PAPERBACK BOOKS

THE UNDERVALUED WOMEN


undervalued women cover

It is hard to believe that the events described in this true account actually happen.  Whilst the village is fictional, the story is true and is based on a community which almost dehumanizes women through extreme discrimination.  

It also reveals the cruel leadership of  some African leaders causing  war, mass exodus of noble men and rape of innocent young women.   

The author’s message  is clear and informative.

It is a captivating story which covers the African cultures, marriage and religion as well. 

When I read this book, I was horrified at the extent of cruelty that is meted out to innocent people I will never take my comfortable existence for granted again.

……....David Walker, author and evaluator. 

 
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$22.00

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ISBN: 978-192173-1-44-0     Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 193
Genre:  Fiction


Author: Allen Nosa Uhunmwangho
Imprint: Poseidon
Publisher: Poseidon Books
Date Published:  2010
Language: English


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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.

Chapter One

ADANI’S DEAD CHICK

 

‘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 red earth.

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 feet.

 ‘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 the community.

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.  

After hearing Midi pleading for leniency towards Nuni, Uden continued from where he stopped earlier.

‘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.

 

 

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