REVIEW: “Ife-Iyoku, the Tale of the Imadeyunuagbon” by Ekpeki Oghenechovwe Donald

Review of Ekpeki Oghenechovwe Donald, “Ife-Iyoku, the Tale of the Imadeyunuagbon”, in Zelda Knight and Ekpeki Oghenechovwe Donald, ed., Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction From Africa and the African Diaspora, (Aurelia Leo, 2020) — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology).

Content note: Nuclear warfare, possible rape, nonconsensual sex, death, suicide.

The “sacred charge of Obatala” is that all the men and women of Ife-Iyoku be useful, whether through the cultivation of special gifts as see-ers or healers or light weavers, or through the application of themselves to general tasks such as hunting and cooking and childrearing. While all the rest of Afrika has been destroyed by nuclear fall out, Ife-Iyoku stands behind a protective shield, and it is the duty of those who live there to make their community as strong as possible, that they might survive until Obatala returns to save all of Afrika.

But these roles come with definite gender restrictions, with women coming out far the worse. When Ooni Olori receives a message from beyond the shield, life in Ife-Iyoku is threatened by invasion. Those who live there must question the patriarchal structures that have bound their lives and face a future radically different from any they have ever known. I enjoyed watching Imade, one of the main characters, fight back against the gender roles that have constricted her her whole life, and by the end of the story was deeply invested in her and her outcome. A strong and powerful story.