I’m officially done reading EVERYTHING GOOD WILL COME and in the words of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “There is wit, intelligence and a delicious irreverence in this book. But it is Sefi Atta’s courage in choosing to look at her fictional world through fiercely feminist lenses that I most admired”
Everything Good Will Come is a coming-of-age novel by Sefi Atta about a girl growing into a woman in post colonial Nigeria and England. It was published by Interlink World Fiction in 2005. Throughout the novel the main character, Enitan, is faced with various personal entanglements connected with family troubles, rape, cheating boyfriends, and imprisonment. The novel is also a biting commentary on post-independence governments in Nigeria and tensions between Igbo (Biafrans), Yoruba, and Hausa ethnic groups after the Biafrian War.
My thoughts :
I love this book. I love the style. I had no idea Enitan was going to really grow up. I assumed Sefi wanted to write about Enitan the little girl only. I was wrong. Enitan grew up on me. Lol.
I love that she talked about the various ethnic groups in Nigeria.
I learned also about women in my country, from Zaria, Katsina, Kaduna who decorated their skin with henna dye and lived in purdah; women from Calabar who were fed and anointed in fattening houses before their weddings; women who were circumcised…..Hausa girls had softer hair because of their Arab heritage. Yoruba girls like me usually had heart-shaped faces and many Igbo girls were fair-skinned; we called them Igbo Yellow. Yoruba girls were considered quarrelsome; Hausa girls, pretty but dumb; Igbo girls, intelligent, but well, they were muscular…
I love that she talked about the political state of the nation and the Military era. I love the lawyer-ish part of the book.
My roommate mentioned that Sefi Atta talked about the Biafra war with aloofness. I agree. But this is what I said to her : It is not her story to tell. You can’t write about what you did not experience. You can only write your own story. Westerners never experienced the war and will never understand it. They can only write about in passing. Sefi Atta knew that and that was why the book began in the year 1971.
And with the current agitation in the country, I’m forced to ask, if Biafra had won would it have been better? 50years into what is Nigeria Independence we are still a mess as a Nation.
You must know that this book is a serious FEMINIST book. I mean, really serious.
Some of my favorite quotes :
Pray you never know what it means to have a sick child, either. You don’t know whether to love them too much, or too little. Then as they become sicker, you love them the only way you can, as though they are part of you.
There isn’t a mother in the world who wouldn’t believe that faith can heal her child after medicine has failed.
The man is jealous of me. Can you believe it? He’s jealous of my success. With all he has. He wants me to have nothing, except what he gives me. He says he will take it all back. I said take it! All of it! I did not come to this place naked.
After you were born, I told him I didn’t want another child. God has blessed us with a healthy child. Why risk having another? But his family wouldn’t hear of it he had to have a son, so they started threatening that he would take another wife, and his mother, that woman who suffered so much herself, threatened me too. Your father never said a word to support me.
Going out all the time, as if my son didn’t exist, as if I didn’t exist. He said I stopped looking after myself. I did not have time for myself. He said I was angry all the time. Of course I was angry. It was like swallowing broken glass. You can’t expel broken glass from your body. It will Tear you apart. It’s best it remains inside you.
In my country, women are praised the more they surrender their right to protest. In the end they may die with nothing but selflessness to pass on to their daughters ; a startling legacy, like tears down a parched throat.
Nothing is worse than the loss of a child, even if the child is never born…
Prettiness could encourage people to treat a woman like a doll, to be played with, tossed around, fingered, dismembered, and discarded.
Prettiness could also make a woman lazy, if she were congratulated for it too often and remunerated too long.
Sheri was the Nigerian man’s ideal : pretty, shapely, yellow to boot, with some regard for a woman’s station. Now she was a kitchen martyr, and may well have forgotten how to flaunt her mind….
Robin…she was the first person to tell me that nothing a woman does justifies rape…
…Then from the opposing side would come an accusation so venomous, I’d almost fall backward from the force of it : feminist.
If a woman sneezed in my country, someone would call her a feminist….
I was ready to tear every notion notion they had about women. I wanted to tell everyone, “I! Am! Not! Satisfied with these options!” I was ready to tear every notion they had about women, like one of the little dogs with trousers in their teeth. They would not let go until there was nothing but shreds, and I would not let go until I was heard.
Sometimes it felt like I was fighting annihilation. But surely it was in the interest of self-preservation to fight what felt like annihilation?
If a person swiped a fly and a fly flew higher, would the fly become a flyist?
My Father-in-law had tamed his wife, almost as if he’d scooped out her brains and left just enough for her to keep on obeying him. His son acted like I was invisible until he liked what he saw.
“My father says women are not vocal enough”
But people concentrated on certain aspects of our continent: poverty, or wars, or starvation; Bush, tribes, or wildlife. They moved our animals more than they loved us. They took an interest in us only when we were clapping and singing or half-naked.
In a graded world, there was a place for us, right there at the bottom : third, slowly slipping into fourth world. A noble people. A Savage culture. Entire books dedicated to the salvation of African women’s genitals. If only the women themselves could read the books, critique them : this is right; this is incorrect; this is total nonsense. If only Africa could be saved by Charity.
Monday morning my husband dies. Tuesday morning, they shave my head and say I must stay in a room. Alone. Naked. I can’t touch my children. I can’t see my twins. Instead they give me the water they used to bath my husband’s corpse, to drink, to prove I didn’t put a hex on him. I say I’m a secretary typist. Qualified 1988. I’m not going to drink it. They say I killed him.
Sunny always treasured you. He never stopped seeing you as his child. That was his mistake. But you know, an African man cannot die without leaving a son.
I want to talk about SHERI. Sheri was a victim in this book but a victor at the same time. I loved her resilient spirit. Sheri’s character reminds me that indeed Everything Good Will Come.
Lagos the strong “manly” city which oppresses women within its complicated environment and at the same time this Lagos would make the women to become though in a way that helps form their resilient nature.
While Enitan is the main character, it is Sheri that I would come to love and admire. Sheri who would loose her innocence at age 14 and who out of fear would destroy her womb kept thriving. In a society where no one accords women like her respect Sheri would thrive and say things like :
After what I’ve seen, if I’m not crazy what else would I be…
It is SHERI who would be “good with children”
This book is a courageous story. Friendship. Self Discovery. Yes. Self Discovery. Enitan found her self.
“This book is a rallying cry to women to speak out in a world that tries to muzzle them” – Helon Habila.
This book of 326 pages would make you see the struggles women face in a conservative society. I have my reservations about the ending of the book though and I wouldn’t mind discussing it over a bottle of coke with any cool person.
I do not know if what I have done is a Book Review. But I’m glad I finally got to tell you all about it. I hope you enjoy reading this book as much as I did.
It will be well…
Everything Good Will Come…