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Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Scarlet Song by Mariama Ba
Mariama Ba does it again for me with her book Scarlet song. In this book she highlights the plight that women face in an attempt to find love and establish happy families.
The book is about Mireille a French women and the daughter to a French diplomat, and Ousmane a black Muslim from a poor family. They fall in love in their childhood days and the story sees there love mature into marriage.
Mariama Ba exposes the ruthlessness of cultural and religious barriers that confront this couple. The two get married in Paris and come back to Senegal to start their lives as a couple. Ousmane is drawn back to his cultural life and leaves Mireille lonely. Mireille who has made a lot of sacrifices for her husband cannot understand her husband’s change of behavior. She had denounced her religion and became a Muslim so as to be accepted by Ousmane and his community. She had gone against the wishes of her parents by agreeing to marry a black man, and thus severed her relationship with them. Yet all this does not semm to be enough. She devotes her life to her husband and son. She struggles to fit in with Ousmane’s family and friends (who all hate her), while at the same time maintaining her opinions and beliefs.
In the end Ousmane betrays their love and drives Mireille to madness. He gets himself an African Mistress and even sets up another family with this mistress. He uses Mireille money to support this new family. At first Mireille is too trusting to suspect, or could it be that she is afraid of acknowledging the truth though deep down she knew it? An anonymous letter exposes Ousmane’s secret to his wife. She poisons and kills her own son then stubs Ousmane severally on his neck, but he manages to cheat death.
The language used in this book is simple compared to her first book, “so long a letter”.
The themes highlighted are relevant. They include and are not limited to: love, education, family, marriage, culture, religion, and ‘money’.
The style the author uses to captivate the reader include; vivid description, dialogue, use of colloquial language, repetition, letters (Mariama Ba’s trademark), flashbacks among others.
She tentatively builds up a plot creating suspense, which explodes into a climax both thrilling and shocking.

Once again Mariama Ba comes to the rescue of women, both black and white by vividly describing the challenges women face. When writing this book Mariama Ba was aware that death was her shadow, for she was suffering from a prolonged illness. Yet the book shows the writers determination and passion when it came to empowering women. Her authorial voice is strong throughout the story.
The writer in both books (Scarlet Song and So Long a Letter) shows how women are constrained and manipulated in the name of religion and culture. She also goes further to show how women are blinded by the same especially in; Scarlet Song, such that women are not aware of their full potential and also the consequences of their actions. It cautions women not to dwell on petty things like, "what will people say", and to learn to think big.
She also seeks to highlight the fact that society is changing yet the Muslim religion was/is refusing to accept or accommodate these changes. In a way she is trying to force the Muslim community (and others) to understand these changes and accept them. Change can be healthy. An example of this is her attempt to condemn wife inheritance in So Long a Letter. She also shows how sometimes culture can be cruel especially to women in Scarlet Song. She seeks to educate both men and women, and though she is no longer alive, her books are here to tell her stories.
posted by milayetu @ 5:16 AM  
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