Jahenda the Teenage Mother, by Imali Abala, is a coming-of-age story about Jahenda, the protagonist and a Form-two student at Chavavo Secondary School, who believes that education is her key to success. Like most teenage girls, she vows not to be distracted by teenage love. However, when Alan, a handsome and charming young man, shows interest in her, she is tamed by his allure and falls head over heels in love with him. Yielding to temptations of love, Jahenda finds herself in a quandary. Pregnant, and consequently expelled from school, she sees her dreams of success evaporate right before her eyes. As if that were not enough trouble, she is shunned by most people in her community and must confront the stigma of having a child outside wedlock. Worse still, Alan, the young man responsible for her pregnancy, dies unexpectedly after a snake bite, leaving the young mother at a crossroads in her life.
Jahenda’s story is a compelling read. Her ability to harness her inner ambitions to emerge from her fix speaks to her tenacity. She must do the unthinkable, and even defy societal norms, to save herself. What a cautionary tale! Will this teen mother’s last act be her saving grace?