Fusena: willing subordination in Aidoo's Changes

Megan Behrent '97

The character of Fusena poses an interesting contrast to that of Esi in that while there are many similarities in the conflicts they face, the choices they make are radically different. Fusena is, like Esi, an educated woman who meets Ali while they are both teachers in Tamale and again like Esi, Ali is attracted to her precisely because she is an interesting woman who is fairly independent. She decides to marry Ali because of their mutual love and respect for each other, rejecting a marriage with a wealthy and powerful man, the Alhaji, thus rejecting the conventional view of marriage as a kind of business agreement and asserting her independence despite the disapproval of society. Once married to Ali, however, she realizes, just as Esi did that the marriage nonetheless entails a loss of self. While Ali continues his education and his career, Fusena abandons hers so as to be able to fulfill her role of wife and mother. In the process the semblance of equality and mutual respect that had existed between the two of them prior to her marriage is lost, as she says, "It was this business of Ali getting more and more educated while she stayed the same," for "by marrying Ali, she had exchanged a friend for a husband. She felt the loss implied in this admission keenly, and her grief was great."(p.65). Ali objects to her desire to pursue her career as a teacher and instead gives her a kiosk to run in Accra which while a successful business is not the career which she had chosen and been educated to pursue.

Unlike Esi, Fusena accepts this role as wife and mother and while she is equally aware of the loss of independence and agency that it entails she does not leave the marriage for, as she says,

Leaving Ali was not only impossible but would also not be an answer to anything. Because having married her friend and got a husband, there was no chance of getting back her friend if she left or divorced Ali the husband. She would only have an estranged husband. Nor did it help matters much that in the middle of all her frustrations, she kept telling herself that given the position of women in society, she would rather be married than not, and rather to Ali than anyone else.(p.65)

Fusena thus, represses her anger and frustration at her situation and conforms to the role expected of her, in the process, sacrificing herself, her ambition and her independence for a sense of security. In this sense, both Esi and Fusena are confronted with the same dilemma but the choices they make are diametrically opposed. In the end, however, neither one of them achieve fulfillment or happiness which seems to insinuate that the position of women is such that emotional or psychological fulfillment and complete independence is impossible.

[These materials have been adapted from an honors thesis written by Megan Behrent, Brown University, 1997]

Postcolonial Web Africa OV Ghana OV Aidoo OV discourseov