When Things Turn Around: A review of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “The Visit”- Olukorede S Yishau

The world in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s The Visit is not as we know it, largely. It is a spectacular world in which matriarchy wrestles patriarchy and gives it a bloody nose. 

Two men, Obinna and Eze—old friends—confront the past and future and both men are made to see what women see daily.

The Amazon Original e-book retells the man-woman experience, the woman is head of family and provider and the man stays home and cares for the kids. The wife sees no reason  the man should work with all his academic qualifications and he agrees and obeys. 

In The Visit, the author of Half of a Yellow Sun takes us through the ordeal of Obinna, a once-upon-a-time poet, who is married to Amara, the managing director of a big company.

The story opens with Obinna watching CNN’s broadcast of a female American president’s approval of a law prohibiting male masturbation. Soon, he starts thinking about his life, and his friend, Eze, who is visiting from America. He also thinks about Amara constantly cheating on him and her family telling him not to make a fuss about it; after she is providing all his needs. They tell him he should be happy she returns home to him every day. He remembers ‘fighting’ one of the boys in her life but is not bold enough to confront her about her cheating. 

When Eze arrives, he asks Obinna to go with him to a nightclub. Obinna is reluctant and argues it is wrong for a married man to go to a nightclub without his wife. He also says he needs to be home to take care of their kid. 

“I can’t just go to a club. I’m a married man,” he says.

Eze succeeds in convincing him to leave the housekeeper to take charge in his absence. But guilt takes over him all through their outing. 

On their way back from the club, a police officer stops them and asks them where they were coming from. 

“Is that why you’re dressed like prostitutes?” The officer queries them.

Throughout the story, Adichie turns the table. Men face the hassles women face daily, but she still leaves biological functions such as getting pregnant and keeping humanity going for women. But, all the insults the world heaps on women are transferred to men and all the world does to discourage women from dreaming big is reserved for men in this feminist text. Even male masturbation  is criminalised and scientific research is done using female specimens, making the outcomes not useful to men and thus compounding their woes.

Nightclubbing that men consider their right is presented as something a married man should be ashamed of doing without his wife, an obvious protest against the belief that only loose women frequent nightclubs. A police officer is made to refer to the appearance of  Obinna and Eze as not befitting of married men. In fact, she describes them as looking like prostitutes. Policemen have been known to refer to women driving home after a night out that way.The officer saying she would have respected them on account of marriage is an obvious switch of women’s experience with that of men. 

Adichie tells this tale in a sleek language, so sleek even the folks she is taking jibes at will enjoy the tale before her message sinks in and causes them to grimace.

Olukorede S Yishau is the author of In The Name of Our Father, Vaults of Secrets and United Countries of America and Other Travel Tales. He lives in Houston

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