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    Tags: Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart, Things Fall Apart Review, Things Fall Apart summary   

    Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, Book Review 

    Things fall apart is a tragic novel by Nigerian author – Chinua Achebe. The book was first published in 1958. The motivation of the author to write the book might have arisen from the changes that were taking place in his society at the time. Things Fall Apart is set in Pre-colonial Nigeria and reflects the struggle between colonialism and African traditions. It is also part of a novel sequel, with the other novels by Achebe being: No Longer at Ease (1960), Arrow of God (1964), A man of the People (1966) and Anthills of the Savannah (1987).

    The story line of the novel follows the life of Okonkwo, who is the main character in the novel. The authors’ main aim in writing the novel is to cut a clear picture of the inevitability of change in human life. The author further shows how the embrace or rejection of change can either lead to a positive or negative growth pattern in society. Okonkwo has a great desire to be regarded as a man in his society and masculine in all ways; he identifies himself only with attributes of strength and does not tolerate any form of weakness. Chinua Achebe begins his novel with part of a poem:

     Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

    TURNING and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,



    The poem communicates clearly on the inevitability of change. It sets out the stage for the events that follow in the entire novel.

    Things Fall Apart Analysis of Plot, themes, style and characters

    Plot: Chinua Achebe effectively uses plot in the communication of his message to the recipients. The novel is divided into three parts. Each part of the novel marks a significant turnover of events in the life of Okonkwo – the leading character in the novel. The author has used the life of Okonkwo in all dimensions, to bring to life the message he hopes to put across. The first part of the novel marks Okonkwos’ success and rise to fame. He achieves many titles in his community and succeeds in casting off his fathers’ tainted legacy; that of failure and shame.

    The second part of the novel marks a change in the life of Okonkwo. He kills a fellow Kinsman and is forced into exile-Mbanta (his motherland), as per the customs of his community (Umuofia). He is banished from his community for seven years. All that Okonkwo had worked hard to achieve was ‘falling-apart’. The image of his father; that of an indolent, poor man, and which he had almost succeeded in casting off, was slowly catching up with him. Once in his motherland, Okonkwo starts all over again in the process of rebuilding his life. This marks the second part of the novel. In the last part, he heads back to Umuofia, only to find major changes have taken place. There is the presence of the ‘white-man’, settling among the ‘Umuofians’. In a feat of resistance to change, Okonkwo kills a messenger from the authorities. At the end, Okonkwo ends up taking his own life other that accepting change. He submits to the same end which he had always fought against – that of shame and defeat.

    Themes: In terms of the themes explored by the author, a number of them can be identified. Apart from the inevitability of change, the author has also explored themes such as superstitions.

    Style: The speaker in the novel is all knowing and employs omniscient narration in the description of the events unfolding in the novel. Nothing is hidden from the eye of the narrator, which enables him to explore the characters and events going on in the novel effectively.

    Characters: There are a number of characters that are used by the author to relay his message in the novel. Okonkwo (major character), Unoka (Okonkwos’ father), Nwoye (Okonkwos’ son), Ezinma (Okonkwos’ daughter) and ikemefuna (Okonkwos’ adopted son). [Compare the Okonkwo character with Eugene in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus.]

    The author has succeeded in using all the tools at his disposal (plot, style,characters e.t.c) in his effort to develop themes and message in the novel. He has effectively made use of form and structure to clearly communicate the development of events in his novel.

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    Tags: Purple Hibiscus, Purple Hibiscus Book Review, Purple Hibiscus Summary   

    Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Book Review 

    Purple Hibiscus is carefully crafted and presented through form and content relevant to the African context. The author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, made her debut as an author through the publication of this novel. Purple Hibiscus was published in 2003, which set the stage for publication of additional and captivating titles. Additional works by Chimamanda include Half of a Yellow Sun (2006), The Thing Around Your Neck (2009), Americanah (2013).

