Review Of Unexpected Joy at dawn



Review of Alex Agyei Unexpected Joy at Dawn by  Ifenaike Ayomipo

Unexpected Joy Dawn is a masterpiece that portrays distinctly the downsides of boundaries, which crystalize nationalities—a sense of belonging. The novel begins with Nii, the protagonist, and his wife, Massa, who is bedridden. Nii’s ailing wife symbolises the cancer that assails Ghana’s political and economic orbits. The following indexes besetting Massa: retchs, vomits, numbness, phlegm and fainting; again, typify the state of affairs in Ghana. Circa 1973, Ghana issued an ‘Alien Compliance Order’, compelling all illegal immigrants to return to their country. The relationship between the protagonist and Massa authenticate that two grieving souls could easily be attracted to each other, because of the peculiarities in their experiences—Massa’s is seemingly a character who’s also at bay with her family. Nii is of a Nigerian descent, based in Ghana, and separated from his family, after the proclamation of the first deportation in Ghana. Mama Orojo, his only surviving relative and a sister, who had vamoosed to Nigeria, and had made an iridescent life for herself.


After Massa’s death on the journey to visiting a spiritualist for some succour, Nii becomes decisive in forming a reunion with his sister. The numbness caused by incessant distress is shown in the manner Nii mourns Massa; it is swift and short like a brief whirlwind. A lover couldn’t have swiftly mourned a partner he hoped would survive a chronic illness, barring the numbness of lingering discomfort.


The then executive president, Shehu Shagari, orders the deportation of migrants from Nigeria, in 1983. It’s in the precarious season, the protagonist ‘migrates’ to Nigeria, on a quest to find Mama. Nii, again, encounters another loss in Paleo’s domain, an Immigration officer, who exploits Nii, on the pretext of shielding him from any future apprehension. Nii loses Marshak, who could have been a substitute for his late wife, since there’s a semblance in names and some resemblance in countenances.

Aain, Nii’s grief is swift and doesn’t linger. Before Marshak’s death, it’s suggested that she should be taken to the hospital, but the ladies bring up the hospital’s demand for nationality papers—and I cringed at how an innocuous and dying human could be denied medical treatment because they aren’t a citizen of particular country.


The novel is a compendium of losses, suffering and, above all, a reflection of black against black, which displays the aperture in humanity, and an objective call for all to be citizens of the world.

Ifenaike Michael Ayomipo is a young writer whose works have been published or are forthcoming on The Quills, The Transit Lit Magazine, Naija Mad Hotstars, My Woven Poetry, Inkspired, Ngiga, Ebo Quills and others. He hails from Ogun State, Odogbolu, although he lives in Lagos State where he catches his muse. He’s a promising educationist with robust dreams. He’s a Stan of Ademule Ghandi.

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