BOOK TITLE: Ogadinma Or, Everything Will Be Alright.
AUTHOR: Ukamaka Olisakwe
PUBLISHER: The Indigo Press
BOOK BLURB: Ogadinma Or, Everything Will be All Right tells the story of the naïve and trusting teenager Ogadinma as she battles against Nigeria’s societal expectations in the 1980s.
After a rape and unwanted pregnancy leave her exiled from her family in Kano, thwarting her plans to go to university, she is sent to her aunt’s in Lagos and pressured into a marriage with an older man. When their whirlwind romance descends into abuse and indignity, Ogadinma is forced to channel her independence and resourcefulness to escape a fate that appears all but inevitable.
The first thing I noted in my book of reviews was that I love the name Ogadinma which means, ‘everything will be alright’. I found that it was an apt name for the book.
I also enjoyed the flow of the book. I travelled to Nigeria through this book. I saw the 1980s sights and sounds of Kano state and Lagos. The writer employs vivid imagery in her writing. If I were to tell a budding author about the ‘show and don’t tell’ rule of writing, I would point them to this book.
The book follows the journey of Ogadinma. It is written in the third person but it solely follows Ogadinma. At 17, she is painfully naïve and is perhaps the most frustrating character I’ve read to date. I had to remind myself several times that this is a girl living in a man’s world, in the 80s. Her worth is defined by the men around her; the man who rapes her, the one who marries her, her father, a particularly dirty pastor, who made me want to enter the pages of the book and beat him up.
I think what I found most frustrating is that Ogadinma is passive in the first half of the book. She was herded from her father to a man who said he could help her get into university, to her uncle’s house. But as frustrating as she was, my blood boiled at all the people that took advantage of her. At some point I even broke down in tears at all that was happening to her.
What is sad is that this story is not very different from many of the stories we hear today. Ogadinma’s story is not very different from many of the girls in this predominantly patriarchal Africa. Though set in the 80s, Ogadinma is an uncomfortable look at today’s society. This book highlighted something that I feel warrants mentioning, women really are the keepers of patriarchy.
For the African woman who’s life is dictated by the men. Who is told to stay in an abusive marriage even when her life is in danger, because of the perception of people. Who is blamed for the failings of her husband. This book shines a light on all this and more. I am not sure who is in charge of bestowing the title of ‘classic’ on books, but by the powers vested in me, by myself, I call this book the classic.
I enjoyed getting to learn about 80s Nigeria. Fiction books set in a particular time period bring alive that time and help us see that world through a character’s eyes. A standing ovation to the authors who do this. It was through House of Stone that I learnt about the Gukurahundi genocide. Through Half of Yellow Sun, I learnt about the Biafran war and it is through this book that I learnt about the military rule in 80s Nigeria.
I loved this book.