As I sat in the theaters holding my breath and watching Tyler Perry’s For Colored Girls, I could not help but feel overwhelmed. It literally took me a week to recover from that movie as each story struck a part of my soul. And then I thought, what if there were a movie called For African Girls…, what stories would we hear about then?
I was fortunate enough to spend 7 years in Guinea and when I lived in NY, I visited both Guinea and the Ivory Coast frequently. I must say, I cannot remember ever hearing about a woman who was seeing a psychologist because of personal issues. And as I rack my brain and try to figure out why, the only answer I can come up with is that the African girl is brought up to be tough. It seems we are trained from an early age to take on a lot of responsibilities and to put up with a lot of life’s adversities. We see it all: the hunger and struggle around us, the rivalry of wives, the suffering of children…We learn never to dwell on our own problems for too long.
I have only seen my mother or aunts cry when a death was announced in the family. And though they talked about the troubles in their marriages, the disappointment in their children, lack of money needed to put food on the table, I never once heard talk about actual feelings. Despite what they were feeling, they pushed forward and hid it all from our eyes. I am not sure it’s a good thing to hide feelings all the time but I know that for me, seeing my mother so strong kept me shielded from a lot of the realities of a world that could easily have disrupted my image of what my perfect life was like. Not to say that I was completely naïve but I was protected. In the future, I think I would do the same for my child.
I am in no way belittling the gravity of the situations the women in Tyler Perry’s movie faced. Tyler deals with really though issues in his movie: rape, domestic violence, promiscuity and the works. And back in the 70s when the author wrote the book of poems, her intent was to show women an image of their fellow sisters and themselves like they’d never seen it before. I am just trying to compare this to the issues women in Africa face today. It would be a whole set of new stories. How would we portray the issues we as African women faced in the past and still face today? How would we show our audience our strength, our anger and frustrations, our resentment, our vulnerabilities, our weaknesses? How can our mothers help pass down their wisdom to us through different characters in a movie? I can’t wait until an African Director decides to give a similar production a shot to tell the story of African girls!
What do you think? Are African girls naturally stronger or do we just learn to hide our feelings better? What would one of your characters look like?