Title: I Do Not Come To You By Chance

Author: Adaobi Nwaubani

Genre: Fiction

Pages: 345

Published by: Weidenfeld & Nicolson in 2009

Read Publishers Description here


“My taste buds had been hearing the smell of my mother’s cooking and my stomach had started talking. Finally, she called out from the kitchen and my siblings rushed in to fetch their meals. Being the opara of the family, I was entitled to certain privileges. As first son, I sat at the dining table and waited. My mother soon appeared carrying a broad plastic tray with an enamel bowl of water, a flat aluminum plate of garri, and a dainty ceramic bowl of egusi soup.”

Reading the first paragraph of this book made me laugh out loud at the thought of a child of mine expecting any kind of preferential treatment based purely on gender, but I decided to forgive Kingsley’s mother for upsetting my sensibilities and I am glad I kept reading.

I would never have thought a story about ‘yahoo boys’ or 419ers (whatever you want to call them), would get me thinking about life this much. This is the first story I have come across that tackles the issue from the twisted minds of the culprits. But are their minds really twisted?

What lengths are we willing to go to make money? After all, money cures all ills. In the face of unemployment and extreme poverty, what is an intelligent enterprising and incredibly hungry young man to do? Especially in a culture where your perceived success is directly proportional to how much money you can spray at parties, where you are guaranteed a chieftaincy title once you can buy cars for the chiefs in your village and nobody really cares how you got rich as long as they can spend your money with you.

Kingsley meets his mentor, Cash Daddy, at the lowest point in his life. He has found out the deceit that is his university education, it turns out that reading all the books and passing exams will not guarantee you a job in an oil company. He is old (by recruitment standards.), broke, freshly dumped by the love of his life and his family is slowly sinking in debt.

Then there’s ‘Cash Daddy’, his good for nothing uncle who barely made it out of secondary school, swimming in cash. I love Cash Daddy by the way, he is incredibly un-tush and he couldn’t be bothered to pretend to be polished, unless he’s eyeing your bank account. He is a generous soul (It’s easy to be when spending someone else’s money...), and he decides to show his naïve nephew the ‘way’. Like my Pastor would say; “The greatest gift you can give a poor man is not money but wisdom”.

So is this a temporary arrangement so Kingsley can provide for his family? At what point does the thrill of the hunt overshadow his need for money? Is it worth alienating his family? Kings definitely found himself in quite a conundrum, he finds himself enjoying the process of swindling money out of all kinds of people: Lonely, Greedy, Naïve, Gullible… and he is very good at his ‘job’ until shit starts to get real and he has to decide if this cake is really worth having.


Verdict _ Ambivalent

I enjoyed this novel, though there were a number of low points and unnecessary drama, it still provides an interesting perspective to a controversial subject. The characters are colorful and beautifully developed, even the greedy oyinbo man who thinks he can come and chop out of our National cake.

The only issue I had was the tendency for whole thoughts to be repeated verbatim, I don’t know the right way to describe this, but it made reading an otherwise interesting story kind of stressful. This was Adaobi Nwaubani’s first novel, so I could chalk it up to the learning process.


“Good mothers know all about patience. They know about lugging the promise of a baby around for nine whole months, about the effort of pushing and puffing until a head pops; they know about being pinned to a spot, wincing as gums make contact with sore nipples; they know about keeping a vigil over a cot all night, praying that the doctor's medicine will work; they know that even when patience seems to be at an end, more is required. Always more.”

“I always find it funny when people say that money makes people proud. If you check it, poor people are some of the proudest people in this world.”

P.S. I came across a rather scathing review of this story after i had written mine and it's really amazing how your perspective can be blurred when you pay more attention to the positive side of things. I don't disagree with the author on any of his points but i still managed to view things from a different perspective. If you are interested in a second opinion, you can find the article here.

Published by Temilade Adebiyi