The Water Seller (Mai Ruwa)

Evie Godfrey2023 Longlist, Opening Up

The Water Seller (Mai Ruwa) is a Twine hypertext portraying a woman’s determination to succeed, learn, and heal—even through the death of her husband and disapproval of her village. This work centers on an image of a woman balancing a baby on her back and a water pot on her head. Each portion of the image is labelled: The water she carries, The strength she understands, The questions she asks, etc., with lexia corresponding to that title. The story is set in 1988, a time of great change in Nigeria, yet a before an instantaneous, world-wide communication network. In this changing isolation, Aiwa sneaks an education, meets and marries the king’s son for true love, suffers through her father-in-law’s treachery, and triumphs as she rebuilds her life for herself and her infant son.

This is one of the first “digitally borne” works for African Electronic Literature to provide a unique storytelling experience for Nigerians. We hope to use new experiences for immersive storytelling and the possibilities within electronic literature to convey messages about the inequalities associated with traditional beliefs and to explore possible ways to keep these unique cultures alive and thriving in this modern world.