Sunday, December 29, 2013

Book 143: Daughters Who Walk This Path

While this is mostly the personal story of Morayo, Kilanko also touches on a lot of different cultural and historical aspects of Nigeria.  Morayo is the older of two daughters, and for the most part her family is rather modern - her sister is albino, and her parents recognize that this is the result of a recessive gene and not some superstition.  However, they are also very strict in regards to what is proper, especially regarding their daughters and proper behaviors.
Morayo's parents have close ties to their families and as a result, her older cousin Bros T comes to stay with her family when he becomes too much for his mother to handle.  At first, he seems to reform, but eventually he rapes Morayo.
Her aunt Morinke is the only one that Morayo feels comfortable talking to, and the novel explores the silence that surrounds rapes, the way that the women often feel like they are on their own, and how they respond as they get older.  Kilanko, however, doesn't believe this has to be the way, and even shows one character who receives a very different reaction than Morayo following her rape.
In addition to Morayo's personal story where she struggles with the gender inequalities in her community, the novel addresses some of the political corruption in Kenya, and the difficulty of progress.  She also makes a passing reference to different cultural stereotypes and prejudices since Morayo falls for an Igbo boy.  While I don't know much about Nigerian history, I do know that the Igbo were one of the groups persecuted during the Civil War in Nigeria (read A Half of a Yellow Sun for more information on that time period).
I really liked this novel, and the characters that Kilanko created - Aunt Morinke is such a strong and interesting character, and she alone makes this novel worth the read.

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