by Imbolo Mbue published in The New Yorker
Read original on The New Yorker's website
The narrators tells a story, in second-person, of ...Show description
Posted 693 days ago
It's clear that Mbue is chastising antiquated gender roles. This becomes especially clear at the end, where the whole village is amazed that Gita's husband does household chores:
Once he and Gita had moved into a hut that had been left behind by a deceased relative on Gita’s mother’s side of the family, reports began surfacing about how Ikolo could be seen every morning sweeping the hut, an abomination if ever there was one. Apparently, the potion that Gita had given him was so strong that Ikolo laundered Gita’s clothes for her, and ironed them, and even stayed in the kitchen with her to help her as she prepared their dinner. He’d evidently lost such a huge chunk of his brain that he was unable to just relax on his veranda in the evenings, like any respectable man, enjoying a cup of palm wine while his wife did what wives ought to do.
Not only this, but the believe that it was Gita who "stole" the husband from her cousin implies she was in the wrong and he wasn't. A similar thing goes for Wonja, who tries and tries to get her husband to love her. The village thinks its her fault because it's always the woman's fault when marriages don't go well.
These are all good points, but my only issue here is that it's kind of singing to the choir. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think very many people reading this magazine believe in traditional gender roles. Of course many of us hold implicit sexism, and stories like this make sure we double check how we see our lives and how we treat those around us, but there just isn't a force behind this story that would make it lasting, in my opinion.