MORE CRITIQUES AND COMMENTS ABOUT “A WOMAN IN HER PRIME” FOR WAEC/NECO EXAMS (35)

MORE CRITIQUES AND COMMENTS ABOUT “A WOMAN IN HER PRIME” FOR WAEC/NECO EXAMS (35)

“A WOMAN IN HER PRIME” BY ASARE KONADU” (WAEC/NECO LIT EXAM)

CRITIQUE 4

36.For my class on tuesday, i just finished reading Asare Konadu’s remarkable book, A WOMAN IN HER PRIME. And i thought about it and decided to share my note with West African literature students who have to study this book if they intend to pass their O’ level literature in English exam, and for other book lovers like me.The novel, which was written by Ghanaian author Konadu(i think he died in 1994) in the 60’s is number 40 in the African Writers’ Series.37.The story is about a middle-aged woman, Pokuwaa who has been unable to bear a child.38.Pokuwaa is a feminist figure who gracefully rejects subjugation of any sort in a society that demanded a child from her. She has a mother whose paranoia over her daughter’s plight causes her to subject her daughter to different rituals and sacrificial offerings and ceremonies.39.Pokuwaa’s bears the ridicules of her society in good stride. I think it has something to do with the matriarchal Ashanti culture but Pokuwaa’s role of family head is carried out in a way that may frighten most men. She is a hardworker who knows her way around a farm. She is ‘rich’ as she tells her husband Kwadwo jokingly when the latter sees her counting cowries and says, ‘is that to show me how rich you are?’ to which she answers gaily, ‘don’t you know? I was rich even when i was ten years old’ and tells the story of her childhood when the old chief showered her with gifts.40.She has been married twice before and divorced her husbands because of her barrenness(another feminist response by Konadu, because one would have thought it the other way round). Her current husband, Kwadwo, is sore afraid that the same fate will befall him so he makes extra effort to please her.41.Pokuwaa exudes strength, she loves her husband and it shows even though her longing for a child hangs like a dark cloud over their happiness sometimes. Her strength is evident in her resolution to give up the sacrifices and rites to appease the god, Tano to conceive. We also see her breaking the news to her mother amid the old lady’s tantrums of witchcraft.42.Her concealment of the pregnancy when it finally comes, until the third month to avoid raising the hopes of her loved ones if she turned out not being pregnant after all.43.Her husband’s love supports her, for Kwadwo is a good man and his patience is rewarded when Pokuwaa conceives. He is simply overjoyed at the news:
He took off her cloth himself and gazed at her figure in astonishment… ‘cover yourself, beautiful one’… While Pokuwaa was doing so, she heard him sobbing… She rushed to sit beside him on the bed where he was crying like a baby…44.Asare Konadu’s preoccupation in this fine novel is an iconoclastic dethronement of the superstition of that era, presenting a woman whose worth is measured, not by her child-bearing prowess but by her qualities as a human being.45.The entire 107 pages of this novel fascinated me because in Pokuwaa, i saw the new generation of the African woman who has emerged out of darkness, above the shackles of societal expectations to true freedom, without on such things as child- bearing to confirm her womanhood.

46.Interestingly, like our Pokuwaa, most of these women have also been blessed with children because they want the joy of motherhood for it’s own sake.

I hope my students grasp this knowledge irrespective of their culture or sex and that it will tickle the creative nerves in them and take them on a journey of the African experience.

