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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Long Long Ago

Ogali Ogali

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To purchase Long Long Ago

Title: Long Long Ago
Author: Ogali A. Ogali
Genre: Novel
Written: 1957
Length: 36 pages
Availability: in: Veronica My Daughter
in: Veronica My Daughter - UK
  • Long Long Ago is included in the collection Veronica My Daughter and Other Onitsha Plays and Stories (see our review)

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Our Assessment:

B- : wild, imaginative (if largely too simplistic) stories

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       Long Long Ago contains "six imaginary stories". The lives and exploits of a number of characters are described in the novel's six parts.
       There is Jackie, a "clever chap" who makes it all the way to Oxford (sent there to study Latin) but enjoys the fast life more than studying. He returns to Nigeria, disappointed but apparently not entirely disgraced, and is able to impress the locals with his sophistry. Some wisdom finally comes with age, and eventually he goes on to become Village Chief, "forgetting his old fooleries".
       The story of Okokobioko is a bit more complex, as Ogali offers a more elaborate myth-creation. War ravages and divine intervention (including by "Allah, the god of youth") all play a role before the birth of Okokobioko. He soon has "the power of Atlas, the wisdom of Solomon and the speed of Mercury". He becomes a warrior (well, he joins the army) and evil is ultimately conquered.

Everlasting peace was established. Civilization crept in and in two years of his reign, the three kingdoms became a great nation commanding world respect.
       The story of The man who knew everything tells of the giant Booboo and a diminutive man ("whose name and origin no one knew") who knows everything. Booboo can't defeat the small man, though it takes him a while to recognize that. Eventually, however, he learns his lesson. This tale too is a simple sort of folk-tale, nicely (if very quickly) spun out.
       The fourth tale sees the return of the clever rogue Abanidiegwu (familiar, in naiver form, from Smile Awhile (see our review)). The clever rogue has now had more success -- he is now "the richest man in the whole land of Potopo". But he wants a wife. And the woman he has his eye on, Obioma, is about to wed another. A firm believer that: "Opportunity must be seized", the Clever Rogue sets about trying to win over Obioma. It culminates in a brief and bizarre trial, but justice is ultimately served.
       The fifth tale, The Great Family, is again a more elaborate story. The "family" is, in fact a body -- "with 'Head' as the Paramount Chief (...) 'Leg' as the Transport Manager; 'Stomach' as the General Provision Store Keeper", etc. A conflict develops. It takes a while to sort it all out, but order and happiness is finally restored.
       The final tale is told in the first person, recounting My adventure -- described as "a true record of my imaginary adventure". A trip leads to more adventure than the narrator bargained for. He encounters murderers, is attacked by a leopard, and meets a variety of other adventures.

       Long Long Ago is an odd collection of dissimilar tales. Almost all are fairly short -- briskly told, sometimes covering too much material much too quickly -- but some of the more focussed pieces are quite effective.

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Onitsha market literature: Other books by Ogali A. Ogali under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Nigerian author Ogali A. Ogali was born in 1935 and was a leading author of the pamphlet literature sold at Onitsha market.

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