    Purple Hibiscus Summary

    Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie- Purple Hibiscus, african-literature.net

    Purple Hibiscus is Chimamanda’s debut novel.

    Purple Hibiscus narrates the story of Eugene and his family, where he is committed to raising the desirable model of a family. He opts for Christianity as the preferred religion for his family; though his wife, son and daughter are not given any room to choose their religious preferences. The novel begins with Papa’s violent eruption during family time, an event which is later explained toward the end of the novel. This gives the author a unique opportunity to portray the well-rounded picture of events unfolding in the story line. Eugene is married to Beatrice, and together they have a son (Chukwuka Achike) and a daughter (Kambili). The story is told through Kambili’s eyes, giving the reader a clear and unbiased view of all events, character’s perspectives and relationships in the novel. Eugene’s family environment is ‘closed’ from the rest of the world, as Kambili and Achike/Jaja have little to no room for social and emotional growth. The emotional and social suppression in the family takes a toll on the children, who experience feelings of displacement and isolation in school and the extended family context. The situation in Eugene’s family changes when the children get the opportunity to visit their Aunt, Ifeoma, in the University town of Nsuka. Aunty Ifeoma raises her children as a single parent and works hard to provide for Amaka and her siblings. The environment in Nsuka lasts for a short while due to their father’s domineering style of parenting. However, the short stay causes a shift in the way Kambili and Jaja view social relationships, and they notice the distortion in socialization that has led to their current position. Aunty Ifeoma, Father Amadi and Amaka make significant contribution to Kambili’s emotional and social transformation. Jaja revolts against his father’s authoritative rule, which partly helps him affirm his position as a young man and only son in the family. Eugene’s emotional abuse toward his wife culminates into physical abuse toward the wife and children. Eugene’s wife poisons him. He dies a short while after the poisoning. Jaja, his son, takes responsibility for the crime, where he opts for jail-term on behalf of his mother. Jail-term hardens Jaja, who is seemingly transformed by the time he leaves prison. The mother uses the family inheritance to bribe her way to frequently visiting her son, the last of which involves the announcement of Jaja’s release. Kambili has also experienced transformation into a young and confident woman. Aunty Ifeoma continues to write letters from abroad, following her departure a few years earlier. Since Eugene’s death and the incarceration of her son, Beatrice has continually grown physically weak. She rarely initiates or takes part in communication, but shows signs of renewed life and alertness after the announcement of Jaja’s pending release from prison. Chimamanda highlights the culmination of political tension in the country, as the successful staging of a coup results in the change of the country’s leadership. Beatrice and her children have the promise of being re-united as the novel comes to a close.

    Purple Hibiscus Book Review

    The novel clearly communicates Chimamanda’s thoughts to her audience. Perhaps the outstanding feature present throughout the novel is the author’s fascination with beauty and attention to detail in each event. Flowers such as the Purple hibiscus (which is also the book’s title) Indian Jasmine, and the periwinkle flower are mentioned in some parts of the novel. Chimamanda describes the flowers’ beauty in detail, and with it establishes the femininity of her story line. Eugene represents the seemingly immortal domineering father figure. However, his position cannot remain unchallenged for long. His fate is seemingly meant to match that of Okonkwo, in the novel “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe. This is highly likely the case considering Chimamanda’s admiration of Achebe’s work on African culture and identity. Her opening line in the novel reads “Things started to fall apart…,” which is arguably a tribute to the mentor in African literary writing. In more ways than not, Eugene is an embodiment of Okonkwo, giving a timeless aspect to the social, economic and political issues that impact negatively on the African continent. The African contemporary space is vulnerable to retrogressive perspectives meted against Africans, which is clearly laid out in the novel. Chimamanda is skilled enough to satisfy the reader’s thirst for fiction, without detachment from the real issues that impact on the African social, economic and political environment. Eugene’s death, as captured towards the end of the novel, symbolically represents the death of oppression among the African people (in the person of Beatrice, Kambili and Jaja), which is further reinforced in the coup event in Nigeria. Aunty Ifeoma and her children represent the high price paid by those who choose to stand their ground against oppressive regimes and political influences. Politics is a significant force in the liberation of the African people. The themes addressed in the novel include;

