BY Duduzile Nhlabathi, 5:38pm May 22, 2016,

If Cinderella Had Game, Then Where Did Today’s Women go Wrong ?

People learn best from stories and storytelling as they are the most powerful way of putting ideas into someone’s head. Our ideas of what a great relationship should be like, are influenced by the media we consume and the stories we are told long before our first tooth falls out. Many little girls around the world have heard the story of Cinderella over and over again, and many will continue to hear it for decades to come.

I wish I knew of a well-known fairytale of African origin that could be compared to the likes of Cinderella and Snow White, whereby prince charming comes to their rescue and takes them to a place where they live happily ever after. The only story that comes close to these is The Bride Price, a 1976 novel by Nigerian writer Buchi Emecheta.Its unfortunate that the girl died at the end during childbirth.

The point of this article is not to compare Western literature to African literature, but to examine why a well-known story such as that of Cinderella was understood out of context. At 12 years of age, my cousin once said she does not like fairy tales. That was pretty odd for a 12-year-old, and when asked why, she replied “Why does everyone live happily ever after? That can’t be real”.

Why did we miss the part where Cinderella enchanted Prince Charming with her well-thought and well-timed tactics? Like the part where she deliberately leaves behind a slipper, something which he can use to trace her with? Or the part where she plays coy and a bit hesitant when asked for a dance? Or the time where she poeticises her existence and has this man send a search party in order to find her? How did we miss all of that?

Because we did not want to see it.  It’s that simple. We wanted to tell the story in a manner that suited us. We wanted girls all over the world to think that women are chosen by their lovers, and not the other way around. We wanted girls to think that they are powerless and can never be in control of their destiny when it comes to love and who they ultimately end up with. We reduced the art of finding a suitable mate to sheer luck. Look at what we have done. Ayes, if you still continue to tell this story from this angle then you are part of the “we” that I am referring to.

Ayes, if you still continue to tell this story from this angle then you are part of the “we” that I am referring to.

Women today walk around as if they are not responsible for the romantic situations they find themselves in. They are quick to blame the opposite sex for their woes, and should you even suggest that they wisen up and protect their hearts by adopting certain strategies to suss out their potential partner, you are accused of encouraging women to play games. But yet we have always had game.

In my culture, you are told stories of how girls were initiated into womanhood and taught how to attract and keep the best possible mate. It was a collective effort, and the idea was to protect young women from making disastrous decisions that could change the course of their lives forever.

I ask, how is this different from having game? When did we as an African society lose this? Actually all cultures, be it Western, Eastern or African, had this practice going. As per my initial question, where did we go wrong?

In conclusion I would like to say, I have been blessed to play aunt, cousin and guardian to a lot of beautiful precious souls, the youngest one being only 4 months old. One thing I have no doubt about is that when all these girls reach an age where they are curious about boys, the first talk we are going to have is the importance of having game as a woman.

Last Edited by:Sandra Appiah Updated: June 19, 2018


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