Daughters who Walk this Path, Yejide Kilanko.
Daughters who Walk this Path, Yejide Kilanko. Pintail (2013), Paperback, 352 pages.
GLOBAL WOMEN OF COLOR
AFRICA READING CHALLENGE
A candid novel by a Nigerian woman about young women’s sexual vulnerability and their efforts to move on beyond their pain.
Yejide Kilanko was born and raised in Nigeria and now lives in Canada where she works with children. Her novel is set in Nigeria with its particular landscape and politics providing the background. Her narrator, Morayo, grows up in Ibadan, in a comfortably middle-class family surrounded by a larger circle of relatives. Tradition and modernity blend smoothly. Rituals surround important events while college education for girls is taken for granted.
The story, however, is not simply a Nigerian story, but one that occurs globally. It centers on Morayo’s rape while still a young girl by a cousin who threatens to rape her beloved younger sister if she tells her parents. The boy is whisked away when his sexual activities come to light, but her parents seem to blame her. A deep rift emerges within the larger family over what has happened. A supportive aunt tells Morayo about her own similar experience, but as the girl matures her attitude toward men and sex reflects her guilt and sense of worthlessness. Over time Morayo slowly learns to honor herself and becomes a strong intelligent woman, like the one on the book cover.
Daughters who Walk the Path is a good book. Its strength lies in the story it tells. Kilanko neither sentimentalizes or sensationalizes sexuality, but writes about it in a straightforward manner. Believable and interesting characters liven the book. I think it would be an important read for young adults everywhere, both girls and boys, who must face the impact that rape can have on them and their friends, immediately and over time. Hopefully a book like this can help individuals and societies deal with the long term impact of rape and take women’s pain more seriously.
I recommend this book, especially to young adults everywhere.