Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s first novel ‘Purple Hibiscus’ has impacted me by the tenderness with which it conveys a story about oppression. One can trace the preoccupations of this African writer, which revisit evocations of Alice Walker and Toni Morrison, by her choosing to examine the personal histories of women and the political turmoil of her country - Nigeria.
Set in the 1980s, the story unfolds the vulnerabilities of a teenage girl, Kambili, who is brought up under the dictates of her tyrannical father and how she discovers a completely new world of empowerment when she goes to spend a short vacation with her aunt who teaches at the university. Kambili’s voice seems to echo the voices of many young women around the world who seek emancipation from patriarchal strongholds. Her personal dreams and struggles become a metaphor for the larger socio-political dream that the author desires for her country; raking up issues of violence against women, lack of basic education and the denial of basic human rights like equality and freedom of speech. This book is about building strength and endurance; starting from within the confines of the family, percolating to the rest of the society. I found it particularly relevant to countries that are derailed by corrupt administration, where injustice is validated in the name of safe-guarding one’s religious principles or by imposing cultural/moral high-ground.