‘A nervous breakdown waits around the corner for anyone who lets himself wallow in bitterness, little by little it takes over your whole being’, Mariama Bâ.
When I was young my parents sent me to a boarding school in Nigeria called Federal government college Idoani. It was learning field for me, I grew up there, spent six years of my existence there and met great friends whom today 30 years on I still communicate with, we talk about the good the bad and the ugly in our past and present lives and try to be anchors to ourselves when we are sinking.
I hated those years in the boarding school I must say but my joy are the lifelong friends I made along the way. I say A prayer to those who have left this earth or moved on as it where but in the boarding school I found ‘me’, the school did not define me. I had my ups and my downs and experienced life changing events but through it all I was unbroken, I met Ramatoulaye as introduced to me by the great Mariama Bâ while in the boarding school and her words helped me and defined some of my life’s decisions. I felt myself in her shoes as I recall the African cultural traditions. Ramatoulaye is not Yemi and I am not Ramatoulaye either but her pain and the way she pulls herself out of every difficult situation still resonates with me 30 years on.
So long a letter was a mandatory literature book by Mariama Bâ a Senegalese writer, written in French and translated into English. The contents of the book speak of the conditions of women in Western African society, about the ills and faith of women when they become old and no longer attractive to their husbands. I read it, loved it and even got an A1 in my senior school living certificate in English literature. Little me starting boarding school with strangers who later became my best friends and the book that is over 30 years old, but its contents still felt in African cultures and indeed some western parts of the world for that Mariama Bâ, Yemi thanks you.
Perhaps in some strange reality in some years to come my letters too will be read and inscriptions decoded like Ramatoulaye’s stories. I have never visited Senegal, but I have researched its culture for my series images of arts and culture. I found Senegal is in west Africa and was colonized by the French, its capital is Dakar and it is rich in natural resources and has a rich cultural base. All I have are write ups by other people maybe someday I will visit Senegal instead of depending on photos.
‘I remain persuaded of the inevitable and necessary complementary of man and woman. Love, imperfect as it may be in its content and expression remains the natural link between these two beings to love one another! If only each partner could move sincerely towards each other! If each could only melt into the other! If each would accept the others’ qualities instead of listing his faults! If each could only correct bad habits without harping on about it’, Mariama Bâ.
Ramatoulaye, I have no regrets anymore but love and respect for you Mariama Bâ for so long my letter. And so, I cannot end this section without my favorite quote, “And also, one is a mother in order to understand the inexplicable. One is a mother to lighten the darkness. One is a mother to shield when lightning streaks the night, when thunder shakes the earth, when mud bogs one down. One is a mother in order to love without beginning or end. ” Mariama Bâ.