Hello everyone and welcome to the online book tour of Ifesinachi Okpagu’s The Domestication of Munachi! The tour begins today and this is one of the two websites which will be hosting today. I’m excited about this book especially because as a woman I can relate to the story. Here’s a brief synopsis of the novel:
On a hot Sunday afternoon years ago…
…Two sisters walk in on their father’s sexual liaison with the family’s hired help
which leaves them both scarred in different ways.
Unable to bear the thought of marriage to a man she barely knows, the younger
and more adventurous one, Munachi, runs away from home on the eve of her
traditional marriage, unwittingly resurrecting a long buried feud between her
religious mother and eccentric aunty. This conflict leaves a door open for the
The Domestication of Munachi (DOM) is a novel about the unnecessary pressure
on women to take on life partners, regardless of who these partners are and the
psychological impacts seen through the stories of two sets of sisters—Munachi
and Nkechi versus Chimuanya and Elizabeth.
Ifesinachi has read portions of her book. Please click to listen.
And here’s what you’ve just heard:
By the time I arrived at the office where I was supposed to drop off Mrs Nkoli’s
parcel, she was out. The receptionist, a young lady with a smile too sweet to
be true, delivered the message while filing her nails. She looked up once,
popped the gum in her mouth and repeated that Madam was not on seat and
the parcel could be dropped with her.
“As soon as she returns, I will send it to her.” She continued filing, popping the
gum in her mouth. She looked up and I was still standing there.
“Didn’t you hear me? I said drop it there,” she said, dragging the words out
slowly as if she was talking to a moron.
She pointed to the table where piles of paper, her Blackberry phone and nail
polish competed for attention. I was hurt by her tone, but obeyed. She was not
much older than me.
“Please sister,” I said looking around the empty reception for a sign of any
listening ear. “I am also looking for a job. Is there any vacancy?”
“Drop it there.”
“Drop what where?”
“Your cv. Didn’t you come with one?” She was annoyed. She stopped filing to
show me how annoyed she was at my presence. I did not blame her. She had
a job. I had none.
I nodded and brought out my cv from the transparent file under my arm and
wondered where to drop it among the piles of paper cluttering her desk. She
rolled her eyes at me and patted one
of the piles. She must have seen the look on my face because she
gave me a wicked smile and went back to filing her nails. I wished
in my heart that the chewing gum would roll out and strangle her.
But it didn’t, so I left for Chief Momoh’s office which I had been
told was not too far from Mrs Nkoli’s office. Aunty Chimuanya had promised
that Chief Momoh would help me. He had helped
her when she first came to Lagos and he had helped a few of her
“Just be nice, ehn?” Aunty Chimuanya had said early in the morning just
before she left for the airport. “And don’t behave like a small girl. He can
become angry just like that, you hear?” She snapped her fingers to emphasise
how quick his anger could arrive.
She had mentioned that if he liked me very well, I could even be a senior
officer in no time and I would own a car much like her
own. That way, my mother would forget the nightmare I had put
her through in the past few days.
“You know she’s very angry,” she had said. “Look at my phone”, she held up
her three Blackberry phones, “can you see any missed call from her or from
your father? Ehn? Eliza’s silence is more terrible than her talk. Be wise.”
Perhaps it was Aunty Chimuanya’s words singing in my ear that distracted me
and landed me in the path of a body that knocked
me to the ground. One minute I was rehearsing the interview I would likely
have with Chief Momoh in my head, and the next,
I was flat on the ground staring up at the sky. I sat up still reeling from the pain
and tried to advise myself not to rub my offended buttocks.
“Is that what you do? Knock grown men off their feet when they are not
looking?” The male voice sounded more amused than annoyed.
I scrambled from the spot where I had dropped like a bag of
beans and dusted my behind. Worry lines appeared on his face, but
when he reached out towards me, I stepped away. It was on the
tip of my tongue to lash out at him about not looking where he
was going, but I reminded myself that I had been too preoccupied
with my thoughts to notice him charging in through the gate.
