Posted on October 18, 2012 by Ziallo
This book was recommended to me by a lovely person I met once at a Christmas dinner. I quickly ordered it online and when it arrived it took me two days of procrastination before starting it. Someone saying that a book is a good read doesn’t make it true for everyone so that’s the little worry I had.
Amina, a young woman in her twenties, is the newest and youngest wife of Alhaji Haruna a wealthy politician, the Majority Leader in the State House of Assembly in Northern Nigeria. Her life is an undisturbed flow of days resembling one another. She’s contented and she doesn’t complain. She has the life many women her age want. She has money, she is the wife of an important man and she has connections with the wealthiest people in the state. While her husband wants her to start a business and be involved with the wives of other dignitaries, her friend Fatima wants her to use her privileged position to make a difference to the condition of women in her locality. Eventually she chooses her side and starts making a stir with the creation of The Women’s Organisation. It’s an organisation with the aim of fighting poverty and giving more financial freedom to the women of the city of Bakaro. Encouraged by her revolutionary friend Fatima she pushes boundaries set for women in the very patriarchal and traditionalist community and not everyone is happy with the outcomes of her activities.
The more resistance she encounters the more determined to succeed she gets. But the price to pay as a woman for the right to speak out is a heavy one and for Amina and the women there was no turning back once the struggle began. A march of protest takes a bad turn and she has to put herself forward for the final battle.
The story of Amina is one of courage and determination. It’s a cry of hope and anger for all those women in their own Bakaro who can’t speak up but can’t hold on anymore. The situation of women in Northern Nigeria- and in Africa- is given a hopeful perspective. What if women could change things? What if they could fight the injustice against them and put an end to years of repression? Amina is the representation of the young women Muhammed Umar wants to see; women ready to stand for what they believe in even if it means to go against society and old beliefs.
As a woman I enjoyed this book. I grew up on African land seeing some of my peers taken out of school for marriage because “a woman doesn’t need to know too much”, I’ve seen domestic violence against women justified because they had to be “put in their place”; I’ve heard men swear they would never agree to have a woman as their boss, and those are a few examples. Amina for me is an optimistic story of the struggle for a long waited emancipation of women. It’s not that women had not attempted it before- work has been done on a smaller scale, in everyday life as acts of personal struggle. One step at the time. One person at the time. All things in good measure and at the right time.
See online: Book Review: AMINA by Mohammed Umar