Dialogue: Incarnations of Ogbanje
, the Born-to-Die, in African American
My mother was faced with what people know as Abiku or ogbanje
He returned to Earth with an answer: He's an ogbanje
, a spirit child-he wants to return.
'godlings' alternately protect her and serve their own ends, with a strange and wonderful logic to their point of view which sheds an unfamiliar light on Ada's trials and conflicts as she grows up and leaves for college in the US.
Ada's experience is narrated by the voices inside her head, ogbanje
spirits that share her body and mind.
Akwaeke Emezi, a young Nigerian author, won the 2017 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for Africa for her story "Who is Like God." This debut novel reflects certain autobiographical realities, including identity as a person inhabited by ogbanje
("an Igbo spirit that's born into a human body, a kind of malevolent trickster") and as a trans, black, and gender-nonbinary person.
Her multiple selves, who narrate the story, identify themselves as ogbanje
, evil spirits who reincarnate in continuing cycles.
Were you always an ogbanje
, that returned child from the spirit world, and we knew not this?
Born to die: The ogbanje
phenomenon and its implication on childhood mortality in southern Nigeria.
Most of these women were identified at birth by their families as ogbanje
children (these women always use the Igbo expression, even if they are Edo-speaking).
Okonkwo's A Spirit of Dialogue: Incarnations of Ogbanje
, the Born-to-Die, in African American Literature (Knoxville: U of Tennessee P, 2008) promises to expand our understanding of the intertextuality of Africanist traditions in African American literature.
Marking is indirectly related to another African phenomenon: the Yoruba abiku or Igbo ogbanje
. Abiku means, "born to die," and abiku children are born, live a short while, and die only to return to the mother's womb and continue this cycle.