Efunsetan Aniwura is a wealthy, childless chieftain in Ibadan, where Latoosa is the Aare. She has lands and slaves to till them until their backs are sore. An especially wicked woman, she beats her slaves black and blue for the smallest missteps and beheads them at will, especially if they dare to get pregnant.
She is unstoppable, and often dares even God to plead the cause of whomever she has sentenced to death. When Aare Latoosa and his chiefs decide that Ibadan cannot take another tragedy, they have to find a way to rid the city of her, once and for all.
In the opening pages of this book, Akinwunmi Isola says that Efunsetan’s story was taken from the story of Ibadan and turned into a play. It’s based on a true story, and a few clicks on your computer will yield varying reports about who she was and how she died.
In this book however, Efunsetan was a terror – there is no other way to put it. She beat with whips and canes, beheaded, and was even widely known to be a witch. She was barren, and she was so grieved that God would withhold children from her that she resolved to treat other people’s children as cruelly as possible. In her words, God ruled in heaven, but she would rule on earth.
I absolutely love this story. Efunsetan is such a strong character; I could almost see her beating her chest, saying, “Emi, Efunsetan Aniwura? Ki le f’eemo pe?”
Despite Efunsetan’s gruesome behaviour and the tragedy it causes, there are some laughs in the book. Isola tells this story so eloquently and the dialogue flows beautifully. The language is simple, accessible, yet it packs punches. There is a monologue at the end filled with proverbs and warnings. It seems typical of Isola; there is one at the end of Saworoide (the movie) as well.
Many of Akinwumi Isola’s books have been turned into movies: Saworoide, Koseegbe, and O Leku.
Of course I’ll be looking everywhere for the other books. 😀