Summary (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
That The Slave Girl is narrated by a storyteller is apparent through its structure: Its prologue is one of mythical beginnings that relates the founding of Ibuza by a young prince, Umejei. The stage is set for the story, which takes place in the early twentieth century, of Okweukwu and Umeadi Oda, their two sons, Owezim and Okolie, and their daughter, Ojebeta.
Although “only a daughter,” Ojebeta is beloved because she is the only girl child who survives after so many have not. Her specialness is demonstrated through her ogbanje charms, which her father has to travel miles through dangerous territory to obtain, and her intricate facial tattoos, both of which are to ensure that she will not be sold into slavery. However, when Ojebeta’s parents die of “felenza,” the seven-year-old is sold to a relative by her brother, Okolie, for eight pounds, money that he uses to pay for his coming-of-age dance. Ojebeta becomes one of five slave girls and two boys owned by Ma Palagada, a successful market trader.
In Onitsha, Ojebeta lives the life of a slave girl; however, because of Ma Palagada’s wealth and eventual conversion to Christianity, she is allowed to attend school, to learn to sew, and—once Ma Palagada’s son, Clifford, informs his mother of his desire to marry Ojebeta—to receive special, more sophisticated refinement training. When Ma Palagada dies, Clifford becomes preoccupied with taking over the business, and one of...
(The entire section is 543 words.)
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