The book Purple Hibiscus is not a book you can read without shedding some little tears. It is about religious hypocrisy and too much domination by a parent over the family. Purple Hibiscus, written by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie kept me thinking for a long time after reading it. It was one of the books my daughter listed that I should buy for her; so I did, and decided to read it. It was a narrative by a 15 years old girl called Kambili Achike. She has an older brother, Jaja Achike and they live with their father, Papa (Eugene Achike) and their mother, Mama (Beatrice Achike), in Enugu, Eastern part of Nigeria. Papa is a wealthy newspaper publisher, and a well respected member of his community and society. He wields a lot of political influence in the country because his newspaper became popular for always telling the truth, which always brings him and his editor to clash with the military administration that just came to power after overthrowing a civilian regime.
Eugene is a devout Roman Catholic who exercises too much control over his family, often leading to physical and emotional abuses. His word is law in the house and when any member of his family failed to measured up to his standard, it is met with severe punishment. He regards his father Papa Nnukwu, who still practices traditional African religion, as a heathen and forbids his children to be in his company except for the 15 minutes he allots them to visit him on Christmas days. He draws timetable for his children to eat, sleep, study, pray, etc. He poured hot water on his children’s feet for being in the same house with his heathen father. He beat his wife to the point of making her to limp. He beat Kambili so severely that she ended up in critical condition in the hospital for being in possession of the portrait of her grandfather.
The children started learning to exert themselves when they begin visiting their Aunty Ifeoma (Eugene’s sister) in Nsukka. Ifeoma is a lecturer at the local university. Though not wealthy, Kambili and Jaja like to be with their aunt and three cousins (Ifeoma’s children), because they find more love and warmth with her. Aunty Ifeoma, a Catholic also, shows a lot of love and care to her father, Papa Nnukwu, and even brought him to her home at Nsukka when Papa Nnukwu was sick. Kambili and Jaja were visiting then.
Eventually, Eugene was poisoned to death through his tea by his wife. This happened shortly after Kambili was discharged from the hospital, while both Kambili and Jaja were on visit to Aunty Ifeoma and their cousins at Nsukka. Jaja decided to take the blame for his father’s death, claiming he was the one that poisoned his father. Jaja was sent to prison even though the mother cried out that she was the one that committed the crime, but nobody believed her.
What lessons can we draw from this deeply emotional book? Let’s find out below:
1. Honouring One’s Parents Attracts Long Life
The Bible admonished us in the Book of Exodus Chapter 20 to honour our fathers and mothers. This particular commandment comes with a promise of long life. Eugene despised his father because his father was not a Christian. He also tried to make his children to hate his father, though that didn’t work. Any wonder then than Eugene met an untimely death? “Honour thy father and mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee”. Exodus 20:12. “Honour thy father and mother, which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.” Ephesians 6:2-3.
2. You Can Only Genuinely Convert Others Through Acts of Love
Christianity preaches love to all, even to our enemies. Also, there is no way you can genuinely convert someone to Christianity when you openly show hatred towards the person. Eugene hates his father for practicing traditional African religion. Maybe Papa Nnukwu could have been converted before he died if Eugene had accorded him proper love and respect, and showed more care. On the other hand, Ifeoma, Eugene’s sister, treated their father with respect, love and care, not minding the father’s religion. “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitely use you, and”. Matthew 5:44
3. Love At Home Creates Create Security for Children to Be at their Best
Eugene rules his home with iron hands. Whenever his children fall short of his expectations, he punishes them severely; his wife not exempted. This created fear and insecurity in the children. Despite their father’s wealth, the children are not happy. They are not free to express themselves. Jaja is withdrawn and sullen. Kimbali, though a brilliant student, cannot speak up before others. When asked simple questions outside, she stutters or goes into coughing fits. This is because the fear of the punishment of making mistakes is always at the back of her mind. “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord”. Ephesians 6:4.
Purple Hibsicus, written by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, is a book that warns us about the hypocrisy that seemly religious parents fall into nowadays, especially those whose charities did not begin at home. While they show tolerance or patience to outsiders who are not in their religion, they lack such patience or forgiveness towards close members of their families. When they discipline their children, they fail to discipline or correct in love while forgetting that no is one perfect before God, who truly and richly extends His Grace of salvation to all mankind through Jesus Christ His Son.