A return to rural ancestry

2011-05-18 00:00

LIFE in a compound in the Niger Delta­ is described by Blessing, the prepubescent daughter and granddaughter of a family of the region. Originally a child of the city, Lagos, Blessing is forced to return with her mother and brother to the rural ancestral home following her father’s desertion. The adjustment for her and her brother is considerable, but Blessing is slowly drawn into the communal life, learning its ways through the guidance of her grandmother who is a traditional birth attendant.

While her life slowly acquires significance and intimacy, that of her brother’s disintegrates as he struggles to accommodate his loss of wider opportunities and his mother’s new relationship with a British­ oil worker, who he comes to see as representative of the economic exploitation of the region.

This book is vividly written with an attention to detail that evokes the culture and living conditions of the characters, engaging the reader in their lives and experiences.

The characters have an authenticity which is striking and the evocation of the child’s viewpoint is never sentimental creating a poignantly recognisable world.

Pervading the story are the presences of the river and the contrasting fires and pollution of the oil pipelines as essential elements of the environment.

The author is a product of the Creative Writing Programme of the University of East Anglia and this is her first book. It is well research- ed, and while the author is clearly concerned about making the reader aware of the social issues of concern to the area, the polemic is secondary to the strongly evoked story of a young girl finding her sense of self and home.   

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