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Tale of an African Woman

Thomas Jing

Publication Year: 2008

The village of Yakiri has been cursed by ancestral wrath because of the treatment of Yaa, the first girl who wrestled her male goatherd peers to earn the right to be initiated into the society of manhood. Her struggle is taken up generations later by Yaya, the granddaughter of Tafan and Wirba. Orphaned like her forebear, Yaya becomes a star student in the village's primary school and promises to go far. But, ask the villagers, is it right to invest in an education for an African girl who may become the property of another village? An educated woman will abandon the farm where she is needed, wear high heels and try to order men around! In the midst of it all, one Irish missionary, living in Africa and for the most time with Africans, literally wiggles his way into hearts and minds. With his intervention, Yaya leaves the village to school in the city, but her troubles as a woman have not really begun. Yarns of cultural borrowing, indigestion and transcendence reveal the simple and complex ways in which community matters are confronted and decided. This happens in shrines where seers are consulted and cowry shells thrown, in palm wine houses, but also around the school and presbytery. The untold stories and perspectives of girls and women burst through in illuminating and uplifting ways. Quarrels, squabbles, near collisions and mutual conversions give way to innovative traditions.

Published by: African Books Collective

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Chapter One

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pp. 1-5

"Have a seat,” I declared politely after my visitor from Ireland was ushered into my office and I shook hands with . . .

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Chapter Two

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pp. 6-11

Along, long time ago, even before my country, Mungo, came to be administered as a colony of the Europeans, in the northern . . .

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Chapter three

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pp. 12-16

Caught up in this sad situation, which was not of her making and which she knew nothing about, it was natural that Yaa`s childhood . . .

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Chapter Four

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pp. 17-23

Yaa soon turned ten. In the light of her age, she was forced to abandon the rather rich but boring chore of supplying water to her . . .

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Chapter Five

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pp. 24-29

The eve of the day the entire village had been waiting for finally arrived. While people braced themselves for the event, those . . .

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Chapter Six

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pp. 30-35

By now, the wrestlers were all geared up and kept their ears opened for the names which would soon be announced by the master . . .

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Chapter Seven

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pp. 36-39

The wrestling was over. Even though the induction event had not come to an end, many villagers were already walking away . . .

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Chapter Eight

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pp. 40-44

There was no more excuse to deny her a land grant. The Tabih cut out a large, fertile piece of land along an old river valley as her . . .

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Chapter Nine

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pp. 45-49

It was not very long after Chacha had died. The villagers started to notice some very weird patterns of behavior in Yaa. It started slowly . . .

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Chapter Ten

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pp. 50-56

Old Bangsiboh got up early that morning. At night, on that day, he had a dream in which he saw a leopard hanging from a . . .

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Chapter Eleven

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pp. 57-64

Tabongwa sat on a rock under a baobab tree not far from his compound. Even though the base of this plant was very broad and . . .

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Chapter Twelve

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pp. 65-76

Darkness had just begun to gather. Tabongwa had finished the day’s work and was about to prepare his dinner. He popped some . . .

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Chapter Thirteen

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pp. 77-83

When the last word of the incantation had been uttered, Tabongwa held the palm bearing the ashes to his mouth and asked . . .

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Chapter Fourteen

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pp. 84-88

It must have been around the year 1884. European statesmen were poised to meet in Berlin, the capital of Germany. Long before they . . .

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Chapter Fifteen

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pp. 89-93

It was more than a year since Sangbong and Ndah first met at the marketplace. Not very long after the meeting, the communities from . . .

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Chapter Sixteen

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pp. 94-96

The people looked very hungry and destitute. They had come across beautiful flat land where they had hoped to establish their . . .

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Chapter Seventeen

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pp. 97-101

Good news in Ireland has often meant good news for humanity. This became evident on a cold Friday afternoon way back . . .

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Chapter Eighteen

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pp. 102-103

Sangbong wasted no time after Yakiri had been established. Within the span of half a decade, he moved quickly and created five . . .

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Chapter Nineteen

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pp. 104-110

It was in 1940. Bernard Nso was then a student at Oxford. Yakiri was already more than half a century old. Ireland was bracing itself . . .

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Chapter Twenty

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pp. 111-114

As they drifted progressively towards the tropics, the hotter it became. Fr Sean could feel sweat streaming down his whole body. He had . . .

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Chapter Twenty One

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pp. 115-123

The hotel was situated just next to a botanical garden. The garden was very green and made up of different types of tropical plants . . .

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Chapter Twenty Two

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pp. 124-128

It was evening when they finally got to Abakwa. The priest was taken to Ayaba where the biggest mission in the region had just been . . .

