The title character of The Slave Girl is Ojebeta, whom the follows from childhood to adulthood in her Nigeria. The novel follows her as she is sold into slavery and moves from Ibuza to another town, Onitsha, and then back again. While her parents are alive, the special girl receives ogbanje charms from her father and also is given facial tattoos. These are intended to protect her from being enslaved. She is seven years old when her brother sells her. Although a slave, she attends school and learns skills such as sewing, along with social graces appropriate to be Clifford’s fiancée, although he later rejects her. Back home in Ibuza, she becomes a palm oil marketer and resists her brother’s suggestion that she enter an arranged marriage.
Umejei is the mythical prince who founded Ibuza, as narrated in the prologue.
Okweukwu and Umeadi Oda are Ojebeta’s parents.
Okolie and Owezim are Okweukwu’s and Umeadi’s sons. After their parents die of influenza, Okolie becomes the family head and sells his sister as a slave to a relative.
Ma and Pa Palagada, who live in Onitsha, are the parents of the family into which Ojebeta is sold. Ma Palagada, the owner, has become wealthy working as a market trader. She also owns four other girls and two boys, and she converts to Christianity.
Clifford is the Palagada’s son. As Ojebeta becomes a teenager, he becomes interested in marrying her. After his mother’s death, he becomes preoccupied with the business and calls off the marriage. His agreement to making Ojebeta his sister’s maid prompts her to leave.
Chiago, the oldest slave girl in the Palagada household, marries Pa after his wife passes. They have four sons.
Amanna, another of the Palagada’s slaves, encourages Ojebeta to return to Ibuza.
Jienuaka and Nwayinuzo, two other slaves for the Palagadas, marry each other. Jienuaka becomes a businessman.
Jacob Okonji, an Ibuza man, returns there after becoming educated and successful in Lagos. He marries Ojebeta and they have two children, before she miscarries. To ensure further successful pregnancies, he pays to Clifford Palagada the bride price that had been neglected when they first married.