By African Priestess
 
CRITIQUE 5
African writers are branded of peculiar writing styles which enthuse many people to make their tale first choice. Asare Konedu is a novelist from Ghana. He has premeditated ” A woman in her prime” not for fun but for an exclusive description of African culture without ignoring the value and practices of the people of Ghana more than ever those in the Ashanti land. I may say there are pro writers in Nigeria and some other part of Africa.Konadu, clearly exposes the believe and practices of the people of Ghana with regard to marriage, funeral celebration and traditional festivals in this novel. He designates Pokuwaa the leading character and her role played has really given a vivid picture and beauty of the story. We were informed that Pokuwaa could not sustain marriage in view of her childless.  She experiences two different marriages with the unproductive problem. Kwadwo Fordwuo could be a real husband for Pokuwaa, but they met lately. He deliberately understands her situations and always feels with her. “There may be a time for every situation. Nevertheless no situation is permanent.” He contemplates.  Pokuwaa demonstrates a habit of hard work and she is known as an industrious house wife who always goes to the nearest stream to fetch water to feed the family.Pokuwaa is an ambitious woman whose target is always visualized with subsequent events. We discovered her excessive ambition during the Friday sacrifice for the great god Tano. She is nothing but animated all day long waiting patiently for the ceremony to come on. Brenhoma is the setting of the story. A farming community where traditional religion is mostly prevalent. We recognize lack of formal education among the people of this community. They guess their time by associating it to the rotation of the globe in connection with the position of the sun. Though there are tons of items people give during the great Tano sacrifice, Pokuwaa visualizes a dark hen for her contribution. Meanwhile, the problems she confronts among many others which involve a snake to gulp down the black hen, and her tactic skill to pin down the snake are some of the adventures she experiences.Pokuwaa goes through a broad range of sacrifices with the view to recuperating her barrenness, but all these efforts are always in vain. Some of the medicine men deliberately mislead her and turn to give frivolous solutions as result of an irregularity and an improper measure of using the medicine.  Her mother is highly concerned about her child-birth so as her advice and consolidations are always enforced. She has a compassionate friend, Koramoa whose companion is significant to Pokuwaa in diverse social ways.
Konadu describes Pokuwaa as one the industrious female farmers in Brenhoma. This really portrays African culture where women endure deadly farming work. No sooner had she discovered dead body near her farm and failed to show the news to the people of the town, except her trusted mother than she felt discomfort and nostalgia till the burial of the deceased Yaw Boakye. Even though the husband was amazed and suspected her of  having a compassionate relationship with the deceased, she was competent enough to reply him without impressive upon the deceased. We hardly witness this meticulous behavior among women of Arica. On this note, her character displayed is highly recommended in this novel.Konadu depictes the character of Pokuwaa as one of the women with high esteemed in Brenhoma community. She is optimistic that God is the only initiator of a child and not the great god Tano. She rejected all the encouragement received from the mother and the husband with connection to spiritual sacrifices. We sense from this performance that Pokuwaa is not naturally inspired by traditional practices. She may demonstrate an utmost interest in praising the supreme Almighty God than these lesser gods in Brenhoma.We were informed in the novel that Pokuwaa terror dead bodies awfully. She prefer sitting beside her mother when that benevolent chief who reigned for fifty years died. The chief has been nice to Koramoa, her best friend in many standpoints. She describes him as the only chief who shares food as well as so many other things with their families. We understand that the chiefs in Ghana are of great celebrity that they often receive gifts from their disciples. I ever saw one dressing in splendid Kentey cloth in Koforidua.No one dare blame the supreme God. Pokuwaa shows sign of pregnancy within a few months after she boycotts the sacrifices of the great god Tago. She has even forgotten about her barrenness. Her husband Kwadwo doesn’t bother much about the sudden change of her mind and they live happier than before. He is a great hunter so as he brings bush meat home to impress his wife. Her mother, the old woman becomes happy with the sign that her daughter has finally become pregnant.  Her best friend Koramoa was full of joy while the husband, Kwadwo keeps his ears to the ground with shock. Good wishers contribute their mature compliments and advice. We were inspired by Maame Fosua’s information; we are informed that when a woman is pregnant she needs to eat more of palm nut soup and chew sugarcane which in turn gives breast milk in abundance.   No sooner did you read “A woman in her prime” than you understood the real culture of the people of Ghana.
 
 
0THER COMMENTS
THE STORY
THE STORY IS ABOUT HOW A YOUNG WOMAN MAKES THAT ALL-IMPORTANT RITE OF PASSAGE FROM ADOLESCENCE INTO ADULTHOOD. HOWEVER, HER EARLY ADULT LIFE IS MARRED BY CHILDLESSNESS IN A SOCIETY THAT PLACES A GREAT PREMIUM ON CHILDREN AND MOTHERHOOD AS THE ULTIMATE MARK OF WOMANHOOD.
THE THEME 
ONE OF THE CENTRAL THEMES IN ASARE KONADU’S NOVEL IS THE THEME OF PREDESTINATION OR FATE.THAT IS THE SUPREMACY OF THE GODS OVER MORTALS.WHATEVER THE GODS HAVE WILLED OR DESTINED MUST HAPPEN AND HUMAN BEINGS ARE POWERLESS IN STOPPING OR AVERTING ANY TRAGEDY WHICH HAS BEEN LAID DOWN BY THE GODS.NOBODY DARE CHALLENGE THE DECISIONS OF THE GODS.IN FACT,NOTHING OF IMPORTANCE IS EVER UNDERTAKEN WITHOUT STRICT ADHERENCE TO THE WISHES AND ASPIRATIONS OF THE GODS.
MISCELLANEOUS
a.THIS BOOK  TEACHES SOME MORAL BEHAVIOR AND POINTS OUT THAT TRUST IN SMALL GODS ARE IRRELEVANT .IT SHOWS THE INNERMOST PAINS OF BARRENNESS IN MARRIAGE.MARRIAGE AND CHILDBEARING GOES HAND IN HAND IN AFRICAN SOCIETIES. ASARE KONADU USED A WOMAN WHO WAS BARREN  TO PORTRAY THIS VIEW CLEARLY.THE SOCIETY HAD AN AWKWARD ATTITUDE TOWARDS HER BECAUSE OF HER BARRENNESS.HER MOTHER ALSO WAS MUCH CONCERNED ABOUT THE SITUATION.,THERE ARE  ALSO MANY RITUALS IN THE BOOK….BY SS STUDENT ABOUT TO TAKE WAEC EXAM?

