Death comes to us all. When I picked up this book, I was looking for fiction. Something new, something that wasn’t on my radar, and so I did something different, I walked into a mainstream bookshop. I was due to have lunch with my brother but decided to go shopping before meeting him at our chosen steakhouse. However, as I got into town and walked in and out of the shops, something tugged at the strings of my heart and told me to go into a bookshop instead. After all, it was a few days after payday, and though I had spent my allowed money for books, I did not mind building up my library.

I walked into the bookshop and there this was, and I had no choice but to pick it up, go into a coffee shop and get lost within. It is amazing that I have thought about death over the past few years a lot more than I ever have in my life. I think as I have grown older, and dare I say a little wiser, I have become aware of the absolute certainty that is mortality. I do not want to be immortal, and I do not wish to be forever young, I just want to do the best with the time I am given. Yet, I did not realise that I would learn more about death as I did reading; ‘when breath becomes air’.

I do not want to be immortal.... I just want to do the best with the time I am given. Click To Tweet

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image credit: thisisafrica.me

image credit: thisisafrica.me

Chigozie Obioma’s book  ’The Fishermen’, is one I will never forget. His, his ability to imprint an image in the mind of the reader is not matched. He has been called the ‘son of Achebe’, I have to agree. Obioma had imprinted the image of mad-man Abulu, and I think I will need a purgative to get him out.

Obioma tells the tale of a young family. Four brothers left to themselves after their father’s work transfer began to entertain themselves. They became fishermen against all sound warnings. Ater one encounter with the town’s mad man, havoc ensues in their family. One statement from a man declared insane turned brothers into enemies and children became strangers to their parents.

Abulu, the madman, told Ikenna the first son that one of his brothers will kill him. This became a self-fulfilling prophecy, as he became obstructive at home and antagonistic to his brother. Boja his younger brother took this behaviour personally, and the conflict reached a boiling point. The death of both boys was an inevitable occurrence as a result of Ikenna’s desire to accept the ramblings of a mad man.

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Polygamy! An integral part of Nigerian history and culture. Polygamy, not limited to the illiterate, not refused by the educated. Polygamy, is it really the right of an African man? Lola Shoneyin tells the tale of Bolanle an educated young woman, brought up in a ‘Christian home’, who agrees to become the fourth wife of Baba Segi. A Yoruba man. A Nigerian man. A man who allows lust to become his undoing. (more…)

Credit: Henry lee battle- this too shall pass

Credit: Henry lee battle- this too shall pass

Sefi Atta! What can I say? A beautifully written and absolutely engaging novel that captivates the mind of the reader. Everything good will come is packed with so much action that the rapid reader may easily omit a few pivotal moments. These moments reveal Mike and his philandering ways, Enitan’s stint in prison, and the beauty that is conveyed in the restoration of a mother-daughter relationship.

Rape, I hate that word. Enitan was exposed to the violence and pain that results when men take what they want without hesitation. Enitan witnessed the rape of her childhood friend Sheri. Like many girls her age Sheri wanted to feel older than she was, but like many girls before her, when pain came, she cowered her head in shame. Nigerian society is not routinely designed to favour and defend the woman, and when it does, pity is all it offers. Sheri as a Nigerian girl knew this, she did what many girls had done before her, she inserted a clothing hanger into her womb. She wanted to expel an unwanted child. I grew up hearing tales of clothes hangers that found their way into the wombs of girls, yet reading Sheri’s story was fresh and palpable in some way. She became barren as a result, a barren woman is not a woman by Nigerian standards. (more…)

Credit: kentaro-art.com

Credit: kentaro-art.com

I remember the first time I heard the title of this book. I had initially giggled to myself as I considered the use of that phrase as the title of a novel. It is a catchy phrase. It is a well known phrase. It’s also a phrase that may cause some pain. History tells that when Nigerian’s had demanded the removal of Ghanian immigrants in the 80s, the Ghanians were forced to use the red, blue and white plastic bags to gather their belongings. Hence the term for the bags, ‘Ghana must go’. I had assumed that the book would relate to Ghana in some way. I assumed that it would tell the tale of the suffering of the displaced Ghanians. Instead, it told a different tale. A tale of suffering and displacement nonetheless. (more…)

Image credit: http://holaafrica.org

Image credit: http://holaafrica.org

I cried and cried again, as I turned my gaze away from the pages of this captivating book. My eyes were heavy, my vision was blurred but my heart could see as bright as day. Tales of suffering told so eloquently. Words that flow so easily from page to heart. Kilanko delivers a tale so common to many, experiences endured, yet our lips stay hushed. We have been told “we are female we shouldn’t speak.” Somehow, women are expected to endure suffering. Mothers pass on this legacy of burdensome living to their daughters. Morayo’s mother was hurting but she couldn’t vocalise or communicate her sadness in a way her daughter would understand. Her silence hurt Morayo. Her words cut her as well. We must all learn that our words should not be for our speaking, but their listening.

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Domestic abuse is a world wide phenomenon. Both men and women suffer, though more light is shed upon the abuse of women because they are the most susceptible victims. It is interesting that the average human being does not believe abuse is right, yet when faced with the situation many of us respond in an unexpected way. I was 12 and he was 12, we were in boarding school and I promise you, I did not see the slap coming. I wasn’t dazed, I just wanted to fight back, but I didn’t have that opportunity. Over the years, many people have said that it is forgivable for a 2 year old as he doesn’t know better, but a 12 year old should have. But what about a 30 year old.

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From the moment I held this book in my hands I knew it would be powerful, and insightful. However, I never quite managed to get to reading it straight away, and when I did, I didn’t complete it in 40 days like Rick Warren suggests. When I finally arrived at the final chapter and he mentions the completion of a 40 day journey, something in me sighed, a weight pulling my heart down saying how I wish. But hope was not lost; because what I gained was great, my journey was just beginning, my purpose yet to be uncovered and the wealth of knowledge about to be shared. (more…)