    Religion; Chimamanda explores the double standards employed in some religious contexts. The basis of sincere and insincere religion is seemingly based on understanding religious obligations in context of the African culture. Father Amadi and Eugene offer highly contrasting examples of individuals involved in religious matters. The author makes an analysis of religion as a useful tool for socialization, which is also potentially manipulated for execution of selfish ambitions. Eugene’s cover-up with religion did not keep him from downfall, while Father Amadi’s practice of religion proved fruitful, offering Kambili the opportunity for healing and emotional growth as a young lady.

    Feminism; the author explores Beatrice’s ever-dominant but silent voice that holds the family together. Eugene’s actions work toward destruction of the family (such as severe beating of Kambili), while Beatrice is seemingly committed to collecting the pieces. Aunty Ifeoma is also featured as the anchor of her family, where she manages to raise it without the father’s help. Chimamanda’s occasional feature of beauty through flowers seemingly holds the peace in the midst of emotional suffering and emptiness in Eugene’s compound.

    The characters in Purple Hibiscus come to life through their interactions and relationships with fellow characters. Major and minor characters in the novel help in the development of the story line and presentation of the themes. Consider main characters such as Eugene and Kambili, and minor characters such as Amaka, Obiora and Chima. Each of the characters is an importance participant in the successful development of the plot.

    Chimamanda has positioned herself as one of the influential contemporary African writers. Her focus on the fictitious domain has given her the freedom of exploring and developing her creativity in the course of writing, while giving her the room for portrayal of African culture. Purple Hibiscus is a successful literary piece of writing, where the author makes significant contribution to the reclamation of African identity and culture. Themes relevant to the African context are clearly explored. The novel has set the stage for the author’s additional writing and engagement of the African literary audience.

    • palglade on Permalink | Reply

      This book is actually fascinating.I can see that continuity of Achebe’s literary artwork through writers like Chimamanda. so good.

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    Love’s Affliction by Fidelis O. Mkparu, book review 


    Loves Affliction; A tale of love and acceptance.Love’s Affliction by Fidelis O. Mkparu narrates on the experiences of Joseph Fafa. After he arrived in North Carolina in 1977 to attend college, he thought he had left violence behind in his native Nigeria, where the Biafran War claimed two members of his family. What he wasn’t expecting was to be attacked because his skin color was different than that of the young woman he was dating. In North Carolina, Joseph learns that being able to speak the “King’s English” doesn’t guarantee he’ll know when he is being insulted in the local vernacular—as when a young Southern black woman calls him an “Uncle Tom” for dating a white woman.

    So long as the relationship between Joseph and the beautiful ballerina Wendy Crane is strictly platonic, her wealthy and powerful family is willing to be tolerant. But when it becomes clear that Wendy wishes to take her friendship with the ambitious and high-achieving young premed student to a more intimate level, her father’s instincts as a Southern man of property and importance kick into high gear. James Crane lets Joseph know that he doesn’t mind the Nigerian dating American women—just so long as the woman isn’t his daughter. And when Joseph follows the advice of his heart and continues dating Wendy, he learns, too late, just how tenuous institutional promises can be. When Joseph’s acceptance into the college of medicine and promise of a scholarship are rescinded, he has only to read the name of the institution that has closed its doors to him: the Crane-University Medical Center.

    But even with Wendy, Joseph finds little peace. She is jealous of the attentions Joseph gave the beautiful Francesca after Wendy decamped the racial storms of North Carolina for France. And even though Francesca dumped him for a career as a swimsuit model, Wendy still distrusts the attention Joseph receives from Gina McRee, who may take her role as the foreign student’s mentor as being more than “sisterly.”

