Euphemia Udanoh’s Royal Kiss: One Up For Womanity

So it was almost two full moons after I had received an autographed copy of Royal Kiss, before I found time to read it.

It had been a hard day at work, I had come in and expressed an opinion on the trending #WifeNotCook and then a Facebook escapee from the slimebeds of insanity, decided to take a swipe at some perceived dents in my “character” to wit: single mother, divorcee; and took off on a frankly uninspired rant of drunken hifalutin bigotries.

*press ignore*

Distracted from work by the constant notifications from a Facebook roforofo I wanted nothing of, I went into the study in search of something to read and saw my copy of Royal Kiss propped up on the shelf.

My first thoughts were: read this until I drift off to sleep, but ever heard the word “impossible”?

Royal Kiss is unputdownable.

It is the story of one little girl’s determination to rise above the stigma and status society had unwittingly placed on her through no fault of hers, and be someone to reckon with within her community.

Little Nkem is the daughter of a woman who had chosen to raise her daughter all alone after a hasty separation from her husband.

Tarred with the single parent/divorce/prostitute – the third being a tag which comes with the status of being either of the first two even in Modern day Nigeria, Nkem’s mother was focused on seeing her daughter rise above all those tags and be someone those who had mocked her and her mother’s lifestyle, would be forced to look up to.

In order to achieve that, she schemed and tried all within her power to see her daughter married to the Crown Prince of Umuebo Village.

In one thing, her desires and ambitions were in tandem with her daughter’s, the need to be recognised and where they had been shamed in the past, celebrated.

The only divergence in both ambitions, was that Nkem wanted to make it, with or without marriage (if you say feminist, na you sabbe).

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She loved the Prince and would have loved to be the next Queen of Umuebo, but she loved education more.

And so when she saw that her mother’s schemes to get her betrothed to the Prince were beginning to gather steam to an extent that her mother would not hear of her enrolling in the secondary school at Onitsha where she had just gained admission on scholarship, Nkem was faced with a dilemma.

Stay on in the village, get married and get forced respect; or chart her own course irrespective of what challenges she might face in the future and earn that respect?

Her mind set, Nkem woke up one morning, packed a few clothes in a bag, and ran away to the city.

In her absence, the Prince’s betrothal and engagement ceremony went as planned and another bride was contracted for him…

But what happened to Nkem? Did she fulfill her dreams of being someone whom the village could look up to? Did the Prince live happily ever after with his new bride? Did Nkem’s mother ever survive the betrayal by her daughter? Was it one up for womanity or did Nkem realise that you cannot win a fight against culture and tradition and return to the village “ormbled”?

Well, the answer to that question, is in the book.

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Several times over the course of reading Royal Kiss, I had to pause and check the cover again to ensure I was not reading something written by Buchi Emecheta.

The lengths and depths to which Royal Kiss ventured in exploring themes, cultures and traditions, belief in the gods and their influence in the lives of men was commendable.

The style is reminiscent of epic novels that take you on a reluctant yet captivating trip through the oft discarded culture of the Igbo, as portrayed in the small waterside community of Umuebo.

The tussles over land, the expectations of partners in a marital relationship, the communal enforcement of morality codes and a host of others.

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Euphemia’s highly descriptive style also helped to convey the imagery of the people, and brought the characters vividly to life.

You could empathise.

In one minute, you were Nkem, wondering how you were going to escape a well deserved flogging from your mother and in the next, you were Ugomma her mother, struggling to live above society’s expectations (or lack of them), from you as a single parent.

I could relate to everything… Almost.

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There were two major conflicts for me in the book, I struggled to resolve the internal conflicts I felt as I read, but it is of immense credit to the author that through it all, you see where she is going with it and grudgingly accept that while you may not agree, it is not about you but about the bigger audience.

The first was in the stereotyping of Ugomma as a woman of easy virtue. I felt that was too cliché, the single mother who in order to make ends meet, has a variety of patrons who provide her money and other material benefits.

Too cliché…

But then, like I mentioned earlier, in Nigeria being a single mother and a divorcee is not just a catch 22 situation on it’s own, it comes with a free burden.

Extra load for you to carry.

Prostitute!

Whether you like it or yes!

Especially if you are like us, irritatingly vocal on issues that those who think you have “fallen from grace” as a single mother, should shut up about.

And yes, this in 2017 Nigeria.

But still, it would have been one thing for me if she was just tagged and slurred a woman of easy virtue, and another to actually BE it.

Secondly, as soon as Ugomma’s first lover died of a “mysterious illness” sent down from the gods early enough in the book, as a sabbe babe, I knew whotsup…

Person wey waka anyhow, don see anyhow.

So somehow, when Ugomma fell sick “mysteriously” alongside her most ardent lover, I smirked and threw one or two of my best judgements their way.

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Surprise surprise, we had to drag in the mystical and jujulistic somewhere down the line with Ugomma’s mysterious illness blamed on someone else, and her regaining her health after the culprit’s death, while her accomplice and lover died.

Hello!!!!! HIV education opportunity missed by miles?

*sigh*

This pankere that I have soaked for Euphemia, abeg wait small make I add Cameroon pepper to the kerosene it is soaking inside.

