Njou addresses various issues within this poem, a woman’s search for true contentment, spiritually and culturally, a woman’s liberation from her traditional roles and the problems resulting from cultural conflicts. All too often we are fooled into thinking that economic and material goods are what we need to feel fulfilled and content with life. This is not the case “Prayer of a Modern Woman” is about a woman who has an abundance of material wealth but is dissatisfied with life. She tries to fill this void within her by trying to keep herself busy. It is evident in the following lines “looking for something big to occupy me, I thirst for this and that, I move from club to club looking for a firm base to place my feet, Today I join the golf club, Tomorrow I move to the tennis club and when I feel too depressed I fly to Mambosa for a swim in the ocean, but the more I search for peace the more I get frustrated.” Despite her attempts she’s still unhappy. What this woman seeks is not social or economic gain, but cultural and spiritual fulfillment.
Even though she has an abundance of material wealth she is poor in spirit. Njou symbolizes this woman’s emptiness with her marriage. It seems her marriage was based upon her husband’s social and economic standing, “my husband is a big boss in a company, he is a respectable gentleman at work he is never in the house when I need him if he is not travelling abroad, he is in bars every evening to listen, as he says, to the latest political gossip, he tells me a man of his position must know what is going on around him but I doubt this is the reason he frequents the bar.” Njou shows how her lack of self-fulfillment effects every aspect of her life right down to an empty and loveless marriage that doesn’t nurture but instead destroys. The marriage is not a stable or happy one. She has lost all trust in her husband so she started following him to find out what he was really doing when she wasn’t around. She realized how empty her life really was when her women’s group visited poor women on their farms to help uplift their standard of living.
A good relationship between husband and wife depends on the level of mutual respect they have for each other. This means never taking each other for granted or simply expecting certain things for each other without asking or having a discussion around roles. For example in a relationship, the husband automatically expects the wife to know where his clean shirts are or assumes that all housework or ...
In this stanza she realizes that everyone doesn’t need material wealth and status to make them happy and give them a feeling of fulfillment. “they weren’t bothered with things like ,what dress was in fashion, what hairstyle to adopt, what class of people to be seen with, what kind of car to drive: when I saw how real they were to themselves: I felt shrunken because I knew, poor as they were in material wealth, I needed their help more than they needed mine.” Njau finally realized that spiritual strength can help to overcome physical poverty. This poem can be compared with the biblical quote “what does a man gain if has the whole world but it the cost is the price of his soul.” What Njau hungered for was, spiritual and mental richness that money can’t buy. By the end of the poem Njau realizes that she must go back to her roots and understand who she really is under all the glimmer and glamour that she is covered up by, so that she may be able to instill those values in her children, so they won’t have to go through life feeling shallow. I feel this poem really describes the modern world and way of thinking. Many of us don’t realize that money doesn’t buy happiness. True happiness is spiritual not material. Sometimes we work so hard to gain the material objects that we crave that along that path we end up loosing sight of ourselves.