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the Complete Review
the complete review - various

Veronica My Daughter
and Other Onitsha Plays and Stories

Ogali Ogali

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To purchase Veronica My Daughter

Title: Veronica My Daughter
Author: Ogali A. Ogali
Genre: Various
Written: (1980)
Length: 376 pages
Availability: Veronica My Daughter
Veronica My Daughter - UK

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Our Assessment:

B- : variety of odd and occasionally interesting pieces

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       Veronica My Daughter and Other Onitsha Plays and Stories collects many of Ogali Ogali's best known works. He is perhaps the single most successful Onitsha market pamphlet author. In his introduction to this collection, Reinhard Sander says that two of Ogali's plays hold the record in sales of such literature: Veronica My Daughter (see our review) with 250,000 copies and Patrice Lumumba (see our review) with 80,000 copies.
       Fiction, drama, and non-fiction are all represented in this collection. The pieces are all relatively short -- pamphlet length, most about thirty pages. They range from pure entertainments to the didactic -- though Ogali always seeks to impart at least a small lesson.
       Pieces like Veronica My Daughter deal with very specific issues -- in that case, the question of marriage and the control a father can and should have over a daughter. Others are more general -- so, for example, Caroline the One-Guinea Girl (see our review) or Thirty Years for the Director (see our review). (These, however, are also decidedly moral tales, trying to teach by example.)
       The Lumumba plays, as well as Adelabu (see our review) dramatize real-life stories, making for political theatre that it is interesting because it is of the time, written in the heat of the moment, as it were.
       Ogali has firm opinions, and he has no qualms about making them known. Generally he is able to integrate them into his works, but in some -- notably No Heaven for the Priest (apparently the first pamphlet published after the civil war; see our review) -- they get out of hand.
       Ogali has a flair for writing. None of the works is completely convincing, but there are numerous scenes that are very successful. Stylistically he manages some very nice touches in many of the dramas, leaning on Shakespeare, making fun of bombast, creating actual dramatic tension in the exchanges on the stage. He never sustains it over the course of a whole drama or fiction, but there are enough good sections to make most of the pieces worthwhile.
       Names and places are chosen "to give the whole show a local punch" (from the preface to Caroline the One-Guinea Girl). In Caroline, for example, poor Okonkwo lives on I Love You Avenue -- and works at Fate Bank. Caroline even manages to wind up as Mrs. Simplicity herself.
       Ogali often seems to choose a thought or idea or expression just as it strikes him, without always thinking it through. It leads to some odd statements (though some of these have a peculiar sort of charm). One hopes he doesn't always mean it too seriously, as one might be confused to find that, for example, in Adelabu the title character says: "the plant of freedom must be watered with a villain's blood", while in The Ghost of Patrice Lumumba (see our review) the title character says: "the tree of freedom must be watered with a hero's blood !"

       Reinhard Sander offers a useful introduction to these works, and the broad selection included gives an excellent overview of Ogali's work. The collection also serves as a good introduction to Onitsha market literature in general, as Ogali was certainly one of its leading exponents.
       In the preface to Caroline the One-Guinea Girl, Ogali urges his readers: "Read the whole novel and be mentally free and spiritually emancipated." It is a tall order -- and one most of the works don't quite live up to -- but at least there is that soaring (if naive) ambition.
       The literary quality of the works included here is very uneven, but there are other redeeming qualities -- including the sheer inventiveness (and even the bizarreness) of the texts. The works are also of historical interest, and there is more than enough here to make it a worthwhile collection.

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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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