In many parts of Africa, it is very unlikely to find women raising their voices first to ask for a divorce for reasons like illiteracy on the part of the woman to realize that she has an option, cultural believes that attaches value to the status of a woman, and religious conviction that speculates that divorce is a sin. Some years back, a friend of mine told me that it is expected of a woman who was physically and emotionally abused by her husband to endure and put him in prayers.
I have read and seen cases of women who die in the hands of their husbands because they hoped that he would change; even those that considered divorce were shy at the stereotyped consequences of being labelled. In most cases, one would rarely hear that she left her husband; it’s the other way round “Her husband left her” .One thing I do say is, if he kills you, he would mourn you, bury you and marry another woman. Every woman deserves to be treated fairly other than being a punching bag for a man. A man does not necessarily have to lay his finger on his wife before she is maltreated; neglecting her, comparing her to other women, and even verbally insulting are some ways she can be maltreated in her home.
During my first year in the university, I read So long a letter by Mariama Ba which was one of the recommended books, and the character of Ramatoulaye was compared with that of Aissatou to emphasize on the issue of feminism and civilization. In my opinion, Aissatou, a woman who divorces her husband because of the ill treatment she receives from her mother in-law illustrates what a woman in her right senses should do. Someone objected to it and said a true African woman was going to remain with her husband no matter what, at least for the sake of the children. But why a woman should continue to endure so much pain from her husband and her in-laws all in the name of being an African wife? Are women meant to be at the receiving end? Is it in the grave yard a woman decides to make such a decision? With different situations I have come across, I have seen a lot who have been in such drastic situations either ending up dead, having chronic diseases or suffering from dilemma. What is the worth of marriage?
One beautiful thing I love about the plot of So long a letter story is how Mariama Ba uses the character of Ramatoulaye to depict those women who stick with their husband during moments when they are neglected only to be more disappointed, what did her husband do? He betrayed their love, scorned her, married another wife and eventually died leaving her to another distress after his death; to pay the price of his death. On the other hand, Aissatou was living fine having gotten an advanced education and traveled out to start a new life. Isn’t that life? this is why I keep saying that one of the tools in making a woman’s voice heard is through education, educate a woman and you have educated a nation.
I have read few novels like Beyond the Horizon by Amma Darko , Joys of Motherhood by Buchi Emecheta and others where women are married off to their husband who are expected to be somewhat financially stable, physically built, and nice in character only to be disappointed to meet an opposite situation. One common trait among these women who are victims is illiteracy and the fear of what culture would inflict on them rather they accept whatever comes their way with open hands even to the point of death. I haven’t been more excited to hear someone say that marriage is a contract, and one could decide to opt out at will. What’s your own view on the issue of divorce?