Posted by: Lisa Hill | May 25, 2014

Daughters Who Walk this Path, by Yejide Kilanko

15812243Nigeria has been in the news for all the wrong reasons, so it seemed like a good time to read a Nigerian novel that speaks of hope.

Feisty Moraya grows up in a modern middle-class family where she and her sister Enaiyo are expected to go to university and become independent young women.  The story begins, as most coming-of-age stories do, with Moraya’s childhood: family, friends and school.  There are petty jealousies, occasional trouble-making, and some bullying of her sister because she is an albino (and a superstitious grandparent typifies the ignorance about this condition).   There are Nigerian customs which seem alien (such as prostrating oneself before parents) and there are intimations of corruption and thuggery especially when Moraya joins her aunt in a doomed political campaign – but in general things progress more-or-less as they might in any other society…

Until Moraya’s cousin Bros T matures from being an over-indulged and deceitful boy into a sexual predator who, one night when her parents are not at home, rapes Moraya.  Cowed into keeping silent by her father’s fairy-tales which warn about secrets getting out, Moraya tells no one.  Shame, misplaced guilt and confusion mar her young life from this point on.

The fear that Bros T will assault Enaiyo too is the catalyst for Moraya to tell her parents, but while they send him packing, the culture of secrecy and denial about such matters prevent them from providing the support that Moraya needs.  In adulthood her life spirals out of control and it is only her Aunt Morenike who understands because she has suffered in the same way in this patriarchal society.

The hope comes in the form of a young man called Kachi, a man who validates Moraya’s need to be in control.  A man who is able to transcend tribal boundaries, a man able to ignore taboos, and a man offering her a better future which is based on equality.  Too good to be true?  Perhaps.  But a symbol of hope for Nigerian women nonetheless.

Author: Yejida Kilanko
Title: Daughters Who Walk This Path
Publisher: Penguin Pintails, 2013
ISBN: 9780143186434
Source: Gift from my friend Sally in Darwin who blogs at Books and Music from Downunder and also reviewed the book here.

 


Responses

  1. Hello Lisa and fellow blog readers, This is Sonia from the U.S. As I was reading the review of the novel, Daughters Who Walk this Path, it brought to my mind the fiction of other African women novelists such as Bessie Head, Buchi Emecheta, Ama Ata Aidoo, Yvonne Vera, and Tsisti Dangarembga. Their short stories and novels explores varying forms of patriarchal dominance within traditional and modern spaces. These novelists not only show how this oppression adversely affects the victim, victimizer, and community. There is a video interview with Yejide Kilanko on youtube. I would to recommend the following fiction books by African Women Novelists:
    Buchi Emecheta- The Joys of Motherhood and Second Class Citizen
    Yvonne Vera- The Stone virgins and Why Don’t You Carve Other Animals
    Bessie Head- A Question of Power, Maru, The Collector of Treasures and other Botswana Village Tales
    Tsisti Dangarembga- Nervous Conditions
    Ama Ata Aidoo- No Sweetness Here

  2. Thanks for reviewing this book, always love hearing about books writing of other cultures with authentic voices.

    • Yes, Claire, so do I, and this one is particularly good. I find AfricanLit interesting because whichever country it comes from, it seems to zero in on issues of social transition (reconciling traditional ways with modernity, women’s roles etc.) I’ve got one of the ones that Sonia mentions above (thank you, Sonia!) – it’s the one by Bessie Head.
      If you are interested in AfricanLit too, I recommend the Africa Book Club (http://www.africabookclub.com/) which not only keeps me up to speed with new books as well as the classics, it also does short features on new writers, competition winners and so on.

      • Thanks for that reference, I will check it out and follow, always good to have a reliable source to keep up to date with what’s coming out, especially titles that don’t always get profiled by mainstream sources, which is why it’s so good to follow blogs like yours.

        Interesting that the literature seems to evolve and revolve around similar issues.


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