Insider Book Club: Book Review: She Would be King by Wayétu Moore

An African story set in West Africa, in a village called Lai opens up, thereby pulling the reader in with the mysterious ways of the Vai people.

In the village of Lai, there are myths surrounding cats, tagging them as gods and therefore should be respected.

“In Lai, there was once an old woman who beat her cat to death. The cat resurrected and his ghost sat on her roof until her house fell down, killing her.”

The main character in this West African novel is Gbessa; the cursed child. Gbessa is pronounced “Bessah”

Gbessa is tagged as more cursed than “Ol’ Ma Famatta”

“Ol’ Ma Famatta—who they say is sitting in the corner of the moon after her hammock flung her there on her 193rd birthday.”

The Vai people, inhabitants of the coastal village of Lai believe that they have seen nothing like Gbessa’s case, going as far to say;

“But even Ol’ Ma Famatta’s misfortune was nothing compared to that of Gbessa, whose curse was not only her inability to die, but also the way death mocked her.”

The circumstances surrounding Gbessa’s birth were very unpleasant, as the ghost of a dead cat was spotted on the same day she was born, thereby making the elders declare that day ‘cursed’

Her mother, Khati, knowing the full consequences tried to delay her delivery;

“She panted, drained, as she tried to stop the baby, first with an intermittent tapping of her stomach, then she reached one hand underneath her lappa to impede the liquid from where her child pushed its way out. When only several yards away from her house, at the end of a train of blood, with no more power to ignore the pain that pushed underneath her wet and sticky fingers, Khati fell onto her back against the waiting leaves. Unable to squeeze her slippery thighs together any longer, unable to constrain the willful head of her baby, Khati howled into the wind and sun.

“The drumbeats ceased.
That was the day that Gbessa was born.
The elders declared that she was cursed”

Wayétu Moore, author of this brilliant novel manages to win over the heart of every reader, African or not!

It is a good read!


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  • Bello Olabisi Victoria

    Bello Olabisi, known to most individuals as Dorian is a literature student. She's a dark poet with a weird sense of humor, a spoken word artist, a nature photographer, a freelance writer, an active volunteer and a lover of stuffed toys.

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