On Ajayi Crowther Street is one of those books I bought without any idea of what it was all about. I did not expect it to be anything, so having my first graphic novel came as a surprise.
“On the noisy Ajayi Crowther Street in Lagos, neighbors gather to gossip, discuss noise complaints, and faithfully head to church each Sunday. But beneath the surface lies a hidden world of clandestine love affairs, hidden pregnancy, spiritual quackery, and hypocrisy, that threatens to destroy the community from within.
On Ajayi Crowther Street peels back the curtains on the lives of Reverend Akpoborie and his family, to reveal a tumultuous world full of secrets and lies. His only son, Godstime, is struggling to hide his sexuality from his parents whilst his daughter Keturah must hide the truth of her pregnancy by her pastor boyfriend to preserve her and her family’s image. But it is the Reverend himself who hides the darkest secret of them all, as his wandering eye lands on Kyauta, their young live-in maid.”
My Review of On Ajayi Crowther Street
Written by our very own Satirist, Elnathan John, and illustrated by Alaba Onajin, we already know what to expect. In this book, Elnathan used his distinct sense of humor to address some Nigerian issues through the lives of his extremely flawed characters.
The book cuts across themes such as religion, sexual abuse, rape, abuse of power, family, sexuality, mental health, suicide, and secrecy.
Let’s Explore Some of the Themes
Homosexuality: When Pastor Akpoborie learned that his son was gay, the first thing he did was condemn him and his partner. He said they were possessed by an evil spirit and therefore should be delivered. Homosexuality was a heavy sin but performing fake miracles, deceiving people, raping his house girl, and abusing power were not.
Suicide: I don’t want to give away too much here. A character committed suicide and nobody knew exactly why. I particularly think this was because he could not live with the thought of having people condemn him.
Fake miracles: If you hold men of God in a high place, reading this book will have you utterly disappointed. Elnathan unraveled the secret lives of pastors and prophets, throwing lights on the fake miracles they perform to scale their church business. Pastor Akpoborie was such a pastor.
Sexual Abuse: There was rape, and then molestation. The victim was left with only two ugly choices that whichever one she makes, would take away so much from her.
Break Up: With her family’s reputation rotten, Mrs. Akpoborie sought solace in her only friend, Mrs. Akerele, but rather met a friendship whose coffin had been nailed shut.
The story and the characters may be fictional but we all have lived on an Ajayi Crowther Street in one or two areas of our lives, therefore, resonating with this book, provided you are Nigerian who lives or have lived in Nigeria, would be unavoidable.
Infused with humor and funny illustrations, On Ajayi Crowther Street will paint an unforgettable picture on the minds of anyone who reads it. I recommend it to everyone, especially Nigerians.