Ralia the sugar girl

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I was drawn to Ralia the sugar girl on a rainy day. There was nothing to do in school and I didn’t feel obliged to go through my notes when I remembered that we were to discuss this book at our book club meeting at the end of the month. Busayo, my sweet and amazing Bookclub leader, helped me purchase it from God knows where, and as I held its crisp pages in my hand, I felt a wave of nostalgia.
For those who don’t know Ralia the sugar girl, its a book written by Kola Onadipe and published by the African university press, Ibadan, as far back as 1964. It’s a small book, 109 pages long with 68 pages for the story and 41 pages for continuous assessment. I most likely read it in primary school, as would most Nigerians.
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The first paragraph got me grinning.
Her name is Ralia but people called her “Sugar Girl”.
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The story is set in a village called Apampa, and the cutest thing is that Ralia has a dog, given to her by her father, called Wara. Its a cross breed between a parable and a short story where the writer tells us about Ralia and her adventure. The narrator seemed to praise aesthetic qualities of Ralia rather than her cognitive or problem solving skills. He used sentences like, “she could neither read nor write…she had a fine face and a nice voice”.
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He focused on how she was “good” because she did everything she was asked to. The fairytale beginning eventually dimms with the appearance of the old looking witch who threatens to dig out the young girl’s eyes with her long nails and suck out her blood with her fangs, leading to the false imprisonment of Ralia. I paused to wonder why the author exposes children to scenes of unlawful restraint and if this is actually what I read and what many others have read for the past 54 years!
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As more characters are introduced in the story, the plot becomes very bland with the moral lessons being incoherent with each chapter. Like in the story of the witch, the moral lesson is to always listen to stories told by old people…be cheerful always by singing happily. I really don’t know how this is a moral lesson when Ralia is held against her will and cries to sleep.
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The arrival of the prince made the story even more debilitating with the chain of events that led to the witch being taken to Apampa village. The shock I felt as I visualised the violence exhibited by children towards the old woman, and witnessed the village chief’s unwarranted penalty, assuming she does not meet the ultimatum, equivalent to death in fifteen days. Despite the moral lesson, I believe the message could have been passed in more subtle ways.
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I believe that the writer didn’t really achieve what he aimed to do at the beginning of the book which, I assume, is writing a story that highlights moral lessons for everyday living.
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As for my favorite character? That would be Ralia’s father who provided comic relief by always biting his nails in times of distress. It just hit close to home.πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
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I like the evaluations at the end of the book as it enables the teachers to asses the pupils knowledge of the book, build vocabulary and improve grammar.
Recommendations
I rate it as 3/5 meaning it’s readable. Although strangely, It felt as if I had an IQ drain because of the book.
To purchase the book you can check the following sites:
– Roving heights Lagos
Website: http//rhbooks.com.ng
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– Patabah books limiter at Adeniran Ogusanya shopping complex.
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– Glendora bookshop at Ikeja City Mall, Ikeja Lagos.
About the Author
Nathaniel Kolawole Onadipe was a lawyer, teacher and a writer known for his didactic and educating stories. He was born in 1922 and published Sugar girl in 1964. He has authored many books which are still used in schools all over Nigeria. Some of his other works include: The boy slave, Koku Baboni, The adventures of Souza, The magic land of shadows and much more. Many of the authors books have impacted Nigerians one way or the other.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Blessing says:

    To think that I read sugar girl with all my heart when I was very young πŸ˜’πŸ˜’β€¦ Thanks for the review 😊

    Like

    1. Chinaza says:

      We all did my dearπŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

      Like

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