    Love’s Affliction tells the story of the three years Joseph Fafa of Nigeria spends in premed studies at a North Carolina college and how his love for the beautiful and talented daughter of a prestigious Southern family nearly destroys his dreams of becoming a doctor. When, twenty-nine years later, Joseph and Wendy’s paths cross again, they are able to look through past pains and misconceptions and accept their youthful love for what it was, a flare of illumination sparked by the clash between two cultures, leaving each of them better, wiser people.

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    Tags: The River and the Source, The River and the Source by Margaret Ogola Pdf, The River and the Source Novel, The River and the Source Pdf   

    The River and the Source by Margaret Ogola, book review 

    The River and the Source is among the few out-standing works tagged African literature. In this novel touching on family ties and continuity of the authentic African social fabric, Margaret Ogola exemplified her prowess in creative writing in a captivating and informative narrative. The River and the Source Novel was first published in 1994, and became the first among Margaret Ogola’s three notable novels. The novel is currently a literature study text in Kenya. Other literary works written by Margaret Ogola prior to her demise are: Cardinal Otunga: A Gift of Grace with Margaret Roche (1999); I Swear by Apollo (2002); Place of Destiny (2005). The novel “I Swear by Apollo” was written as a sequel to The River and The Source.

    Summary & Review

    The story-line in The River and The Source follows the inter-related lives of women across four generations. As evident in the novel, social changes occurring in the course of time has significant impact on the way the society views women, and accords them opportunities. Margaret Ogola successfully captures these changing perceptions over time, and eventually portrays the place of women in the modern African society. She skillfully shows how these experiences are more or less similar or related, though occurring in different time dispensations.

    The setting of the story is in Kenya, with the use of language and thematic concerns showing a deep appreciation of the Luo Culture. Moreover, the themes addressed in the story are applicable to the general African context. As the events is the story are set in the post-colonial period, the Margaret Ogola makes strong statements in relation to the advancement of women’s rights for the African context. Her feminist approach to writing does not look down at men in society, for the elevation of women’s status. On the contrary, the author’s creativity molds the African woman as innately strong, whose strength need only be acknowledged and therefore awakened. She steers clear of showing competition between men and women in African societies, and gives the idea that all can work together for mutual benefits.

    Margaret Ogola also shows the similarity of challenges experienced by women across time, where the different generations of women seemingly share in the experiences of oppression, and their ability of overcoming the oppressive lifestyle imposed on them. The length of the book does justice to the author’s intentions to tell her story. As you flip through the pages, which otherwise seem inexhaustible, you become more and more engaged with the story. The young African reader can easily relate with the imagery on African lifestyle, as depicted in the story. The general readership is easily captivated by the artistic narration of events, crowning Ogola as one of the prolific African writers in the past few decades. Margaret Ogola is therefore successful in her intentions to tell the story. She creatively informs on the plight of the African woman, and gives insight on her abilities wherever she is given the opportunity to perform.

    The themes, characters, setting and audience add taste to the narrative. The unfolding of events from one chapter to the next reveals the hidden patterns in the novel, which assist the author in telling her story. Hence, the plot of novel is divided into four parts;

    *Part 1: The Girl Child     *Part 2: The Art of Giving     *Part 3: Love and Life     *Part 4: Variable winds

    • Ng'ang'a Mwangi on Permalink | Reply

      Talk about Africans living outside the orbits of capitalism, and the dynamics of life. This and other issues can be found in this text. A must read I would say.

      • African-literature on Permalink | Reply

        Thank you Ng’ang’a Mwangi for your contribution. Find more book reviews on the site and feel free to share your thoughts.

