Religion and Keeping up Appearances

In the face of crisis, Kosi acts in a very similar fashion to Ifemelu’s mother. I discussed in one of my early blog posts, Ifemelu’s Maternal Figures as her Literary Foils, how Ifemelu’s mom hides behind her religion and delves deeper into it in times of internal turmoil and often uses the devil as an excuse for others’ unwise behavior. Kosi also uses religion to keep up her appearance in society and as a justification for immoral things, such as keeping her and Obinze’s marriage together despite him cheating.

Kosi is characterized as very religious and Obinze recalls being dragged to church events and references Kosi praying often. When Obinze tells Kosi he wants a divorce, Kosi reveals she already knew he was sleeping with Ifemelu and wants to continue to pretend to be a happy family. She yells at him that they made a commitment under God and that that should be protected. Obinze is upset with Kosi for already knowing and not confronting him about it, and I think this just confirms his suspicions that he never should have married Kosi. Obinze had hoped that Kosi would at least respect herself enough to not knowingly be cheated on, especially with all of her paranoia earlier in the novel that Obinze would have an affair at work.

I think the reason that Kosi tries so desperately to keep their family together is not, as she would leave Obinze to believe, for Buchi and not for money as it would be for most Nigerian women. Obinze promises her he would provide for her and Buchi if he left them and Obinze is a man of his word. Kosi cares about Buchi but wishes that she was a boy, and would of course still be able to see her if she and Obinze shared custody after a divorce. The most important reason to Kosi that she and Obinze remain a couple is her appearance to their wealthy friends and peers. Kosi tries very hard to put her best face forward, which is why she lays out clothes for Obinze and Buchi and dutifully attends church and various social events. Kosi tries hard to be a good wife, which in Nigeria means providing a son and not a daughter, not allowing Obinze to cook meals, and never asking questions about where Obinze has been. Kosi truly cares about her reputation in their high class circles, and hides behind her religion as we saw frequently with Ifemelu’s mother in the first part of the novel.



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