Where was he flying to, anyway, at his old age? Well, he did not
look too old, I thought. In fact, he probably was a little over a
decade older than I was – maybe approaching forty. Maybe. And
he was not bad looking. Minus the five o’clock shadow, the goatee and the
abundant pouch in his middle, he could pass for someone younger. He made
me feel small. His bright eyes bored into mine,
a smile lurking in their depths. His haircut was low, and his full lips looked soft,
the bottom fuller and oddly vulnerable.
“Are you alright? Pretty girls should move about carefully before they get a
Another excerpt from page 125:
And here’s what you’ve just heard:
“You decide to meet a married lover on a Sunday night, tell me it is not trouble
you are looking for? By the way, were you at church today? Ehn?”
Munachi shook her head. Her face had almost disappeared into her shirt.
“My dear, let me tell you something you don’t know. It is this same God that
will bless your hustle if you don’t know. I am not against having a lover who
helps you take care of your needs, but despising God, lai lai.” She passed a
hand over her head and snapped her fingers in the air. “You can insult man
and walk away from it gbam. But you don’t insult God and expect Him to bless
you. He cannot be deceived. Don’t you know?”
Munachi’s eyebrows shot up and Chimuanya could see that she was even
more confused but she had to teach the right thing, before the girl lost her
“You see that cross beside my photograph?” She pointed. “It is a reminder
that I would never have got to where I am without my God. Munachi, while you
are living this life and enjoying yourself, just remember that at the week’s end,
you must go to church and thank him for what you have because you don’t
know that people are looking for this kind of blessing but have not found. Do
you hear me?”
“Yes ma,” she whispered.
“Run away from here and don’t ever let me hear that you skipped church
again to pursue a man.” She waved her off and watched her hips sway from
side to side until she disappeared down the hallway.
Chimuanya picked up a glass of wine from the side table where it had been
since her friends arrived and took a sip. The young girl had so much to learn
about life and she was afraid that she would never be able to teach her
everything before she had to go back to Eliza’s house and the silence would
fill her home once again.
She remembered the last time she and Eliza had had a sisterly conversation.
It was almost twenty something years ago; shortly before the darkest period of
her life descended and she had learnt her lessons the hard way.
It was just after her whirlwind romance with Daniel, a businessman who
travelled from Port Harcourt for a Lagos-based contract. Daniel had proposed
to her after their fifth date. Before him, there had been other men but with him,
the young Chimuanya had felt different. She had met him a virgin and though
her mother and sister had thought otherwise, Chimuanya had been
determined to keep herself for the man who would be her husband.
Daniel’s proposal had been the icing on the cake she had been waiting for. He
was the only one whose proposal thrilled her to the insides of her belly. The
two had started planning a wedding and giddy with excitement she had asked
him to accompany her to Awka to visit her sister who was her only female
relative left. Daniel had claimed he was tied up with business and that she
could go on without him. He had also asked her if he could move into her
house for the time she was away as he wanted her to accompany him back to
Port Harcourt after the wedding. The young Chimuanya had seen no wrong in
it. So he had moved into her then small apartment in a busy neighbourhood in
Okoko where the world came alive as early as 5 a.m. just outside her window,
and she travelled to Awka expecting her world to turn rosy after the wedding
she had already begun planning in her head. But that was not before she had
given her body for the first time to the man who would become her husband
when she returned.
Her sister had welcomed the soon-to-wed Chimuanya with praise-singing and
dancing. Adanna and Munachi, still much younger, had climbed onto her
knees. She would later forge a stronger bond with the younger child who
seemed to be a reflection of herself. Eliza had asked about the marriage
plans, insisting that it had to take place in Awka. Chimuanya agreed. A week
later, she left for Lagos, drunk with joy and a young love that put stars in her
eyes and a longing to be in the arms of the only man she had ever loved.
