'The Concubine'

Book Review

The ConcubineIn The Concubine, Elechi Amadi tells the story of a traditional African society still ruled by the gods. The tragic heroine Ihuoma is said by the debias (soothsayers) to be a sea goddess who is re-incarnated against the advice of the Sea King, her husband in the spiritual realm, to live as a human being. A decision so abhorrent to the Sea King that he vowed to vent his rage on any human who dared to love Ihuoma.

Into the life of this extremely beautiful and young woman of great judgment and character comes first Emenike, Ihuoma’s first husband and the villages’ enfant chéri, is said by the debias to have been killed by the gods for marrying Ihuoma. Then comes Madume, a young man of great mendacity who is haunted by violent and repressed passions and who is blinded when a cobra spits into his eyes. He eventually commits suicide, a death said by the debias to have been an act by the gods for his love for and intention to marry Ihuoma. And lastly comes Ekwueme, a hunter, singer and a vivacious young man of great promise who quips that if "marrying a woman like her is a fatal mistake, I am prepared to make it. If I am her husband for a day before my death my soul will go singing happily to the spirit world."

Elechi Amadi is a prolific writer whose use of cultural, aesthetic and indigenous knowledge and his well-developed abilities in rhetorical invention makes him one of Africa’s standard-bearers in literature. The Concubine is most read by those interested in the African culture. Come and check it out at your local library.