    • Keshi on Permalink | Reply

      Am reading this reviews and they are captivating. The book is an indicator that a woman can stand strong without putting a man down. Positive feminism is real

    • Kakayaw Kazbeky on Permalink | Reply

      Am reading it and I just realised the place of a girl child or a woman in a society is very important thanks a lot GOD BLESS

      • JASPER NDEMO on Permalink | Reply

        God bless in all your live with your hardworking

    • Kakayaw Kazbeky on Permalink | Reply

      Am reading it and I have just realised the place of a girl child or a woman in a society is very important thanks a lot GOD BLESS

    • Enock Nyamcti Ochanda on Permalink | Reply

      I thank God for letting Dr. Margret Ogola to introduce the novel ‘The River and The Source’ of which I did it in my Form Four course year 2014. I enjoyed the novel daytime and at night and even my leisure time.

    • Erick muchangi(atom) on Permalink | Reply

      Indeed this is my best novel ever.The numerous pages which make the story to flow logically keep the reader in touch with the book.CONGRATULATIONS DR MARGARET OGOLA!!

    • Joshua musyoka on Permalink | Reply

      The best book ever and I also thank God for letting DR MARGRET OGOLA to write a great novel like this long live the great Margret Ogola!!!!

    • miriam jedidah on Permalink | Reply

      Ithank God for grading Margaret A.Ogola with knowledge to write such interesting novel….

    • Christine Oyugi on Permalink | Reply

      The novel is a great work of African lit. it embodies the resilience of the African woman. I appreciate the review, as it makes useful highlights of the text. bdw I swear by Apollo is another fantastic work. once you have read The Rivera and the Source, its plot really falls in place, making it a very intriguing read

    • palglade on Permalink | Reply

      This is so great , am encouraged and motivated as a novice writer. Our writers have a beautiful way of presenting their incredible information. looking forward to reading more of the reviews.

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    Tags: analysis of the successor by Francis Imbuga, Summary of the successor by Francis Imbuga   

    Analysis of “The successor” by Francis Imbuga 

    Summary and Review

    The Successor, a play by Francis Imbuga, focuses on the themes of human greed and the role of the supernatural in determining the course of our lives. Character- being a major aspect in drama has been used by the author as the vehicle with which he has relayed his desire message. The writer has used different characters in his play to convey different messages.

    Characters that are found in the play are; Chief Jandi, Diviner See Through, Zira, Ademola, Demokola, Chief Oriomra, Segasega, Emperor Chonda, Chief Sasia, Kaisia, Kaliyesa, Vunami, Rita and Akiuso. The major characters in the play are; Chief Jandi, Emperor Chonda, Zira, Kaisia, Oriomra and the Diviner See Through.

    The Successor by Francis ImbugaThe play is divided into two parts, each of which is divided into a number of scenes. Each of the parts presents a new stage in the development of the play’s plot. In the first part of the plot, the audience is introduced to the various characters in the play. The audience has the chance of learning about the nature of each of the characters and the role that each of them play in the development of the plot. The second part of the play opens with a new task for the Emperor of Masero (Emperor Chonda), where he has been accorded the task of naming a successor to the throne.

    Apart from the themes of greed and the role of the supernatural in determining the course of our lives, other themes that the author of the play has dealt with include; materialism, social relationships and the struggle for political positions. Suggest more themes for this summary.

    The author has also used a number of devices, which have enabled him to convey his message. Some of the devices which he has used include; Irony, humour, songs and suspense.

    The author has used all the aspects at his disposal; characters and stylistic devices, so as to be able to convey his desired message, and has thus been successful in communicating his message and also using literature as a tool for both entertainment and education.

    • victor kipchumba on Permalink | Reply

      can you dicuss ten stylistic devices in this novel by francis imbuga

      • mbithe mary on Permalink | Reply

        Thanks for the summary but please discuss themes .
        Thank you

    • victor kipchumba on Permalink | Reply

      please discuss ten stylistic devices used in this novel

      • African-literature on Permalink | Reply

        Thank you for your comment. We will include the desired information in this summary.

    • samson saimi on Permalink | Reply

      please give the character traits of the characters in the successor by francis imbuga

    • Damaris on Permalink | Reply

      The analysis is so awesome but too brief!!

