From pride to humility: learning from The Golden Girl of Galma
Abdullahi portrays these vices in the life of the major character Atine, a young, beautiful princess, who not only idolises her good looks, but her royal and wealthy background.
As a result, she naturally detests and disrespects poor and uneducated suitors, who ask for her hand in marriage.
In The Golden Girl Of Galma, the themes of pride and humility, with the former leading to the princess’s kidnap, as she is forced to learn and embrace the latter, come to the fore.
Though the author is cautious in managing his choice of words and use of language with a descriptive-narrative technique, he should have provided a more detailed background of Atine, as a princess, whose royal parents fail in their duty to train her to be a modest, young adult, who is well nurtured and has empathy for folks lower than her station in life.
Also, there is a contrast in narrating a princess’s desire to marry an educated man, when she has no formal education whatsoever herself despite her wealthy and royal family background.
Hear her, “’Yes, I turned down the marriage proposal of the men because they’re not educated… But I’d like you to enroll me in a school where I can learn to read and write,’ Atine begged the man.”
Also, there is a clash between the author’s attempts to be narrative and descriptive at the same time.
Abdullahi should have been mindful that while using a descriptive-narrative technique in writing, it is important to punctuate appropriately and avoid ambiguity.
For instance, the first paragraph of page three says: “She rode with the beggar on a dark-brown donkey to a far away land from where he had come after his friends had hurriedly married her off to him by force.”
First, there is no pre-information as to when the beggar’s friend married her off to him.
So, the reader is left to wonder at this information, hence the need for proper punctuation for easy reading and to avoid incoherence. Secondly, there is no orderliness in the arrangement of words, which makes the sentence and message to lack wholesomeness.
It should have been better written thus: ‘After the beggar’s friend had kidnapped and married her off to him, she rode with him on a dark-brown donkey to a faraway land where he had come from.’
However, despite the loose ends at the outset of the story, the author is able to negotiate a good turn eventually, as he proceeds to tell us the goodwill of the kidnapper and the tactics he employs to teach and train Atine into a refined and humble woman.
Over the course of the short story, Atine undergoes transformation and value addition to her life that go beyond the physical attributes and surface qualities she attaches to life.
She turns into a true woman, who not only gets subjected to a life of abject want, but also learns to cook and make ends meet through means she could never have imagined possible if she had remained in the palace all her life living as a princess.
As the writer tells us, “Atine squatted down by a three-stone-wood-burning fire and blew air into it to make the fire burn better…” and further down she laments, “’In my father’s palace, it’s the servants who do all the cooking,’ she cried out… For two hours, Atine and the man lived together in a difficult circumstance. Though Atine was not much of a cook, she did all the cooking…”
This slime volume of children’s literature is recommended for teenagers, who need to learn to shun all forms of haughtiness, as it can only lead to a life of regret.
However, though the author’s targeted readers are teenagers, parents also need to read The Golden Girl of Galma for its moral and cultural values that could help them understand that parenting responsibilities go beyond providing material needs for their children, but also inculcating attributes that make them well-behaved individuals and citizens.
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