Lemona’s Tale by Ken Saro-Wiwa


Lemona’s tale by Ken Saro-Wiwa

Nigerian literature

Source – personnel copy

We begin our day by the way of the gun,
Rocket propelled grenades blow you away if you front,
We got no police ambulance or fire fighters,
We start riots by burning car tires,
They looting, and everybody start shooting,
Bullshit politicians talking bout solutions, but it’s all talk,
You can’t go half a block with a road block,
You don’t pay at the road block you get your throat shot,
And each road block is set up by these gangsters,
And different gangsters go by different standards,
For example, the evening is a no go,
Unless you wanna wear a bullet like a logo,
In the day you should never take the alleyway,
The only thing that validates you is the AK,
They chew on Jad it’s sorta like coco leafs,
And there ain’t no police…

I choose one my favourite songs of recent times K’naan what is hardcore maybe captures life under a regime of terror in His home land Somali .

I should put this up yesterday sorry Lisa (Anzlitlovers ) but as I came to write last night I was just to tired to write much so here is my Indigenous week book Choice . Ken Saro-Wiwa a Nigerian writer , was a member of the Ogoni people a small indigenous population from South east Nigeria , Ken Saro-Wiwa held various government post in his country during the early eighties ,.But a regime change and his own worries about what was happening to his people and their land lead him to lead the party that represent them . He fell foul of the military government in the early nineties arrest on a number of occasions , in the end he was sentenced to death and died in 1995 . A fact that chilling makes this book so much more powerful  to the reader .

“Lemona .Lemona . Beautiful woman .Exquisite .She’ll be hanged tomorrow .You know that , don’t you ?  And you insist on seeing her ? Well , I have no objection personally .But I don’t know if she’ll agree to see you .That’s the problem .That’s woman is an enigma .

The opening lines of this book on her last day .

Lemona’s tale is a tale of a woman who had spent 25 years of her life in Jail .She like Ken is a member of the Ogoni .This day we see is the last day of her life she is about to be executed .What we see is the day slowly drawing out , whilst at the same time she recounts her life story and how she end up in jail and how various males she met lead to this .She started of in a Village but has been one of those woman who seems to end up at the wrong side of life and is used by those around her  .This leads to the event that saw her get jailed , but carries on even after she gets to jail as she is abused by those in the jail .

He always refrained from speaking about his family , particularly his wife , to me . I respected that , because I was likely to get jealous if he spoke about her .Indeed I remember that once when he dared to mention Aduke (his wife ) , I threw a tantrum , most uncharacteristically . I don’t believe he thought me capable of anger . I displayed on that occasion .After that , “The family ” became the code for his wife .

She was a mistress , but is this a glimpse of something that happens later ?

This book is a powerful slice of recent history in Nigeria .What makes it so haunting is that my  book was first published her the year after Ken Saro-Wiwa himself had been executed in his homeland for Murder like Lemona , a charge he denied ,unlike the heroine (not sure that is the right word , but she lived through her trouble life ) he said he hadn’t done the murder he was accused off .Lemona’s tale is not just the story of the Ogoni people but a hundred small tribes and people who fell foul of regimes and dictators then and still now in some places in Africa .I find it scary that we in the uk tend to hear less news from Africa and what is happening in places than we did twenty years ago when there would often be stories about Nigeria and numerous other former british colonies .I feel if we still reported the news her we would maybe understand the current Refugee crisis in more depth !!This is first of a few african books in the next few weeks ?


8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lisa Hill
    Sep 06, 2015 @ 00:10:36

    Thanks so much for participating in ILW 2015, Stu, and what a wonderful choice. I’m interested to see what you say about the decline in interest in books from Africa, just the other day I checked out the Heinemann African Writers series which has so many good titles. They published one each year (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_Writers_Series) but it seems to have stopped in the year 2000. Such a shame.
    Anyway, this one has gone on my wishlist. It sounds very powerful, and as you say, still unfortunately all too topical.
    PS I’ll add it to my page of Indigenous Lit reviews, I won’t put the link here LOL in case WordPress thinks I’m spamming but you can easily find it if you click on the yellow ILW 2015 logo at the bottom of my RH menu. (Very excited to have a review this year from an American Indian writer too!)


  2. Trackback: Reviews from Indigenous Literature Week at ANZ Litlovers 2015 | ANZ LitLovers LitBlog
  3. Mary Mayfield
    Sep 06, 2015 @ 09:36:02

    I discovered Lemona by accident a few years ago, as part of a huge pile of books picked up through Freecycle or such, and it was only after reading it that I discovered anything about the author or the context in which he wrote the story. Anyway for what’s it’s worth, here’s my review http://www.ourbookreviewsonline.blogspot.co.uk/2011/05/lemonas-tale-by-ken-saro-wiwa.html and I’ll pop a link to yours on my blog


  4. heavenali
    Sep 06, 2015 @ 10:01:12

    What a heartbreaking story, Lemona’s Tale sounds like such a powerful book.


  5. 1streading
    Sep 07, 2015 @ 19:30:43

    A writer I’ve never read, not even his more famous Sozaboy. This sounds worth seeking out.
    i loved Heinemann’s African Writers series. I would agree that African writing is under-represented since its passing


  6. Trackback: September on winstonsdad | Winstonsdad's Blog

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September 2015


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