Adunni's mother says, “In this village, if you go to school, no one will be forcing you to marry any man. But if you didn’t go to school, they will marry you to any man once you are reaching fifteen years old. Your schooling is your voice, child. It will be speaking for you even if you didn’t open your mouth to talk. It will be speaking till the day God is calling you come.”
That day, I tell myself that even if I am not getting anything in this life, I will go to school. I will finish my primary and secondary and university schooling and become teacher because I don’t just want to be having any kind voice…
I want a louding voice.
—Abi Daré, THE GIRL WITH THE LOUDING VOICE, p. 25.
A great novel. It sucked me in and held me all this day, frantically turning the pages, till finally I had to speed-read the last 100 pages because I was beside myself to know how Daré chose to end it. Now satisfied, I can go back and enjoy those pages. It is all skillfully written. Adunni, the main character, speaks a poetic English, neither Nigerian pidgin, nor a dialect, nor a regional variant. It has a grammar all its own, though as Adunni becomes educated, she begins to lose her self-created language and to speak more “standard” English, leading me to think about the ways education is indoctrination. Education feeds us the lies the powerful have decided to uphold, supporting the class and caste systems and the dominance of the male gender. It is possible, with great diligence, to break through that indoctrination, but there is always a taint, a smell of those systems clinging to the clothes of those who have been "educated" in the "canon."
Adunni decides to master three words from the Collins Dictionary: Assimilate, Communicate, Extermination. Education does all three.
This photo has nothing to do with the book. I ran out for a few groceries after I spent the day reading.
Getting an education was the first priority of my life for the 20 years it took me to do that, after high school. It continues as my first priority, and the longer I live, the more I know how little I know. I believed what Adunni's mother said, though no one said it to me. My mother said, "You're too stupid. Don't waste your time. Find a man who will take you."
My high school English teacher said, "Take a secretarial course. Learn to type. You'll never finish a degree."
I remember vividly a movie, Educating Rita (1983), and another novel, Nervous Conditions (1988), by Tsitsi Dangaremgba. They're all, to some degree, the story of my life and the story of many other women's lives. Of the three, this is the best.