What do we learn about the traditional lifestyle of women in Africa in ‘Veronica’ and how far does the author seem to support a change in this lifestyle?
This story is based on the way women and men live in Africa. It was based on a girl who later transformed into a woman and a boy named Okeke who became a man later during the story. As a boy Okeke had more choice and freedom than Veronica who was a girl and the oldest in her family. This story helped us to understand the difference between the traditional lifestyle and the modern lifestyle. Okeke, who represented the modern lifestyle had more freedom but with a little bit of regret, as he and Veronica (who represented the traditional lifestyle) were good friends and still remain good friends even after he moved out of the rural area to the urban area.
The main features of Veronica’s lifestyle were mostly based on her family. As the oldest in her family, she spent most of her time looking after her siblings and her parents. She seemed to value nothing more than her family and Okeke. Veronica who came from a very poor family was not able to attend school or to travel. In those days students had to pay for school in some parts of Africa, and since Veronica’s family could not raise the money the opportunity of going to school became impossible. There was also no need of cars in the rural because people were used to walking and since Veronica did not have anywhere to travel to she took life as it came. Veronica believed that everything that had happened to her was her destiny and stayed in the village because she saw no reason to move to the city even when Okeke asked her to.
“No, the city is for you, not me. What will I do once I get there? I have no qualifications, not even Standard Six.”
‘Standard Six’ is the level achieved at the age of eleven sometimes earlier. Since she had not attended any school all her life, she would have not achieved even a lower level. Veronica had no education and she never complained despite the hard life she lives with a drunk father who beat her, and a mother who was too weak to help her daughter. The life Veronica lived shows us that the traditional lifestyle in Africa was very poor; because women did all the domestic work while men had more freedom to live their lives. Health care was also poor as there were few doctors, most of whom were witch doctors.
Looking back at Veronica’s lifestyle I was able to see that as a boy Okeke had more freedom to do what he wanted. Okeke attended school and later became a doctor. After a while he moved his family to the city- this showed that he cared about his family, however not as much as Veronica cared about her family as she gave up her entire life just so she could stay with them and take care of them despite the abuse. Okeke seemed to value his education most, but he valued friendship as well. He persuaded Veronica to move to the city with him so that she could attend school there.
‘When I have qualified I will send you money to take a correspondence course.’
Okeke did not value marriage or children as Veronica had done. Even though the two grew up together. Nonetheless Okeke’s life was different because he was an only child and his family had enough money to send him to school. Another reason for this for his fortunate was because he was male, more intelligent and more modern than Veronica. Veronica lived in the village all her life and died there, while Okeke attended school and moved to the city and became a doctor. He also had enough money to support himself and his parents, but the only problem he had was that he still have a traditional lifestyle within him. This was because, despite all the education he had and all the money he made, Okeke was not married, as he believed that all the modern women want were touchable materials. Like Veronica he was looking to settle down, on the other hand he found it very hard to find the right woman.
‘All the women I meet are only interested in money and cars.’
As the oldest in a big family Veronica did not have enough opportunity like she would have wished for. She was not able to attend school because her family was poor and her father spent the little money they made on drink. She did not have opportunity like Okeke who was able to leave the village and move to the city where there was more freedom and where women and men had equal opportunities. Nevertheless she seemed to value her family more than anything else. This made me concluded that traditional lifestyle like this is basically good. The reason for this is that things could have been worse. A traditional lifestyle normally concluded of girls being sold- either as slaves or to a man whom she would had to knelt down for every single day of her life.
It concluded of women walking to the river, (which is mostly far away from where they live) just so they can wash their family’s clothes and feed their children. Traditional lifestyle concluded of women not being educated, and having kids at a very young age. This was not all true for Veronica, as she had chosen her own destiny by refusing to take an advise from Okeke and go to the city to study and live a modern life. Everything she did after her parent’s death was done in her own free will.
Okeke’s lifestyle seemed much more enjoyable although hard, for he spent most of his time working and hardly had time for anyone, not even for Veronica. Okeke had more opportunities to life than Veronica. He was able to attend university and study as a doctor; nonetheless he did not value anything more than having to make money. But it seemed like he valued his family for he relocated them to the city. But apart from that he lost all contract with the village and the wiliness of trying. Yet he remained contact with Veronica.
‘…while I had been a student I lacked the time, and afterwards I lacked the inclination.’
A modern lifestyle like the one Okeke lived seemed basically bad, because with all the money he had he was starting to forget the true values of life, the life he used to live before going to school. This showed that the author supported the change in Veronica’s lifestyle, however it need a bit of the modern life in order for an increase of medicine.
The author seemed to support both lifestyles because of the way he set out the negative possibilities and balanced it up with positive possibilities in both rural area and urban area. He showed that the women in rural area have more respect and understanding that they will accept you for what you were- while the modern women will only have you for your money. The author also showed that living in the urban area you will have a good communication with your neighbours based on the transportation, unlike life in rural area, where you only get to know just a few of the villagers due to the lack of transportation and communication.
I will support the modern lifestyle where things change everyday, however I will also support the traditional lifestyle this is due to the respects and understanding of ones weaknesses and strength. I have had personal experience of African lifestyle before therefore I am able to notice that even the modern lifestyle sounded a bit like how some villagers live now. Not everyone in rural area lives the way Veronica had lived and not everyone in the urban area lives the way Okeke did. Lagos as the former capital of Nigeria was known as an urban area however comparing some area of the city with village, you would be able to see that they are really similar. The reason for this is because people of rural area manage to look after their belongings so that it can stay longer.
In the urban area things are just wasted. Another thing is that urban areas attract more pollution than in the villages where fewer cars are introduced. For women in rural area marriage life depends on their religions. Women from Muslim surroundings have to rely on their families to provide everything they need for their wedding. While Christian surroundings required both male and female’s side as equal therefore both sides have to share the expenses for the wedding. This arrangement is not different in the urban area. However sometimes some people from the village were sold as slaves to the urban area just so they can achieve better life from the one they were living with in the area.