SO LONG A LETTER

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Written by award-winning African novelist Mariama Ba and translated from the original French, So Long a Letter has been recognized as one of Africa’s 100 Best Books of the 20th Century. The brief narrative, written as an extended letter, is a sequence of reminiscences—some wistful, some bitter—recounted by recently widowed Senegalese schoolteacher Ramatoulaye Fall. Addressed to a lifelong friend, Aissatou, it is a record of Ramatoulaye’s emotional struggle for survival after her husband betrayed their marriage by taking a second wife.

This semi-autobiographical account is a perceptive testimony to the plight of educated and articulate Muslim women. Angered by the traditions that allow polygyny, they inhabit a social milieu dominated by attitudes and values that deny them status equal to men. Ramatoulaye hopes for a world where the best of old customs and new freedom can be combined.

Considered a classic of contemporary African women’s literature, So Long a Letter is a must-read for anyone interested in African literature and the passage from colonialism to modernism in a Muslim country.

Winner of the prestigious Noma Award for Publishing in Africa.

The Author

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Mariama Bâ (April 17, 1929–August 17, 1981) was a Senegalese author and feminist, who wrote in French. Born in Dakar, she was raised a Muslim, but at an early age came to criticise what she perceived as inequalities between the sexes resulting from African traditions. Raised by her traditional grandparents, she had to struggle even to gain an education, because they did not believe that girls should be taught. Bâ later married a Senegalese member of Parliament, Obèye Diop, but divorced him and was left to care for their nine children.

Her frustration with the fate of African women—as well as her ultimate acceptance of it—is expressed in her first novel, So Long a Letter. In it she depicts the sorrow and resignation of a woman who must share the mourning for her late husband with his second, younger wife. Abiola Irele called it “the most deeply felt presentation of the female condition in African fiction.” This short book was awarded the first Noma Prize for Publishing in Africa in 1980.

Bâ died a year later after a protracted illness, before her second novel, Scarlet Song, which describes the hardships a woman faces when her husband abandons her for a younger woman he knew at youth, was published.

The historian Nzegwu has contended that Bâ’s life was rich in events. Bâ was born in Dakar, Senegal, in 1929, into an educated and well-to-do Senegalese family where she grew up. Her father was a career civil servant who became one of the first ministers of state. He was the Minister of Health in 1956 while her grand father was an interpreter in the French occupation regime.

After her mother’s death, Bâ was largely raised in the traditional manner by her maternal grandparents. She received her early education in French, while at the same time attending Koranic school.

Bâ was a prominent law student at school. During the colonial revolution period and later, girls faced numerous obstacles when they wanted to have a higher education. Bâ’s grandparents did not plan to educate her beyond primary school. However, her father’s insistence on giving her an opportunity to continue her studies eventually persuaded them.

In a teacher training college based in Rufisque (a suburb in Dakar), she won the first prize in the entrance examination and entered the École Normale. In this institution, she was prepared for later career as a school teacher. The school’s principal began to prepare her for the 1943 entrance examination to a teaching career after he noticed Bâ’s intellect and capacity. She taught from 1947 to 1959, before transferring to the Regional Inspectorate of teaching as an educational inspector.

Bâ was a novelist, teacher and feminist, active from 1979 to 1981 in Senegal, West Africa. Bâ’s source of determination and commitment to the feminist cause stemmed from her background, her parents’ life and her schooling. Indeed, her contribution is of absolute importance in modern African studies since she was among the first to illustrate the disadvantaged position of women in African society. Bâ’s work focused on the grandmother, the mother, the sister, the daughter, the cousin and the friend, how they all deserve the title “mother of Africa”, and how important they are for the society.

Mariama Bâ felt the failure of African liberation struggles and movements. Her earliest works were essays she wrote while at the École Normale. Some of her works have now been published. Her first work constitutes essentially a useful method of rejection of the “so-called French assimilationist policy”.

Bâ advocated urgent consideration and reinvigoration of African life.

This consideration and reinvigoration is essentially founded on the social construct of the relationship between man and woman. Indeed, there is an unequal and unbalanced power in the male/female relationship. According to her, these facts can help us become aware of Africa’s needs for societal change, a change more political than merely making speeches.

As a divorcee and “a modern Muslim woman” as she characterized herself, Bâ was active in women’s associations. She also ardently promoted education. She defended women’s rights, delivered speeches, and wrote articles in local newspapers. Thus, her contribution is significant because she explained and described the disadvantaged position of women in general and especially married women.

Bâ also had vision and determined commitment. She felt African people should reduce the deleterious impact of their culture. Women are plunged both psychologically and financially in a sensual indulgence and complete lack of regard for the consequences of men’s actions on families. They are completely blind. These facts led Bâ to believe in her mission to expose and critique the rationalisations employed to justify established power structures.