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Chapter Twenty Three

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pp. 129-133

Back in Yakiri, the messenger dispatched to announce the arrival of the Irishman was received to a tumultuous welcome . . .

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Chapter Twenty Four

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pp. 134-138

It was still not dark when the priest arrived at his house. It was a three-room house, with two sleeping rooms and a vast sitting room. It was . . .

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Chapter Twenty Five

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pp. 139-147

The good instinct of prevention is better than cure having had the better of the priest, he decided to lock his door. Still, he could . . .

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Chapter Twenty Six

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pp. 148-151

The priest had planned to hold a meeting with the villagers at the church in the late afternoon and it was getting to time. He had seen . . .

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Chapter Twenty Seven

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pp. 152-156

Two days later, the emissary arrived with the whisk. Their journey to Kimbo was set for the following day and was to comprise Fr Sean, Tela . . .

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Chapter Twenty Eight

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pp. 157-159

It was late in the afternoon when they left for Yakiri. They arrived around dusk when the chickens were coming back to roost. Tela used . . .

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Chapter Twenty Nine

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pp. 160-175

Fr Sean recalled all that Bernard Nso had told him before he set out for Africa. How could he forget the useful tips which had already . . .

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Chapter Thirty

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pp. 176-182

After spending some years in the small African village, the Irishman was perfectly at home. At least, this was what he thought. He was . . .

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Chapter Thirty One

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pp. 183-185

Nkar sat on a hill on the main road from Yakiri to Kimbo. From this imperious position, it overlooked Yakiri. Its first . . .

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Chapter Thirty Two

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pp. 186-190

About twenty years had elapsed since the priest arrived in Yakiri. It was evening and Tafon was standing in his compound, concentrating . . .

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Chapter Thirty Three

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pp. 191-201

Tafon raised his head and saw the giant figure of Mbinkar, the sub-chief of Nkar, framed by the door.
“Let God and the ancestors guide your steps Mbinkar,” he greeted . . .

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Chapter Thirty Four

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pp. 202-205

Fai, who started to doze off after the meal, was now snoring. His sleepy body was at war with gravity as he struggled to keep it . . .

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Chapter Thirty Five

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pp. 206-214

After his trip, Mbinkar had every reason to celebrate. From his discussion with Tafon, he was convinced that his family’s notoriety . . .

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Chapter Thirty Six

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pp. 215-227

Owing to the tragic circumstances which surrounded my birth, I was compelled to grow under the care of my grandparents. The death . . .

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Chapter Thirty Seven

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pp. 228-235

After my grand mother had applied some ointment to soothe my bruises and had tried to calm me down, I sat back and reflected on what . . .

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Chapter Thirty Eight

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pp. 236-238

The year came to an end. My relationship with Forche was going from strength to strength, even in the midst of all the gossip. To make . . .

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Chapter Thirty Nine

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pp. 239-248

If by our becoming involved in joint activities, Forche and I had started to dream of romance of some sort, a jarring note occurred which . . .

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Chapter Fourty

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pp. 249-253

During the holidays, I received a letter requesting me to appear at St Augustine’s College for the interview which would determine . . .

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Chapter Fourty One

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pp. 254-260

It was around 3.30pm when the car of Fr Sean screeched to a halt in front of the main building. There, I noticed another kind of rivalry . . .

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Chapter Fourty Two

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pp. 261-278

With Achini and his friends gone, I opened my box and took out some sheets and a blanket and proceeded to make up . . .

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Chapter Fourty Three

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pp. 279-281

In the course of that year, a girl dismissed for bad conduct from Our Lady of Lourdes College in Abakwa washed up in SAC with her fat . . .

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Chapter Fourty Four

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pp. 282-285

At his small but sumptuously decorated and furnished house in Azire, a neighborhood in Abakwa, it was getting to 9am when Mr. Arata was . . .

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Chapter Fourty Five

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pp. 286-293

Father Nielen was at his office in the afternoon when there was a knock on the door and a gnarled old man walked in. He pulled a chair . . .

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Chapter Fourty Six

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pp. 294-297

The final college results were out. The names of those who had succeeded were already posted at the college campus. The successful . . .

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Chapter Fourty Seven

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pp. 298-303

Arguments on whether it was proper or not to send me to the university began to spread in the village. These discussions soon . . .

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Chapter Fourty Eight

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pp. 304-315

The men carried on with their drinking and debate. Some eavesdroppers picked up the most damning elements of their discussions . . .

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Chapter Fourty Nine

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pp. 316-327

Like the news of my success in the examination, the one that I would enroll at the university took my village by storm. Almost everyone . . .

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9789956716562
Print-ISBN-13: 9789956558094

Page Count: 332
Publication Year: 2008