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CHANGES by Ama Ata Aidoo


by Ama Ata Aidoo

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 1-55861-064-2
Publisher: Feminist Press

 An informative, if a tad schematic, novel from Ghanaian writer Aidoo (Our Sister Killjoy, etc.--not reviewed) about women's identities and needs in contemporary Africa. The Stunning Esi Sekyi is, in fact, the very model of a modern African woman. She has a postgraduate degree, works for the department of statistics in Accra, and earns more than her schoolmaster husband Oku. And with only one child, she is free to travel to international conferences and advance her career. But African society and African men--despite their admiration of intelligent, educated women--still cling to the old ways. When Oku makes love to Esi against her will (his friends are laughing at him because ``they think I'm not behaving like a man''), Esi calls it ``marital rape''--a concept, she realizes, that African ``society could not possibly have an indigenous word for...[since] sex is something a husband claims from his wife as a right.'' She asks for a divorce, much to her family's dismay, and begins an affair with charismatic businessman Ali Kondey. Meanwhile, an old friend, Opukuya, a married nurse and mother, tries to be supportive, but she's torn between her conventional ideas about marriage and the realization that she envies Esi's freedom. Though Ali is married, he is a Muslin and can have more than one wife. And so he and Esi marry--a curiously old-fashioned decision for an apparently modern woman, since Ali spends more time with his other family than he does with Esi. Finally, the two drift apart, and Esi is left to wonder ``what fashion of loving was she ever going to consider adequate.'' Esi seems more foolish than victimized, but the attitudes of the society portrayed here are real enough--and do add a new dimension to an otherwise familiar story. (First serial to Ms. Magazine)