“From Fatika with Love is a book that will last for ages”
From Fatika with Love is the kind of story we were told as children about handsome princes and orphaned beauties. Talle’s romance with her prince is like Cinderella without the glass slipper or the evil stepsisters.
Written in simple language, it brings the different facets of our society into light: from human trafficking to prostitution, and the household of a typical Northern Nigerian family. Talle’s ambitious uncle takes her into his home after the death of her parents. Though she is never maltreated, her uncle wields complete control. Everyone in the household lives in fear of what he might do, should they displease him. She lives in this conservative grip until her unplanned trip to Amnissia just a few days after meeting Yarima, the prince of Fatika.
There is a Victorian feel about Talle’s story which is common to most Northern Nigerian stories. Her prince has all the attributes one might expect of a prince: handsome, innocent, intelligent and caring. Their whirlwind romance, tempered and swift, comes as no surprise to the reader after all. Talle has already been portrayed as the quintessential princess: beautiful, elegant, hardworking, orphaned at a young age, she is a picture of every fairy tale princess and predictably enough, she meets her prince.
The general theme is simple yet daring in its approach to social issues. It exposes the false puritanical perception of the Middle. Talle’s journey to Amnissia, a little town close to Saudi Arabia, opens her eyes to the real world. For the first time, she realises Aunt Salmah is a glorified pimp. This revelation exposes her to what most rich and respected women do when they leave the country for work. Until this moment, she never expected to leave home and be a servant in her aunt’s business. This brute reality subdues her trust for people.
Even in her experiences in Amnissia, there are still those elements of clichéd beliefs, like how all Arabian men are womanisers and their extreme love for African women. Talle navigates the death trap that is her new life while praying to go back home to her family.
Though the narration flows unconventionally with switching points of views, it is beautifully written. This allows for a finely crafted characterisation where the characters appear as everyday people the reader can relate with, thus, bringing the story into greater perspective. Apart from the protagonist, the supporting characters are presented in ways that makes them significant but not overwhelming to the storyline. There is a strong moralistic edge where good is rewarded abundantly and wrongdoings are exposed. Also, the author tackles the complex themes of forgiveness and redemption, as is the case when Talle decides to keep the secrets of Hajiya Salmah to herself.
From Fatika with Love is a book that will last for ages not just because it is a Northern Nigeria classic, but also because the story manifests a concern to keep and uphold culture and tradition.
Book : From Fatika with Love
Author : Audee T. Giwa
Publisher: Bookmakers International Kaduna
The reviewer, Habiba Malumfashi has her bio in the members’ profile section.