I am loving Ghana very much these days. Honestly, all the Ghanaian authors I have read so far have just wowed me. But then again, most of these authors are living out of Ghana, so do I attribute this success to Ghana or to the particular individual? In any case, I did love this novel so much that I read it straight in one night, not any night, a weekday night. Needless to say that, I was paying a very hefty price the following morning. But it was worth it, trust me.
About the author
Malaka was born in Accra, Ghana, to an African-American mother and Ghanaian father. Her experiences growing up and viewing the world through the clouded lens of a “hybrid Ghanaian” girl child helped her to appreciate and analyze the unique struggles that women of all races and ethnicities must overcome within the confines of their culture. Her goal as a writer is to buoy the collective voice of African women.
She writes about the things that intrigue her most: politics, economics, agriculture, marriage and sex on her blogs Mind of Malaka (www.mindofmalaka.com) and Adventures from the Bedrooms of African Women (www.adventuresfrom) and has been interviewed on NPR‘s “Tell Me More” with Michel Martin,BBC Focus on Africa, and several international radio and print publications.
The Daughters of Swallows is her debut novel, with a sequel planned for release in 2014. She lives in Roswell, GA with her husband and four high-spirited children.
About the book
Adapted from the blog series ‘ATS’ on www.Adventuresfrom.com, The Daughters of Swallows follows the lives of three women in contemporary Ghana. Everything changed for Afosua the night before her wedding when Rafiq – her fiancé’s brother – committed the ultimate violation. She emerges from tragedy an unbroken, but fractured woman. With her fairytale life ripped so violently away from her, she shields herself in her work, building up walls, determined never to be harmed by a man again. However, when Afosua makes an accidental discovery at work, she will find her life in peril once more. Naa Akweley Blankson is stuck at the foot of her staircase once more. Her marriage to her powerful preacher husband has turned out to be the very opposite of what it promised to be. After being bartered into a marriage to save her father from crushing debt, Annette Prah is forced into a union with a man three times her age. Meek and unassuming, she accepts that her life will be nothing more than what her septuagenarian husband maps out for her – until a chance encounter in her seamstress’s shop changes everything. Friendship is what brings these women together, but their shared strength in overcoming their trials binds them forever. These are the daughters of swallows, who learn to adapt and fashion new lives, no matter where Nature’s winds may send them.
What a great story! It’s actually three stories that somehow interlinked. Pure genius. So let’s analyze each of the three main characters:
- Afosua’s story: “Never judge a book by its cover”. Afosua, in the beginning of this novel, came across as a “cold heart bitch”, excuse my language! But later in the novel, when you know more about her story, you will admire her for having survived such an ordeal. I don’t really want to include a lot of spoilers in my post, but please allow me to say a word about arab people. A lot have been said and written about racism. But somehow it has always been directed towards caucasian people, arab racism towards black people is never really talked about or at least not enough in my opinion. Back to when Afosua used to study in London, she met and became engaged to an Algerian man. What a disaster! I think it was the biggest mistake of her life, I will let you read why. My point, here, is that some arab people really hate us, black people, I am not sure why? But this hatred has always been around. But I believe it’s more inherent as opposed to visible. I state this knowing very well that one should beware of generalization. I have an expression I often like to use : “Arab imperialism”. Again, a lot have been said about the western countries colonization, what about arab colonization? Why is it that instead of just taking Islam the religion, we end up with a lot of their cultural practices as well? But, hey, I digress! The way I understand Afosua’s story is that the author was not trying to highlight arab racism or hatred but black women’s resilience. If Afosua can let go and find love again after all she had suffered. Then I believe that this novel is a celebration of black women’s strength and courage. Think of Women in the Congo, Rwanda…Extraordinnary story on a theme that has not been highlighted enough. Love it.Love it.Love it.
- Naa Akweley Blankson’s story: Naa Akweley’s story is a classic. A battered women inside her home turned bully outside her home . It is a very sad story, but nonetheless true and quite common when you think about it. So Naa Akweley was a very protected person during her youth, but then she met a man while in University and marry him again the wish of her parents. She was naturally disinherit by the family. Fast froward 20 years later, her husband is a very powerful pastor in the “rich people’s church”, while she is a battered wife saddled by a philandering husband. She was brainwashed into believing that it is paramount to be the perfect wife of a powerful pastor. Naa Akweley is very hard in public, she is very judgemental and never forgives a mistake. I guess as a women, you have to develop mechanisms to help you survive your ordeal. Unfortunately for her, she did not survive the whole thing. I believe that the greatest lesson, to be learned from this story, is that you have to call it quit when you are still alive.
- Annette Prah: Annette’s story is the one that amazed me the most. She was literally sold to settle her father’s debt to a very powerful business tycoon. The day she left her house, she never saw any members of her family again for another 20 years. Annette was modelled to her husband liking, hence she, as a person, disappeared behind that facade. This story really introduces you to the helplessness of some women. Sometimes, you are stranded in situations that are beyond your control and there is just nothing you can do about it. A very chilling realization, if you ask me. However, eventually all prisoners try to break free, at least once. Another very interesting point is the fact that Annette became a lesbian and was in a relationship with a Nigerian women. As a story, It’s quite different which makes it the most interesting story of the three.
Each of these three women had a very dramatic story, but they almost all survived the different tragedies that had befallen them. It is a very inspiring novel embedded with great life lessons. I obviously recommend you this great read. I can’t wait to see more from this author. I was really impressed!
Did you read this book? What did you think?