The Story of Nosente by Nosente of Umgqwashe
In The Story of Nosente by Nosente of Umgqwashe we have the theme of marriage, acceptance, control and change. Narrated in the first person by an elderly woman called Nosente the story is translated by Monica Hunter and from the beginning of the story the reader realises that Nosente may be exploring the theme of marriage. Nosente is not allowed to choose her own husband and must marry somebody that she does not know nor has she met. This is not necessarily traditional but it is still unusual for a woman to have never met her husband before marrying him. It doesn’t dawn on Nosente that something might be wrong with the planned marriage. She accepts the rule of law that has been laid down by her father. Who appears to profit more than most from the arrangement of the marriage. There is also no sense of loss when it comes to either Nosente or her father. She is simply doing as she is being told to do. Something that in today’s terms might sound peculiar. A woman marrying a man she has never met before.
Should Nosente have wished to have some freedom in her marriage this is not the case and there are a set of rules she must adhere to in order to please her husband. Simple things like cleaning the yard or walking across it are forbidden. Also Nosente must use the same words that the women of the village use. She is not allowed to deviate from them. In reality Nosente is completely controlled by a male dominated society. However things do change slightly when Africa is colonized and Nosente’s children end up leaving the village and the tradition of the village behind. Unfortunately for Nosente she has outlived most of her children. As to whether Nosente is suggesting that the European colonizers were a bad thing is difficult to say. With the colonizers came change and a deviation from the things that Nosente knew. It is as though her life has changed completely or at least the world that surrounds her has changed. Nosente may be too old to change herself but this does not affect her children. One positive of the European colonizers arrival is the fact that Nosente’s children received a formal education, allowing for them to progress in society and even travel to England. Something that may not have been possible when Nosente was a child.
Though the colonizers colonized Africa not all of their actions were positive. Slavery stemmed from Africa with white men considering black men to be beneath them and as such sub-human. A black man did not have the same rights as a white man in Africa and was subservient to the white master. However slavery does not appear to be a part of Nosente’s life. She was free (most times) to do as she wanted as long as she did not bring shame onto her husband. All in all Nosente appears to have lived a protected life and a good one too. She may not have been educated in modernity but she was rich with tradition. A tradition that none of her children are following due to the colonization of Africa. It is also noticeable that Nosente accepts the position she finds herself in. From the time of her youth to old age. She has not been any trouble to anybody. She has been submissive and done as she was told by her husband. This may be significant as Nosente may be suggesting that all women who married young to unknown husbands did the same. It was part and parcel of life.
The end of the story is also interesting as the reader really gets an insight into how controlling the white colonizers were. Marriages were now held in a church and animals were not sacrificed as much. European colonizers appear to have brought their laws onto the plains of Africa. There was an absolute change among the younger generation while Nosente went along with whatever she was told. In reality Nosente remains controlled throughout the story. She is the dutiful wife and the obedient village person. Never questioning the rule of authority. Possibly for fear of reprisal from her husband and his family. That does not mean that Nosente has not lived a full life. On the whole she appears to have been happy with the circumstances she found herself in. She had a set routine to follow and she knew what role to play. However she did lack any type of freedom and was stuck in the village all her life.