Book Review: “Nwaekeamadi” as classic historical fiction

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By Ifeanyi Izeze

The book, “Nwaekeamdi” is nothing short of a historical fiction of an adventurous tale of a young Igbo woman who lived in southeastern Nigeria in the early 20th century.

Anna Odukoya, the author, a thespian that loves playwriting and all forms of art, in this classic work captured the story of this 25 year old Igbo woman, her life in the village of Umuhu; her struggles with childlessness in a polygamous home; and circumstances that led the Umuhu women to join the protest against the colonial masters and their grievous tax laws.

Nwaekeamdi would lead her village women in several protests against colonial authourities; culminating in the “big one” now famously known as Aba Women’s Riot of 1929.

The author who feels elated for the privilege to do a detailed and expository book on the life of this young Igbo woman and her role in the Aba women riot, explained that the work captured in rich details, the past and present legacies and women struggles in the Igbo culture.

Anna Odukoya’s irresistibly appealing and succinct proem of “Nwaekeamadi” exposes more facts about life in the village of Umuhu in the early 20th century particularly the Igbo culture and their way of life: Igbo food and delicacies.

Without mincing words, the author’s classic delivery of “Nwaekeamdi” as an art work simply lends credence to the widely held view that she is a gamut of contemporary standard in literary mechanics.

Just as we cannot be dismissive of history because we are uncomfortable with them, it’s unfortunate that some sections of the academia had developed a way of telling of the story of our colonial history that ultimately seek to erase or twist that history.

Describing the book as pure inspiration, Anna Odukoya said she was spurred by the exigency of the need and public yearn to educate the world particularly the younger generation in our society on certain crucial issues about the Igbo culture and their unique way of life that may be missing in the public domain or at best wrongly delivered for public consumption in some literary works.

Nwaekeamadi is a historical fiction. Most of the dialogues were fictions but the happenings were historical facts as delivered to the authour by her great grandmother Nwaekeamadi herself.

Most importantly, the authour acts out of conviction and deep understanding of the complex web of events that shaped critical historical events in the life of “Nwaekeamadi”, and the Umuhu women’s key contributions to the Aba Women Riot of 1929.

This book “Nwaekeamdi,” essentially is a new perspective and a compelling first-hand authentic story that only a master storyteller can share.

Thus, one needs no further exposition to quickly align with the opinion of the reading public and leading proponents of truth, who have described the book “Nwaekeamadi” as a future occupier of the numero uno in contemporary literary classics in our secondary and tertiary institutions of learning.

As said by the author, this literary work was to help our younger generations reminisce constructively and deconstruct vital lessons from historical events in that part of Nigeria whilst also preserving important information.

Anna Odukoya by this seminal work fused the past with the present to create a compelling written documentary about one great socio- political event in Umuhu and in the entire Igbo history and culture. For the first time, somebody has looked at a different angle to what actually culminated in 1929 as the Aba Women Riot.

More importantly, the events have been put in perspective by someone who knows, lived and had firsthand account from her grandparent and relatives of the life and times of Umuhu in the early 20th century and the remarkable roles played by their women under the leadership of this young woman “Nwaekeamadi.”

Intentionally, the book was produced to be used as literature in secondary and tertiary institutions as it will add to our history and also improve the quality of literary studies as it was written with all language factors in mind. It has music, arts, and the Igbo culture.

This book will appeal to lovers of colonial African literature, the Igbo culture and the African woman.