CRITIQUE 2 OF A Woman in Her Prime
22.Compared to the brilliance and brashness of so much Nigerian literature, the quieter literature of Ghana may seem in danger of being overlooked. A Woman in Her Prime is a good example of what a mistake that would be.
23.Like its heroine, A Woman in Her Prime is modest, balanced, calm, and understated, but with a charm and quiet beauty that prove captivating. It centers on a domestic drama that can be stated simply: Pokuwaa would like a child, but her prayers have not been answered.
24.The opening chapter skillfully draws drama from this simple situation. It is the appointed day for sacrifice to the god Tano, but Pokuwaa is running late. She washes herself, rubs her skin with shea cream, and purifies herself with white clay powder, then looks for the black hen she means to sacrifice. She finds only a post in the ground and a broken string. The hen has escaped! She asks some children if they have seen it, and when one child admits to having thrown a stick at a stray black hen she sees that he is a fetish child — the product of prayers and sacrifice like the child she wants for herself. Rather than being harsh with him, she enlists him and the other children to search for her hen. They find the hen in the bushes, about to be swallowed by a snake, but Pokuwaa is just in time to pin down the snake, rescue the hen, and make her sacrifice.
25.In a few pages we learn a lot about Pokuwaa: about her courage and resourcefulness, her faith, the strength of her desire for a child, and the fact that she is good with children and able to gain their trust.
26.Pokuwaa has divorced two husbands, apparently with little fuss, when they prove unable to give her children. (Oddly, there is little suggestion than the villagers think the fault is with her.) She becomes the second wife of a kind man named Kwadwo, and in less than a month she shows signs of being pregnant. She loses the child, though, and a medicine man chides her for not making the proper sacrifice. Pokuwaa’s mother, who had pressed her to leave her second husband, seems nearly as concerned about that lack of a child than Pokuwaa herself. Kwadwo’s first wife also resents her husband’s attention to Pokuwaa. But Pokuwaa and Kwadwo have a gentle, teasing relationship, full of goodnatured humor. Pokuwaa has good friends, too, and a thriving farm. Her wish for a child doesn’t prevent her from enjoying her life.
27.Another small drama arises when Pokuwaa discovers a dead body in the forest. Not wanting to draw attention to herself, she tells only her mother and keeps quiet as the villagers search for the missing man. Her feeling of guilt comes out in her tears at the man’s funeral, causing Kwadwo to suspect she knew the dead man better than she admits.
28.Perhaps because finding the body has caused her to think more deeply about life and death, or perhaps because she has simply had enough of endless rituals and sacrifice, and her mother’s nagging, Pokuwaa finally says, “I think I am going to have peace at last. I am going to give up crying inside me for that which I cannot get. I am not going to sacrifice any more.”
29.There are many African novels that tell of violence, betrayal, and cruel disillusionment. There are few that express the sweetness of village life. With its loving descriptions of the rituals, routines, and gossip of a small community, A Woman in Her Prime expresses how disappointment may be balanced by tenderness and peace — and how we sometimes get the thing we want only after we have stopped striving for it.
30.Besides Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall, if there is any African novel that portrays the African society with its sacrosanct beliefs concerning women, it will be Asare Konadu’s A Women in Her Prime; if there is any traditional African novel that treats the theme of barrenness as a fatal misfortune for African women besides Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood, it would rather be A Woman in Her Prime. African literature has got to the level of resurging the old African antiquity and merged it with the present for close juxtaposition. The fact that Asare Konadu’s book treats the universal belief of traditional African society on gods as the givers of glory and destroyers of hope has to be considered.
35.However, Asare Konadu’s a woman in her prime leaves the readers in ‘happy suspense’ as we are veiled from what happens to Pokuwa if perhaps she gives birth to the child or another thing ensues. It could be recalled that Pokuwa while with her first husband has miscarriage due to what the priest believes to be her lackadaisical care-freeness towards great god Tano’s orders. Then if Pokuwa still repeats this again, who knows if Tano may get angered and lead to another brutal miscarriage. Also, portraying Pokuwa as being against the general belief ascribed to the gods is subjective to the author.
- Revision Notes of “a Woman in Her Prime” by Asare Konadu for Waec/neco Literature Exams (33) (lagosbooksclub.wordpress.com)
- Waec/neco Literature Texts for 2011-2015 As Requested (lagosbooksclub.wordpress.com)