Book Review: African Literature scholar Dr. Jayant Cherekar's critical book - "Women Blooming Out of the Gloom"

August 7, 2016

 

Dr. Jayant Cherekar's critical insight into the socio-pschychic exploration of Mariama Ba:

 

I am an academic and a judge of humanitarian values in social, literary and private life. I am thoroughly secular and an academic who loves books more than food. I served as a Professor on deputation, in Eritrea, East Africa, and had hands on experience of socio-literary tutoring and interaction with the African students. Incidentally, in a library, I came across this book by Dr. Jayant Cherekar full night reading of which fascinated me beyond my inland encounters with the natives. Here is it's a review - humble as though but immensely beneficial to the readers and scholars of African literature. I personally apologize for the typographic, thematic or scholarly opinions if that offend the general public in this review. It's a disclaimer by the reviewer of this book.

 

Personally, I found this book immensely beneficial to the students and scholars of African literature, and especially of Mariama Ba, because I spent in African inland quite some time. I personally studied and tutored there for two years in one it's prestigious universities. Fact that struck to my mind while I was there is that the African natives had a sort of disregard of women. It seemed prominent in  Islamic community of some parts of Africa with regard to the general outlook of their male counterparts. The book by Dr. Cherekar made me observe and have discussions with my African colleagues and friends during my tutoring assignment in Africa. Many a time on such occasions, I came across some of the arguements that Dr. Jayant scholarly presented in this book - especially of the treatment of the Muslim women of the African continent presented by Mariama Ba in her path breaking novels. Being a humanitarian by nature and professionally an academic, I wanted to get a feel of what the women of this world had to endure. The book provided me that insight which I myself observed and felt on the African soil on many a occasion.

 

The part of the book - critical analysis of Mariama Ba's  "So Long a Letter"- in this book is a sequence of reminiscences as narrated by Ba in her path breaking novel. These are recounted by a recently widowed Senegalese school teacher Ramatoulaye in Ba's novel and analysed in this book by Dr. Cherekar. The novel is in epistolary which the author of this book seems able to make inroads rigtht from the word go. It is really fascinating to read from this book that Ramatoulaye wrote of her emotional struggles to regain her life after her husband's (Modou) abrupt decision to marry another woman. Although sanctioned by the laws of Islam, Modou's action is a calculated betrayal of her trust and abrupt rejection of their life together.

 

The present book as analysed by Dr. Cherekar, presents the novel of Ba's protagonist in the act of polygamy and its reverberations in the her life. It's the depiction of an Afro-Islamic culture at its best by Ba and critically analysed by Dr. Cherekar in this book.

 

Here, I draw a reference to another book that caught my interest in this regard. It is Daphne Ntiri's "One's not a Woman one Becomes...” which talks about "Female Power and the Family Cycle." "The early years of marriage and patriotically residence are stressful for the young bride who is subject to the authority of the homes elders". Binetou had no father at home so her mother thought it best that she married for security, not only for Binetou but for the entire family. Binetou was pressured into a marriage to a man twice her age for the benefit of security for family, not love. This act destroyed Binetou's life before she could begin to live it.

 

The author, Dr. Cherekar in this book points out that in many Islamic cultures women are considered as curse to their families from adolescence to adulthood. They do not get the same type of respect that her male counterparts receive. Their only purpose, if any, is to reproduce and if for some reason they can't, they are rendered useless - a typical feature of African, Indian, and may be, all the subaltern countries across the globe.

 

I personally recommend the book as a qualitative FIVE STAR to all the scholars of African literature in general and Mariam Ba's novels, in particular.  It is available on www.amazon.in. Please click the following link to preview, review and purchase the book - http://www.amazon.in/Woman-Blooming-Out-Gloom-Perspective/dp/1618978896

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2016 by Dr. Prafull D. Kulkarni