The Purple Violet of Oshaantu was Namibian author Neshani Andreas’ first book, first published in 2001 by Heinmann Publishers. In the book, Andreas writes about the different views on marriage held by various women.
Mee Ali is married with four children and enjoys her marriage because she married a man who loves and adores her. For her, marriage should be enjoyed and not endured and it’s not worth it staying with an unfaithful husband. Meme Kauna is also married with five children and her marriage is not a happy one because her husband in addition to beating her every now and then also cheats on her without trying to hide it. She sees marriage as something that should be endured and even though she no longer loves her husband, she has chosen to stay with him.
A third woman, Mee Maita, who attends church with Ali and Kauna, believes that whatever joy there is to be derived out of marriage is in the first few years. After that, the honeymoon is over and a woman should accept whatever comes her way
Mee Ali and Mee Kauna are best friends. In their friendship, Kauna finds respite from most of her marital problems. Mee Ali and her husband Tate Michael help in saving Kauna from many a fight with her husband Tate Shange.
Meanwhile, Kauna’s mother has little sympathy for her daughter believing that whatever has happened to Kauna is her own fault and she shouldn’t bring shame to their family by leaving Shange. Kauna’s Aunt, on the other hand, tells her that the ball is in her court and she can decide whatever it is that seems best to her.
When Shange dies all of a sudden, accusing fingers are pointed at Kauna especially since she does not cry or show any sign of bereavement. She only keeps telling everybody that Shange just came home and he didn’t touch the food she had prepared. Mee Ali does not like the fact that Kauna does not mourn for her husband and when she tries to reason with her, Kauna retorts that she has no interest in pretending she misses her husband.
This and a combination of other things make Shange’s family angry at Kauna especially when she tells them she doesn’t know anything about Shange’s money. They suspsect that she is keeping the money for herself, and after the funeral rites, they ask her and her children to leave the house.
In Kauna’s refusal to mourn for her husband and other acts of defiance she shows that she finally has got a bit of her self-worth back.
In The Purple Violet of Oshaantu, Andreas portrays women as the backbone of the home. While men are always away working in the mines, the women stay behind to look after the children, their farms and the home front. In this simple story about ordinary people and everyday life, Andreas reflects on rural life and the pressures it imposes on women. And she seems to suggest that, to an extent, women must make the choice – to either enjoy or endure marriage.