    • African-literature on Permalink | Reply

      Thank you all, for your continued and useful contributions to this review. We have noted the need for additional information in the review. We are working on the information and will add it soon.


    • Judy Chepkoech on Permalink | Reply

      How do characterization confirm to the aesthetics used by the author in The Successor

    • Aisling on Permalink | Reply

      How would you relate the writing with oral literature

  • African-literature on Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Scarlet song pdf, Scarlet song Summary   

    Scarlet Song by Mariama Ba, Summary and Book Review 

    Plot Summary

    Scarlet Song Novel by Mariama BaThe novel, Scarlet Song, by Mariama Ba, focuses on the theme of love, and narrates the story of two youngsters. Ousmane Gueye (a Senegalese) and Mireille (daughter of a French diplomat). The two young people are from highly diverse backgrounds, but are bound together by love.

    At the beginning of the novel, the reader is introduced to Ousmane Gueye. The writer gives a description of the kind of environment he grew up in – a humble background. Mireille, however, has different experiences in life. As the daughter of a French diplomat, her life is rather fair.

    The novel is divided into three main parts. Each of the parts is further divided into several smaller sections. Each main part of the novel presents a major milestone for the couple’s relationship.

    Ousmane Gueye is from a humble Muslim family and has overcome numerous challenges to acquire education. Mireille, on the other hand is from an affluent home, and literally had everything she desired materially, while growing up. Neither the difference in their worlds, nor the animosity arising from both families towards each other, succeeds in drawing them apart.After a separation that lasted for a number of years, the two get married and settle down in Senegal.

    The novel, however, ends on a sad note, as Ousmane has an affair with Ouleymatou (a childhood friend). On discovering the double standard life Ousmane is leading, Mireille becomes mentally unstable and kills their young child. She also goes on and stabs Ousmane several times. The story ends with her deportation to France.

    Setting, Characters, & Themes

    The novel is set in different locations, among which, the major ones include; Rural African setting, Institution of Higher Learning and Urban environments. Each of the different settings is of significance in the development of the novels’ plot.

    There are a number of characters in the novel, among which the major ones are; Ousmane Gueye and Mireille. Other characters in the novel include; Yaye Khady (Ousmane’s mother), Djibril Gueye (Ousmane’s father), Ouleymatou (Ousmane’s childhood friend and later on, wife), and Mireille’s father and mother.

    The writer adopts an Omniscient narrator’s voice throughout the novel. This enables the reader to have an all round view of the events that take place in the novel.The author’s use of language has also enabled her to give the novel an authentic African taste. There are a number of words in the novel, which are written in Arabic. This is an additional attempt at reflecting the culture of the community in focus.

    Apart from the theme of love, which is the major theme in the novel, other themes that the writer highlights include; racial animosity, traditions versus modernity, Education and Betrayal.

    Book Review

    Mariama Ba ranks among prolific writers of the past and current century. She not only writes about the authentic African experience. She explores the struggles and experiences of a ‘special’ category of Africans. Mariama Ba explores the place of women as having a special place in the African society.

    Indeed, most of the struggles facing the African woman are highlighted in the novel. Some of the experiences she writes about can be linked with Mariama Ba’s personal life and struggles as a woman in the African context. As a Feminist writer, she skillfully and artistically illuminated the role of women in the largely patriarchal African society.

    As Mariama Ba writes from her experiences as an African woman, the majority of women share in her sentiments concerning struggle and recognition of women in Africa. Mariama Ba’s depiction of women is comparable to that of Margaret Ogola, in the novel The River and the Source.

    Mariama Ba has been successful in her efforts of informing the reader about the predicament facing different classes of individuals within her society. At the same time ensuring that the reader remains captivated throughout the novel.

    • Mykie Omosh on Permalink | Reply

      so intresting , please forward the notes of the whole book including Themes and characters to my email, thanks

    • magdaline nzilani ngumi on Permalink | Reply

      nice to read..good wok Mariana Ba

    • Susan kagendo kilonzo on Permalink | Reply

      The novel is very interesting

    • Martin on Permalink | Reply

      I like the book..please forward the notes of the whole book including Themes and characters to my email.

