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Obi-Obasi’s The Loyal Queen and The Burden Royalty

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Chinyere Obi-Obasi

Chinyere Obi-Obasi’s The Loyal Queen encapsulates issues around royal households in Africa and how they reference the traditional gods of the land.

In it she captures the life of a young king who loves his wife, Ochugo, dearly but is compelled to marry four other wives because the gods seal her womb and she is unable to have a child.

The story revolves around the theme of wisdom, love, cultural belief in a supernatural god, responsibility, self-discipline, hard work and good manners.

King Ochefu marries his first Ochugo as a prince through his younger sister, Adanma.

It is love at first sight for him, as he observes on their first meeting that she is intelligent and has attributes aside her physical beauty though she is from a poor background.

However, despite Obi-Obasi’s apt narrative technique, which makes for an engaging read that feels absolutely real, there are a couple misrrpresentation of characters that could mislead and disorient readers.

For instance, she writes: “Adanma was known in the village as obedient…” instead of “Ochugo was known in the village as obedient…”

Also, she alters grammatical sequence as seen in the third paragraph of chapter 2: “I feel like leaving this throne and going away with you to a far, far away land…” instead of “I feel like leaving this throne to go away with you to a far away land…”

Also, the second sentence of page 50, she writes: “She began Tobacco business and made me enter into palm oil business,” which she have read: “She introduced me into palm oil business…” These are lapses the editors could have smoothened out.

Notwithstanding the shortfalls listed above, it is heartwarming that one could see into the minds of the major characters and see exactly what they feel as Ochugo’s transitional life unfolds. Their thought flows well and moves the book along very quickly.

In the course of time, Ochugo undergoes a transitional life from being the beloved queen of her husband and a business tycoon, whom everyone in the community loves because of her humour, wisdom, humility and generosity and into a woman destined for death by the gods of the land.

Obi-Obasi writes, “The King knew that he was not the only one who was going to miss her. The whole community would, since there was hardly any family she had not done one favour or another to… The King was surprised she was not angry with the gods of the land.

Nobody ever got angry with the gods. They have somehow found a way of exonerating the gods.”

Ochugo’s wisdom makes it possible to create a peaceful atmosphere in the palace, as she manages the other four wives despite their different personalities and inadequacies.

However, on her deathbed she sees how impossible it would be for her husband to cope with the four wives’ misconduct.

She then requests to pick one amongst the wives, who would replace her as queen when she passes away, while the king sends the other three back to their fathers’ houses.

“My king, you need only one wife out of these other four wives. I know these women. It was not easy managing them…” and “I told you, my king, you will marry only one of the women and send the rest away.”

Although the editors did a shabby job, which they could improve upon in a reissue, The Loyal Queen would teach teenagers not to be superficial and shallow-minded as a way of life, but to be well-behaved and resourceful adults.

Though the writing is aimed at young readers, most of the characters are adults. So, adults can also relate with the story and appreciate King Ochefu and Ochugo’s immense love for each other, their community and humanity.


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