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In Broken Promise, Okoroafor interrogates life, diaspora

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Broken promise is the first of four fascinating short stories — Broken Promise, Kizito and I, Pension-Plan Nurse and Nwabuife — from a female author in the Diaspora, Ejine Okoroafor.

Published in August 2020 by Trafford Publishing, New York, United States, the e-book pays homage to the author’s beloved hometown, Oguta, Imo State.

The first of these stories, Broken Promise, starts with the death by suicide of Maryam, who is the heroine. Maryam is the mother of Kaka, Gogo’s girlfriend, now resident in the United States, according to the fictional short story.

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“What have I done? I bewailed while holding both hands, interlocked and atop my head in anguish.
“I should have told Maryam the truth. I should never have stopped calling her or sending her money. I should never have made it seem like I no longer cared for her and Kaka. I contended with a thousand and one lamentations… Things I wished I could have said so that Maryam might still be alive. I might still have been able to ultimately bring her and Kaka over to the USA.”

The narrator’s name is Gogo; he had met Maryam in his beloved hometown, Oguta. Maryam, born and bred in northern Nigeria, forced to return to her native region of eastern Nigeria owing to insurgency in the north.

Gogo and Maryam become lovers with Gogo promising to marry Maryam. Not long after, Maryam becomes pregnant and gives birth to a baby girl Kaka. Soon after, Gogo migrated to the USA. But immigration difficulties prevent Maryam and Kaka from reuniting with Gogo in the USA. The sad turn of events culminate in Maryam committing suicide.

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The pain of Gogo’s broken promise causes Maryam to take her own life. This first story forms the personal diary of Okoroafor on events leading to Nigeria’s civil war, and its aftermath. Kizito and I is the second story in this volume. It is an exciting love story, ‘an I go die with you’ love in Tokyo.

It is a chronicle of rural life in a traditional African society. It showcases life among the Igbo of Eastern Nigeria. The Oguta natives, which this story chronicles, are some of the most hardworking and wealthy of human race. And like the Jews, their lifestyles offer nuggets of wisdom, which the reading of this book will give you.

Anucha, the girl, had studied microbiology at the University of Port Harcourt. She returns home, awaiting the National Youth Service Corps call up. Meanwhile, encouraged by her parents, she goes partying in search of a husband. She meets Kizito at a night party.

“Kizito came across as a very gregarious and exuberant fellow,” though Anucha would have preferred a more reserved person.

“Kizito became my regular date, attending functions including weddings, parties, burials and others. He would not leave my side for any protracted period. He was territorial without being boorish.”

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In this very engaging love story, Okoroafor also showcased the society’s emphasis on male children as heirs. The story ends amicably with the duo consummating their marriage.

The third story, Pension Plan Nurse, is a story of family disharmony. Traditionally, the male is the breadwinner in families. But when a man loses his ability to provide for his family, he loses authority with the wife taking over leadership of the home. However, the story is properly crafted.

“Your generation is different from mine. I am glad that you are also being raised in the USA. You would ultimately imbibe some of the better cultures here that would be for the best.” For the last of the stories, Nwabuife is the story of a homeless orphan, who didn’t know her parents but met succor, nonetheless.

“I wondered what Ine Oyinbonanu would say when she returns home. I was sure that she would come looking for me, but she could be rendered homeless as well if she were to insist on taking me back home. As I pondered my dilemma, Ojebo appeared again. She had changed into a red flowing gown. She was smiling. She reached out for my hand and ordered, ‘Let’s go.’ I stood up wearily and followed her lead. I supposed that I am my mother’s daughter after all.”

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These four exciting short stories rekindle interest in short story reading and writing. This genre of writing is the most appropriate in this digital age.

I believe these exciting stories will revive interest in short story writing more so when many short story competitions abound in the world. I urge the author to use this volume to enter the current Commonwealth Short Story competition. This book is also good material for study in our tertiary institutions.

The author is a good short story teller. She has published six other books with Broken Promise and Other Stories as her latest. In this 87-page book, she exhibits profound promise as a chronicler of current history and culture. I therefore commend her onto your kind care and perusal.

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