Family Structure Is one Aspect of a Society
In Camara Laye The Dark Child, and some parts of Ryszard Kapuscinski The Shadow of the Sun, it is apparent that the family structure is one aspect of a society that is highly valued, monitored, and deeply respected in many parts of Africa. In both books, families are often depicted as being close knit and strenuous collective workers building towards the betterment of their family and society. As a result, individuals belonging to these families whether its the mother, husband, son or daughter all have certain roles and duties they must uphold; some which are very different from our modern society and others which are similar in practice. However, despite the fact that these kin based families are often patrilineal and a majority of the decisions are carried out by the male, it is indubitable that the mothers of these societies possess an unexplainable enigma. They possess an essence that at times gives them more power than their male counterpart evident in Layes The Dark Child where the bond with his mother is much more sentimental and richer. Despite their lack of “traditional power” women in these societies maintain a unique form of power. A power that is at times unexplainable but revered and acknowledged by everyone in their society.
While in our modern society, male and women share relative equality in the work field and running of the household the same cannot be said about the kinship based villages in some parts of Africa. It is clear that working towards the betterment of society differs not only among genders but also age in these societies. Despite it becoming more common in contemporary day to see reversals of typical gender duties (where the father is expected to be the breadwinner and the mother caregiver) this concept in some parts of Africa would highly be looked down upon considering most villages were patriarchal. Kapuscinski states that in his trip to the village of Abdallah Wallow which lies between Mauritania and Senegal that “it is the girls who rise first in the village of Abdallah Wallo and go for water even before the sun is up”(p.211). Task such as these are expected to be carried out by the women and young girls while the males provide food and means of sustenance.
Kapuscinski also visits Kumasi inThe Shadow of the Sun and describes the structure of the clan of which the male is placed at the top of the social hierarchy. “At the head of a clan stands a chief”. “He is chosen by a clan assembly, which is led by a council of elders”(p.31). It is clear that among the people of Kumasi that the leader of the clan are always male and are also chose from a group of council members consisting of males. Nevertheless the female is not to be left out for it is believed man is composed of two parts and receives his stronger side from the mother. Kapuscinski explains that the dichotomy of man in the Kumasi culture is divided by blood from the mother which is inherited