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Fighting The Oppressors: The African Women's Struggle In Aidoo’s Two Sisters And Wedding At The Cross

1212 words - 5 pages

African literature is rich with examples of the plight that African women suffered during the political and social changes the continent experienced after colonialism. In Ama Aito Aidoo’s short story “Two Sisters”, and “Wedding at the Cross”, the lives of three different women are explored as they navigate a world dominated by not only the men in their lives, but by the omnipresent feeling of colonialism. The women in Aidoo’s “Two Sisters” Mercy and Connie, represent some of the difficulties perpetrated by the rigid societal structure they exist under, and the oppressing force of the men in their lives. Similarly, in “Wedding at the Cross”, the main female protagonist, Miriamu, is bound ...view middle of the document...

. . a diminishing shadow. . . “(1038). These values are also present in “Two Sisters”, as Connie assumes the role of dutiful wife, pregnant and out of the way. Connie tries to turn the other cheek as her husband, James, cavorts with various women even though she does not agree of his unfaithfulness. The women are forced to fit into the roles society has pre-conceived for them despite their frustrations on the manner.
These roles can be blamed on the presence and influence of Western colonialism. According to Shaina Hutson, women in pre-colonial Africa possessed status and authority in their communities due to their dominance in agricultural production. However, once Africa had been ravaged by colonialism and “commercialized agriculture” became the norm, women’s role in society was diminished (Hutson). Thus, the systematic oppression of African women began as colonialists implemented laws that “gave women, fewer rights than men”(Balden). Western colonialism distorted the past conventions and societal structures held by African men and women. Western influence created a new reality where women were no longer leaders in their communities, but followers of men.
The women in “Two Sisters” and “Wedding at the Cross” depict the struggles of this new reality. Miriamu’s choices are limited throughout her marriage as her husband tries to reinvent himself. She is forced to stay at home, forced to dress in what her husband deems respectable, and forced to attend a church she does not care for. Thiong’o conveys how confining the forces of colonialism and men can be to an African women’s life by creating a contrast in Miriamu’s childhood and her adult life. During her childhood she had everything, her family was “miles better off than most”, “looked on with favour by white farmers around [and] the District Officer would often stop by for casual greeting” (1039). Her childhood was spent in a comfortable existence, but circumstances changed when she married and was introduced to poverty and her husband’s rule. In her new position she no longer benefitted from colonialism, and she now had to listen to her husband’s demand which included following a branch of Christianity she did not believe in. This Thiong’o attributes to the overreaching influence of colonialism as her husband strives to become the perfect model citizen in the eyes of western colonialism, and Miriamu is dragged on that path with him. Aidoo’s character Connie in “Two Sisters” is also dominated by her husband. She is asked to stay silent on his multiple affairs and is even threatened if she...

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