Then again, the book was set in 1970s Nigeria and here I am reading it with a 2017 mindset and thinking HIV. In that era and in a village as remote as Umuebo in the 1970s, it was a near impossibility. See why I said that however  much you wanted to disagree, the brilliance of the author was such that you saw reason as soon as you got past the fences you had put up in your mind.

Again, these are just my opinions on what I felt was a mighty marvellous read after all and there were two pieces of good news that came shortly after:

1. The book is being considered for inclusion in the secondary school’s literature reading list.

2. The first edit of the book is currently ongoing. Rest assured when it is done, you’ll also read a review here.

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Okay, before we wrap this up and wish you a “happy sortahdei”, here is a chance to win a copy of Royal Kiss.

We have two of them to give away:

In the comments section ????? , please pen down your opinions on girl child education, why you think EVERY girl deserves a chance to go through the education cycle (nursery, primary, secondary and tertiary) and which you think should be of greater importance to the girl child: education or marriage.

Thanks lovelies.

Oh and before I forget, Happy Sortahdei!

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11 Thoughts to “Euphemia Udanoh’s Royal Kiss: One Up For Womanity”

  1. Victoria Nwogu

    Interesting review. Now I can’t wait to read Royal Kiss. I certainly believe that EVERY girl child deserves an education; at least, basic education and much further if she has the desire and aptitude for it. Why? It should be the right of EVERY human being to be provided the opportunity to achieve their full potential. And when it comes to women, the benefits to herself, her family and immediate society can be so much more apparent.

  2. Ijeoma Onyeje

    Education is really ‘power’. This phrase cannot be overemphasized in the girl child. With education comes knowledge, with knowledge comes exposure and with exposure especially to other people with liberated mindsets, comes the understanding that she should not be limited by other people’s perception of what she can or can’t achieve. Educating the girl child is more important that preparing her for marriage and education also makes it possible for her to take better decisions in life. For instance, an educated woman is less likely to have more children than she can cater for, she is more likely to immunise her children and more likely to insist on them being educated. Education also improves her earning power. The entire cycle of education ( Nursery to Tertiary) allows for a stepwise reaffirmation of knowledge and tertiary education also improves exposure to other people and cultures.

  3. Blessing Okakwu

    Growing up I knew I was smarter than a lot or my peers, I didn’t understand why until I grew older and realize how much reading helped shape my mind. I believe everybody deserves to be educated, girls a bit more because of the society we live in. A lot of women grow up with one aim, to meet up the standard the society has placed for them, and in doing so they lose themselves. Girls need to understand what is right and what is wrong, they need to know what is acceptable and what is plain self punishment. Every girl needs to know how and when to stand up for themselves, they need to know that they have a voice, a voice that should be heard. I do not just mean the basic formal education, girls need a lot more than that.

  4. Omalicha

    Every girl child deserves the chance to go through all the cycles of education because of the following reasons;

    1. They have the same right to be educated just like the boy child because every child is equal irrespective of gender. We are all humans that deserve fulfillment and fulfillment to some extent, comes with attaining certain heights and these heights are most times linked to education, so why deprive the girl child of this fulfillment? Why not give her the right she deserve to take a shot at attaining that fulfillment just like anybody else?
    2. The girl child is smart and can learn. The society at large believes the girl child is dumb ( why, I really can’t figure out yet) and as such should be relegated to the background but this isn’t right. She should be given the chance to prove to the society that she is as smart as any other child, she should be given the opportunity to be educated because even she too, can learn. She can take a shot at sciences, arts, anything! She might even be better at it but if she isn’t given the chance to be educated, how would she show the world how innovative and smart she is? Give her the chance, the opportunity and education so she can develop her intelligence just as the other child
    3. An educated woman would be more productive in/to the society. The girl child just like the boy child have many talents and when given the right opportunity, can be harnessed and developed. These inner talents can be shared with the world and the society at large. They have dreams just like the boy child and should be allowed to discover their dreams themselves. What they know shouldn’t be only what the society installed in them, they can be inventors just like the boy but if they are home and not at school, how can these dreams of theirs come true? They can make the world a better place by using their brains and skills
    4. When you offer the girl child a shot at education, you give her a great power to make right choices over the kind of lives she wish to live. You be giving her the chance to improve life of those around her, many great men and women can attest to the fact that women improves life for everyone. An educated woman can pass knowledge to their offsprings, why not give her the chance to get better if possible be best at it since they are usually the first point of knowledge to the kids?

    I personally think Education not marriage should be of greater importance to the girl child because an educated woman is a an empowered woman and an empowered woman, is of great value to the society. She should be educated first before getting married so as to add much more value to her home and be able to raise better children.

