Bayo Adebowale lent a voice to African widows in his book Lonely Days. Set in the rustic rural village of Kufi in South-western Nigeria, the novel tells the story of Yaremi, a woman thrown into widowhood by the death of her husband Ajumobi.
Yaremi’s humiliation, loneliness and struggle for survival in Kufi are a microcosm of the plight of widows in the larger Nigerian society and indeed in Africa as a whole. Yaremi’s character in Lonely Days is that of a hardworking and assertive widow who refuses to be cowed into accepting traditional injunctions of widow inheritance and remarriage set by her society.
In this book, Adebowale created living people, not just characters and showed his appreciation for Africa’s rich cultural heritage as reflected in its flora and fauna, in art, trade, child-raising, education, medicine and succession. In the same breath, he condemned widow inheritance and other cultural practices that subject widows to pain and humiliation.
Lonely Days celebrates the beauty, industry, talent and resilience of the African woman.
If you buy this book in the hope of buying a prose work, you would be utterly disappointed (for good though). It is not just prose but rich poetry and drama in one piece. What I find disturbing is the character of Ajumobi who beat his wife at some point only to be later described as a loving and caring husband. This however does not detract at all from the general merits of the book.
Lonely Days is a good read.