“Everyone froze when they saw Manza with Kofi. Manza was breathless from her brisk walk. Amakyi took his son from her back. He was lifeless. Amakyi gave Kofi to the priestess. Ashen-faced, the priestess shook her head as she held his lifeless little body in her hands. She put the boy on her chest and ran into the bush. Amakyi tried to follow her but he was held back by Noba. (…)
Aso changed from that day onwards. She could not mourn her baby because of the belief in Aakonu that a mother should not mourn the death of a first child, for fear of not being able to have any more children. She showed a brave face externally, but in her heart she mourned and cried over what her son could have been. Seeing anyone with a child her son’s age was especially difficult.”
What does a woman’s life, whose purpose is marriage and motherhood, in the village of Aakonu, look like ? How does Ahu, an eighteen years-old widow, look at destiny and change ?
In this gradually evolving microuniverse, three generations of women are brought together by motherhood. Childbirth, the love for other women’s children, child raising, child deaths, and later the choice of education and a different life – all these experiences shape their lives and the way they look at life itself.
Elisabeth Allua Vaah’s novel takes the reader on a journey through motherhood as a means to open one’s eyes on life within community and responsibility. In this respect, Ahu and her generation represent a crossroads between memory and the ancestors’s voices, on one hand, and modernity, on the other one. Navigating among the inevitable changes of their world, these women are, as the author says, “pillars of their communities. In their roles as grandmothers, mothers, wives, traditional healers, midwives, queen mothers, business women and matriarchs, they hold these communities together.”
Maame (Mother) by Elisabeth Allua Vaah
ISBN : 978-1774150290
Published by Mawenzi House Publisher Ldt. (2020)
Ioana Danaila was born in Romania. She has a PhD in Nigerian Postcolonial Literature and a First degree in French for Non-Francophone people. She is also the author of a collection of short stories and translated books from French to Romanian. Trilingual in Romanian, French and English, she teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.