Sunday, 20 January 2013
The Concubine, 1966, Elechi Amadi ****
Eventually, they accepted you as their in-law to be, since you saved their son's life. Nonetheless, shortly, before the marriage ceremony took place, it was prophesied that this man you so much cherished was going to loose his life in a mysterious way if he married you. First of all, the sea lord must be appeased.
This was the life of Ihuoma in Eastern part of Nigeria long before the Europeans arrived. The Concubine, however, is not only about Ihuoma, it is also about Adaku, Wigwe, Nnadi, Ekwueme, Wagbara, Anyika and the whole village of Omokachi.
The characters in this novel are lifelike; hence, I felt I have met them not read them. Elechi Amadi gave an excellent description of life in the village then. Yet, I was somewhat undecided about rating it five or four stars, at last four because the novel evolved in a slow manner. I guess Amadi was just respecting the rhythm of life in those days and I am glad he took that into consideration. Regardless, at some point I felt long-drawn-out. At the same time, I have to admit that his writing style is superb and the story line was pleasing, some times humorous but with a grievous ending.
This novel was used as WAEC (West African Examination Council) exam text for 30 years. It was actually the reason a lot of high school students read it back then in Nigeria.
The Concubine is Elechi Amadi's first novel I have read so far, a master piece, I believe his Magnum opus as well. An African classic I wholly recommend to all and sundry.