Womanist Perspectives in Sefi Atta’s Everything Good will come

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Sefi Atta’s everything good will come is a narration of the consciousness of a growing child. The narration is in the first point of view. The writer made it a point of duty to present the central character’s consciousness boldly as she matures to become conscious of the African woman.

“In my country, women are praised the more     they surrender their right to protest in the end they may die with nothing but selflessness to passion to their daughters, a startling legacy that tears down a perched throat”… (177)

The novelist used the historical knowledge of a post-colonial Nigerian experience as narrated by Enitan protagonist, who realized the marginalization of women.

This novel enlightens readers about the happenings of Nigerian states as well as draws readers into its historical contextual environment and the attendant emotional and structural break down of human relationships. Enitan is born into a Nigerian state riddled with ethnic and religious differences; these religious and ethnic differences are however stiffed into cataclysmic emotion when political underpinning is considered. The narrator understanding of the unnecessary centre of Nigerian state by the colonial masters, without taking cognizance or the ethnic differences prevalent in divers’ societies is valid, even in todays’ work.

For so many Africans, growing up wasn’t easy; they were made to become “born again” by the wheels of the cane in the name of corporal punishment and discipline. The African child is also left to find out things for him or herself. This leads to questioning the unpredictable of moral upbringing.

Only the strong would survive, the rest would spend their lives searching for initiatives. This was what it took to raise an African child, a village of bearter, and yet if someone put their hands around a child’s neck, and applied the slightest pressure … (133)

 

Enitan also finds herself struggling with the concept of religion and morality. The incessant conflicts in her family further heightened the deteriorating health of her sickle-cell brother, who eventually passed on, is worthy of mention. Her mother an escapist, seeks succor from marginalization and a broken marriage, in a white garment church, she transforms from the once glowing young wife into a “wild Christian; a strict and bottled admixture of holiness and bottled-up grievances. But she however still holds on to traditional beliefs as she kills a fowl to rescue her daughter fertility.

Enitan grows into womanhood under the influence of her carefree childhood friend Sheri who lends her a shoulder in her search of “womanish freedom.” She is made to realize the limitation of the female gender; a situation where she is reserved for the status quo from childhood: a shallow education limited by dreams of childbirth, wedding and graduation, finally a ridiculous transfer to the royal office of the kitchen.

She learned forward. “Maybe you don’t know this because you were raised by your Father, but let me tell you, now, to save you from unnecessary headache in the future. Forget that nonsense. Education cannot Change what’s inside a person’s veins… (16)

Governmental issues are on the front burner of the novel as she harps on the manipulation of the constitution by politicians and ruling hands. The author also makes worthy mention of the inconsistences of tradition. Political will is being transferred from the hands of corrupt politicians to the hands of heart-hardened military coup-plotters who are bent on arresting, manning and eliminating helpless civilians. The military barges into the hallowed gates of leadership, their reason being that the politicians were corrupt but their “reign” was uncensored, unchecked and unencumbered.

Hassan, a brigadier Sheri gets involved with, represents not only the power opulence of military rule in the military regimes but also their chauvinism. In fact, he portrayed the archetypal male who limits the aspiration of women: who sees them as slaves and “commodities or thing flies”

After what my eyes have seen? If am not crazy, what else will I be? He is jealous of me. Can you believe it?  He is jealous of my success. With all he has. He wants me to have nothing, except what he gives me… (170)

The problem or crash between Sheri, and her man or husband ensured after brigadier Hassan made his intention clear to Sheri. He wanted her to stop her business and get fully entangled in the home chores but she desired the opposite. It was so uncalled for that Hassan hit Sheri as their sharp misunderstanding increased to a greater range. Sheri who has white blood running in her vain could not bear the sight of such hitting, that she struck brigadier Hassan with a pot of soup. It is obvious an ideal African woman won’t hit back at her husband rather she runs amok in anger or apply another measure to have him punished. Rarely would African woman confront her man in such provoking situation except those who have drunk from the well of civilization. Enitan envisaged her friends’ capacity to resist this ugly scene the way she did.

The man is a coward that is why he hit me “(170)

It is only a coward that beats a woman but this understanding seems not to govern the minds of average African men in their treatment of women.

The novel Everything Good Will Come,also extrapolates on the life of the artist and how the economy determines their livelihood. This artist is left to wallow in poverty amid surplus creating skills. They are not totally accepted in a society where money is a basis for corporation, friendship and societal acceptance, all thanks to the politicians. This artist is emotional and caring but most importantly, sympathetic about the suffering of the populace, that is what led uncle Alex, Enitan father’s friend, in the first part of the novel 1971 to join the civil war. Uncle Alex will remind readers of one of Nigeria’s poets, Christopher Okogbo. But in the same vein, the artist also leads a careless life, as Mike Mukoro reflects an artist who not only engages in the act of creative drawings and fine sculpting but also involves in flirtation ardour.

Another inevasible part of the work everything good will come, is the showcase of Lagos life in both “the good old “the “the bad old” the socio-economic travails of the middle class logicians who like to show the exquisite places and purchase suspected expensive commodities. Activism is also a constant message in the work, as a female character plays her role in national emancipation. Amidst her sufferings she forges ahead and wins new converts of which none of them was Enitan. She however admits that it is not worth dying for a country that does not appreciate the developmental activities of her life is another serious issue mentioned in this work. Here, women are treated like rags and broken teaspoons. This perhaps might make the reader pardon the author’s strong feministic tendencies.

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