Writing History Shows That No Man Can Write Like A Woman
There has been a persistent debate in Nairobi that women cannot write the way men do. The debate has been made popular by the local press, especially the weekend newspapers in their respective literary discourse pages. I also want to contribute. My position is that no man in the world has ever written like a woman, across all generations.
I will start my essay by complementing the Kenyan literary society for celebrating the first jubilee of their first and native novel Weep Not Child, written by Ngugi wa Thing’o.Kudos to the people of Kenya and Africa in general. This is the moment that made Kenya to host for a fortnight two literary luminaries, Ngugi and Micere Githae Mugo. They both made public lectures and had very many public interactive sessions for literature across Kenya. Mostly I am interested in the public lecture delivered by Micere Mugo at Riara University. It was brief and sensitively vogue at a global literary stage. Especially her outright call for Africans to appreciate the public debates about gay culture and gay literature. This contrasts with very many public lectures and social fora that Ngugi had, but all he said is not anywhere sensitive to global society. I mean Micere Mugo was incisive to the global audience more than Ngugi did.
Those who say that women cannot write must learn from the above preamble. But still they can also learn from the writings of Emily Martin in Anthology of Broadview Expository press (2009).in which she argues that man is wasteful in everything and a woman is contrastingly very fastidious in whatever she does. Man gambles but a woman always has a target. Man releases more than one million sperm cells, only to use one sperm-cell to fertilize a single egg carefully produced by a woman. A man releases two trillion sperm cells in a lifetime of sixty years, but a woman releases five hundred ova in a reproductive lifespan that lasts up to age of fifty years. These biological contrasts between man and a woman also extend to literature. Writing behavior of man is wasteful. But that of a woman is an outcome of characteristic soigné.
Let me support my position by taking brief survey of women writers versus men writers across the world. Both the living and the dead writers. Where do we start from? Let me start from Kenya. Moving out-wards. My random selection gives me Dr Margaret Ogola, the author of The River and the Source. She only wrote two books. But her name is luminous. Courtesy of the quality of work she did in her writings. Let us only contrast her to very many other Male Kenyans that have published more than ten books, but they are not mentioned the way the Australian Newspaper, Mercatonet praised Margaret Ogola as a writer of the century. It could be bad manners to mention these Kenyan men here. But I can only extend my contrast by mentioning Yvonne Odhiambo and Okwiri Oduor.All of them are crystal clear winners of western literary prizes. The prizes no Kenyan man has recently won.
The old generations that were intellectually active towards the end of the last century are aware of literary explosions in West Africa. In both the Francophone and Anglophone West Africa. They read Achebe, Soyinka, and Sedar Senghor.But they also read Marriama Ba.The author of Song Long a Letter and the Scarlet Song. She was read as a public consumption and as well as high school and college setbook.Marriama Ba wrote only two books before she succumbed to cancer in 1981.But if I can borrow Achebe’s words to describe her literary reputation, it wrestled on solid personal achievement, her literary fire wildly spreading across the world like the bush fire in the harmattan wind. This happened on a contrast of very many West African Male writers like Nkem Nwanko and Timothy Aluko that wrote more than seven books but they still enjoy very small reputation. Hitherto, Modern West Africa is still a literary domain of a girl-writer.Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Show me a man that will write in the equivalence of A Half of a Yellow Sun and Americanah. Then I will show you the joke of the day. The joke so heavy that can only help me to remind you of the three literary daughters of Africa; Nonviolet Bulawayo, Zukisiwa Warnner and Dambisa Moyo.Two of them are from Zimbabwe and one from Zambia. I don’t know there male literary contemporaries in their countries.
The three Nobel Prizes in literature that came to South Africa were dominantly won by women writers. Two were won by women writers; Doris May Lessing and Nadine Gordimer.But one came to the man, Josua Maxwell Coatze.This choice by the Swedish Academy is flawless. It has its decency eked in the works of Lessing; Golden Notebook, Dan and Mara and The Grass is Singing. On a similar note, the authenticity of the Swedish academy still derives its grace from Nadine Gardiner’s oeuvre; July’s Daughter, alongside other admirable literary efforts in her Soldier’s Embrace and The Family Gun. The lesson is that there were men writers in South Africa. Like Wilbur Smith. Have you ever read him? He wrote more than thirty fictions. Voluminous and spellbinding. Wrath of the Angel is one of them. But he is not at the same literary stature with Lessing and Gordimer.
The Western societies are also not an exception. They also shelter in the shadows of the literary Matriarchs like; Ayn Rand, Harriet Becheter Stowe, Sussane Jacgueline, Barbara Taylor Bradford, and Christie Agatha. But above all let me introduce you my dear reader to the most current Western writer, a girl below the age of thirty five. Her name is Tea Obreht.She is the author of The Tigre’s Wife. A very thrilling page turner. It has remained among the top ten best books on the list of Newyok Times book reviewer. In fact, a woman can write few but quality books.
Alexander Khamala Opicho