Co-wives, Co-widows

I am beyond delighted to have come across this gem of a book, thanks to Brittlepaper, an Instagram account dedicated to African literature. The book, originally written in French, by Adrienne Yabouza and translated by Rachael McGill, is set in Bangui, the capital of Central African Republic (CAR). It’s a story of two women, Ndongo Passy and Grekpoubou, wives of Lidou. Both women live amicably in adjacent houses and are fond of each other. When Lidou suddenly dies, the women are left bereft and are forcibly expelled from their homes with their children by Lidou’s cousin and his sister, who plan on taking away all of his inheritance. The co-widows then take it upon themselves to seek justice for the retribution inflicted on them just because they are widows. However, the justice system of CAR fails them and both women are forced to return to their respective parents’ homes. But grit and determination never leave Ndongo Passy and Grekpoubou, who choose to be hopeful and don’t shy away from owning their share of joy and happiness.

Yabouza tells a very compelling and uplifting story. This is an exemplary narration of women supporting women and gaining confidence and strength from each other. Set in the backdrop of political turmoil and presidential elections in CAR, the author paints a very poignant picture of the plight of women in the country, especially widows. She highlights the deep rooted patriarchy and chauvinism in her unwavering writing. And at the same time, it’s a joy to discover and imbibe oneself in the culture and tradition of the people of CAR. I found the descriptions on food and clothes so beautiful, that I couldn’t stop romanticising Bangui.

Books can transcend borders even during a pandemic. Allow this one to take you to CAR!


Author: theshinydiaries

Being authentic; one day at a time!

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