Author: Chigozie Obioma

Book Cover


This story was set in Akure, Nigeria 1996. It is written in the 1st person by an adult but written in the voice of a teenager. It tells the story of four brothers in a family of eight. These four brothers Ikenna, Boja, Obembe and Benjamin were born to a Banker and an illiterate mother. The story was told by Benjamin the smallest of the four even though there were other siblings after him, Nkem and David.

Image: Akure

It is written in the past tense, and in simple English except for a few areas where you might need to grab your dictionary to find out the meaning of words. LOL.


The fishermen started out with a setting of a family, the father a disciplinarian and the mother a complainer and supportive wife. The father who was a CBN staff had been transferred out of Akure to Yola and the mother did not like it. Neither did the four boys who obviously were the only ones who knew who they were. After their father left Akure, these young boys like every other daredevil young men started living their lives in a way their father would not have approved of if he had been around.

First they had tried to play ball with their neighbours who insulted them then they moved from that to start fishing in Omi Ala, the dreaded water. Coincidentally on the last day the eldest brother Ikenna decided that they would stop the fishing that they came face to face with Abulu, the famously dreaded village madman.

Image: Fishermen. Credit: Unsplash.

Abulu’s prophesies were dreaded by many and which was why when he prophesied to Ikenna that a Fisherman would kill him and he would die with his tongue sticking out of the side of his mouth and in the pool of blood he believed it.

That singular prophecy changed the course of their lives and Ikenna changed completely. Without giving too many spoilers my question was, if Ikenna had ignored Abulu would the prophecy had come to pass?

Ikenna’s death would eventually lead Mother to a mental state and father to attempt to kill Abulu. It also led to Obembe and Benjamin killing Abulu, before Obembe took off and Benjamin was arrested and convicted.


Now, to what extent do we believe in prophesies? Are you aware that it is what you allow that comes to you? From the story it is hard to actually agree that Abulu’s prophesies had any weights. I personally did not believe that he saw visions. Instead I believe that he spoke words that take effect when the hearer decides to swallow it and begin to allow it affect them.

Image: Crystal ball showing what is visible, image credit: Unsplash.


This is one story that challenged me so much as a writer, I even told my best friend that I wanted to write better than Chigozie Obioma.

  1. I loved the way he described the love Mother had for father. You could literarily feel her anguish when her husband had not called. With the way he described her ‘unfasten the knot at the hem of wrappa, bring out the crumpled piece of paper on which she’d scribbled his phone number and dial endlessly until he answered.’ This sounds very much like any woman who is anxious to hear the voice of the man she loves.
  2. Then there was the fight between Ikenna and the neighbour, where he described ‘their feet drew an imperfect gyre around the sand-covered pitch as they swirled together’ I could literarily see two guys fighting, mauling themselves, each one trying to overpower the other.
  3.  The description of stench from Abulu, ‘I observed that he carried on his body a variety of odours, the most noticeable of which was a faecal smell that wafted at me like drones of flies when I drew closer to him.’ When I read this portion, I literarily swatted my fingers across my nose to swat away the imaginary flies.
  4. And then the ‘He reeked of sweat accumulated inside the dense growth of hair around his public regions and armpits. He smelt of rotten food and unhealed wounds and pus, and of body fluids and of wastes. He was redolent of rusting metals, putrefying matter, old clothes, ditched underwear he sometimes wore.he smelt too, of leaves, creepers, decaying mangoes by the Omi Ala, the sand of the river bank, and even of the water itself. He had the smell of banana trees and guava trees, of the Harmattan dust, of trashed clothes in the large bin behind the tailor’s shop, of leftover meat at the open abattoir in the town, of leftover things devoured by vultures, of used condoms from the La Room motel, of sewage water and filth, of semen from the ejaculation he’d spilled on himself every time he masturbated, of vaginal fluids, of dried mucus. But these were not all; he smelt of immaterial things. He smelt of the broken lives of others, and of the stillness in their souls. He smelt of unknown things, of strange elements, and of fearsome and forgotten things. He smelt of death.’

Hmm you should not be eating when you are reading page 365, chapter 14. I tell you I smelt everything Chigozie described there, my face was contoured in disgust as the picture came alive in my mind eye.

Image Credit: Mickael Gresset, Unsplash


‘The fishermen’ is a beautiful read. Reading through the entire story, it is clear that the prophecy only came to pass because Ikenna took Abulu’s words to heart. He fought Boja severally because he on his own fixed Boja as the fisherman who would kill him in accordance with Abulu’s prophecy. Note that Abulu never fingered any of the brothers as the ‘supposed fisherman who would eventually kill Ikenna’ but Ikenna by himself fingered Boja, fought him and caused his death by himself.

Also the part of Benjamin being arrested and convicted for killing a mad man was obviously politically motivated because of a truth no one really cares about a mad man on the street, especially one who no one ever cared to take into a correctional home.

Where to purchase? Amazon.


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