She thought that distortions of cultural thought and institutions are made to demonstrate masquerades as “tradition” and “culture”. Men and Women have been seduced into accepting the continuation of these “customs”. People should be “persuaded of the inevitable and necessary complementarity of man and woman”.

Bâ wrote many books openly sharing her thoughts and feelings, including: So Long a Letter (1981), Scarlet Songs (1986), and La fonction politique des littératures Africaines écrites (The Political Function of African Written Literatures) (1981).

http://www.amazon.com/Mariama-Ba/e/B000AP5I02

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Your Enemy Gets Mad, If He Fails To See You The Way He Wants

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No one gives birth to a child and name him or her ‘Enemy,’ thus; I haven’t met anyone yet called ‘Enemy.’ Yet an enemy exists, the reason the dictionary defines it: As a person who is actively opposed or hostile to someone or something.

What causes enmity between people? I watched a program of a man that hates his neighbour. According to him, his neighbour’s stereo was too noisy and many times when he asks him to reduce the volume he refuses to yield to his demand.

I understand him, especially after the week’s hard work, you wish to have a happy and quiet lovely weekend, reading your favourite books and newspapers, but that neighbour of yours has denied you all those good moments you’re longing for.

At times you might be an enemy or someone might hate you for doing no wrong, just because of your efforts to live a happy life. Do you know that your hard work can sometimes spark jealousy and hatred from an empire of deceitful enemies?

Do you know that even your successful marriage sometimes makes you an enemy, because your neighbour’s marriage is on the rocks? How do you handle such situations when you haven’t done anything wrong but someone madly hates you?

I do hear people often say: The problem was beyond my control, the reason I used food as a means of consolation, became an alcoholic or drug addict. That’s really a big mistake. When you’re experiencing problems, you don’t live on destructive measures to solve your problems, you need to fight those destructive elements.

Years back when I arrived in Europe, among other foreigners, I came to Italy at a time I don’t know anyone. I slept at the Central Train Station in Rome for many days. (I have revisited Rome to see where I slept in the early nineties) I saw that the hard conditions were taking its toll on some of the homeless Africans.

Some became alcoholics, drug addicts, involved in drug trafficking and some decided to go back to Africa. I encouraged them to stay but many of them returned to Africa. Today, I’m no more an illegal immigrant. Above all, I live with my wife and three children in Europe. I wake up every morning at 5 AM and go to work like other workers, enjoying happy union with my family when I’m come at back home.

I know what the enemy wants. I wasn’t ready to be a destitute, alcoholic, drug addict or courier. If I have made it, then you can. Never blame anyone for your failure in life. Don’t let your enemy be happy. Fight those destructive forces to make them mad.

Call Me Now Grandpa Joel Savage

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My first grandchild: Anthony Savage

As a father, I realized very early that it is not only getting the best job, house, car etc; makes one happy or successful in life, but to get married and settle. Many acknowledge marriage as a form of trap, unity without comfort or freedom. I don’t see it that way. I see marriage as a bond of life-long commitment and sharing responsibilities, which enhance the success of both partners.

I know perfectly well what my wife has done for me in times of difficulty, uncertainty and when sick. Like Florence Nightingale, she takes care of me and does what I haven’t even requested her to do. I have really enjoyed a happy successful marriage over two decades, because both respect and trust ourselves.

Thus; when my elder son said to me “Daddy I will be getting married soon, I was engulfed with joy, knowing that he has made a good decision, a decision which will keep him sincere, upright and responsible. I witnessed the day of their wedding with emotions, happiness and tears of joy. The two were joined as man and wife, as they exchanged vows and kissed each other.

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My elder son and wife.

However, my life changed dramatically six weeks ago, when my first grandchild was delivered. I am very happy indeed. I give thanks and praises to God, who makes things possible.  I wish my son and his wife a happy successful marriage. My advice to them is to respect, love and trust each other and to solve every problem they faced amicably. That’s the essence and qualities that lead to a successful marriage.

Incest: Can A Brother Marry His Own Sister?

 

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Is incest is no more a taboo? Brothers marrying sisters is now becoming common

Superstition, beliefs and performing of rituals are associated with many tribes and ethnic groups, in different parts of the world. There are many things considered a taboo. For example, Saturday is Sabbath for the Jews. It is a day for religious services and abstinence from work. Clans, tribes and people carrying out traditional values, believe in punishment when the law is broken.

Something from ages people considered a taboo is an incest: Sexual intercourse between very closely related people. But as the generation advances some of these taboos are no longer taken into consideration. Son sleeps with his mother, a father has carnal knowledge with his daughter. The news is disturbing, but they are true.

