20 December 2023 | By: Writing Buddha

The Nigerian Mafia- Mumbai by Onyeka Nwelue (Book Review: 3.75*/5) !!!

2088th BLOG POST

34th Book of 2023


Living in Navi Mumbai and Mumbai, there has been multiple times I have spotted Nigerian citizens in local train and other public places. There’re always some assumptions about them and we don’t take a second to pass judgments against them. Secretly, everyone of us wish to know how they are in India and what do they exactly do to survive or live in our city. Thankfully, I got my hands upon this book named “The Nigerian Mafia- Mumbai” written by Onyeka Nwelue who is a Nigerian filmmaker, publisher, talk-show host, bookseller, author and an Academic Visitor and founder of the James Currey Society, at the African Studies Centre, University of Oxford.


As the author is himself from Nigeria, he has been able to provide us specific details on the life of a Nigerian who has left his home to be in a new country and start from zero amidst all the struggles and chaos he has to go through. Onyeka has used the character of Uche to describe why the protagonist left his country and how he is trying to survive in India in its most fancy city- Mumbai.


The book is written in a very easy language which can be understood even by the beginners. I was quite unsure about the language initially as the author belongs to a foreign land where English is not prominently spoken hence the citizens lack the fluency. Surprisingly, Onyeka does great justice to the primary language he chose to write his story. He has also tried to maintain the flavor of Nigerian accent by ensuring that the same is scribbled in the conversations where certain characters are involved. Initially, I found difficult reading and understanding it but once I understood the purpose, it became easy to read the same.


Nwelue’s has a great potential in narrating the story as he is able to convince us about multiple sub plots and the kind of situations the characters have to go through. We are able to comprehend the arc of the characters and their changing priorities with the passing time in a city like Bandra where they get the difficult opportunities to survive but on the risk of getting caught at any point of time. How a local actor moves to Mumbai for becoming a Bollywood actor but ends up becoming a drug dealer – even a pimp – and indulges in other criminal activities as well. While reading the whole scenario from the perspective of a Nigerian, a reader is able to empathize with them completely.


In the pre-climax, author brings a twist and reveals what exactly happened with Uche before leaving for India. I read that part twice. The convincing factor in the author’s writing makes you believe even those sections where the possibility of it seems very fictional. Obviously, the book is a fictional attempt but the way it’s written makes it sound like an autobiography. I liked how author has justified the rawness of all the locales he has based his story in such as Bandra, Mumbai, Nigerian cities etc. One can easily imagine the whole ambience of the place where the character is regularly on a run for survival.


The romantic angle in the story is given a small place which gives a different perspective of the character but the confusion and uncertainty of the same makes it a separate but integral part of the tale. The book also takes us through how even fellow Nigerians doesn’t support each other due to their own caste system where there’s a lot of superiority complex in the ones who belong to the higher community. It speaks of other aspects of Nigeria as well.


Overall, the book is a compelling read which makes you keep turning pages until you finish it. It tempts you in believing that there’s something more sensational about to happen in the next chapter. Author has made the reading experience very easy and interesting. I give the book 3.75* out of 5. I am looking forward to read more work from the author in future.






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