Book Review: Kambili by Obiageli Iloakasia.


Review of Kambili by Obiageli Iloakasia.

In “Kàmbílí”, adults, young people, and children are all affected by the realities of life.

The poems, ordered according to emotions, moods, seasons, or stages of grief, are an exploration of social injustices, mental health, crime, desire, belonging, and heritage — asking such existential questions as ‘who are we?’, ‘what are we here for?’ and ‘why can we not be left alone?’

The poems in this collection are witnesses to everyone’s lived experiences, begging to not be silenced.

My Review of Kambili by Obiageli Iloakasia.

Kambili literally means, ‘let me live.’ This book is a beautiful collection of fine poems that tug at the heart and speak to the soul. The poems tell tales of survival, of living, of existing in one’s skin. The book is divided into four sections, each section telling a unique survival story.

Survival i has beautiful compilation of poems about love, lust, memories, and in-between feelings. In ‘I hate love poems,’ the persona wonders how love, that very strong emotion that’s hardly explicable, can be verbalized in words. And in ‘Do not let me burn,’ there’s an appeal to a new love to please promise not to send them in that abyss they have just come back from.

In Survival ii, Iloakasia moves on to more sensitive topics; fear, depression, hope, and courage. Elements that stand in our way of living, and forces that drag us up from the ground when we have fallen. In the quest to live, we most times face challenges that threaten to weigh us down and stomp and kick us while we’re at the lowest points of our lives.

Review of Kambili by Obiageli Iloakasia.

In ‘I draw with hope from life’s well,’ the persona understands that hope is what keeps us alive, and we can only succeed another day by keeping our hope alive.

‘Ruminations’ is a poem that speaks to my soul. It makes us wonder what the world will be like if there is enough kindness to go round, if we forever be like children who have no worries, except to live each day as it goes by.

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But Survival iii tells the stories of cities and places and patterns we have encountered. The poems in this section, talk about leaving home in search of greener pastures, and how the cities and places we visit, make or mar us. In ‘Preachers and hoodlums,’ the persona compares preachers to thieves who steal from their congregation and bring doom their way.

‘I wrote a letter to mother,’ is a poem about homesickness. The persona reminisces about the good times they spent with their mother and how they want to experience such blissful moments again.

Review of Kambili by Obiageli Iloakasia.

‘Scarlet’ takes us back the memory lane, a fateful day Nigerians shall never forget. October 20, 2020. A day when citizens were shot for protesting for their freedom. A day when revolution swept across the nation. May we never forget the heroes who laid their lives for freedom sake. May we always remember.

The final section, Survival iv focuses on womanhood, abuse, and narratives that have carved a place in our hearts. In most parts of the world, women are forced to be heard only and not to speak.

Review of Kambili by Obiageli Iloakasia.

Women endure all forms of abuse and are cajoled into silence, while the perpetrators of these heinous crimes walk away freely. In ‘Conundrum,’ the persona wonders who will save her from her parents’ endless nagging on when she will bring a man home.

Women are being taught right from childhood on how to be good wives to their tentative future husbands. It’s as if women are made for men, as if their whole existence must revolve around men to be meaningful. But Kambili begs to differ.

The poems in this section challenge all the dehumanizing stereotypes that the women before us had to cope with. In ‘Apologia,’ the persona condemns the act of rape, and hurls all the blames on the rapist and not the victim.

A rape occurs not because of how the victim dresses, but simply because of the vile thoughts and lustful feelings of the rapist. Only the rapist is to be judged when a rape takes place, and it doesn’t matter how the victim dresses.

‘The time is now,’ teaches us that we don’t have to postpone our living or happiness for the next minute. All we have is now. We only have this moment to live, to laugh, to love, as tomorrow is not promised.

Review of Kambili by Obiageli Iloakasia.

If you’re a lover of poetry, then Kambili should make it to the top of your TBR list, because why not? The poems are beautifully written, and they speak to the heart lucidly, without losing their essence. I’ll rate it as 4.8/5.

The cover is to die for. In fact, this book is beautiful in and out. And it is such a delight that I have the opportunity to share in this bliss, this beauty.

Have you read the book? What do you think about it? Please share your thoughts with me in the comment section. Don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter, follow me on all social media platforms and share with your friends. Thank you for visiting Bookish Pixie.

Kambili by Obiageli Iloakasia
Kambili by Obiageli Iloakasia

16 thoughts on “Book Review: Kambili by Obiageli Iloakasia.”

  1. Its strange that in the modern age that society still seems to expect women to stick to their gender roles, and having it all while men can just focus on one thing. That book is right to beg to differ


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