An African Night’s Entertainment


Title: An African Night’s Entertainment

Author: Cyprian Ekwensi

Publisher: African University Press

Number of pages: 152

Type of Book: Folktale, Fiction; African

Age: 10+

Available here: Borrow from ZODML Library, Ikoyi Lagos ( ) or buy here:

Price: $50.00


It tells the story of two men on a quest; one to have a child at all costs and the other to get revenge on the man who wronged him. Mallam Shehu, determined to have a child after 35 years of marriage fails to heed the warning of the gods and using love potions, takes a new wife, Zainobe who finally bore a son for him. Abu, Zainobe’s fiancé from childhood, betrayed and angry decides to seek vengeance. He leaves home and travels for years in a bid to find someone to take revenge on Mallam Shehu for him. The book chronicles Abu’s travails in foreign lands and the suffering of Mallam Shehu and his family afterwards. Read it to find out how Mallam Shehu and Abu succeeded in their individual quests and the price they paid for their actions. Aptly described by the narrator as a tale of vengeance, adventure and love, it will keep you glued to the pages till the very end.

UP: It is reminiscent of the popular-in-the-90s NTA (Nigerian Television Authority) TV series, Tales by Moonlight. However in the book, an old man, who made a bet with his audience that they would fall asleep before the end of the story and he would keep their money, replaces ‘Aunty’!
It is well written and very easy to read. The book also featured sections on moral lessons, vocabulary building and comprehension exercises in every chapter as well as a 20-page glossary.

DOWN: None

4.5 Stars

1. How did Mallam Shehu win Zainobe from Abu? He gave her a scent prepared by Mallam Sambo which made her fall in love with him.
2. Why did Abu embark on a perilous journey into the Kurmin Rukiki, forest of death? To get sap from a special tree with a gourd given to him by Tausayi, the man who helped him get his revenge.
3. How many parts of his body did Abu lose on his way to the forest of death? Two: his eye and his ear
4. Did both Mallam Shehu and Abu succeed in their quests? Yes. Mallam Shehu had a son, Kyauta, ‘meaning Allah be Thanked’ and Abu found someone to take revenge on Mallam Shehu.
5. What warning did the Gods give to Mallam Shehu? They warned that if he persisted in his quest for a child, he would have one but the boy would bring untold sorrow to him.
6. What warning did Tausayi give to Abu? He warned that there will be grievous consequences for their actions and that Abu would bear all the consequences.

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