A Nigerian short story in the Anthology:When The Sun Goes Down and other stories from Africa and beyond.
Amina is a young girl who is forced into marriage by her family,with the action spearheaded by the father’s reception of 500 head of cattle from Jama’s family.
It starts with a conflict between Amina and her brother Modio.Amina wants to leave with Yalla and be his wife whilst Modio is reluctant because he envies the 500 cattle.
The Law Of The Grazing Fields had been a normality in this region and of it was the idea that a man would easily elope with a woman of his choice and as long as they run like hell and don’t get caught up,the two become husband and wife.That’s what Yalla wanted but Modio prevented it.
Modio later goes on to hold Amina hostage in his hut.But brilliant and brave Yalla sets up the hut in fire in a bid to distract Modio and his brothers,and Yalla consequently elopes with Amina on a fast moving horse.
Despite Modio’s run in an attempt to outshine Yalla,the exhaustion of the horse Amina was riding,the poisoned arrow that hit Yalla and the unfavourable scrub and rock landscape during this spirited chase, Yalla and Amina still manage to reach Yalla’s hut and in accordance with The Law Of The Grazing Fields,the two join up as husband and wife.
An intriguing and enticing narration that was!Wow think about it.Could such a rule ever survive in the world today?
I wouldn’t wish,afterall it would favour the brave and strong.
Yet the story offers its view on life’s virtues.First,the writer juxtaposes Yalla’s bravery and courage with Jama’s cowardice and Laziness,the contrast that makes Amina fall completely for Yalla.
The fight and chase that Yalla puts up is a clear sign of resilience.And amid this chase is the notion of true love.The writer proposes that love can’t be forced but is dependent on what feelings people have for each other.Amina turns down Jama’s offer despite an incredible plethora of bride price offered to her.
The writer also seems to advocate for purity,contentment and self-control.Although Jama is such a lazy coward but rich man known all over,Amina’s family are blinded by the lumpsome bride price and want to force a marriage between Amina and Jama,which was void of any traces of true love.Lust is condemned immensely.
Such an impeccable eye-catching story in an African setting built on moral values yet engulfed in tradition.Good read!