Title: Naira Power (Pacesetters Series)
Author: Buchi Emecheta
Publisher: Macmillan Education Limited
Publication Date: 1982
Length: 108 pages
Genre: African Literature, Fiction
Naira gives Ramonu power over justice up to a point….When the power fails the consequences for him are horrifying-and witnessed by the girl who has loved him secretly for years
My goodness! It has been a minute since I read a book from the Pacesetter series! Well, since I am riding the Buchi Emecheta wave, I really did not care that this was targeted for the young adult audience. Nonetheless, this book addresses issues that are not confined to the young audience.
First off, I felt that the book and blurb was a tad sensationalised since the plot is anchored a candid conversation between two sisters- in -law (-in love?), Amina and Bintu. They caught in a scene at their local market and the sudden heavy downpour which leads to a heart to heart session. Their discussion envelopes macro and micro issues that affecting their countrymen and in their personal lives.
Amina and Bintu highlight the fact that corruption and the double standards when dealing with the rich and influential and the not so rich and influential. They discuss polygamy, what makes women become second or third wives and how they feel about these kinds of arrangements.
Naira Power connotates the bargaining power that one has when they have (or don’t have) money in Nigeria (Naira is the Nigerian currency). This is not only about purchasing power in terms of accumulating wealth but also capturing the hearts of the people they want and social clout. In this context, it means that money means that you can get away with anything in terms of the law, for the right price.
Emecheta, through the female characters, shows that more money means the right to get more wives (up to 4 wives, if you subscribe to Islam) since you will be able to secure their future. Amani’s sister-in-law represents the new wave of educated Nigerian women who argue against marrying money and being independent.
Reading this book, I felt like this is a probable conversation that could have happened in modern day Nairobi; between two middle-aged women taking shelter from the rain in a local coffee house in the CBD. Since the book is slightly over 100 pages, with large print, this is a book that you can read in one sitting. It should probably be part of the teal £1 Penguin Modern Classics.
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