A question that resonated in me after reading Roland Rugero’s novel Baho! Is: Is justice achievable and if so, when?
Where is the justice for Nyamuragi? Where is the justice for the women in the book, so clearly violated by their male counterparts?
In Baho! The main character, Nyamuragi faces an unjust trial after he tries to relieve himself by a riverbed and a girl views his nakedness as a threat of rape. Following that event, Nyamuragi is tied up and dragged through the town. Being that Nyamuragi has no ability to defend himself, the blood thirsty townspeople force him though a trial without a defense.
Another townsperson, is beaten by her husband on a daily basis. She receives no justice as they believe that is how women are to be treated.
In the end, we see that justice is not available for the characters in the book as they did not actually speak against it, nor get the chance to.
Though these events, you can ask yourself, how do I ensure others justice, as well as my own?
You’re just another pretty face.
Use the buddy system.
Don’t trust anyone.
You must remain chaste.
Women are held to such higher standards than men. Taught to control their bodies rather than to teach others how to control their minds.
In Rolan Rugero’s novel, “Baho!” the male characters are seen to not care about the lives of their female counterparts. Some men talk badly about their wives and even realize their cruelty, “Her father has left the premises ahead of time, out of prudence…as well as out of integrity, for he self-consciously remembers not entirely blameless remarks that he has made about his wife on occasion” (Rugero 25). He knows that he is not perfect and is not shameless. Rather than anger the women, he chooses to leave to save face in his community. Although not all men have the same “honor”, one man kicks his wife out for being too old and tall “She was run out of the house by her husband for being too tall. The strict man of the house preferred to bring another, shorter woman (that is to say, more pliable) under his roof,” (Rugero 24). While this may seem bad, the men get worse and worse, as one even beats his wife, “Among them is Yvonne Barabigize, whose elbow was recently broken by a Primus bottle briskly pitched at her by her husband after and evening of binging… It was the most natural way that Yvonne’s husband could find to wish her good evening,” (Rugero 24).
In the wake of all the events happening in the world these days, actions like these are not to be tolerated. Especially not here in Ventura county, where the domestic violence statistics are outrageous. “Police received 13.4 domestic-violence calls for every 1,000 Ventura County residents last year, more than twice the statewide average” (CalHealthReport). This needs to be changed. There should be no more victims. We need to ensure the safety of all. We need to make sure all of our children feel safe in their own homes. We ourselves need to feel safe in our own homes…
“Hoe Emma Hoe, you turn around dig a hole in the ground, Hoe Emma Hoe. Hoe Emma Hoe, you turn around dig a hole in the ground, Hoe Emma Hoe. Emma, you from the country. Hoe Emma Hoe, you turn around dig a hole in the ground, Hoe Emma Hoe. Emma help me to pull these weeds.
Hoe Emma Hoe, you turn around dig a hole in the ground, Hoe Emma Hoe.
Emma work harder than two grown men. Hoe Emma Hoe, you turn around dig a hole in the ground, Hoe Emma Hoe.”
We are all slaves. Slaves to society, our families and our day to day jobs. In Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila the characters are all enslaved one way or another. For instance, Lucien is enslaved by the publisher’s expectations, “’I want you to rework the text from scratch. Twenty characters, that’s too much for your stage tale” (Mujila 97). Lucien is held captive by the publisher’s words. He knows without his endorsement; his book will not get out to the public.
The young girls in the novel are enslaved to Tram 83. This can be seen in the continuous parrot like comments of the girls asking for their money from those they do favors for, “Tip…Tip…Tip!” (Mujila 97-99). Without this they would just be sex slaves. Which in a way they are? The young girls are forced to have sex even when they are really not interested in the man, this is seen in the way that Christelle leaves the publisher, “When he awoke, the girl was gone and he found himself bare naked on a crummy bed in a derelict hovel close to the Cabu Bridge,” (Mujila 100). She has sex with him because Requiem tells her to. She finds no pleasure in it, it’s just a job.
