Book Review: On Black Sisters Street by Chika Unigwe 

Reading this book made me reflect on a lot of things about Nigeria: the diversity, the peoples, the hardships and the choices and sufferings of said peoples. 

The story is about the lives of four different African women, forced to trade their bodies for a better life far away from their own country, in Belgium. The sudden death of one of the women finds the other women in shock, and in the spur of the moment, they find themselves exchanging previously untold secrets and chilling, grim tales of the experiences that culminated in them becoming flesh traders in a foreign land. 

Each of the women has experiences that are both unique in their grimness and horrifying in nature. Each of these experiences closely mirrors the realities of early 21st century Nigeria. The prevailing societal vices of the day, as well as a number of the more horrifying atrocities committed by people on a daily basis, and how they affect the lives of five women is the epicentre of the story. 

The story is an expository into how lives are shaped by specific experiences. In the story, all of the four women experience sexual abuse of varying degrees. Coupled with the hardship in the country, and the pressures of religion, society and culture, the women are forced to make a choice… whether to persevere with no end in sight to their sufferings, or to trade their female dignity for European baubles. 

The story is told in the form of a flashback. The effect is an increased depth in the intensity of the experiences shared in the story, and the drawing of the attention of readers to a number of common underlying factors in each experience. 

The characters are revealed with all the attention and intricacy of a highly skilled artist: A gradual unravelling of the nature, and then the experiences that shape each character. The result is a tale that is incredibly accurate in its portrayal of lower-class Nigerian society. Each character is portrayed in all the gory glory of abuses suffered, dashed hopes, false prophecies, and all of the vices that infest human society. 

A must read! 

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