Octavia Butler’s ‘Wildseed’ and commentary on the Black Family

There is powerful social commentary between the pages of Wild Seed by Octavia E. Butler. There are so many different perspectives to take, but the one that stuck out the most for me was Anyanwu’s voice on page 195.

Her observance of the plight of the black family and broken homes is not unique, but unique in how it is so well organized and characterized in the people of Anyanwu and Doro.

Before commenting on the social ills Octavia portrays in her book, lets focus on the two main characters of Wild Seed- Doro and Anyanwu. Doro is at least 3700 years old, and can be classified as a spirit male or some other entity that moves like water into any body he wants. He has been around for quite a while and because of this, he sees people as ants and have very little sympathy for humans except for those who he has “fathered” and who display terrific abilities.

Anyanwu is a demigod of “nurture and fertility”. She is about 350 years old(looks about twenty) and can change her entire DNA and body structure by studying and examining herself internally or by eating the flesh of an animal. In a few scenes, she transforms into a dolphin because she has ate the flesh of one. She is also a healer.

“Haven’t you seen the men slaves in this country who are used for breeding? They are never permitted to learn what it means to be a man.”

Now, on to the commentary. Doro finds Anyanwu about a hundred years later. She has mated with him in the past and has sired him a bus load of children. Some came out as mad men, psychics, and had other terrifying abilities. Doro was abusive and very demanding and so she left him. He finds her now with her own children and living in Lousiana in the year 1841. She has been described as a lou garou, or werewolf and prefers to be that way. Why did he come for her?

He wants her to breed again. He misses her power, he has new ideas for a new baby farm, and so on. Yet, Anyanwu stands boldly to him and says, “Haven’t you seen the men slaves in this country who are used for breeding? They are never permitted to learn what it means to be a man.” Wow.

Wildseed was copyrighted in 1980, but what Anyanwu stated is so right on time.

How many of us have wondered  why many children are left to their mothers? What could the black fathers possibly be doing while the mother works hard to be a mother, father, teacher, mentor, chef, and superwoman? What could he be doing? What’s the excuse this time?

Anyanwu continues: “But to these men, warped and twisted by their masters, children are almost nothing. They are just to boast of to other men.”

Sounds familiar?

I’ve seen talk shows and unfortunately in my neighborhood, men who boast, “I have seven kids, or that woman is crazy!” Yet they lay down with the so called crazy woman again and again. Perhaps it is for bragging rights that he can produce stock seed but not enough stock neurons for his brain? All the while, their Master calls them the ‘N’ word because they are like children running with a stick in their hands.

This is not to say mothers never leave their children. It happens; yet there are more fatherless children than motherless children.

Anyanwu and Doro may be spirits and gods within the pages of Octavia’s gorgeous book, yet their argument says something about us all. Those with great power, must exercise great responsibility.


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