MIGRATIONS OF THE HEART by Marita Golden

MIGRATIONS OF THE HEART

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A black American feminist in tribal Africa. As a Manhattan graduate student (and alumnus of the Black Power movement), Golden fell deeply in love with Nigerian Femi Ajayi, the shy yet arrogant son of a village chief with eight wives. Femi offered a new kind of black strength and a deeper identification with Africa: ""I'd read about my past and now it sat across from me."" Still, he was wary of marrying an American: ""In my family we owe everything to everyone else. . . . Can you pay a debt like that?"" On a pre-marital trip to Ghana and Nigeria, she recognized the structured roles of men and women (""Men assume their worth and wait indifferently for the women to prove theirs"") and also experienced, in compensation, ""a sense of community. . . ."" Femi's family was kind, even fascinated with her ""skyscraper"" culture; but family ties that bind, she would discover, may also strangle. Despite the birth of an obligatory son, the marriage cooled as it became increasingly obvious that Femi could not accept Marita's ""emotional self-sufficiency."" And, he scoffed: ""It's only Americans who work at marriage. Africans don't have to."" Eventually Marita turned to a lover, and virtually ""escaped"" back to the States with her son (in Nigeria, the property of the father). ""In New York I became an eagle, claws scratching the skin of the gritty sidewalks, wings spread, casting a shadow on the moon."" Unfortunately, Golden's self-searching, strident and empurpled, overwhelms her sharp, breezy observations of African ways.

Pub Date: Feb. 4th, 1982
Publisher: Anchor/Doubleday