Dec 2, 2010

I Do Not Come to You by Chance - A Review

May 2009
Authorhouse, $15.99, 416 pages, ASIN B002KHMZOA
Available on

I finally picked up a copy of Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani’s debut novel, I Do Not Come to You By Chance, and I’m so glad I did. Who would have thought a story that involves 419 scams would be entertaining, laugh out loud funny, and a little sad in the same package? But altogether, it was fantastic read!

If you asked me to describe the theme of the book in a sentence, I would say this -

It honestly depicts the struggles young, ambitious Africans often face when trying to navigate their way in a world littered with connected elites and the impoverished classes. 

The central character in the story is Kingsley (Kings to his familiars). He is the product of a well-educated, middle class family fallen on hard times in Nigeria. His parents are poor but wear the cloak of honesty and morality proudly. They would rather starve than eat food bought with a crooked farthing. And Kings struggles to balance his responsibilities as the eldest son,
the opara, and his yearning to do something meaningful for himself.
“My father was learned and honest. Yet he could neither feed nor clothe his children. My mother was also learned, and her life had not been particularly improved much by education.  I thought about my father’s pals, most of whom were riding rickety cars...about most of my university lecturers with their boogie-woogie clothes and desperate to fight off hunger by selling overpriced handouts from students. Yet Uncle Boniface – our saviour in this time of crisis – had not even completed his secondary school education.”
Kings is not unlike many of us young Africans who are nourished on the teat of “education is the key to success,” – the means of escaping poverty. However, as he sees the fortunes of parents diminish with the increasing political and economic instability in his country, it’s ever more obvious that being connected aka having long legs is critical. His idealism is severely tested as he has to make difficult decisions that not only impact his life but those of his immediate family and the woman he would like to marry.

In his uncle Boniface aka Cash Daddy, he finds a mentor. Someone who gives him a much needed boost up in the world. Cash Daddy makes no apologies for the lucrative 419 scams he runs; it’s a necessary evil. If people weren’t greedy enough to fall for the scam there wouldn’t be a scam, right? Make no mistake, Nwaubani isn't excusing the criminal element of the scams; what she does is weave a very believable story about the motivations that may drive people to such extremes, and how lives are irreversibly affected.

Cash Daddy is an uncouth but entertaining character. He often speaks unkindly of the ideals Kings and his parents stand for, and this made me grimace a few times.  His descriptions of the
mugus, the unsuspecting white people caught in his trap, are particularly unflattering as well but one can’t help but smile at the mental images. However, I can see why he sees things the way he does. The world he lives in takes no prisoners, and one has to have the street smarts to not only survive but to make IT.  And those that don’t, well...
“Is honesty an achievement? Personality is one thing, achievement is another thing. So what has your father achieved? How much money is he leaving for you when he dies? Or is it his textbooks that you’ll collect and pass on to your own children?”       
Nwaubani is quite adept at describing family and societal pressures, that it hooked me right from the start. I recognised many of the characters and scenarios. The book flows easily and is quite addicting.

This is a very good book, and well worth the price you’ll pay on Amazon or at your local bookseller. Also check your local library and you might get lucky. 


Nice write-up! Being able to write creatively is something not all of us are capable of. Count yourself blessed because you have a talent. Getting into the mood in writing does not have a set of rules to follow. ‘To each his own’ is what people say; however, a list of suggestions wouldn’t on writing a book

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