The Joys of Motherhood
How we cite our quotes:
The older woman laughed. "You know I'm no better off than you, but at least a man pays my rent." Her husband, Abby's father, was a European who had been in the Nigerian colonial service; he had gone home after Abby was born, leaving Mama Abby fairly well provided for. The wise woman saved all the money to use for her son's education….By now Mama Abby had passed child-bearing age, though she would die rather than admit it to anybody. She had the slim figure of a girl and had learned the art of looking every inch a lady. She still moved with the upper crust of society, but she preferred to live fairly cheaply in rented accommodation and spend most of her money on her only brilliant son, for that would secure her a happy old age. The days when children would turn round and demand of a parent, "If you knew you couldn't afford me, then why did you have me?" had not dawned. So Abby's mama, though a woman whom many righteous would frown up on their wives associating with, bought her way into respectability through her son, who was destined to become one of the leaders of the new Nigeria. (9.45)
Mama Abby invests in her son's future by financing his education.
Nnu Ego was shocked at the amount. So Nnaife had been sending the money. She could only guess what had gone wrong: the man must have told them she was in Ibuza. Of course the local office had not bothered to check whether or not she was back; and there was no way of her checking. With tears of relief in her eyes, she promised herself that all her children, girls and boys, would have a good education. If she herself had had one, she would have been able to call at this office to check about the money. She would at least have been able to contact Nnaife, and he could have done the same. She and her husband were ill-prepared for a life like this, where only pen and not mouth could really talk. Her children must learn. (15.76)
Nnu Ego suddenly realizes how important education is and wishes she could have been prepared better for life in modern Lagos.
The girls were encouraged to continue with their petty trading even though they were at school. They still hawked oranges after school because as their mother Nnu Ego kept saying, "A girl needs to master a trade to help her in later life." The boys, on the other hand, were encouraged to put more time into their schoolwork. (15.81)
We see here a distinct difference in how Nnu Ego believes girls should be equipped for life – prepared by knowing a trade – and how boys should be equipped with education.