta Author

The past days have been filled with news on the abuse and disregard for the lives of black women in our societies, not a day has gone by without tragic news involving women. 

For a while, I've tried to pinpoint the moment in my life when I first became aware of how society had been rigged against women who look like me. 

It struck me none of these came to realization came to me until I became a teenage, even though I'd had my fair share of abuse long before that. This awakening along with a lot of other social and political issues came from African literature. 

I remember being in my dorm room in boarding school reading from the pages of Buchi Emecheta's The Joys of motherhood, with the book positioned on my thighs with my knees bent and my flashlight on one hand while the other periodically wiped the tears that fell through the sides of my face. 

Then I was reading a copy that belonged to my bunkmate who had to read it as a recommended text for her senior certificate exam, so the night was the only time I had for the book.  Later in life, I 'd find myself in a bookstore acquiring this book along with a lot of other books written by this woman who had led me reevaluate how the world saw my existence to add to my personal collection of African Literature. 

This article focuses on the second novel by the author I ever read, which later became my all-time favourite, The Bride Price. 

The Bride Price by Buchi Emecheta

Buchi's very first Novel written in 1976, tells the story of the clash between the traditional customs of a small Igbo village in Nigeria.  Focusing on the life of a young girl  Aku-nna of whom's purview the story is told.   For those who may not know, the bride price is a fee that is traditionally paid by a prospective husband's family for a prospective wife.  Reading Buchi Emecheta's bio gives first-time readers more insight as to why this was her very first story because she was Aku-nna!
As eleven Buchi Emecheta was betrothed to the man she was eventually married to as a teenager. The same man she narrates in an interview set a copy of the manuscript to this novel ablaze after she showed it to him. 

The historical subjugation of women and male domination over women takes lead as the central theme of this book among other things. 

There are scenarios in the story that describes the harsh truths of so many women such as, 

Gender Roles
Many incidents in this story show the still existing gap between the privileges of men compared to those of women. In this story, It is taken for granted that if a boy wishes to go to school and his family can afford it, however, it is an exception for a girl to go to school. Perhaps one of the greatest difference between men and women concerns the act of marriage and how it's portrayed as the means to an end for all girls.

African Literature quotes

Underage Marriage
 When  Aku-nna, fails to hide her second menstruation cycle from her cousins, it becomes publicly known that she is of marriageable age. 

Lack of Choice 
when Okoboshi her betrothed's family kidnaps her since it is considered fair for a man to kidnap a woman, thus forcing her to become his wife.

Rape, and In this case Marital Rape 
Okoboshi attempts to rape her during their so-called wedding night. 

Sexuality & Slut-Shaming 
In this story, young single men who have affairs with married women are tolerated, where every young man was entitled to his fun, but a girl or women on the other hand who had adventures before marriage was never respected.

Self Worth
Perhaps one of the most devastating issues women,  faced in this story was Aku-nna's awareness in regards to her self worth or a lack of thereof. 

Womens rights quotes

And while the story takes us through Aku-nna's arc of defiance and courage, we're hit with a poetically traumatizing truth of the reality of how the world in its entirety had been rigged against her, robbing us a faux happy ending, her last words reinforced her belief that freedom only existed in death.  

Despite all these written over a decade ago, along with a ton of effort put in by feminist around the world, very  few significant changes have been done to ensure the security for women, especially black women. 

The light at the end of the tunnel is for starters, just like Aku-nna we have reached our arc of defiance and will only take our freedom in full. 

Documentaries like Money marriage by Emeka Chukwuleta highlights several violations against women still perpetrated in modern-day Nigeria. 

For what it's worth if you're a black woman who happens to be reading this right now, know that I see you and love you, and our fight isn't over, more than ever our voices are louder and clearer. 
Sign Petitions, Tweet, Retweet, Attend protests if you can, and let no one convince you that your voice isn't relevant because it is. 

                                     Black Womens rights

Here's a link to some Non-Profit Organizations that support and protect the interests of Nigerian women. 

 Igboafricana is in no way affiliated with any of these Organizations. 

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