TITLE: OGADINMA OR, EVERYTHING WILL BE ALL RIGHT" AUTHOR: KAMAKA OLISAKWE GENRE: PROSE NO. OF PAGES: 251 YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 2020 PUBLISHER: MASOBE BOOKS REVIEWER: EHI-KOWOICHO OGWIJI
When seventeen-year-old Ogadinma sets out to pursue her dream of acquiring a university degree, she had no idea she was beginning an exhausting journey to independence. She only finds herself several kilometres into a rough, winding road and painfully realises how fast everything is getting out of her control.
In just a couple of years, she had to deal with sexual assault (resulting in pregnancy and abortion) and the reality of being “exiled” from her home in Kano to live with her uncle’s family in Lagos, where marriage, motherhood, domestic violence, and other misfortunes happened in quick succession. She is overwhelmed but takes heroic steps to take her life back, only making do with the little support she gets from a friend and cousin.
Ogadinma Or, Everything Will Be All Right is a heart-breaking read because of the discomfort a reader feels watching the damage done to a naive girl whom s/he’d so badly want to rescue. It is sad enough that Ogadinma’s dreams are buried in her naive teenage decisions, but to see how she is hurried to womanhood when she has barely finished the cycle of girlhood is even sadder.
In spite of how “emotionally exhausting” a story it is to read, I must applaud Ukamaka’s spellbinding narration. She tells the story so softly that it eases the pain of witnessing the MC’s woes. What is more consoling than the way she wove the fine ends of the story into a refreshing climax and a neat resolution?
What Ukamaka did in Ogadinma is to tell a story so all-encompassing you are immediately sure the narrator is standing with one foot on experience and the other on in-depth research. At some point, you will be enraged as you read this, but anger is not necessarily a bad thing. I often think of anger as a force of inertia, necessary to challenge the status quo, initiate difficult conversations, and conversely push for social change.
Ukamaka explores feminism and its subsets—the resoluteness of cultures around the world to commoditize and possess women, and female complicity in patriarchy, among others. I consider Ogadinma a very important story because of how it zooms in on areas of feminism that we barely talk about. What I find most interesting about the novel is how the story, though set in the 80s, seems so contemporary. How she manages to weave it into a confluence story, connecting our favourite classic and contemporary feminist literature, is amazing.
What any reflective reader would take from the relatable characters and the skilful plot is the cosy diction and the didactic ingredients the author works into the story. No doubt, Ukamaka is a brilliant storyteller, and Ogadinma is clear proof that feminist stories are neither tired tales nor make-believes to push a misandrist agenda.
We will always have feminist stories, but Ogadinma Or, Everything Will Be All Right will always be timeless.
I honestly cannot wait to see the magic Ukamaka comes up with next.
Ehi-Kowoicho Ogwiji is a writer who examines womenfolk issues, mental health, and environmental realities. Her works have appeared on several literary platforms and she has won accolades for her writing. She is CỌ́N-SCÌÒ Magazine’s Features Editor.