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the Complete Review
the complete review - non-fiction

History of Item:
Past and Present

Ogali Ogali

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To purchase History of Item: Past and Present

Title: History of Item: Past and Present
Author: Ogali A. Ogali
Genre: Non-fiction
Written: 1960
Length: 43 pages
Availability: in: Veronica My Daughter
in: Veronica My Daughter - UK
  • History of Item: Past and Present is included in the collection Veronica My Daughter and Other Onitsha Plays and Stories (see our review)

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Our Assessment:

C- : simple, cursory history

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       Item ("pronounced 'Eetem'") is Ogali's native city in Nigeria. His History of Item: Past and Present is a short little text describing the (mythical) origins of the place, its history, and its present state. Ogali conceived of it vaguely as a school-text, hoping many students could read it "in order to be mentally free, socially balanced, and historically emancipated." (A tall order for any book.)
       Ogali recounts the story of Item's ancient history fairly nicely, especially the founding of the place. He offers a few paragraphs on other historical important subjects ("Tribal Wars", "Slave Trading", "Trading", "Christianity"), though most of his description is fairly cursory. Some is also downright bizarre, such as the idea that: "the early slave dealers never sold their slaves". (If a man is a slave dealer surely by definition he buys and sells slaves. Otherwise he is a mere slave holder, or something else -- but certainly not a slave dealer.)
       The first part of the book presents the past, the second then focusses on the present. Here Ogali considers such things as religious and social activities, economic development, education, marriage -- and even the yam festival ("I have not seen any other town in Igboland where new yams receive tremendous welcome as in Item").
       Ogali is proud of his town, but he also recognizes that there are difficulties. The problem of marriage (and the fact that no one accepts the law fixing the bride price at £ 30) is of particular concern to him. He fears that because so few men can afford the exorbitant bride prices few local women are getting married: "The moral standard of Item Okpi people falls every day giving way to Western civilization." Among the solutions he offers ? Polygamy !

       History of Item: Past and Present gives a decent overview of this unfamiliar and fairly distant place. Not particularly well organized or presented, it still does offer some interesting pictures and tales -- history on a very local level.

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Onitsha market literature: Other books by Ogali A. Ogali under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Nigerian author Ogali A. Ogali was born in 1935 and was a leading author of the pamphlet literature sold at Onitsha market.

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