Ogadinma by Ukamaka Olisakwe

Review: Ogadinma by Ukamaka Olisakwe

Ogadinma: Or, Everything Will Be Fine is a charged exploration of life as a growing woman in Nigeria.

The book explored the interplay of socio-economic and political factors and showed—in great and painful detail–how this unwieldy medley could disrupt an individual’s life.

Written with the staunch honesty and the unique bluntness characteristic of African literature, this book will spark great conversations.

To tell the story of Ogadinma, the eponymous protagonist, is almost like rehashing the familiar stories of many people around the continent: a young girl deceived and sexually abused: a young girl bearing the seed of that unlawful act who is forced to terminate it in the most abominable of ways: a young girl discarded by her family upon the revelation of the abortion: and a young girl once again caught in the trap of a manipulative older man.

Despite the rather heavy themes, I found myself perversely comforted by the familiar story. I especially liked that it was written in a decidedly Nigerian fashion—without any of the unnecessary explanations. It was, in a word, unapologetically Nigerian.

I appreciated how the author did not shy away from using our local lingo, inserting our culture, depicting even the most inane customs, and down to our unique mannerisms.

The prose was languid, stretching luxuriously over the expanse of paper, and I gobbled it up in less than five hours. It was a quick read—just under 210 pages—but it definitely packed a punch.

My heart beat in tandem with the protagonist and I watched the plot unfold with great curiosity and a growing sense of dread.

Over the course of my reading, Ogadinma became a character to commiserate with—a character that I could not turn ignore. Battered, bruised, and almost bludgeoned, she still made her way through the tight thicket. She is definitely a character to remember.

That said, my favourite part of the book was witnessing Ogadinma’s growth from a defenceless teen to a bold young woman. I struggled with understanding her decisions, but told myself that I was not in any place to judge her. To an extent, what mattered was that for the first time in her life, she chose to make herself a priority.

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