No Sweetness Here
The main character of Ama Ata Aidoo’s short story, “No Sweetness Here” is Chicha. Chicha is an educated woman who acts as a schoolhouse teacher for the children in her village. To readers, she appears to have several Western characteristics that separate her from the other members of the village. By creating Chicha’s character, Aidoo was able to provide her typical twist of modernization in a traditional society.
Chicha enjoys spending afternoons visiting Maami Ama, the mother of one of her favorite students, Kwesi. Chicha appears to be very intrigued with Maami Ama and the happenings of her life. Readers quickly learn of Maami Ama’s rocky relationship with her husband. Neglected and ignored for the majority of the duration of their marriage, Maami was forced to raise Kwesi on her own with little to no help from her husband. Now, facing the matter of divorce, Maami fears that she will lose her son for her husband will take him away from her. However, after time, we see that Maami merely accepts the fact that he has the power to take him away, and is willing to give him up without a fight. This says a tremendous amount about social dynamics and the status of women in the village. Similar to other stories we have been reading, there is an obvious underlying theme of gender inequality as the women in this society are used to raise children and serve little purpose in the house otherwise aside from minimal basic chores.
While Maami accepts that her husband plans to take away her son, it is evident that she is in fact heart broken over the idea of losing her baby. She definitely represents the more traditional aspects of society as she does not show any resistance when he insists on attaining custody of their son. Traditional customs imply concepts of women adhering to the demands of men without question or hesitation. However, readers can witness tradition being challenged as Chicha and Kwesi’s aunts urge Maami to fight for her son.
It is my opinion that had Kwesi survived the snake bite and went on to live with his father, there would be limited changes to the outcome of the story, I believe that Maami would have been just as sorrowful and mournful as her son was her everything, and losing him in any way would be heart breaking. I believe that Aidoo, both purposefully and skillfully chose to kill Kwesi’s character to further emphasize the helplessness of Maami’s character as a woman. Had her husband taken over custody of him, she wouldn’t have been able to bring him back, just as she cannot bring him back from the dead.
Do you think that Kwesi’s death symbolized something more?