No Sweetness Here

by Ama Ata Aidoo

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Chicha
Chicha (the local "Fanticized" pronunciation of the English word ‘‘teacher’’) is the village schoolteacher and narrator of the story. She holds a unique position as a Westernized person who is living in the traditional Fanti village of Bamso. This narrator's' "outsider" perspective on the events and traditions of the village provides the non-Fanti reader with a point of identification. Thus, the peculiarities of local traditions regarding marriage are questioned by this Western perspective. In the beginning of the story, Chicha is visiting Maami Ama at her house, discussing her son Kwesi and her unpleasant marriage. The next day, Chicha goes during her students' recess to observe the divorce proceedings. When she returns to the school, all the children are gone. She finds them surrounding Kwesi, who has been bitten by a snake. After Kwesi dies, Chicha finds Maami Ama in mourning in her home.

Kodjo Fi
Kodjo Fi is Maami Ama's husband. He is described as "a selfish and bullying man, whom no decent woman ought to have married.’’ Although Maami Ama is his first wife, he has neglected her, given her his worst piece of land to farm, and isolated her from the rest of his family during their seven years of marriage. During the divorce proceedings, he is clearly favored over Maami Ama, given the rights to their only child and allowed to forego a fee he should have had to pay to her.

Kwesi
Kwesi, a ten-year-old boy, is Maami Ama's only child and a favorite of Chicha. He is repeatedly referred to as a beautiful child and described as "quite tall for his age. His skin was as smooth as shea-butter and as dark as charcoal. His black hair was as soft as his mother's. His eyes were of the kind that always remind one of a long dream on a hot afternoon.’’ The narrator comments, ‘‘It is indecent to dwell on a boy's physical appearance, but then Kwesi's beauty was indecent.’’ The result of his parents' divorce is that he is to leave his mother's house to live with his father's family. Shortly after the divorce proceedings, Kwesi is found lying on the ground, surrounded by the other school children, having been bitten by a snake. Although he is nursed for days by both a traditional medicine man and a Western doctor, he dies.

Maami Ama
Maami Ama is the mother of Kwesi, who is her only son. As the story opens, she explains to Chicha the unfortunate circumstances of her seven-year marriage to Kodjo Fi. Although she is his first wife, she has been given his worst piece of land to farm and has been shunned and isolated by the rest of his family. Although she loves her son dearly, she does not protest when, as a result of the divorce, his custody is granted to his father instead of her. She also does not protest not receiving the fee which her ex-husband is required to pay her. After Kwesi dies, Chicha finds her in mourning in her home. Maami Ama, from the perspective of Chicha, represents the extent to which women in this traditional culture passively accept unfair treatment by their community.

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