The year was 1907, and Lesotho’s first ever work of literature was published by a native, his name was Thomas Mofolo. Egged on by his workmates at the Morija mission house to put pen to paper, the young man from the Mafeteng district finally did so. His work would be titled “Moeti oa Bochabela” (Visitor from the East).
This was testament to the intellectual prowess of the native male, which was up till that point, always held to question. The male’s counterpart, however, was still a reclusive and even ignored figure.
So subordinated was her role in those times that Chinua Achebe, the acclaimed social analyst and writer, wrote that, “Okwonko had barns of yams and wives.” Okwonko was of course an imagined figure, but nonetheless that fictionalised character was said to be in possession of Wives and yams.
It would be 59 years after Thomas Mofolo’s first novel that a black African woman would have her chance to tell her side of the story, express herstory, and not be used as a pawn in his narrative, history.
Flora Nwapo published “Efuru” in 1966, the story was about a young woman as she faced marital problems and not being able to conceive. These have been recurring topics in female literature, but not so much in the man’s perspective.
Buchi Emecheta, (look her up, you’ll be glad that you did), is quoted as saying that she writes, “the stories of women as they face the universal problems of oppression and poverty.”
It is surprising how many male authors have repeatedly been unable to grasp the problems that women face daily as a result of genealogy and biology.
In African literature, especially in most works of fiction, we get to understand that, “It takes two to tango, but fertility and fecundity is the sole responsibility of the woman.”
Therefore, most theories or myths point to cursed women who could not bear children, barren women who were cursed with a dry womb. In fact, the male is seen urging on the woman to get tested for child bearing ability, but the male rarely seems to find fault with himself.
In “The secret lives of Baba Segi’s Wives,” Baba Segi fails to realise that it is in fact, he who cannot produce, children, because of his low sperm count, he still considers himself a young virile man.
It is this arrogance that KemTalks want to abolish, through our “Every Other Month” chats at Café What? We aim to abolish hard set gender biases and discrimination of all forms while in the same spirit healing in the socioeconomic our beloved country.