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This site is dedicated specifically to Grace Ukala's writings - both published and those still in the process of being published.
Background to the novels
Coming from the Nigerian culture where female survival was a big issue in the 60s when I was growing up, two of my novels, Dizzy Angel and The Broken Bond, dwell on the themes of tradtional beliefs and their inhibitions on both men and women in general, but most especially, on young women.
Before Christianity and other religions took firm roots in Nigeria, young girls suffered circumcision, and were often withdrawn from school after Primary education. The parents felt it was a waste of money and time to educate girls - after all, they were designed to become the property of their husbands, so why waste money paying school fees for them? Girls were, therefore, often married off to much older men as early as ages 15 or 16.
Dizzy Angel tackles this discrimination against the female population, as well as other superstitions that were rife in the Nigerian society at the time. There are also attempts to deal with the issue of witchcraft, which, I fear, is still quite prevalent in the Nigerian society. Mingling traditional values and Christianity - which was new at that time - was a challenge for Ogbanje, the heroine of Dizzy Angel. Ogbanje, herself, is said to be a spirit-child, one who has reincarnated so many times before and has come again now to continue the torment of her parents. Reincarnation - this is another huge issue in Nigerian traditional beliefs.
The other themes tackled in The Broken Bond include the theme of morality and the rottenness and decadence in our society. The issue of survival of the "smartest", rather than that of the "fittest". The "smartest" being the cleverest "rogue", if one might use that word. You do what you have to do to get to the top of the societal ladder and to stay at the top, irrespective of who is hurt in the process. So, fetish sacrifices, even human sacrifice in a few cases, are performed so that you could become wealthy. So, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
There is a huge pain in the author's heart, because it appears that not much can be done to change things in Nigeria, especially because, virtually every new ruler who comes in, promising great things, often ends up more corrupt than his predecessors.
Ada in London is set mainly in London. The novel, though biographical, tackles in general, the issues of an immigrant's acclimatization and overcoming the culture shocks that abound in London. As an immigrant black woman, who arrives in London to teach, Ada is totally unprepared for the dramas that go on in some London schools. Ada thought she had been thrown into a "Mad House" rather than a School, to teach English. For someone who had been a beloved head teacher for many years in Nigeria, having to start afresh as a probationer was a very hard knock for Ada. Ada had to learn to adjust her teaching styles so she could regain the respect she always enjoyed as a teacher in Nigeria. That took some hard work. Ada suffers discrimination, humiliation, betrayal, acute loneliness, bereavement and much more.
The themes in Ada in London also hinge on survival - this time, on the ability of an individual to overcome all kinds of difficulties and obstacles in a strange land, without lowering one's moral standards or one's self-esteem. God comes in as a firm ground upon which Ada stands and finds solace. Her faith in God pulls her through.
I hope you will buy at least one of my novels, as I am sure you will enjoy reading any of them. Once read, please write a review and I will publish it on this site at a later date as a tribute to you.
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