Title: The Trails of a Widow
Author: Ray Amadi
Publisher: Young Brain Publisher
Reviewer: Obinna Emelike
From exile, expulsion, exclusion, rejection, blacklisting, to banishment; ostracism is never something anyone wishes even to his/ her enemies. Its impacts are overwhelming from social, economic and even religion, which ordinary should be the last hope of victims of ostracism. It is on the heavy impacts of ostracism on the victims that the book, ‘The Trials of a Widow’ is based. The author used the story of Egolu, an enterprising widow, to highlight the fate of victims of ostracism in the traditional African society, especially in the Igbo nation.
In ‘The Trials of a Widow’ Ray Amadi, the author used simple terms, often idioms, suspense and visual descriptions to tell the story in a manner that carried the readers along. Divided into 14 chapters, the novel started on a descriptive note, explaining how committed Egolu was to her Christian faith; her keen observance of religious ordinance, exemplary leadership and mutual relationship with the entire Secunda, her late husband’s community.
The author further dived into the romance between Egolu and Wilfred, her late husband and also captured how her sufferings began when her husband died and she was married to her late husband’s cousin who later disowned her publicly after encumbering her with five more children. The first chapter also explained how important an Obi, traditional hut at the centre of a man’s compound was as a man of substance is known by his Obi. Hence Egolu used all her strength to stop youths digging foundation in her late husband’s Obi, and attraction the wrath of the entire village.
In Chapter 2, Egolu was summoned by her husband’s kinsmen to explain her action, which they regarded abominable, especially as Derick, the richest man in the community had promised to build town hall if the community provide land. Egolu wondered why her late husband’s Obi was chosen for the building whereas there are empty lands and also, her late husband did not die without a son. Egolu was ostracized, until she pay a fine of N50,000 and apologized for stopping work on the foundation for the town hall in her late husband’s Obi. That catapulted Egolu’s sufferings. The author also captured how people like Jonny who did not support the action of the community were shouted down.
The subsequent chapters threw up more sufferings of Egolu who ran to Mr Okwu, a close family friend for help. Acting on the right, which Chidi, Egolu’s son gave him before he travelled to take care of his father’s family and property; Mr Okwu took over Egolu’s case, meeting the villagers and even the traditional ruler to reverse the evil judgment by Secunda people on Egolu.
The Secunda community led by Ichie Godspower insisted that a mere woman like Egolu cannot be more powerful than men and hence did not listen to the advice of the traditional ruler. They took the case to court securing the services of Barrister Modi, a very popular lawyer, while Egolu used her church connection to secure the services of Barrister Nwosa, who was a Knight of St Mulumba. Secunda people went ahead to exclude themselves from the entire Ulundi clan and even presenting their new dance alone, all because of the opposition from other communities on their judgment against Egolu.
As well, life as a widow was worse with being ostracized for Egolu. It also affected his maternity business as some people from Secunda went about telling people that she opened another clinic nearby all in a way to reduce patronage. At point, some people went to Mr Okwu’s wife to ask why she kept quiet over the relationship between her husband and Egolu. The woman was also deceived in believing them.
The case in the court suffered many adjournments as the judge was after evidence to pass his judgment, meanwhile Secunda people were paying through their nose to fund the court case and Egolu also fund the court sessions alone, and was almost weighed down by it.While the case lingered, Chidi, Egolu’s son, returned from his studies overseas. The author captured how disappointed Chidi was with his kinsmen, and once friends. His return, however, gave Ichie Godspower another plan as his people are already complaining of the lingering case in the court and the unending levies. They even wondered why Godspower and his team were prospering just within the period of the case, suspecting they were using their levies to prosper.
Of course, Ichie Godspower failed in using diabolic means to influence the case in the favour of Secunda. After several adjournments, in Chapter 14, the judge passed his final judgment in favour of Egolu. “The plaintiffs having failed to discharge the onus which lies on them of proving their case, the judgment therefore will be for the defendants. The actions together with the plaintiff’s claims are hereby dismissed”, the judge concluded in favour of Egolu. Egolu and her supporters went on jubilating.
To this end, ‘The Trails of a Widow’ is worth reading as it truly captured the sufferings of widow’s even beyond ostracism in the traditional African society. The author was magnanimous in ending the tragedy in comedy.