  5. Chi Nwokolo

    I believe that the girl child deserves to be educated as much as a boy child because first of all she is a human being, She is not a lesser “vessel”. It is her right to go to school to the highest level she deems fit because last I checked our brains are not gender specific. There is no male or female brain. We were all born with the same way. She deserves to stand with the boy child and follow her desired path. She can be a doctor saving lives, she can be a writter, a journalist an astronaut. The girl child has soo much to offer to the world and of course through the course of time there has been so many powerful and great women who did a lot to improve the world and make an impact. She needs the knowledge, the exposure the opportunity that education gives. For every human being especially the girl child education is the most important not marriage because you can’t just get married empty. You have to learn, read become a pro at whatever you do. Make money provide for yourself. Become somebody that can hold her side down. Rise above the tag that it’s all about marrying and bearing kids. Have something you can offer the kids too. Get a life before getting a man.

  6. Obilana Olusola

    In life everyone has a right to live, talk and be educated. The girl child is a human first before a girl. Every girl child is blessed with a gift which most times can be put to use if she is educated. Gone are the days where a woman’s place is in the kitchen. Mary Slessor was able to stop the killing of twins because she believed in herself and the power she carried. I discovered the more exposed and enlightened a person is, the more courage and power such has to be vocal. A girl who is made to marry at a tender age has lost the power to be bold, explore and learnt a lot beyond the confines of marriage. She is made subject to her master the husband, her brain is strained with the load of marriage she was not prepared for until she finds her passion, her dream and power before she breaks free which most were unfortunate not to have. The girl child has a future, a passion and discovery of what she wants in life when given the chance to be educated. Every girl child deserves education and not marrige.

  7. Iduseri Osa Emily

    A nation that educates a girl, educates the nation, enhances development and gets great investment yields. Why you may ask?? For this simple reason, the mother is the one who shapes the child. She is responsible for majority of what the child will grow to know and belive, which will in turn shape his/her character and make him/her become the person that he/she will be and what they will in turn give back to the society.

  8. Ima-Obong Jonathan

    Education for a girl child is fresh air. Without a good education any girl child is vulnerable to the hazards of the society. She becomes apologetic when she should be affirmative in her actions. She compromises her ethics and values because she yearns for acceptance when she would have been an advocate and ambassador for change in societal ills. Education is the best make up for the girl child. Her beauty is enhanced by what she knows and believes in. Give her the chance to breathe that fresh air and the pollution in the society fizzles away.

    1. Ima-Obong Jonathan

      On education or marriage: Any marriage with educated partners is a plus to the society as education makes the lady more understanding of temperaments and personalities. For the girl child, marriage is like a preterm labor that keeps the baby in an incubator waiting for the normal weight before discharge for normal life experiences. Why the rush when one will only end up without the basic necessities of life. I stand with education for the girl child and marriage for the ladies or women. Don’t end up broken up when you would have been built up.

  9. EMMANUELLA ENEBELI

    An articulate review I must say. Education for the girl child is no longer a luxury factor. An outline of the benefits of educating the girl child envisages the following.

    An educated girl child is liberated from the valid fears and challenges that comes with the life of the easily seconded class of the Feminine gender.
    The education of the girl child is a wealth that transforms to health because it fosters the insight and the knowledge of employing healthy choices for the family.
    An educated girl child is dependable , for example, the female Lawyer in a Law firm is inclined to complete work on the files on her desk with accurate diligence before entertaining personal briefs.
    An educated girl child in the nearest future is a formidable companion, associate, team member, goal getter etc.
    Stability is an investment education deposits in the girl child.
    Nothing orchestrates independence in a girl child like education.
    An educated girl child has a broadened horizon and understands the ample opportunities and talents she can develop for herself employing hardwork, focus and consistency.
    For the girl child education comes with tact, apt, good conscience, conciseness, aesthetics and loads of imperishable values.
    An educated girl child is an Idol whose altar is laid in her profound limitless contributions to the society.
    An educated girl child is worth far above rubies with the engraved ability to change the narrative, change her world, and even in the world of Arts and Crafts will be able to create and build a successful entrepreneurial venture.
    The list is endless and cannot never be exhausted.

  10. Olije Helen Wakdok

    Everybody regardless of gender has the right to have the opportunity to explore their full potential. The chance to go through the full cycle of education ensures that.
    A girl child has dreams and aspirations like any human and to restrict that is a violation of a basic human right. In all works of life, women have made outstanding contributions to humanity. Indeed, from literature to science and politics, we have had trailblazers like Jane Austen, Marie Curie and Eileen Johnson Sirleaf.
    Women, in most societies are the primary caregivers. Educating them empowers them to fulfill that task.
    In my practice as a medical doctor, I have had many children brought into the hospital sometimes a minute too late; many times gaunt from malnutrition or ravaged by debilitating illness . When the mothers are asked why they delayed in seeking help – the reply sometimes is ” my husband was not around and so I had no money”. Apart from being completely financially dependent, they lack the requisite knowledge to ensure good hygiene and adequate nutrition in the home. Hence, the suffering and infirmity that can be averted by empowering the woman so she can cater to the needs of her family.
    Evidence suggests that women’s education contributes to social and economic development. It improves the health and nutrition of the family resulting in increased child survival rates and reduced maternal mortality rates. It also increases likelihood of children being educated, improves the quality of life of women and indeed, increases the GDP of a nation!
    The benefits of girl child education affects all and cannot be overemphasized. Therefore, EVERY girl child deserves the chance to go through the full education cycle.

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