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Okechukwu, Chinwe. When Rain Beat the Cow in the Eyes. Eagle and Palm, 1999. 78p. ISBN 1-8902-061

O. Gwamna


I like the collection because of its detailed focus on the civil war that raged in Nigeria between 1967 and 1970. All eight stories touched on public and private episodes of the war, focusing specially on the after effects of war on the Nigerian society. For those who did not experience it, Okechukwu’s various stories provided gory and uncomfortable images of carnage in Kafaland and Obigbo, the fictional settings of the northern and eastern regions of Nigeria. Senses are assailed by the horrific scene in the lorry when the young female narrator in “Homecoming” is forced to hide in the midst of decapitated bodies and festering corpses. In the same story, there is the unforgettable massacre in the train with Obigbo passengers being hewn from the moving locomotive by insane Kafans. Then, there is the corresponding scene in the tear-jerking tale of “Mama Alafi.” Here, Obigbo people are rounded up by longtime male Kafan neighbors who proceeded to cut them up right in front of stunned female relatives. In this regard, the author should be commended for presenting an uncensored graphic view of the conflict. Okechukwu is from the erstwhile Republic of Biafra, the section of Nigeria that bore the brunt of the civil war. That she knows a good story is without a doubt, the issue is in its telling: it leaves much to be desired. One cannot honestly recommend the collection in its present form to a larger audience.

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JENdA: A Journal of Culture and African Women Studies. ISSN: 1530-5686 (online).
Editors: Nkiru Nzegwu; Book Editor: Mary Dillard.

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