|BOOK: On Black Sisters Street|
Author: Chika Unigwe
Publisher: Random House
Date Published: 2011
Reviewer: Vincent de Paul
Reading On Black Sisters Street by Chika Unigwe was a mixture of apathy, ambivalence, and intrigue. That’s because sometimes it drags, but that’s me. Now, about the book: it tells the story of four women who have gone to Europe for the riches life promises, all drawn together by a sisterhood developed from their profession—prostitution. Well, they don’t like it, but a woman gotta do what she has to.
Each night, Sisi, Ama, Efe, and Joyce peddle their flesh to a wide array of men, some of whom who want to them, even love them, but love and their job don’t go hand in hand, because their Madam demands her share, so is the pimp, Dele, who is in Nigeria. They open their bodies to strangers but their hearts to no one, each focused on earning enough to get herself free from the sex/human trafficking ring, to send money home, or save up for her own future.
When Sisi is murdered, they are shattered to the core. Drawn together by tragedy and the loss of one of their own, the women realize that they are strangers to each other; no one knows the other, her story. Because of that, they share their secrets; their tales of fear, displacement, and love all tied together by a single cord – Dele the pimp. They never know who killed Sisi, but when the reader knows it is the harmless, sinister Segun, Chika denies us the right to know whether Madam’s secret will ever be revealed, and whether the killer will ever be found.
Chika Unigwe is a contemporary African writer, raw, vivid, and gives no quota. She potrays what ails Africa in an entertaining way, neither pontificating about the issue: the West may hold the light to a better life, the dream life, but that dream’s an illusion and annihilation. It is a story of courage, unity, and hope, of women’s friendships and of bonds that, once forged, cannot be broken.