Incest is a common issue these days, even though it is illegal or prohibited.There are many stories of accidental incest love affairs. For example, a Brazilian couple looking for their mothers who abandoned them when they were children, found out later that they were searching for the same person.

Leandro had no knowledge that she lives with her own sister, Adriana. They already had a six-year daughter in their seven- year common-law marriage. That’s accidental anyway, but it’s hard to believe that now a days, many young men can’t resist the nakedness of their own sisters, hmm!

A young man interviewed over his relation with his sister said “I don’t see anything wrong with this. People look at us like we are from a different planet. I love my sister and we have a baby now.” The question is, does incest poses any health hazard? The Holy Bible speaks against incest in many ways.

Also, social scientists believe that children from incestuous affairs have higher risks for hereditary disorders. Whatever people may view incest, we have to admit that we are now in a world, people will go to the extent of fulfilling their heart wishes and desires, without thinking of any future consequences.

That ‘golden box’ God gave a woman is the most powerful thing on earth, which can push a man to follow any direction without looking back. If you want to be sure of what I’m saying, ask former American president Bill Clinton, he will tell you more about Monica Lewinsky and ask golf superstar, Tiger Woods, he also has a story to share with  Joslyn James. The two great men lost focus and concentration because of the power of the ‘Golden Box.’

Can Home Cooking Build A Happy Marriage?

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Falling in love is a wonderful and magical experience between two people. The chemistry is strange and sometimes very complicated. The experience differs in many ways but the commonest are happiness, restlessness and strong emotions. However; falling in love doesn’t always guarantee a successful marriage or living together. Frankly speaking, according to statistics many are getting divorce more than getting together.

To build and support successful marriage or relationships, many partners read books written as a guide to happy marriage. Despite hundreds of books counseling couples, lovers are constantly in pain, emotionally and psychologically, affected by painful love affairs. The causes of divorces or separations vary, lack of attention, sex, cheating, quarrels, financial matters and others. However; few things many never thought of as destroyer of marriages is the lack of cooking at home and lack of prevention of early sex in teenage relationship.

Many couples friendship began at school as teenagers before they settled. In principle, it is always good for people to study and know each other very well, before entering into relations or love affairs. But on moral issues entering into relationships as teenagers isn’t a wise thing to do. Children as young as thirteen and fourteen indulged in caressing and kissing. This is seen as normal in advanced countries but in Africa, it is not permitted.

Most of these early relationships end up in separate ways or settling together.When they finally get married, the love isn’t strong as before. That’s where the problems begin. In this case, the marriage doesn’t go far. Why? The reason is simple and logical. Both have seen their nakedness too much as teenagers to the extent that they no longer value their precious bodies as adults. No happiness and the essence of enjoying a happy relationship is completely ruined.

Here the dignity and the worthiness of the woman have been neglected and abused by the man. It is always the man that causes the breakup because he wants something new. Many start to cheat and stayed late at work in illicit love affairs. A woman or man may find the real happiness in life, marriage, living together or in relationships, when they enter into love affairs as adults than as teenagers.

Any man or woman who doesn’t know how to cook before getting into a relationship or marriage may not fully enjoy the relationship. There is always a guarantee for a happy marriage when one of the partners knows how to cook but if both can’t cook means the marriage have a bleak future. Imagine a family depending always on fast food or tin foods. How would a husband feel after a day’s hard work, comes home to sit behind the dining table and be served with can spaghetti, with that marshy tomato sauce? Many enjoy that but that’s health hazard.

A man facing such situation may never be happy. Some may speak against it but many hide the way they feel when upset. Since he can’t live with that any longer he starts to seek his interest in other places. That’s where the cheating starts. If the one he is seeing can’t provide him those delicious meals he is missing from his previous partner, the relationship automatically comes to an end.

It is therefore very essential for both men and women to learn or know how to cook before getting into a relationship or marriage. Getting familiar with cooking isn’t a difficult issue. There are thousands of books and adult schools for cooking. Time factor is always an issue. Many may not have the time to go to a cooking school after work. Here a cooking book is very useful.

Just follow the instructions on how to cook and next thing is the delicious meal on the dining table. You may not be perfect at your first attempt but remember practice makes man perfect. Besides, cultivating the habit of cooking at home saves a lot of money. I am happily married for the past twenty years. When my wife is busy at work, I do the cooking for the children. This is the only way to share the secrets of why our marriage is stronger than ever. I am a very good cook apart from my writing career.

Culture Or Religion Should Not Be Used By Man To Impose Duties

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Domination is not part of any true religion: It’s only a cruel and heartless man will be happy to see his wife dressed like that in the scorching sun.

