TITLE: SO LONG A LETTER
AUTHOR: MARIAMA BA
TRANSLATOR: MODUPE BODE-THOMAS
NUMBER OF PAGES: 96
PUBLISHER: Waveland Press, Inc.
DATE OF PUBLICATION: May 21, 2012 (1st Edition)
REVIEWER: Shoola Oyindamola
I have always thirsted to read a book that showcases African feminism and MARIAMA BA’s SO LONG A LETTER (as interpreted by MODUPE BODE-THOMAS) satisfied this me in every way possible. I couldn’t have asked for more.
This book questions the very basis of polygamy, which holds some women as properties. It also questions the message that polygamy passes across to the society, especially young women, and how much it adds or subtracts from their self-esteem.
What I loved the most about SO LONG A LETTER is that the way it portrayed everyday feminism, explaining that African women don’t need the ‘feminist’ title before they can know and do what is right for them.
It also presents the possibility of egalitarian relationships, like the one between Ramatoulaye’s first daughter and her husband while mocking the failure of many men, soaked in patriarchal ideas, to acquire the “inexpensive cooking gene.”
Ba reveals that we, as human beings, have been entwined in culture and religiosity (rather than spirituality), so much that, even when it harms us, we no longer feel it or see the need to confront it. We see this in the decisions that unexpected experiences, like the new wife and a lover’s death, forced Ramatoulaye, to make.
It unveils the shame and pain that women feel when they are put in positions that satisfy men’s desires and their “masculinity of a thing” – as experienced by Ramatoulaye, who makes a firm stand by refusing to marry her polygamist suitors after her husband’s death.
It questions tradition and the rewards that culture holds for women if men were placed out of the picture for a second.
It also shows how the pleasures of life are many in simpler events although our troubles remain in magnificent situations. For example, Ramatoulaye’s joy and peace was simple – that she could be with herself and her children while reckoning with her heart’s desires in the midst of her life’s chaos.
SO LONG A LETTER also teaches the priceless nature of friendship. It tells of how those that are too close may hurt one while those that are far away may take out of themselves to heal one’s wounds.
I love this book from cover to cover. I wish that I had read it much earlier. Read it.
SHOOLA OYINDAMOLA was born and raised in Ibadan, Nigeria. She is a published poet, a feminist, a mentor, a blogger and Co-founder and Resource manager of Sprinng Literary Movement. She loves to writes poems, essays and her non-classifiable opinions. She uses her writing skills with her feminist drive to discuss the gender injustices that need to be fixed. She published her first collection of poems titled “Heartbeat” in New York, USA at the age of 16.