    • morine on Permalink | Reply

      nice novel send the whole book in my email please

      • kuku on Permalink | Reply

        if u have gotten the book can u pliz send it to my emails as well

    • lalaito on Permalink | Reply

      very interesting book,congratulations Mariama Ba.wish to get all the notes to my email including the themes and styles

    • John on Permalink | Reply

      so nyc en interesting

    • Glory on Permalink | Reply

      Please send me the break down of themes and stylistic devices of this .in my email…God bless the work of your hands

    • Ezra Karuoya Maina on Permalink | Reply

      Indeed it is a nice story. It plays a critical role in enlightening the contemporary society about the place of woman in the society. Nice work. Rest in peace Mariama Ba

    • Kitui N Betty on Permalink | Reply

      Good work Mariama Ba,can you plz send me summary of the whole book

  • African-literature on Permalink | Reply
    Tags: elechi amadi quotes, elechi amadi sunset in biafra, elechi amadi the concubine   

    The Concubine by Elechi Amadi, Book Review 

    Summary and Review

    The Concubine by Elechi AmadiThe concubine is a fictitious novel by Nigerian author Elechi Amadi. The novel was first published in 1966 after which the author published a number of other literary works; some of which include: The Great Ponds (1969), Sunset in Biafra (1973), The Slave (1978) and Estrangement (1986). It is however, this novel (The Concubine) which stands as the authors’ crowning achievement.

    The title of the book The concubine is symbolic as its meaning is only revealed to the reader in the closing chapters of the novel. It becomes clear that ‘the concubine’ is none other than Ihuoma – a beautiful lady and the main character in the novel.

    The concubine has its setting in rural Nigeria, as the author makes an effort to depict the African traditional Way of life in its totality; its religious, social, cultural and even economic practices. A number of Nigerian rural villages are mentioned by the author, all of which aid in building the African authenticity of the novel.

    The storyline of the novel revolves around the main character- Ihuoma, a beautiful and equally attractive lady in her village. She gains admiration by all and sundry , not only for Her beauty but how gracefully she conducts herself in everything she does. At the beginning of the novel, we get introduced to to Ihuoma as married to Emenike.

    Emenike had succeeded to get Ihuoma’s hand in marriage after another young man – Madume, had failed to win Ihuoma’s acceptance. Madumes’ rejection by Ihuoma and her consequent marriage to Emenike causes a deep-seated hatred in Madume towards Emenike. Later on an argument over a piece of land results to a fight between Emenike and Madume. Emenike succumbs to wounds resulting from the fight and dies of ‘chest lock’.

    Madume suffers guilt for being responsible for the death of a Kinsman. It is easy to associate Emenikes’ death to fate considering that he is a husband to Ihuoma and ‘protector of his home’.
    Madume sees the death of Emenike as an opportunity to woo Ihuoma. She however refuses his advances which results to Madume harassing her. On a particular day, Madume tries to stop Ihuoma from harvesting crops on the piece of land that had caused an argument between him and Emenike. In the process a snake – cobra, spits into his eyes, resulting to blindness.

    At this point, it becomes clear that a power, stronger than that of a human is behind Ihuoma. Ekwueme is another young man who tries to woo Ihuoma after Emenikes’ death. Ihuoma tries to discourage Ekwueme, since she already has children and he is younger than her. After tirelessly trying to win Ihuomas’ approval over and over, Ekwueme is unsuccessful and eventually marries Ahurole, who is betrothed to him in childhood. A marriage devoid of love towards Ahurole leaves Ekwueme ‘empty’ and ‘lonely’ and still attracted to Ihuoma. Ahurole feels distanced from her husband – Ekwueme, and decides to administer a love charm to him, as per her mothers’ advice. The ‘medicine’ has a negative effect on Ekwueme, who turns mentally unstable and desires being with Ihuoma even the more.

