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Changes: A Love Story, by Ama Ata Aidoo.

May 4, 2012

Changes: A Love Story, by Ama Ata Aidoo. The Feminist Press at UNY (1993) Paperback, 208 pages. Afterword by Tuzyaline Jita Allan.

An insightful novel from Ghana about what is changing and not changing as women entering professions face demands to sacrifice themselves for the sake of their husbands.

The world is changing, and here and there women are taking exciting professional jobs. What does that mean for their personal lives? Ama Ata Aidoo provides an African variation of their dilemma. For Esi, the problem is not the demands of her daughter, a guilt-producing waif largely ignored in the novel, but the demands of her husband. Earning more than he does, she spends time working and traveling that he believes ought to be devoted to him. When he decides to establish his dominance, Esi rebels. Neither her family nor her best friend approve. Is life alone or as a second wife of a less demanding man any better?

The most positive and hopeful element in Aidoo’s story is her friendship with Opokuya, a rather different type of woman. Both are professionals and met infrequently, but retain very close ties; a new kind of friendship which Aidoo describes in loving detail. Opokuya works as a nurse and midwife, has four children and orders her life around her husband’s demands. She does not understand Esi’s actions but clearly supports her anyway. Fusena offers another alternative for college women in Ghana. Her husband diverts her away from additional education, until isolated by a life of constant pregnancies and small children, she loses her appeal for him. Although the husbands in the story are all flawed, the real problem for Esi and other women is that their society has not changed enough to make a place for their new roles.

Aidoo defines herself as a feminist and forcefully takes a stand against the view that feminism is an unwanted “western” importation to Africa. As she makes clear in Changes, she sees that women’s oppression as present in both colonial and traditional African attitudes. Her goal is for African women to be freed from both gender and cultural restrictions; a goal shared with Leila Ahmed and the Arab feminists I have been reading. In the afterword to this book, Tuzyaline Jita Allan explores Aidoo’s feminism and places Changes in the larger context in her work. This book was published by Feminist Press, which regularly includes such helpful comments in their books by global authors.

Yes, I recommend this book, especially for those interested in how women handle competing demands of home and work responsibilities.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. May 4, 2012 4:40 pm

    I have this book out from the library right now! I haven’t started it yet, but it will probably be next after my current book.

    • May 6, 2012 9:17 am

      Great. I hope you enjoy it and look forward to your comments.

  2. June 10, 2012 6:06 pm

    This is a mature interpretation of the book. A holistic review.

    • June 11, 2012 10:09 am

      Thanks. There was a lot to say. And thanks for signing up to my blog.

  3. June 11, 2012 6:23 am

    A wonderful review and apt portrayal of the gender and feminine issues in the novel. Incidentally, I have also reviewed Changes on my blog where I did a comparative analyses of the characterisation of the four main women in the novel, Esi, Opokuya, Nana and Fusena. You may check it out.

    • June 11, 2012 10:19 am

      Thanks. I had read your review and that was why I decided to follow your blog. Keep me posted on other good African women writers. After reading your review of Facelss, I am trying to get something by Amma Darko.

  4. Ekuwa Saighoe permalink
    March 14, 2013 12:14 pm

    That’s a lovely book and it’s very insightful especially abt the roles of the African woman

    • March 17, 2013 9:32 am

      Thanks. I agree and that a reason for this book to be widely read.

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