Abiola Bonuola reviews “Efuru”:

Flora Nwapa is a woman! She has been called the mother of modern African literature but I perceive from the stories heard and read about her, she is so much more than that.

Her first book, Efuru clearly states her love for women and her support in the growth of women even in 1966 when the book was first published.

Would you believe it, Efuru is 50 years old this year!

Efuru, also the name of the major character in the book, was the first book to be published by a Nigerian woman, Flora Nwapa therefore it is not surprising to see that the book is such a darling to Nigerian women.

Efuru, the character is a beautiful, wise, strong and talented woman. She seems to understand everyone’s problems and attitude to life. She is very diplomatic and could serve as a good modern female Nigerian politician. (simply speculation)

Ajanupu, Efuru’s friend and former mother-in-law’s sister is a pillar in so many troubling matters that affect the beautiful lady especially when she advises Efuru at a period when she is at a loss on how to handle her adulterous husband, Adizua who made off with a “bad woman.”

Ajanupu says here; “You know that I am proud of you. You are a good woman. There is no woman like you. Your mother-in-law knows this very well though she does not show it. It is a pity that this has befallen you. But don’t worry, it will be all right. By the power of God it will be all right. Adizua has wronged you. You have been rough-handled, but don’t worry. Give Adizua one year, just a year and if he does not come back to you and you have an offer of marriage from another man, with a good background and wealth, leave him and marry the man. Wait for a year, just a year. After a year and you marry again, nobody in this world will rise an accusing finger at you and say you have not done well.”

As a Yoruba lady, who does not understand more than twenty Ibo words, the book got to my “inner woman”. I felt the richness of the Ibo culture, I also understood the ways the women avoided trouble so they do not come to be ridiculed in their society.

Though Efuru is of noble birth, she does not show pride as she converses with the people in her town. She helps where help is needed and gives where giving is needed especially when she is chosen by the goddess of the river, Uhamiri (which if translation permits me “miri” means water in Ibo) who gives her riches, beauty and happiness. Her character is that of a Super Woman.

The setting of the book is colonial highlighting the influence and activities of the missionaries, tax collectors and the British government. Flora expressed her thoughts about the British rule in her Ibo proverbs, the people’s belief in the traditional gods and their attitude to education. Even the language and the way she writes reflects how deep she was in her culture. In this book, she clearly depicts the people as being educated in their own culture but not in the culture of the British.

This book is a shelf book, to be read over and over again. I rate it a 8/10.

Abiola Bonuola


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