But Christelle isn’t the only one forced to do things she doesn’t want to do for money. The workers of the mines are enslaved by the Dissident General and his anger. This can be seen in the way the Dissident General uses the mine’s resources, “The dissident General ruled supreme over the City-State. He owned outright twenty artisanal diamond purchase and export houses and was a shareholder in nearly all the firms run by the tourists. He sold off the mining concessions, or sometimes even gave them as gifts to whomever he liked,” (Mujila 106-107). In this, it is obvious that the mine workers are not workers at all but slaves. Forced into labor for wages that are continually cut. Forced to mine resources that they never see again.
Mujila begs us to ask ourselves, are we slaves? If so, to what? Or rather whom?
“This is how to hem a dress when you see the hem coming down and so to prevent yourself from looking like the slut I know you are so bent on becoming… This is how you smile to someone you don’t like very much; this is how you smile to someone you don’t like at all; this is how you smile to someone you like completely” Jamaica Kincaid nails the mentality of Hispanic mothers right on the head. Girls are constantly told cover up, be respectful, be kind, be pure; by their mothers on a daily basis, often when braiding the daughter’s hair. Instead of being told to be themselves, the way their brothers are able to.
Contrary to this moral injustice is the story of Makina in Yuri Herrera’s Signs Preceding the End of the World, in this story the narrator Makina stands for everything that a normal, stereotypical mother would hate. The narrator Makina has premarital sex on multiple occasions stating, “She’d shucked him for the first time back during the brouhaha about the mayors,” (Herrera 26). Makina uses the word shucked as if he meant nothing. The boy was just an object of her pleasure. This goes against the idea that a woman must stay pure until marriage, also that a woman is allowed to have pleasure in sex rather than solely the man
Herrera really highlights the idea of being able to have pleasure on the following page stating, “…finally reeled him in on a line she was tugging from her bedroom. The man made love with a feverish surrender, sucked her nipples into new shapes and when he came was consumed with tremors of sorrowful joy” (Herrera 27). Not only does Makina bait the man into having sex with her she even enjoys it. And how dare she? She knows women aren’t supposed to enjoy sex, right? You aren’t supposed to initiate intimacy ever, that’s the man to do. You are to be desired not to desire, that is the man’s job. Makina shows the Hispanic patriarchy that she doesn’t give a damn about their morals and the way they see women, she will enjoy sex if she wants to and with whomever she wants.
Herrera also writes Makina to fight back and retaliate against the men that try to harm her. When young boys hassle her on the bus, Makina wastes no time in showing them who’s boss, “Makina turned to him, stared into his eyes so he’d know that her next move was no accident, pressed a finger to her lips, shhhh, eh, and with the other hand yanked the middle finger of the hand he’d touched her with almost all the way back to an inch from the top of his wrist… I don’t like being pawed by fucking strangers, if you can believe it,” (Herrera 31). Makina shows the boy that she means business and won’t stand for any of his behavior. This is the complete opposite of the things Hispanic mothers tell their daughters. My own mother once told me if any man tries anything with me to not fight back because they like the struggle, to not cry because they like to see you tears, once they are done they will move on because they’re bored and want someone who will put up a fight. Makina is the daughter no stereotypical Hispanic mother raised. She is revolutionary, showing women that they are powerful and do not have to succumb to the patriarchy’s ideals. Now ask yourself, are you a Makina or are you the lamb your mother raised you to be?
Botox. Breast implants. Permanent makeup. We alter our natural bodies to look more youthful, to adapt to society’s idea of beauty. In Ahmed Khaled Towfik’s Utopia, the character’s of the land of Utopia mock and mimic the aesthetic of real life people outside the land of Utopia, the others. The narrator describes the way he dresses in the morning, putting in his white pupil contact lenses, and exaggerating an open wound on his forehead with makeup but not so much to look totally disgusting.
When the Utopians get to the land of the Others, the narrator sees the man with the cataract and the scar and we see that they are all completely artificial. This makes us ask ourselves, how much of us are truly natural?