Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

"Honor of a Woman" by Dipita Kwa Project 196 Cameroon

"Honor of a Woman" by Dipita Kwa Project (2008, 8 pages)

Project 196

Country 9 of 196
Week Two
Dipita Kwa

  1. Georgia 
  2. Canada
  3. U. S. A.
  4. The Republic of Korea
  5. Antigua and Barbuda 
  6. Haiti
  7. Trinidad and Tobago 
  8. Ukraine
  9. Cameroon
f you are an author and want to represent your country, please contact me.  If you want to do a guest post on your favorite story for the feature please contact me also.  

If you are a publisher that has an anthology that is done in the 196 spirit, please contact me as I will be spotlighting appropriate collections.  

At first I thought I was setting myself an impossible task but a bit of research has made me optimistic  that I can find a short story from all 196 countries in the world.   I feel this part of the project will be completed.   In a much more challenging perhaps impossible project, I also hope to publish on my blog a contemporary short story from an author from each of the 196 countries.  

"My daughter, roving the neighborhood from one room and off-license to another like an evil spirit, will yield you nothing but dishonor and destruction...Look, this world is fast becoming the proverbial calabash of diseases.."

"Honor of a Woman" by Dipita Kwa  is a very moving beautifully written and marvelously told retelling of the parable of the prodigal son.   This time it is a prodigal daughter, the setting is  the village of Mukunda in Cameroon which is  in West Central Africa.  The story is told in the first person by a sixteen year old girl, living in an economically poor part of the city with her mother and her big sister, Muto.  The father died six years ago.  There is a great tension and rancor between the mother and the 18 year old big sister.  Most of the very real issues center around the fact that the daughter stays out very late at night.  As the story opens the mother is out on the veranda waiting for the daughter to come home.  The more she waits the madder she gets.   Any parents of teenagers can relate, I have three teenage daughters so this story spoke very directly to me.

The narrator does not understand why her big sister stays out late almost every night.  The mother has her guilt anxieties,   when her husband died she left the girls in the care of one of her husbands older sister for four years.  The daughter thinks back as to how peaceful things were before her mother took over care of them.  There is a very dramatic telling of a terrible fight between the mother and the older daughter.   The mother has a past of her own, another woman's husband died in her bed and Muto when mad enough throws this in her mother's face.

After one terrible physical alteration Muto disappears. The aunt comes and says to the mother

"you lived a dirty life that you never thought could rub off on your daughter.  When your own mother complained and begged you to slow down, you beat her and dragged her about like a dog with a deadly disease."  
The mother is told that her daughter is paying the mother back for the way she treated her own mother.   The mother is told, very rightly, that she is caught in "an endless cycle of curses".  It will be a miracle if Muto is not soon pregnant and begins the cycle again.  

Every night the mother, trying to do it in secret, peeps into Muto's room in hopes she returns.  When the younger sister complains toere her aunt that the mother worries more about Muto than her the aunt reminds her of the story of the prodigal son.   

The story ends beautifully.  I do not want to do anything to deprive first time readers of "Honor of a Woman" by Dipita Kwa from the wonderful very moving final pages of this story.   I recommend this story to anyone.  Those with teenage daughters will be made to think by this story.   It is about forgiveness and the true meaning of the love of a parent for their children.   This is a deeply felt very honest story.  I for sure would like to read more of the work of Dipita Kwa.  

Cameroon, in central west Africa, has a population of 20,000,000.  It is a former French colony which achieved independence in 1960.  The official languages are French and English.  Forty percent of the population is under 15.  The bulk of the literary output of Cameroonian writers is in French.  

Dipita Kwa

Dipita Kwa was born Tiko. After obtaining a B.Sc in Economics from the University of Buea, he taught Commerce and Finance, Economic Geography and Economics at Regina Pacis College Mutengene where he co-edited The Galery, the college magazine before moving on to Maersk Cameroun.

He won a silver trophy in short story writing during the second edition of the University Festival of Arts and Culture in Dschang (UNIFAC2001). His short stories,Honour of a WomanThe Wages of PlunderThe Fall of a HunterA Mother’s HeartWhen All is Lost, etc. have been published in e-magazines: British Council Crossing Borders MagazineKen*AgainAuthorMePalapala, among others.

His first novel Times and Seasons was published by Cook Communication USA in February 2008. He was recently published in an Anthology of short stories entitledOne World alongside Literary Greats like Chika Unigwe, Petinah Gappah (Elegy of Easterly), Henrietta Rose-Innes (winner of the 2008 Caine Prize for African Writing), Jumpa Lahiri (winner of the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction). Dipita is currently working on his second novel Pieces of Silver.

Dipita enjoys writing, watching movies and is looking forward to contributing his portion towards the rebirth of the Cameroonian literary landscape.

You can read a very moving story by Kwa "A Mother's Heart" here

I also want to recommend that anyone who takes a multicultural approach to understanding the world to study the offerings and thoughts on the webpage of the publisher of the anthology in which I read this story, One World, New Internationalist. New Internationalist is   strongly devoted to global justice and does all it can to provide its readers with the truth.  I have been following their webpage, which is more than just a wonderful collection of publications, ever since July 2010 when I began to blog on the Caine Prize stories, which they publish in anthology form.

New Internationalist can be found here.

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