The Arts

January 30, 2023

Akande’s new novel tackling drug abuse

By Prisca Sam-Duru

Lola Akande’s new novel, The Truth about Sadia, addresses issues of mental illness in relation to the menace of substance abuse. The book which has been endorsed by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, as a “well researched and educative novel”, is coming roughly two years after her collection of short stories, Suitors Are Scarce in Lagos.

Explaining reason for the endorsement, the NDLEA in a statement, declared that “substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking is indeed a global monster that must be tackled from all fronts, and the case of Sadia presents one of the many social, health, economic and safety consequences of drug abuse being experienced by many families in Nigeria.”

It further commended the author for the timely and priceless material noting that, “The infusion of drug abuse education as a major plank of your novel, makes it one of the worthy publications for advocacy and public enlightenment in the current campaign against substance abuse in our society.”

The Truth about Sadia explores how the use of alcohol and hard drugs can lead to the development of mental illness. It recounts the life from childhood to middle-age of a beautiful, talented Nigerian woman, Sadia Onaolapo Oyelowo who must endure tragedy to realise the person she is: strong, resourceful and, above all, a survivor.

Her husband, Mofeoluwa Ayowumi Bolarinwa is not of sound mind and is inclined to go off the rails in fits of abnormal and strange behaviours following alcohol and drug binges, for which he is hospitalised at a psychiatric hospital. Each time he is treated and gets better, he returns to the use of the drugs which in turn triggers a relapse. Inevitably, and despite Sadia’s best efforts, the marriage breaks down and she is forced to raise their only child as a single mother in Lagos surviving on a teacher’s salary.

The Truth about Sadia is a rich, multi-layered novel that does not shy away from delving into the seamier sides of modern Nigerian life in a Lagos rife with contradictions and, above all, the energy for which the city is famous. Indeed, the city is as much a presence in the novel as the characters especially the two main characters who must reconcile their separate destinies against the city’s contradictions. 

“This is a novel for our times, warts and all. It will appeal to students at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, teachers and the general public,” Akande stated.

An accomplished fiction writer and academic, Lola Akande is presently a senior lecturer in the Department of English, Faculty of Arts, University of Lagos where she teaches African literature. She earned her doctorate in English with specialisation in Prose Fiction/African Literature from the University of Ibadan. Akande has worked in various capacities as a teacher, journalist, public servant, development worker, and public relations consultant.

She has published three novels including In Our Place (Macmillan (Nigeria) Publishers, 2012), What It Takes (Kraft Books, 2016) which won the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Prize for Prose Fiction in 2017, and Where Are You From? (Kraft Books, 2018). Her collection of short stories, Suitors Are Scarce in Lagos also won the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Prize for Short Stories, 2022.