ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Allen Nosa Uhunmwangho
is a young charismatic African writer with a huge vision of liberating
people who are socially, economically, and humanly oppressed by the
authorities of this world through literature and other expressive media.
This book, The
Undervalued Women is an excellent example of my endless efforts to speak out
for various groups of people across genders and races who are been
victimised. Do read this piece of literature with a compassionate heart and
show some concern for the victims and vulnerable ones.
I closed this book
with victory to encourage the victims and those that are battling their ways
to true liberty to stay on course. That doesn't mean victory is close to
these people at all, following the realities on the ground now.
‘Women are God’s burdens
laid on men and misfits in the mighty colony of men. They are punishments from
our gods for unknown crimes committed by our ancestors. Women are only
outstanding when it comes to quarreling, aimless talking, witchcraft, gossiping
and eating. If not for the sole right given to women in child birth, I can’t
figure out any significant role played by women that able bodied men couldn’t do
on their own.
‘I am sick and tired of our
gods’ unwanted generosity of making such feeble creatures as men’s closest
companions, when they could barely take care of themselves. We are only praying
for male children who would carry on our lineages when we are gone. Who knows if
women are also heavy burdens to our gods? Then the gods keep heaping them on us
as a way of relieving themselves of the countless troubles and total dependency
of women,’ Amanga said, shaking his head and tapping his wide foot on the dusty
Amanga’s fleshy jaw was
resting on his wide dark palm, forming a body posture of a wild beast waiting
for its prey. He was whispering to himself that evening, orchestrating
unsolicited opinions regarding the influx of women to his local community and
then berating his gods for such unwanted generosity.
With a keg of palm wine
beside him, dark smoke of tobacco oozing out of his wide nose and broad lips,
Amanga watched the villagers who were returning from the forest carefully. He
took in the statistics of the villagers and, in his view, the ratio of men to
women was completely nature’s abnormality, which further heightened his anger
against the soaring population of women in his community.
It was a noisy bright
evening - bright enough to see clearly and the teaming villagers who were
returning from their daily farm chores, when Amanga trampled on a chick and
viciously crushed it to death. His action seemed deliberate as he did nothing to
check what might have happened to the poor chick which lay lifeless beside his
feet. The blood of the chick was visible on his right foot and the uncaring
human giant didn’t show any remorse for his heartless deed.
One of his little daughters
who were playing in the dust with her friends saw the dead chick and screamed.
She called her mother’s attention loudly to the dead chick which belonged to
Amanga’s first wife. Nuni ran out of the kitchen in panic, consumed by her
daughter’s pitiable looks and tears, she anxiously questioned her weeping child
what was her problem.
‘Why are you screaming, did anybody hurt
you?’ Nuni asked wiping her daughter’s face with her hands.
‘Papa had killed one of
Adani’s chicks,’ the little girl said sadly pointing her right finger to the
ground where the dead chick lay lifeless. It was very close to her husband’s
‘What have you done Udama (our husband)?’
Nuni asked impatiently. Amanga maintained his evening quietness and continued to
whisper to himself, foiling his wife’s attempts to find out what actually killed
the poor chick. Amanga’s nonchalant attitude stirred his wife to anger and she
couldn’t wait further to hear her husband’s response.
‘It is not yet dark, the villagers are
still returning from the forest yet you couldn’t see beyond your knees. You have
extended your uncaring attitude and lack of affection for women towards birds
and animals too. Indeed you are callous and heartless, you show no passion
towards the living neither do you have sympathy for the bereaved,’ Nuni
thundered sadly. Nuni’s comments melted the ice that once had frozen the mouth
of her husband.
Amanga immediately broke his
long even silence, rendering dangerous and forbidden curses on Nuni.
‘Your coward parents and
their forgotten ancestors are blind,’ said Amanga. He stood up angrily from his
cane resting chair. Wielding a wide silver machete threatening to take his
wife’s life, he chased Nuni around his big compound down to the village’s
square. ‘You feeble creature whose strength lies within her mouth, dare insult
me, Amanga, in my own house! You better be praying for your ancestors to prepare
a quiet resting place for you in their forgotten graves,’ Amanga screamed.
His hunt for Nuni went on
for a while but he couldn’t find his wife, who had dashed into one of the dark
shops in the community’s market.
Amanga returned immediately
to his compound, warning anyone living under his roof that dare open the
entrance wooden gate for Nuni to come into his compound that they would join
Nuni in her grave.
Brooding in anger and
disappointment, Amanga marched through his compound to see if his fugitive wife
had sneaked in. None in his compound or outside could calm him down. The fury
that wrapped his hardened face scared everyone away; his close friends couldn’t
come closer to calm the village’s monster down.
‘The unspeakable as happened, a woman
insulted me in my own house, this is a sacrilege! My ancestors should bear me
witness; if Nuni sees the light of tomorrow, then I am not a man. My hands
should be tied to my feet and cast out of this community,’ screamed Amanga.
Still not satisfied with the
cowardly disappearance of his wife, Amanga immediately summoned his kinsmen and
the elders of Donba community to narrate his ordeal at the hands of his wife.
The men soon gathered at the village hall, a big bamboo building with
heavily laid thatch roof, where general meetings of the community are usually
held. It was the village’s white house, where all issues relating to the people
of the community were addressed.
Amanga cleared his throat
and began to narrate the unspeakable act committed by his wife, Nuni to the
council of elders.
