TITLE OF BOOK: The Domestication of Munachi
AUTHOR: Ifesinachi O Okpagu
COUNTRY PUBLISHED: Nigeria
PUBLISHER: Parresia Publishers Limited, Nigeria
YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 2015
NUMBER OF PAGES: 181
BOOK REVIEWER: Mof’Oluwawo O MojolaOluwa
Haunted by the dismal memory of an adulterous father caught in the act and the inauspicious realities of an arranged marriage, Munachi, the second daughter and child in a family of four takes off on her wedding morn, plunging everyone and everything into chaos and disrupting the pretended peace and tranquility hitherto prevalent in her home and world. Her action sets a number of events in motion that eventually culminate in the entire family’s rediscovery of itself as a family and the members thereof as individual persons.
Beautifully told and intricately woven into a fourfold cord chronicling the lives of two pairs of sisters from different generations, Okpagu shines the light on some cultural vices and societal patterns that have continued to shortchange the female folk. Present in the book are the themes of male hegemony, social strata, materialism, marriage and child rearing, the different versions of one religion as obtainable in different parts of one country, domestic violence, infidelity amongst others.
The very organic plot runs through thirty-one short but sharp chapters. The author employs the elements of contrast, flashback, prefiguration, sarcasm and a fine sense of description and comparison to drive home her message. The use of both the first person narrative technique and the omniscient narrative technique makes the work quiet interesting affording one the opportunity to shift seamlessly from what can be seen, heard and perceived to the very thoughts of the mind. The descriptions are so vivid one unblessed with the gift of imagination would nonetheless have no difficulty conjuring the images through the mind’s eye.
The book decries the ‘rural’ culture of objectifying the feminine gender and satirizes the urban ideas of get-rich-quick-or-die-trying and use-what-you-have-to-get-what-you-want respectively. Centered around the concept and institution of marriage as it were, Okpagu explores such components as choice, consent, mutual respect, pecuniary interests, child rearing, love, fidelity and separation.
For Munachi, running to the city turns out to be a journey unto becoming. She soon realizes that the grass is not always as green as it seems from the other side after all and has to deny her core values and principles to survive. The story takes an ironic turn when Aunty Chimuanya and her friend who have hitherto been magnanimous enough not only to dole out some fish, but to teach Munachi to fish in other people’s rivers catch her fishing in their own river. All hell is let loose and she is tossed out onto the streets, again back to point zero. Adanna on the other hand, also gets her fill of an abusive marriage and revolts through her friend Belinda who in actual fact turns out to be her alter ego, a non human character, the mere creation of her befuddled mind. It is just as in the case of Elizabeth and Chimuanya, the older generation of sisters; the former settling for less, the latter daring for more. As for the younger generation however, they refuse to accept an unpleasant fate and somehow summon strength to rebel.
Returning home in the end like the prodigal son, the two sisters emerge like caterpillars into stronger, wiser and much more liberated butterflies, having defied the expectations of the society and more importantly, realizing the supremacy of a mother’s love.
Written by Ifesinachi O. Okpagu, a Marketing communications Executive and writer who has to her credit several stories and screenplays, the Domestication of Munachi is a good read any day.
Highpoint: Munachi who runs from an arranged marriage highly motivated by pecuniary interests, who runs from the open arms and pockets of chief Momoh ends up a mistress, overcome by that which she fought so hard against, that is what I call THE DOMESTICATION OF MUNACHI.