Many writers were inspired by other writers. I get my inspiration by reading the Bible and comments of my readers. The reason many times I make reference to the Gospel. In the beginning God created everything and gave man dominion over all things, but the greed of man hasn’t only brought hardships, sin and rebellion in this word but also domination and crime.

In many parts of the world, women can’t have education, they can’t wear trousers, they can’t work, they can’t drive and they have to cover themselves from head to toe. Why, because religion says so? If women are to stay at home without education, who are going to be the doctors, engineers and pilots, after all the men have been killed in war?

“A woman is the flower in the middle of the garden and the man is the fence around it.” This is one of the African proverbs indicating how precious a woman is. Unfortunately, it is now the opposite. Women now sit outside the fence without any protection, suffering all kinds of tragedies, including rape, sexual harassment, domestic violence and domination.

The greed of man is so enormous that it has no boundary, shifting to religion. Many Muslim men marry girls under age and they think it’s okay. How can a forty-five year old man marry a thirteen or fourteen year old girl? This is a crime. Such person should be thrown into jail for the rest of his life, because he has slept with a girl who can be his daughter. They force to marry and when the woman says no, they throw acid on her face.

When Taliban came to power in Afghanistan, especially in Helmand Province, women have to cover their entire body. They are caned and stoned in public, as if the executioners have never committed any sin from childbirth. On October 29, 2015, I wrote an article discouraging ‘Female Circumcision’ because it’s barbarism and cruelty against women. I received only two comments on this article but one of them touched me to share this article.

I quote “Any culture or religion should not be used by man to impose duties, discriminating, disparities and unfounded, but to protect the creatures, to give them serenity and comfort in suffering, indicate paths of joy, respecting the nature of corporeal living, always in agreement with this nature,” says erospea.wordpress.com , a lady hosting an Italian blog.

We have been told and heard many times that Islam is a religion of peace, but same people have shown us the cruelty and oppressive nature of Islam against women and beheading of Christians. Imagine in an Islamic country, which women are not allowed to mingle with men or work, so the shops have been taken over by men that sell women underwear and bra. The male shop assistant stares at the woman finding the right size of bra. What a world of hypocrisy?

Religion doesn’t mean oppression. If the Bible or Koran demands women to be submissive to their husbands doesn’t mean that women are deemed to be inferior to men or should be oppressed. The Koran says “There is no salvation for a man or a nation who allows women to rule over them.” I don’t think so. Men has dominated man to his injury, they should therefore give women the chance to heal the world.

Shake The Dust Off Your Feet And Leave

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When Jesus sent forth his disciples to go and preach the gospel, he told them that “Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet.” This is a very strong advice we need to apply to our lives, especially in this violent world that people make us feel threatened most of the time.

There are things when broken, it can’t be mend. What’s the need to cry over that spilt milk, when you can’t take it back? I find it difficult to understand why many women caught up in an abusive marriage, still try to salvage that marriage.

That worthless man hits his girlfriend or wife every day. He has subjected her to a punching bag; giving her black eye, swollen face, broken nose, yet she still stays, hoping to save the relationship. My dear sister, that beast doesn’t love you, above all, you are too precious to be treated this way.

Real men don’t hit or abuse women. Please, lady; it’s time to shake off the dust of your feet in that abusive house and leave. One misses water when his well runs dry, thus; he will find out how important you are to him, after your departure. Above all, your qualities as a woman, which your abusive man never appreciates, will give you the love and happiness you deserve elsewhere.

I am a man; I know how it hurts when you love a woman who doesn’t love you. ‘The Jolly Brothers,’ the Jamaican reggae group wrote “When you fall in love, with someone, who doesn’t love you. They use you as, a puppet on a string. Look into yourself my friend, try to get wise and be a conscious one, when you fall in love.

Many men think money can buy love. Well, it may probably buy the love they are looking for. But do you know how stupid you are when in her heart she doesn’t love you but only pretending and enjoying your money? Apart from being a puppet on a string, you also become a laughing stock in the community, because the woman is telling all her friends “I am enjoying the fool’s money.”

It may be likely that she is cheating on you with the man she loves. She is enjoying your money with him. Hard working fellow men, please don’t be in such relationship. Shake the dust off your feet and leave. Not every woman wants a rich man. Some look for certain qualities, such as humbleness, humility, submissiveness, caring, loving and truthful. If you have any of such qualities, you will enjoy a happy relationship.

Life is precious, don’t waste it when you are lucky to live on this earth, in a time many people are committing suicide because they feel it’s meaningless to live. You’ve got the power to change your life positively, to let your light shine ahead of you, for everyone to see how great you are. That is if you shake off the dust off your feet in that stormy relationship and leave.