Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Review: Kelemo's Woman by Molara Wood

Kelemo's Woman by Molara Wood
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This short story can be found at and in Molara Wood’s short story collection Indigo

This is the story of the choices made by a young Nigerian woman at the time of a military coup. Her mother has died and she is alone except for Kelemo who is a political activist. They have to spend their lives 'ducking and diving' trying to keep one step ahead of the authorities. She has nothing and has no identity outside of being “Kelemo’s Woman”. On her death bed her mother bemoans her own life spent in the wake of men “Iriola, trust no one. Allow yourself to be pulled down by no one. I mean, no one. Don't be like me, slaving all my life to stand by men and for what? To die of a wasting disease before my time? Iriola, I beg of you. If the house is falling or the boat is sinking, secure for yourself a safe landing. A comfortable patch. Now you will have no mother. The person to watch over you, is you." When the soldiers come to her supposedly safe house what choices does Irioko make? How does she survive?

I think this story is one of those "glass half full - glass half empty" reads depending on how you read it, whether you read the mother's death bed words as urging Iroko to take the safe comfortable route to survival or to find a secure landing from which to get out from all the chaos.
Only in the direst conditions are we faced with the burden of such choices, we have no time to consider their consequences, no power to forgo making them, for they are placed on us by those weilding power. Only if we survive can we tell, can we expose. Think Sophie's Choice, think #MeToo.

For me its a story about survival, about the costs of survival, for the voiceless multitudes. It is about a Africa lost , be it to the wasting of HIV/AIDS, be it to post colonial vacuums caused by trying to continue the "British sitcom" only to end up being taken over by a game of chess, power played by groups of wannabees who are but boy soldiers exercising petty power. Tongue in cheek it may be saying it is time for change #NoMore

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