Our Sister Kill Joy or Reflections from a Black-Eyed Squint
Ama Ata Aidoo
$ 194.37 (used)
Paperback (134 pages)
N O K Publishers, International
Reader ReviewsA FEMINISTIC PERSPECTIVE
The novel is a masterpiece because it raises issues such as the cross continental struggles of women. Moreover, the Author, Ama Aidoo, forces Africans living abroad, to consider their allegiance to Africa by retiring home. After reading the novel I was so moved that I have decided to visit the continent this summer after six years. Outlined below, is my FEMINISTIC PERSPECTIVE on the novel: In the novel, Our Sister Killjoy, the protagonist, Sissie, journey's through Europe on a student scholarship. While in Europe, she encountered people from various socio-economic backgrounds, especially, African immigrants from Ghana who had succumbed to the lure of European wealth. Despite the subservient living of some Africans in Britain, they continued to espouse the "myth of European wealth." Sissie, at the end of the novel, calls on Africans to pledge allegiance to Africa by returning home. An equally significant character in the novel was Marija, the German housewife of a factory worker. Through her, the narrator forces readers to consider the compelling similarities of women's struggle across racial lines in a patriarchal society. However, the narrator makes known the fact that, even though the two women might have similarities in their struggles, they have different paths towards liberation because they have different historical and personal experiences. Marija and Sissie both had, Mary, as their common names. The name Mary is an English name and is spelt Marija in Germany, Marie in France, and Marlene in Sweden. In other words, the name transcends culture. It gives women over the world a commonality. The similarities in the names of both women can be interpreted as a metaphor for the similarities in women's struggles. Marija represents the embodiment of women's struggles in Europe, whereas Sissie embodies women from Africa. Nonetheless, the narrator makes it clear that Sissie's name had a different historical experience or connotation. Her name was the result of colonial attachment. For example she was named Mary because she was baptized in a Christian family (25). Colonial masters thought it imperative that, for a woman to be "Heaven-worthy individual, he [or she] had to have above all a Christian name" (25). Once again, although the two women had similarities in name, their names had different connotations. To Marija it was just a name, however to Sissie it was a reminder of colonial power. The narrator revealed the similarities between women's struggle cross continentally. For instance, in a patriarchal society, women are engineered to believe that womanhood is equated with motherhood. Therefore a "true" woman must embrace motherhood in other to achieve happiness. After walking with Sissie from the hostel, Marija felt guilty for wanting to be alone from her child. "She finished uncertainly, looking up to Sissie who did not have a child, as if for conformation, a reassurance that she was not speaking blasphemy" (49). The narrator goes on to reveal that, "It is Heresy, In Africa, and Europe, Everywhere, that this is not a statement to come from a good mother's lips" (49). The narrator used the words, Europe, Africa and everywhere to symbolize the similarities in the way women in patriarchal societies are inclined to believe. Women in other terms, are not good mothers unless they embrace motherhood. However, the narrator made known the different historical contexts of the two women's experiences. She goes on to ask, "Who is Marija Sommer? A daughter of mankind's self-appointed most royal line, The house of Aryan-an heiress to some legacy that would make you bow down your head in shame and cry" (46). The narrator contrasts the historical origins of Marija to that of the experiences of Sissie. Sissie, she claims, "is a little Black woman who if things were not what they should have been...would not have been there [in Germany,] walking where the Fuhrer's feet had trod" (46). Marija serves as a metaphor for European women. By refusing to stay in Europe, Sissie rejects Eurocentrism and its feministic mode of liberation. In spite of the fact that she had a common ground with Marija as far as women's struggles was concerned, she believed that different historical experiences required different methods for achieving liberation. Sissie believed that in other for her and other African women to achieve liberation, they would have to return to Africa to be part of the struggle. Finally, the narrator reveals that despite all the similarities between women's struggles across the continent, the historical and personal experiences of women differ. The differences in women's struggle warrant different modes of liberation. Like her Indian friends, Marija only valued Sissie for the fact that she was a "rare commodity"-An African woman who did not speak German. On the other hand, Sissie viewed Marija as the embodiment of Eurocentrism. Ultimately, Sissie cannot follow European feminism, but must return to Africa and be actively involved in women's liberation. In her Love Letter, she calls on other Africans living abroad, to return home.