For some reason I thought there were many books from Namibia out there in the world of books, but I was wrong. Luckily I found The Purple Violet of Oshaantu by Neshani Andreas used online, so I was all set to read about life of women in a fictional north Namibian village. It is refreshing to read about normal life in an African country, instead of colonization, liberation and Civil War.
It is intriguing to read about life from the point of view of a hard-working woman, Kauna, living a less than desirable life with a husband who beats her. I admire Kauna’s father, because while visiting her parents he suggest she would leave her husband, despite her mother wishing her daughter’s marriage will be a happy marriage.
Kauna leads a young wife and mother, in a village she is not originally from. Her husband is a miner who dies after returning home from his mistress. The moment of change in the book is when her husband dies, and she is accused of killing her husband. Relatives comes from all over and they dispute about who is entitled to inherit Kauna’s husband. A big part of the book is dedicated to the day of the funeral.
Life in a rural village is not easy, and it is not romanticized in the book. It give a realistic point of view what life can be like. Women work long hard days in the field, take care of their children, parents, and try to have a good relationship with their husbands. Most men are migrant workers somewhere else in the country. Naturally, there are conflicts and problems between the people in the village, as well as friendship and happy times.
I like how village life comes alive in the village. Universal themes of friendship, gossip, anger, and jealousy are mixed with traditional African lifestyle, and for example accusing other women of being witches. The book is short, and I would have liked to get more out of it, for example more in-depth relationships and bonding, which would probably have been found in a longer book. Even though the book is intriguing it missed something, I cannot really put my finger on. It is somehow not as memorable as I would like it to be.