Sunday, August 23, 2020

His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie


Afi Tekple has a hard life in Ghana.  After her father's death, she and her mother were thrown on the mercy of his family for a place to live.  Her mother ekes out money for food working in a flour warehouse while Afi hopes to be a seamstress one day and takes in what mending and sewing work she can find.

Imagine her surprise when her mother returns from work one day with news that will change their lives forever.  Her boss, known as Aunty due to her charitable works, has come to her mother with a proposition.  Her middle son, Elikem, is mixed up with a Liberian woman the family is not pleased with.  She does not honor or respect them, refusing them free entry to the house of their son and brother.  She doesn't dress as a Ghanaian woman would and doesn't care that they don't like it.  Aunty wants to do something that will get rid of the woman.  She wants to marry Elikem to Afi.  Although he is with the other woman, he will bow to his family's demands in this.

Elikem does not come to the wedding; his brother stands in for him in the ceremony.  After the ceremony, Afi is whisked away to a large, clean apartment in the city where Elikem's business interests and those of his family are.  She is left there to amuse herself as she will but Elikem does not come there although he calls her frequently.  He does not come there for two months.

Afi doesn't know what to do.  Materially, her life is a hundred times better.  Elikem gives her money, a driver.  She can buy whatever she wants.  Slowly, the two become a couple and finally are sleeping together.  She falls in love with him but knows he still leaves her to go to the other woman.  While she is the first wife, she is not the legal wife without a church ceremony.  The other woman hasn't even had the ceremony Afi had so is considered the second wife or the mistress.  But she has a hold on Elikem that, for whatever reason, cannot be broken, no matter how loving Elikem seems to Afi or how much he sees it hurts her.  Can Afi get what she wants, a husband to herself?

Peace Adzo Medie has written an interesting novel that gives insight into the Ghanaian culture.  It is a culture that is based around family and family respect much more than that of Americans.  A Ghanaian woman would never marry anyone her family did not like.  Even after marriage, honor for the elder members of her own and her husband's family is paramount and the worst thing that can happen is estrangement from the family.  It is also a book about a dilemma that is common in all cultures; what to do when the person you love also loves someone else?  This book is recommended for readers looking for knowledge about other cultures and for those who enjoy women's fiction.

No comments: