Bisi Adjapon’s novel Of Women and Frogs tells the story of Esi, a Nigerian-Ghanaian girl who grows up trying to reconcile her own ideas and dreams with those of the patriarchal society that she lives in. This coming-of-age-story is at times hilariously funny and at others deeply disturbing.
To me this book read like feminist manifesto without even trying. Bisi Adjapon effortlessly manages to critically and sensibly examine Ghanaian and Nigerian societies and the place of women within them. She tells an engaging story while drawing sharp criticism onto the political backdrop of Ghana and Nigeria in times of turmoil. As both nations are renegotiating their relationship with each other, Esi negotiates her own relationship with herself and the world.
Of Women and Frogs offers a refreshing and insider perspective onto two West African societies, and I believe that it is accessible and relatable to both West African and worldwide audiences. I felt seen and understood by this novel, even though I was born and raised in a European rather than an African context.
Distinctive cultural practices, such as paying a bride price, are focused on and examined within the novel, and the author manages to offer a balanced view of sometimes contested cultural legacies and practices in a way that only skilled and sharp-minded authors manage to do.
It is clear that the author’s stance on a woman’s place in the world is straightforward and unwavering: a woman belongs wherever she wants to belong; a woman’s body belongs to herself; a woman can honour and respect her culture and traditions, without having to blindly subscribe to often outdated and harmful practices and beliefs.
Like I said, this novel can be seen as a feminist manifesto in the beautifully written and adorned guise of an exciting and engaging story.
I would definitely give this book a 5-star rating for creativity, storytelling, language, engagement, and message, and I look forward to reading more by Bisi Adjapon.
‘I’ll never again wish for a frog to turn me into a man. I’ll light up my womanhood. I’ll help my sisters. I’ll help other women ignite their fires, blaze their paths through life and leave behind embers to warms those who will come after them.’