Ogadinma by Ukamaka Olisakwe

Genre Fiction

Blurb “Ogadinma Or, Everything Will be All Right tells the story of the naïve and trusting 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. As their whirlwind romance descends into abuse and indignity, Ogadinma is forced to channel her independence and resourcefulness to escape a fate which appears all but inevitable.

Ogadinma, the UK debut by Ukamaka Olisakwe, introduces a heroine for whom it is impossible not to root, and announces the author as a gifted chronicler of the patriarchal experience.”

Dialogue Written in English with smatterings of Igbo.

Themes Feminism, Domestic Violence, Societal Expectations, Self-Actualisation, Post-Partum Depression and Family.

Editing Some errors.

Plot Ogadinma follows the story of a girl named Ogadinma who was forced by circumstances to abandon her dream of furthering her education. She lives the comfort of home with her father in Kano to start a new life in Lagos as a child bride where she goes through a harrowing experience.

What worked? Ogadinma is a fictional story set in 1980s Nigeria. It follows the 17-year-old Ogadinma from Kano to Lagos. The story is written in third person employing a descriptive style which transports one to 1980s Nigeria with its dysfunctional military government and socio-economic problems.

The book explores thematic issues on societal expectations and gender roles. Ogadinma’s story is gut wrenching as we read about the difficulties she experiences in Kano with Barrister Chima and later her father and then, in Lagos with Tobe, her husband. Throughout the story, we see the effect of a patriarchal society on the lives of the characters.

One thing which worked in this book was that the secondary characters were real and relatable. It was easy to close your eyes and imagine these characters in real life behaving in a way that was consistent with their ‘stations in life’. The rigidity of Ogadinma’s father; the sauciness of her cousin, Ifeoma; the empathy of her cousin, Nnanna and the boisterousness of her friend Ejiro.

Another notable thing about this book is that it touches on post-partum depression which is something that is not really discussed in Nigerian novels. In fact, in all the books we have reviewed over the years, only Sacking the Potter discusses this issue.

Ogadinma is an engaging read which is easy to follow. The end of the book seemed abrupt yet it suggested the possibility of a sequel.

What didn’t work? The one thing which let this story down was the author’s voice. It was overpowering and lacked nuance. Ukamaka seemed to be speaking for her main character and so the subtlety that would have enhanced the storytelling was lacking.

The other issue with the book was the inconsistent characterisation of Ogadinma. The idea seemed to be that she would evolve from a naïve girl into a self-assured woman but this transition was not smooth and she seemed to be oscillating between these two positions in the story. Ogadinma seemed to make choices even in the worst situations she found herself in. For example, her desire to further her education made her choose to endure abuse without considering any other alternative.

Number of pages 269

Publisher Masobe Books

Damage N4,000 at Roving Heights

Rating 6.5/10

Ogadinma is available on Amazon and local bookstores.

3 replies

  1. Great review!
    This has been in my TRP for months, but I’m really scared of reading anything with so much trauma right now.
    Hopefully, I’ll muster the courage to read it some day.

    Liked by 1 person