The first book of long fiction by an African to be published in English, this novel tells the story of a young woman of the Vai people in Liberia. Guanya Pau, betrothed as a child to a much older, polygamous man, flees her home rather than be forced into marriage, and the novel recounts her subsequent efforts to reach the Christian community where the man she loves awaits her. Joseph Jeffrey Walters was a Vai man who converted to Christianity, and this, his only novel, is a remarkably complex work, embracing both Christian beliefs and a deep pride in his African heritage.
This Broadview edition includes a critical introduction that locates the novel in the context of Vai culture and the history of African missions, and a rich selection of historical documents relating to the education of African women, the Vai writing system, and the author’s life.
“Arguing against polygamy and child betrothals and insisting on equal rights for women, Guanya Pau merits recognition as the first feminist novel written by an African. In an excellent introduction, Griffiths and Singler provide an impressive amount of information on this pioneering text and its author.” — Bernth Lindfors, University of Texas at Austin