Book Review: Ogadinma by Ukamaka Olisakwe

Book Title:  Ogadinma 
Genre: Fiction
Author:  Ukamaka Olisakwe
Publisher:  Masobe Books
Year of Publication:  2021
Number of Pages: 266
ISBN: 978-978-57645-6-7
Reviewer: Tola Ijalusi

Book Review

Ogadinma is the story of triumph, a story of Ogadinma’s journey to liberation and self-discovery. A story that stands for the voice of many Nigerian women who has faced abuse, and patriarchal oppression. A true Nigerian story. 

A good girl of 17 who want to study Literature at the University went to see Barrister Chima for assistance in gaining admission but the rich lawyer took advantage of her, thwarting her dreams and giving her some money to ‘take care of yourself’ which Ogadinma later used to have an illegal abortion. Barrister Chima’s cruelty towards Ogadinma was not once but happened repeatedly while Ogadinma being naive, and wanting to go to school gave her body up.

“There was a moment when a scream came to her throat, but she clamped her lips shut. She would be going to the university. She would get into the best university. She would study Literature, and all of this would no longer matter. She spoke these words to herself, even when her body stretched and a sharp pain travelled through her waist.” – Page 18  

Ogadinma suffered complications after the abortion, she was hospitalized and this brought her father to the knowledge of the abortion. 

“She sat up. Her father was standing by the door. A nurse walked into the room. Her face bore judgement. Ogadinma knew then that they had found out, that her father had found out. She lay back in bed and shut her eyes, and then she wished for the floor to cave in and swallow her.” – Page 29

Ogadinma’s father was unhappy about the pregnancy and disapproved of the abortion. 

“You went and got pregnant, and then killed the child. Under my roof?” – Page 30

He punished her by beating her, a practice which is still common in Nigeria and sent her to live in Lagos. The reason for sending her to Lagos was later found out when Aunty Ngozi played a matchmaker between her younger brother Tobe and Ogadinma whose age difference is eighteen years apart. 

Ogadinma’s marriage with Tobe began on an exciting note only to change when there was a turnaround for Tobe. Tobe turned her into a punching bag, Ogadinma being brave enough fled to her Father in Kano only to be returned by her Father to Lagos. Uncle Ekene spoke wisdom to Tobe disapproving of his attitude towards Ogadinma. 

“Let me tell you: we are your family. And if we fail to tell you your sins to your face, people will mock us. So we will tell you the truth: you have behaved like a mad man and it is the family that bears the shame because the mad man does not comprehend the concept of shame.” – Page 152

The lesson in Ogadinma is not for women only but also men. From not making sexual advances toward girls such as in the case of Ifeoma who put a teacher in his place to be more of Ifeoma’s brother, who chose to respect the choices of Ogadinma and even cooked with her. This novel should help put men in the proper perspective about masculine dominance and the toxic disparity between men and women. 

The novel brings to the page the ash reality of what many Nigerian women have been going through in their marriage and gives a simpler definition of feminism. Ukamaka Oliskwe with Ogadinma stands out as a contemporary Nigerian female writer who has the voice of this present time and gifted craft of writing as every page of her book echoes. 

Ukamaka Oliskwe expressed richly the Nigerian Igbo Culture, tradition and language in her book bringing the readers into a close encounter with the Igbo songs and foods. With an easy to comprehend narrative and common diction, the author tells a story that paints hope for everyone who needs to find a stand and escape from societal expectations and patriarchy. Ogadinma is a story to draw strength from as Ogadinma gave us her paths as an example towards freedom. 

Ukamaka Oliskwe is the winner of Sprinng Women Author Prize 2021. A prize dedicated to Nigerian female authors who have published exceptional books. A well-deserved win for Ukamaka and a call for further contribution of Nigerian female writers to feminism in Nigerian Literature and the world at large.

About the Author

Tola Ijalusi is the Founder of Parousia Magazine, a Christian Arts and Literary Magazine.

He is a Creative Writer, Poet, and Reviewer. His literary works have been widely published in journals and magazines such as SprinNG, Africa in Dialogue, Kalahari Review, Prachaya Review, Poetry Pacific, Kreative Diadem, Indian Periodicals etc. His works has also appeared in several anthologies including Wreaths for a Wayfarer: An Anthology of Poems in Honour Pius Adesanmi.

He serves as a Mentor in the annual SprinNG Writing Fellowship.

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