‘My wife has insulted me
beyond bearable limits; she poured red earth on my robe and demanded my worth as
a man in this god given community of brave men. She insulted me over the death
of a mere chick. Everyone knows how rich I am in this community; food is not a
problem in my house. I feed my kids and my burdens with my labor. I own both the
little dead chick and its miserable owner. No woman under my roof has any
property whatsoever. My wives and their meager properties belong to me and I
could dispose them off easily whenever I like,’ Amanga roared in anger.
The elders tried their best
to calm the infuriated village’s monster down.
‘Where is your wife now?’
One of the elders asked Amanga.
‘I don’t know and I don’t
want to see her again,’ replied Amanga.
‘Go and fetch her from
wherever she is hiding, tell her that the elders of Donba community demand her
presence at once’, the elder added. Some of the youths who were present at the
gathering dashed into the dark with kerosene lamps in search of Nuni. She was
later found weeping and quivering like a rain-beaten cat which lacked shelter in
one of the village’s market shops.
‘Come with us now, the elders want to see
you at the village hall,’ demanded the leader of the search group. Nuni
reluctantly followed the youths down to the village hall wiping her tears with
her hands. The gathering
was presided over by Uden, the eldest man in the community. He was also regarded
as the wisest among the people with a fair sense of judgment. Uden had a special
high seat made of the finest wild cat’s skin and wooden cane. He was usually
flanked by the elders of the community according to their age and positions in
After a while, Nuni and the
youths appeared before the council of elders with her head lowered below her
gorgeous shoulders. She was asked to kneel before the council of elders till the
end of her trial. Her trial attracted both men and women in the community
because of her fame among the women and her flawless beauty. They were all there
to witness another public trial in their community that night.
‘Amanga, your husband called this urgent
meeting in respect of your misbehavior and lack of respect for the men of
Donba,’ said Uden. He then adjusted his high cane chair and cleared his ailing
throat, spitting out dark mucus mixed with tobacco from his shrinking lips.
‘I am baffled these days by the attitude
of you young women,’ said another elder as he attempted to defend Nuni. ‘You
women can’t maintain silence for just a day, either you are quarreling or
gossiping. Please my elders, she should be forgiven and punished lightly for her
arrogance towards her husband, Midi pleaded for
leniency towards his niece. Midi was Nuni’s big
uncle and a respected elder in the community.
It was only the men that had
the right to speak before the council of elders. Women were not allowed to
defend themselves and they just remained on their knees till the end of their
trial. If they were lucky, they would find favor with some of the elders who
seldom voluntarily defended them in cases like this. They also minded how they
speak, so that other elders wouldn’t feel that they are weak or showing interest
in their accused wives.
pleading for leniency towards Nuni, Uden continued from where he stopped
‘The strong foundation of
our land was built with honesty and discipline. It is our custom to punish any
woman who defiles the laws of our land severely. Women have no right to speak
when men are talking, and they know their places in our community which are the
kitchens and the farms. Any woman who goes astray or deviates from the
principles that govern our community must be straightened by severe punishment.
Nuni had crossed that line today and she must be corrected by punishment. There
is no other place in our community reserved for women other than the house and
farming chores,’ Uden said, addressing the quiet gathering.
He then asked if there was
any elder who wished to contribute or say something before he delivered his one
sided judgment. The elders were whispering to each other but none could speak.
Their long silence was an indication of Nuni’s guilt. Uden once again cleared
his ailing throat and spat out dark tobacco mucus. He then passed his judgment.
Uden ordered Nuni to clean
the village’s market for three months. She was told to buy her husband a new
robe. Nuni was also told to buy a giant cock to cook, her husband’s favorite
meal. A new robe and a giant cock would cost Nuni and her children more than two
years savings if she had good sales from her farm harvests and logging. Nuni
wept ceaselessly as she immediately felt the weight of her punishment. The
judgment passed by the council of elders was too severe for her and her innocent
children. They would need to double their efforts in order to raise the money
for the new robe and the giant cock.
Uden told the gathering that
the light punishment given to Nuni was to warn her from acting that way again.
He also warned other women who dare copy Nuni’s misbehavior that their own
punishments would be life threatening.
‘Women are second fiddle to
men and they should maintain their lines if they want to enjoy the fruits of
this community in peace,’ Uden remarked.
‘Why the new robe? Amanga trampled on a
chick and meanly crushed it to death,’ an angry aging woman said from the crowd.
‘If all chicks were brutally killed, how could Nuni find a giant cock to cook
for you?’ she added. The aging woman had suffered such similar injustices in the
past and she was touched by the pain emanating from Nuni’s tears.
‘Stop ranting, you feeble wild creature,
a misfit in our community. You dare not question the council’s sense of judgment
and the wisdom of our elders to dispense justice or you will dearly pay for your
foolish criticism,’ thundered Amanga. He was pleased with the judgment passed by
the council and Nuni’s failure to comply with the judgment would cost Nuni her
matrimonial home and status as housewife. Amanga became calm and smiles were
flying out of his once hardened face.
The unhappy crowd of women
left the community hall solemnly, discussing the unfair judgment passed by the
council of elders creating another big scar of injustice in the community
history. The women showed great sympathy for their helpless poor friend. They
counseled her to raise money for the new robe in order to avoid loosing her
matrimonial home. The women promised to support her in any way they could. The
punishments inflicted on women over minor issues that could easily be resolved
by a simple apology, always deferred to the strength of the men and the weakness
of their defenseless women.
After the disappointed crowd of women had left for their huts, Amanga cheerfully
thanked the elders. He then ordered kegs of palm wine to show his profound
appreciation and satisfaction for the twisted one sided judgment passed by the
council of elders.