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Ife-Iyoku, Tale of Imadeyunuagbon

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The novella Ife-Iyoku, Tale of Imadeyunuagbon was published in the Dominion anthology. It won the 2020 Otherwise award, and is a Nebula, Nommo, British Science Fiction Association and Theodore Sturgeon award finalist.
In it, a nuclear showdown in a third world war wipes out nearly all life on the African continent. The survivors gather in Ife-Iyoku, formerly, Ile-Ife, the spiritual capital of the ancient Oyo empire and birthplace of all life. They are protected by the power of the place and evolve, developing powers to help them survive the twisted environs and the radiation that keeps them hemmed in.

74 pages, ebook

First published August 17, 2020

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About the author

Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki

21 books92 followers
Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki is an African speculative fiction writer, editor, & publisher from Nigeria. He is a Nebula, Nommo, Otherwise and British Fantasy award winner, and a Hugo, Locus, Sturgeon & BSFA finalist. He edited the first ever Year's Best African Speculative Fiction anthology, the Bridging Worlds non-fiction anthology, co-edited Dominion, & the Africa Risen anthology. He founded Jembefola Press and the Emeka Walter Dinjos Memorial Award For Disability In Speculative Fiction

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5 stars
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10 (31%)
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Displaying 1 - 9 of 9 reviews
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.7k followers
May 21, 2021
3.5 stars for this Nebula award nominated novella (which you can currently download for free through the author's website here). Final review, first posted on FantasyLiterature.com (where you can read reviews of all of the current crop of Nebula short story and novelette nominees, and get links to where you can read them online).

In a post-apocalyptic world after a worldwide war, all of Afrika has been destroyed by nuclear fallout except for a small area surrounding the Nigerian village of Ife-Iyoku. It was protected from the war and radiation by the intercession of the orisha Obatala, who left many of the people of Ife-Iyoku with superpowers — whether mutations or magical abilities, they aren’t certain — to make up for what has been lost.

But traditions and restrictions to specific roles, including limitations on women and their rights, bind the people. The villagers are also fearful of the encroaching corruption in the wilderness around them, where monstrous mutated beasts threaten the people. A young woman named Imade is particularly concerned about their uncertain existence and pushes back against her society’s expectations of her duties as a woman. Meanwhile, Ooni Olori, chief ruler of Ife-Iyoku, also concerned about the many dangers surrounding the village, decides to take a risky step that may lead to either the salvation or destruction of his people.

Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki’s Afrofuturistic novella weaves fantastical elements into a dystopian science fiction tale. The writing style is somewhat simple, evoking African mythology and tribal culture. He also explores the tensions between tradition and changing societal roles, those who push for change and those who cling to the old ways. It’s a powerful but frequently disturbing and brutal tale, where people engage in vicious battles, exile is a death sentence, and women are used and raped. But some, at least, gain the ability to fight back against oppression in its various forms.

Content warning for triggers:
Profile Image for Richard Derus.
2,885 reviews1,922 followers
September 10, 2021
“Ife-Iyoku” is a work of daring moral imagination as well as a story expertly constructed. What makes this story’s achievement even more spectacular is that {it} stood out for the jury in a bumper crop of thought-provoking and challenging speculative fictions." Winner of the 2020 OTHERWISE AWARD! Bravo!
Profile Image for Andreas.
482 reviews131 followers
April 20, 2021
This is the last of my reviews for the Nebula finalists of 2021. Check out the others at my blog.

Synopsis:  In a post-apocalyptic Africa, the city Ife-Iyoku is protected by a shield against the nuclear fall out. People developed psi mutations, mostly depending on their gender. There are seers, feelers, light weavers etc. who all have to be useful, contribute to the community which has fallen back to a traditional African societal structure. 

Main protagonist Imade is a young woman, a seer who fights back against gender roles which have defined her for all her life. After an enormous stupid decision by the city's government, all the women are killed, she remains as the last one. 

The city's elders want Imade to be impregnated, no matter what.