    Meanwhile, Madume becomes unable to cope with his predicament – blindness, and decides to end his life; which is an abomination in his community. On the other hand, Ekwueme recovers from his sickness after being granted the permission to marry Ihuoma. Prior to the wedding, ‘divine inquiry’ is made, which reveals that Ihuoma – is a concubine to a ‘Sea –King’. The divine being is behind the deaths surrounding Ihuomas’ suitors – as a result of jealousy. Despite of the revelation of the impending misfortune, Ekwueme and Ihuoma consider it too late to reverse their relationship and thus go ahead with their wedding preparations. During the wedding preparations, Ekwueme is short by a stray arrow, shot by Ihuomas’ son during play. Ekwueme succumbs to the arrow wound and dies. Ihuoma is left devasted and wishes for her own death. The novel ends with Ihuoma in a state of devastation.


    The author has explored a number of themes in the novel among which the major ones are; role of the supernatural on human lives. Supernatural forces are evidently seen to have an upper hand on human relationships and have control the course that such relationships take. This evidenced in the novel, where the ‘Sea-King’ has a hold on Ihuomas’ life and eliminates all who try or succeed in winning her love. In line with the theme on the role of divinities on human lives, is the theme of superstition. Superstitions were common in tradition African societies and seen in the novel when community members consult mediums before undertaking various quests.

    The theme of love is also explored in the novel by the author. Emphasis is on how strong love is. The author depicts love posing a challenge to the supernatural forces surrounding Ihuomas’ life. Love is expressed through various suitors to Ihuoma, while the supernatural forces take the form of the ‘Sea-King’. Ekwueme is certain of his fate if he marries Ihuoma, but goes on, driven by love.


    There are a number of characters in the novel, among which are;

    Ihuoma; a lady and the leading character in the novel
    Emenike; Ihuomas’ husband at the beginning of the novel
    Madume; One of the rejected suitors, by Ihuoma and husband to Wolu
    Ekwueme; A young man and suitor to Ihuoma
    Ahurole; A beautiful lady from Omigwe and wife to Ekwueme

    • nawonga lungu on Permalink | Reply

      He was my most favourite African novelist .His portrayal of the African village way of life is second to none.I am feeling so sad I lost all his novelks I bought and they are difficult to find here in Zambia.However, the Great Ponds stands out to be my greatest novel by Amadi.I juxtapose it with Homer’s Illiad.

    • Manju Kabba on Permalink | Reply

      A friend of mine informed me about the death of Elichi Amadi a day after his demise. Sorrow griped me devastatingly not because Elichi, one of Africa’s finest and perhaps the most prolific writer, is dead but because of the difficulty of having someone in our midst again like Elichi Amadi. Elichi lives on in his book The Concubine. His ability to portray an African culture within the perspective of Nigerian setting is magnificient and wholistic in his literary works. What a great lost.

    • Manju Kabba on Permalink | Reply

      A friend of mine informed me about the death of Elichi Amadi a day after his demise. Sorrow griped me devastatingly not because Elichi, one of Africa’s finest and perhaps the most prolific writer, is dead but because of the difficulty of having someone in our midst again like Elichi Amadi. Elichi lives on in his book The Concubine. His ability to portray an African culture within the perspective of Nigerian setting is not only amazing but equally magnificient and wholistic in his literary works. What a great lost.

    • Ronoh charles on Permalink | Reply

      I studied this novel when I was in high school and it was interesting. I see it like yesterday though it is 22yrs ago. I was shocked by the death of Elechi, may God rest him in peace. Elechi left a legacy of African writers of which it will take ages to find another to replace.

    • John Rubangura on Permalink | Reply

      the most interesting and wisdom packed novel, maybe the best ever composed fiction that leaves you with all the expectations and sympathy for the characters as if they were real human beings.

    • victoria noel on Permalink | Reply

      The novel is so interesting but i wish you to send some copies to our school.

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