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Review| Teller of Secrets-a woman’s husband is her glory


Teller of secrets is an intimate recounting of the patriarchal horrors of the 1960’s West Africa. And through the text, we find a feminism which might have gine too far just to prove a point.

One of the best books to read to understand the diversive patriarchal African culture. Immediately, you go a short page with Esi you immediately feel lucky that you have this omniscient view. Although her story isn’t objective. It is humane. At random points, as if this was a tale she thought we could regard as a mere lie. She speaks to us directly, She tells us she is ‘creating cupboards in my mind where I lock up scenes that threaten to shred me to pieces.‘ However at other times, you wonder if she isn’t exaggerating. Could she remain sane despite the pain and harrowing fate that she faced while trying to explore. While trying to find the identity that her father claimed could only come if she married.

The teller of secrets as a story of young female Nigerian-Ghananian is first an intriguing piece into the personalities Esi can conveniently be without threatening her Papa or her half sister. Then a series of near miss rebellion against tyranny. Tyranny from those she thought would be modern enough to love her and not try to own her. Tyranny from a father who couldn’t conceive of a woman as herself, and only a vestige of the husband. Bisi’s words are not just merely flowery, they achieve a nuisance.

A steady reminder that our persona isn’t just a full grown woman but one who knew when a bed shook shweequaw shweequaw and even it shakes normally. She also says, In the middle of the night, I feel ants crawling around the edges of my nightgown. I brush them off but they keep coming. I snap awake up to discover the ants are Rudolph’s fingers stealing under my nightgown. They creep between my legs, trying to pull my drawers to one side. His excited breath infuriates me. Pretending to be still asleep, I fling my arm out, whacking him hard. He holds still. From his fast breathing I know he is dying to come at me. When he thinks I’m sleeping, the fingers resume their creeping. I move and whack him again, then it’s creep, whack, creep, whack until he understands it’s not happening.

Have to heard about his only wife?

But still a question keeps nagging me, his African patriarchy so blatant. Her Papa made her go to the best schools, telling her to keep herself unlike her half-sisters who were a disgrace and at the end, he reminds her that a woman’s glory is her husband. Sometimes I am unsure as to Esi’s assuredness. Did she become wiser than her age by pain or simply what she would grow up to by her genes especially with no mother in her life. “When a farmer plants a seed, the soil has no right to refuse. Soil has no life. A woman does. She is not soil, and no man may plant in her at will. No one may own another human being. I am the only one who should decide if I can take a pill or not. Anything done inside me is my choice alone. I am the queen of my body.”At the end, the character live up to their worth providing the anger, backstory or fate that drives the plot. The settings are abysmally plain but numerous enough to keep a sense of peculiarism. A good story. An unbelievable plot.


Amazon | HarperCollins


Bisi Adjapon’s writing has been featured in journals and newspapers such as McSweeney’s Quarterly, Washington Times, Daily Graphic, and Chicken Bones. She founded and ran the Young Shakespeare company for four years in America, and as an International Affairs Specialist for the US Foreign Agricultural Service, won the Civil Rights Award for Human Relations. Of Women and Frogs began as a short story, which was nominated for the Caine Prize. She lives in Ghana.


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