b.THIS BOOK IS ABOUT THE PLIGHTS OF BEING BARREN AND HOW THE SOCIETY OF BRENHOMA ADDRESSES THE ISSUE

c.I SEE OPPORTUNITIES FOR A GHANAIAN MOVIE FROM THE FOLLOWING EXTRACT FROM THE NOVEL.

“POKUWAA BOILED THE HERBS OVERNIGHT IN A POT OF FRESH WATER FROM THE RIVER. AT THE FIRST PEEP OF DAWN, FOR SEVEN DAYS, SHE GOT UP, POURED SOME OF THE HERBAL WATER INTO A SMALL POT AND WALKED TO THE OUTSKIRTS OF THE VILLAGE. THERE, STANDING OVER THE SAME LOG OF THE ONWOMA TREE, SHE SCOOPED THE WATER OVER HER BODY SEVEN TIMES, REPEATING WORDS OF INCANTATION. SHE CONCENTRATED HARDEST ON WALKING STRAIGHT HOME WITHOUT LOOKING BACK. ARRIVING HOME SHE DABBED HERSELF WITH PEPRE AND WHITE CLAY, FILLING THE ROOM WITH A MIXED SCENT OF TREE BARKS AND CLOVER. IF KWADWO WAS ASLEEP SHE NUDGED HIM. HE WOKE UP AND SNIFFED THE SCENT OF THE PEPRE. “THAT IS NICE,” HE SAID. “YOU’D BETTER GET NEARER.” HE HELD HER CLOSE AND RUBBED HIS NOSE INTO HER NECK WHERE THE SCENT WAS STRONGEST.

THEY TOOK DELIGHT IN EACH OTHER, AND POKUWAA WAS CONSCIOUS THAT DURING THIS TIME SHE WAS HANGING ON KWADWO’S PRAISES AND ADMIRATION. SHE DRESSED IN NEW CLOTHES AND PARADED FOR HIM TO SEE HER AND SAY SHE WAS NICE. IT WASN’T KWADWO’S NORMAL WAY TO SPEAK HIS PRAISES. ONCE WHEN HE SAID HE DIDN’T LIKE THE CLOTHES SHE WORE, POKUWAA BROKE OUT CRYING. HE LEARNED HIS LESSON. ALSO, HE DID ENJOY THE WAY HIS ADMIRATION SENT HER WALKING WITH HER CHEST OUT AND SWINGING HER ARMS LUXURIANTLY.”

d.THE SUMMARY/THEME OF THE BOOK 

 “IN THE SMALL GHANIAN VILLAGE OF BRENHOMA, POKUWAA,THOUGH A WOMAN,HAS BECOME A SUCCESSFUL FARMER.BUT TRUE HAPPINESS ELUDES HER: TO HAVE REACHED MIDDLE AGE WITHOUT CHILDREN IS CONSIDERED A GRAVE MISFORTUNE.SHE HAS EVEN FELT COMPELLED TO DIVORCED HER FIRST TWO HUSBAND.EVENTUALLY,THE MAN IN HER LIFE IS KWADWO WHO GREATLY LOVES HER FOR HER CHARM,SYMPATHY AND SWEET CONVERSATION.

ONE OF THE POSSIBLE THEME IS THE THEME OF PREDESTINATION.DESPITE THE BELIEF OF THE PEOPLE IN THE POWERS OF THEIR GODS ESPECIALLY TANO FOR WHICH POKUWAA WAS MADE TO UNDERGO ALL SORTS OF RITUALS IN ORDER FOR HER TO BEGET A CHILD,THE MOST SOUGHT -AFTER CHILD NEVER SURFACED.IT WAS ONLY AFTER SHE DECIDES TO GIVE UP ON HAVING A BABY THROUGH THESE SACRIFICES THAT SHE MIRACULOUSLY CONCEIVED A CHILD.THIS SHOWS THAT SOMETIMES WHAT WE STRUGGLE FOR ALL OUR LIVES ONLY COMES ABOUT WHEN WE ABOUT GIVE UP ON IT.”

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