Category: African culture

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

Summary

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 When Joseph’s acceptance into the college of medicine and promise of a scholarship are rescinded, he has only to read the name of the institution that has closed its doors to him: the Crane-University Medical Center.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.

The River and the Source by Margaret Ogola, book review

The River and The Source

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

Themes

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.

Characters

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

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