“Your schooling is your voice, child. It will be speaking for you even if you didn’t open your mouth to talk.”
“My mama say education will give me a voice. I want more than just a voice….I want a louding voice.”
The Girl With The Louding Voice is the premier novel of Abi Dare. It tells the story of Adunni, a teenage girl with a big dream and a big heart. She was born and raised in rural Nigeria in a financially disadvantaged family of five. Despite the challenges that come with poverty and living in a patriarchal society where girls were only good for dowry, Adunni aspired to have an education and become a teacher. Adunni’s mother struggled to ensure that she always had money for schooling but she unfortunately got sick and lost her life, leaving Adunni’s fate in the hands of her father who did not share the same dreams as his wife.
“My heart is starting to break because I am only fourteen years going to fifteen and I am not marrying any foolish stupid old man because I am wanting to go back to school and learn teacher work and become a adult woman and have moneys to be driving car and living in fine house with cushion sofa and be helping my papa and two brothers.”
The book has a sour beginning as Adunni is summoned by her father with news that she will be married off to a man thrice her age. Her life goes downhill from there as a series of unfortunate circumstances occur as soon as she becomes the third wife of Morufu, a wife-beating patriarch. She finds both torture and friendship in her new home but through it all, she did not lose the hope for an education and an alternative life. Soon after, disaster struck and she was forced to run away from her life in the village and is thrown into the hustle and bustle of the city life in Lagos.
In Lagos, troubles continue to follow Adunni in her place of work but through it all she still holds on to the hope that she will finish her education. She continued to voice her dreams of an education to others and found ways to keep learning and improving her English. Adunni narrates this book and the reader is able to note an improvement in her English throughout the novel. Through her self-education, she finds a book on Nigerian facts and some of these facts are captured in some of the chapters. In Lagos, a series of events happen and Abi Dare delves deep into various issues such as child labour, classism, human trafficking, fertility, religion, among others.
Adunni’s life in Lagos, despite the hurdles, offered her some rewards that had the potential to shift her life around and possibly make he dreams come true.
The Girl With The Louding Voice is a novel marred with tragedy with only a few happy moments. Abi Dare depicts the plight of the girl child in a society that undervalues her. Through Adunni, we see an example of a heroine who refused to allow her circumstances to stifle her louding voice and grand dreams. The book is a page turner and reading it was an absolute delight.