Marita: or the Folly of Love
On 20th January 1886, the first installment of what is probably the first West African novel in English was published in a Ghanaian newspaper, the Western Echo, by a male author using the pseudonym ‘A. Native’. Preceded by a proud editorial which welcomed the arrival of this ‘work of “local effort”’ by ‘a native gentleman’, Marita: or the Folly of Love was serialised in 40 episodes, ending two years later in January 1888. It describes the disastrous consequences for African men of uniting according to the colonial Marriage Ordinance of 1884: this ordinance enshrined the Christian, Victorian ideal of marriage as a monogamous and lifelong union, and is shown in the story to transform peaceful, well-behaved women into shrews and termagants who are bent upon seizing domestic power from their husbands. The story proved to be so popular and relevant that it survived the closure of the Western Echo in December 1887 and found a new host in the Gold Coast Echo, before disappearing from the press, unfinished, in February 1888.