The Slave Girl follows the fortunes of Ogbanje Ojebeta, a Nigerian woman who is sold into slavery in her own land after disease and tragedy leave her orphaned as a child. In her fellow slaves, she finds a surrogate family that clings together under the unbending will of their master. As Ogbanje Ojebeta becomes a woman and discovers her need for home and family, and for freedom and identity, she realizes that she must ultimately choose her own destiny.
I first heard of Buchi Emecheta when she passed away and resolved to read at least one of her books, if not more, for Black History Month. I ended up with three out from the library and this just happened to be top of the pile when I was looking for my next read.
The story begins with Oganje Ojebeta being born and her father, having previously lost many daughters during childbirth, has gone and got charms to hang around her arms and back in order to protect her. Unfortunately, disease comes to their land and both her parents pass away. Her brother, Okolie, brings her to their rich relative and sells her for the small sum of £8. Ojebeta must now adapt to life as a slave along with a group of other young girls. The book follows Ojebeta as she grows up and then as an adult, how she deals with the death of her master.
This story is set in the early 20th century in Nigeria, not long after the British have taken control. The novel was very immersive with excellent descriptions and interactions between the characters. One thing I really enjoyed was the ending, which I won’t say much about as I don’t wish to spoil it, but it was very powerful and was the perfect way to end the story.
I would definitely recommend this book to those wishing to read more Nigerian literature as it gives you an excellent insight into the culture and about the treatment of women at that time period. It’s quite a quick read and is very much a “just one more chapter” book as you just keep wanting to find out what will happen to Ojebeta and I couldn’t put it down until I finished!