In Our Sister Killjoy, brilliant Ghanaian writer Ama Ata Aidoo’s protagonist’s train of thought is to be followed like certain danse de salon are to be danced : swaying, left-right-left; past-present-future; Africa-Europe-Africa anew; Africans, Africans-in Europe; Europeans- in Africa. Sissie’s critical “all seeing eye” both embraces and scornfully stares at all of it.
More interestingly for me, in her self-exile, Aidoo’s disenchanted character, Sissie, sometimes seems to have trouble staying in the moment. Several times she finds herself musing over her home continent in the midst of a conversation with German friend Marija. Aidoo is clearly critical of Africans obsession and adulation of Europe and her depiction of Marija’s community is not very positive.
The local population displays comical obsession for the exoticism they want to see in her. Patriarchy, for its part, is alive and doing well both in her African mind and Marija’s. She fantasizes several times she was a man while Marija has to admit she is very happy her only son is a boy and not a girl.
Another jab at Europe is her poetic mention of the notorious “droit de cuissage” rules under which it was feudal lords’ duty and/or privilege to take the virginity of any newly-wed woman on their land.
Germany also allows her throw jabs at European history by mischievously naming the two men in Marija’s life “Big” and “Little” Adolf, which is rather unrealistic. Indeed, everybody knows the surname Adolf has been largely unpopular in Germany since WWII.
Furthermore, Marija’s husband is suspisciously nowhere to be seen and the relative opulence –as long as food is concerned – she is living is one that fills the belly, fattens the body but does nothing to soothe the gripping loneliness plaguing her.
Overall, Sissie, who does not spare her African continent, which she also looks at with her “black-eyed squint” is dissatisfied and critical of the West. The immigrant experience as she conceives it can only be one of “doomed love and un-kept promises” Her negativity is only made palatable by her sense of humor.