I didn’t know what I was getting into when I started this book. I posted a photo on Instagram and my comments were filled with people warning me for the journey ahead but I still didn’t get it. I read this in 3 days and that consisted of me staying up late at night to read. The joys of motherhood is a book I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
About the book.
Book title – The Joys of Motherhood
Author – Buchi Emecheta
Pages – 254 (Although the fonts are small)
Published in 1979 by Heinemann an imprint of Pearson Education Limited. It is under the African writers series.
This is more of a rant than a review but I had to come here to pour out my frustration. The joys of motherhood triggered me. First of all, what an ironic title eh? A few pages in, I was already upset, it was at this moment I knew I was in for a ride! I’ve never been this invested in a story in my entire life. The narrative style was superb because you can almost sense the narrator’s disgust by the sequence of events.
This book highlights how patriarchal the African culture/society is. Women are reduced to their ability to bear children. The male child is more valuable than the female. Daughters are seen as a ticket to wealth by their family. Men (no matter how useless) are seen as the superior gender, female children are not worthy of an education because they’re only good for one thing remember? Women are objectified and ultimately belong to men by right of inheritance. Now, this book was set in the 30s and it’s fiction but the fucked up part is, we are still fighting for our right to be seen and valued in 2020. I wonder if we will ever stop fighting and just rest.
The saddest part of the book was knowing that Nnu Ego had some moments of insight and still chose the life she lived. It reminded me of women who are big promoters of patriachy. It’s pathetic to say the least.
This is why Nigerians are frothing at the mouth and convulsing at the idea that women can decide they do not want kids in 2020. I mean, I reckon there’s a level of fulfillment that comes with motherhood and that’s all well and great but It’s very important as a woman to have a sense of self and purpose by yourself – not from your partner or kid.
“God, when will you create a woman who will be fulfilled in herself, a full human being, not anybody’s appendage? After all, I was born alone, and I shall die alone” Page 209
“It was not fair, she felt, the way men cleverly used a woman’s sense of responsibility to actually enslave her.” She was a prisoner, imprisoned by her love for her children” Page 153 (paperback edition)
“They’re all slaves, including us. If their masters treat them badly, they take it out on us. The only difference is that they are given some pay for their work, instead of having being bought.” Page 54
“Girls are love babies. But you see, only now with this son am I going to start loving this man. He has made me into a real woman- all I want to be, a woman and a mother.” Page 55
“She was a prisoner, imprisoned by her love for her children, imprisoned in her role as the senior wife.” Page 153
It was a book a lot of people read in secondary school in Nigeria. It’s a book everyone should read. I will be giving out free copies next month so stay tuned.
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We discussed this book last week Sunday at the book club discussion. You can also join if you’re a book lover.