But she got home to an empty house. And an empty jewellery box.
Daniel had run off with her gold worth almost all her life savings. At first,
disbelief had clouded her thinking so much so that she went into town to
confirm the address of the friend he mentioned he had been staying with. The
address led her to an incomplete building which had been abandoned for
several years. The neighbours were clueless whom she was talking about.
By the time she got home, realisation dawned like a frog gradually
disappearing into sinking sand. She had been duped by someone she had
claimed as one of her own.
It was what hurt her most – he had not only lied to her, he had betrayed
someone he had claimed to love and had taken her womanly pride with him.
Chimuanya had sent a letter to Eliza explaining that there would be no
wedding. Shame had not allowed her explain why. Her details had been
sketchy. After that, Eliza slipped into her mute mode once again, claiming that
it was her fault her fiancé was no longer interested in the wedding. At the end,
Chimuanya allowed her think what she wanted. But she had learnt her lesson:
it was easier to trust a man you are not love with than a man with whom you
share your soul.
And it was easy to fall in love with a man you spent all your time with.
About the Author
Aside wishing she could travel more often and she could stop answering questions nobody ever asks, Ifesinachi is a creative mom with the superhuman abilities to get bored when she’s working on a single project at a time. The
Domestication of Munachi is her first novel. In her regular life, Ifesinachi .O. Okpagu is a Lagos based marketing communications executive with over seven years’ experience, including being an Associate Producer of a pan-African TV show and heading the marketing communications team of an insurance company. She also serves as the chief custodian of the Lexiton brand with intellectual property in the media and entertainment industry. Her first book, a novella, was published when she was fourteen and was adopted as a secondary school recommended text in Delta and Ebonyi states.
She was educated at Queens College, Lagos, and at the University of Benin where she obtained a BA in Fine and Applied Arts. Ifesinachi also holds a Masters degree from the Pan-African University where she graduated top of her class. She has written several stories, some of which have been published in Sentinel Nigeria, the African Roar Anthology and Saraba Magazine.
She has written/produced several screenplays for the big screen and for television.
The author agreed to a brief interview.
What inspired The Domestication of Munachi? And how did you decide it was a novel, not a screenplay or short fiction?
Munachi’s story just felt right as a novel; it was a gut feeling. Plus the story read better in the mind’s eye rather than the physical eye, though it could still be translated to screen. But it was just stronger as a novel.
Also, the novel form allowed me write all the little details that come with writing in the novel form; describing the scene, delving into the way people think and so on.
Do you intend to write a screenplay for The Domestication of Munachi? Why?
I have not given it much thought, mainly because as I explained, it felt like a book you would curl up on a couch and read with biscuits or a glass of something something handy. That is exactly how I imagined any reader taking the story in.
What do you hope to achieve with your works? What are your primary goals of telling stories?
Most of my stories are derived from what could be real life possibilities (not scenarios). I imagine: what would the world or this family or this person be like if this should happen? I have an overactive imagination. I am always asking ‘what if?’ And I believe that everyone should see the world as a collection of unique possibilities that could happen. My hope is that, through my stories, I will challenge people to go the extra mile and think of how we can all independently make better choices that could affect society.
I am also fascinated by the notion of the existence or non-existence of the phenomenon called time. I believe what happens to us, the things we feel, what we face, choice, actions and consequences are situated in time and space. So there is that feel to most of my original stories…situating possibilities within the context of time; challenging people to think of possibilities, of what could happen within a given period and how our actions can turn the discourse of an era.
Now is the time to ask the author your questions, please leave your questions in the comments section. Don’t forget to write your name at the end of the comment. There will be a draw at the end of all the tours. And free books will be given to tour participants. Don’t just ask questions, place an order here if you’re in West Africa and here if you’re in East Africa. Book orders automatically give you three spots in the Rafflecopter draw.