February is the month of romance. And fittingly, our choice for book of the month has a love theme. We will be reading Ama Ata Aidoo’s anthology, African Love Stories
Published in 2006, and edited by Ama Ata Aidoo, the book is a collection of great stories written by Africa’s best female authors- perhaps only female because women make better love-story writers? As with most anthologies where various authors have contributed, the style of writing, mood, and reactions one experiences when reading this book do tend to vary as one reads one story after another. The main theme is love but the stories do show that individuals get to experience it in various ways. How far can we go for love? Is love found in a different race?- as seen in Something Old, Something New (Leila Abouela) where a young white man driven by feelings travels across boundaries and seas to Khartoum to get married to the young woman he loves. A similar idea is seen in Marriage and other impediments (Tomi Adeaga). Is love an illusion? – As read in A Sunny Afternoon (Veronique Tadjo) where a married woman is under a delusion that a man she barely knew, a man she just spent an afternoon with is the love of her life.
Diplomatic Pounds & Other Stories’ is the third collection of short stories by celebrated Ghanaian author, Ama Ata Aidoo. Published by Ayebia Clarke in 2012, eleven of the twelve stories are narrated by women and are about every day concerns relating to age, class, colour and identity. But Ms Aidoo delves into the psyche of the women, most of them strong-willed, well-educated and assertive, to show the devastating impact of these seemingly ordinary concerns. Some of the stories are based in Ghana, others in the west and still others move backwards and forwards between the two areas.
Ama Ata Aidoo’s dialogue is humorous and witty – it is almost like watching a play, writes Charlyn Kentaro. For a book written in the 1970s, Aidoo’s stories are not beleaguered by the usual heavy postcolonial messages. It is simply a masterful look at lives in Ghana in the 1960s which entertains just as much as it provokes thought.
Aidoo’s Changes: A Love Story is a book about the choices we make and the end result of whatever that choice is. The book confronts the challenges the married working class African woman faces as opposed to the men. It’s a story about what we want not always being what we need.