A West African professional woman’s struggles, in the novel Changes: A Love Story.

The novel Changes describes the conflicts faced by a West African working woman with a graduate degree, who wonders, “Why is life so hard on the professional African woman?” Older people seeped in tradition suspect “white man’s education,” consult cowry shell diviners, and view feminism as a divisive western import. Working in Accra in Ghana, Esi leaves her husband after he grabbed her in what she realized was marital rape. She finds his neediness suffocating. Her grandmother tells her that the reason to marry is to have children, “the last man any woman should think of marrying is he man she loves,”[1] but Esi falls in love with a charming and rich womanizer, Ali. The writer lets the reader know that adultery is common. Ali talks her and their extended families into agreeing to be his second wife, despite the fact that she’s Christian and he’s Muslim. He paid a small bride price, the traditional dowry. His relatives refer to her as an infidel and his home is with his first wife and children—the two women never meet. His visits to Esi’ house get less and less frequent.

Esi gets too much of what she wanted, time to do her work as a government data analyst and be alone in a society that doesn’t accept single women, feeling so lonely and depressed she gets a prescription for tranquilizers. Her consistent relationship is with her best friend, Opokuya, a nurse with four children who also feels “squeezed dry” by her family. Opokuya tells Esi that the few men who claim they like intelligent working women “are also interested in having such women permanently in their beds and in their kitchens.”[2] Esi allows her only daughter to be raised by the little girl’s paternal grandmother where other children are there to keep her company. Esi also grew up in a large compound with her cousins and extended family. She wonders if she will ever find a love that’s not too overbearing or too distant.

[1] Ama Ata Aidoo. Changes: A Love Story. The Feminist Press, 1993, p. 42.

[2] Changes, p. 45.


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