Review: It was difficult for me to read through this text. Classic gender roles, lots of triggers like rape and suicide. Gladly, it is relatively short for a novella, just on the verge to novelette. 

It is really a tale about old order and traditions and the rebellious young ones. 

Highlight for me is Imade as the character opposing those structures, she simply doesn't want to bend. But that wasn't enough to really enjoy the tale.
Profile Image for Kwasi Shade.
1 review
May 29, 2021

"Obatala's patient suffering is the well known aesthetics of the saint." Wole Soyinka, Fourth Stage.

The return of Obatala is not what you'd expect and in "IFE-IYOKU, THE TALE OF IMADEYUNUAGBON" by Ekpeke Oghenechovwe Donald, the virtue of the king of the sky is creatively wielded to interrogate, at first glance, the value of community. Global or otherwise. Yet at the centre of this story is a delicate want to reconcile western and African conceptual schemes. To determine, perhaps, what is Truth.

We are first presented with a community that thrives on coalescence; persons are conjoined by a sense of duty. This is underscored by the Weaver, the mother of the community, who recounts the tale of a great war among the world's greatest nations which devastates an innocent Afrika. The surviving Afrikans who gather in Ilé-Ifé, Afrika, go to Obatala, who, in turn, goes to his father, the Almighty God, to ask for help. God gives his son his DNA. Obatala returns to Ilé-Ifé with God's DNA which he blesses with his DNA. The Afrikans consume the Godly DNA and also uses it to purge Ilé-Ifé of the effects of the war. It strengthens them and fortifies them in a hidden community.

Seeing the rest of the world in suffering, the merciful sculptor of men, Obatala, shares what remainder of the Godly DNA there is with the rest of the world.

*ONE GOD, MANY PEOPLE. ALL MEN EQUAL UNDER GOD. ACTS 17:25 "... And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth…"

The storyteller ends her history lesson with a promise made to the faithful and innocent; Obatala will return when they are most in need. And so introduces the primary argument, (Immanence versus transcendence) which comes too with a revelation; the community is Obatala. Obatala is their duty to survive.

The patriarchal figure, the father of the community, with little to no faith, misunderstanding his duty as self preservation, exploiting the sense of duty felt by the community, betrays Obatala. He exerts control thinking himself more equal than others and engenders this sensibility in the community.

When Imadeyunuagbon faces him in the Forest of fears and becomes Obatala, she knows herself and in knowing herself, is strong enough to invite the community into her person.

A compelling and nuanced narrative, the modern Orisa, Imade, champions the author's interrogation well. She asks: What is duty? What is one's duty to community or Obatala/(God)? What is one's duty to self?

Our duty is Truth. Our duty to community is our duty to self: to be who we are meant to be.

Oba tala iwo Baba!
Profile Image for J.N. Cameron.
30 reviews1 follower
March 10, 2021
I've been a fan of postapocalyptic fiction since I was a young lad and fell in love with books like Hiero's Journey or The Coming of the Horseclans. Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki met all of my expectations for this genre and more. His story gave me a vibrant, interesting and original setting and characters that I cared about. I truly look forward to reading more from him.
Profile Image for David.
Author 109 books87 followers
April 19, 2021
A post-apocalyptic tale set in Africa where people invoke tradition and magic to survive in a hostile new world.
Profile Image for Betsey.
408 reviews6 followers
April 10, 2021
This was a whirlwind of a novella, with more plot twists than I could keep straight. Lots of concepts and action was packed in tightly. Very different from other post-apocalyptic visions in some ways, but very similar in others.
Profile Image for Emmalyn Renato.
469 reviews12 followers
September 10, 2021
This novella has been nominated for the Nebula, British SF and Theodore Sturgeon awards. If it hadn't, I probably would not have been aware of it, and I wouldn't have attempted to read it. It's a post-apocalyptic fantasy set in Africa after a nuclear war, and describes the last remaining men and women in the city of Ife-Iyoku, many of whom have been endowed with mutated powers. It just didn't do it for me. The story needed an editor (or a better editor if it had had one). Trigger warning for rape and suicide.
Displaying 1 - 9 of 9 reviews

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