Purple Hibiscus is another best seller by aunty Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The story is told from the perspective of a young Nigerian girl named Kambili, who is growing up in a hostile home environment with her older brother Jaja. Her father Eugene, is a rich and successful owner of a paper called the Standard. Eugene is also a devout catholic who is very legalistic, and holds his family to unrealistically high expectations. He shuns his Igbo culture, and refuses to associate with his father Papa-Nnukwu, because he is a tribalist. He controls every aspect of his children lives, and teaches them to condemn anyone who doesn't practice catholicism the same way they do. Throughout the story, Kambili is confronted with situations that contradict her strict upbringing, and she struggles with breaking her fathers rules. She wants to have a relationship with her grandfather, but she knows he is a heathen and her father wouldn't approve. She notices that her cousins enjoy life a lot more, even though they don't have much. She is trapped but cannot escape her imprisonment unless drastic measures are taken, and that exactly what happened.
The story takes place around 1993 - 1998 during the time of Abacha became the head of state in Nigeria. Abacha lead a successful coup that took over the government, and there was wide spread human rights abuse. Eugene, being a man of integrity, chose to publish articles that challenged this regime and expose the truth. Eugene was also a well respected leader in his community, known for donating large sums of money to the St. Agnes church, and many non-profit organizations. His wife was a humble woman of God who was obey her husbands wished to a fault. People admired this family, not knowing that Eugene was physically abusive. His punishments caused his wife to have miscarriages, caused Jaja to have a permanently damaged finger, and put Kambili in the hospital for weeks. Things within the family began to fall apart, once Kambili and Jaja were exposed to a healthy home environment at their aunty Ifeoma's house in Nnsukka. They were influenced by their outspoken and hardworking cousins Amkaka, Obiora and Chima. Kambili met Father Amadi, a genuine priest who showed his love for Christ not only through his actions, but also through the way he treated people. They also had the opportunity to spend time with their grandfather which changed their perception of heathens.
I love this story because it sheds light on a few important topics in our culture. There's the charitable rich man who secretly harms his family. He also represents those who assume that African culture is innately sinful and adopt the white mans cultural norms as biblical principles to live by. There's the submissive African mother who is so grateful to be chosen as a wife that she stands by as her children are assaulted, and takes the blame for the miscarriage that her husband causes. There's the sheltered and highly pressured children who follow religious rules and attain perfect grades due to fear. These are all common themes that most African families deal with to some degree, and it's important that we shed light on these things because they normally go unnoticed and unresolved.