My review of ‘Toju mi’ by Adewole Ruth Oziofu

‘Toju mi’ opens on Remi at a point in her love relationship when giving it all up is one hundred and one percent justified. She meets this other guy who’s her boyfriend’s namesake and would to some of us be suggestive of God’s alternative for God’s own choice.

To add to this current temptation is the richer, more handsome than all three men in the story; Abuja boy, Ehi, who cannot tell lust from love but can sure tell decency from all shades of its opposites.

Then there’s the original Taiwo who is supposed to be the glorified hero of the story; the one who makes our heroine question the voice of her God.

Adewole tries to tell us a love story without sounding too romantic, she sheaths the flames of lust in some of her characters in a witty use of words and descriptions that ultimately distract us from ‘romantic action’. A solid departure from the kind of love stories we’re used to.

While this is intelligent and worthy of praise, it’s only a postponement of the ‘evil day’ – the day when our beautiful author will have to share romance in detail – it’s not about if you’re going to do it or not, it’s a matter of how you go about it.

Back to the story, Remi finds herself in this trap but throughout the book she doesn’t consider her situation a trap. In fact, I believe Remi is a character unlike a lot of us; I mean who sticks through thick and thin with a guy that misbehaves without meaning to.

I personally wouldn’t only question if I’d heard God well, I would quit the relationship before I prayed about it.

So Adewole created Remi – a woman who should be an example of trust in the face of despair. Remi’s such a marvelous example, in fact, she’s a super hero. She doesn’t consider the two other men contending for her heart – she doesn’t  consider them potential lovers – as far as she’s concerned once she’s told them ‘I’m in a relationship’, she’s okay with friendship, not double dating – how heroic.

This part of the story feels surreal, like Remi isn’t real, not because she actually isn’t but because she’s so fixed on loving her man like ‘I want Taiwo and no one else’. Really!?!

Well how the story usually turns out in real life is that, ‘there’s a single lady who looks so marriageable that every man wants her. This single lady usually has about 6 to 7 men who all present the ‘I want to marry you’ offer – going by the standards of the WWE, this would be a royal rumble match but this is Remi’s triple threat match as just 3men want her.

Most of the girls we know in this scenario often end up with the man they never really loved or the man that God did not send no matter how much they themselves have heard the story and this is  just because the ‘one God sent’  began to misbehave’.

Adewole changes the narrative by creating a character who stays fixed on God’s choice for her even when the ‘idiot’ misbehaves. This teaches us that even when God ‘okays’ the partner, there is only one guarantee – that you can always report the partner to God when he or she misbehaves – that’s the only guarantee because the partner will surely misbehave.

Adewole teaches us that even angels are not free of fault, but with time, patience and trust in God’s promises; we can hold on in hard times while hoping for the best as we face the worst.

There are other lessons to learn from the book: that some people just waltz into your life at some point to prove God’s faithfulness for a short time and nothing more. When these people do come, do well not to take it further than destiny would subscribe.

I would have liked it more if for one moment, the story suggested that Remi felt like exploring her other options – namely Tee and Ehi but I guess she’s much too heroic for that kind of confusion. So all that dramatic tension, Adewole summarizes in one sentence, “No Ehi, no Taiwo, no Tee…” it’s definitely read, heard but not felt and this is because our protagonist only feels love toward one person and that’s all.

Now I have to ask, is it possible to be in love with only one person?

Anyways, Remi, pretty much like the author of this book is not that desperate so, yes, maybe it’s possible to be in love with one person and not consider other very fine options.

We watch our protagonist grow to realize that the only object of her affection should be her God and God does well to make everything fall in place when she returns to Him. I still hate that she ended up with Taiwo though – I just do not like Taiwo, lol!

So maybe next time when you’re creating a character like Taiwo, maybe you should try to decorate him a little more, you know, make him lovable despite his mistakes…jes saying….

There’re a host of other beautiful things about the book:

  • Adewole’s use of descriptives: “…I like them big…lashes that could fan me to sleep…”
  • The blend of pidgin, English and Yoruba languages give off that very relatable feel – very Nigerian.
  • Makes a very quick read – fast and to the point. The book is self-reverential, hence we’re so focused on the outcome that no space is left for emotional thrill rides.
  • We learn the beauty of open-hearted friendship from Tee and Remi.
  • It’ supposed to be a story told in three acts but we’re so focused on what Remi eventually chooses instead of what she goes through emotionally – very Christian! Very miraculous.

3-act stories help us to empathize with the protagonist but instead of doing that we find ourselves enjoying being in Remi’s life: getting all the gifts, doing all the work to win her man and wondering about the end while we care less and less about how she felt; it’s a Christian book as well as a work of art. Well done Adewole!

And we also learn that the bad boys never go away scot free, bad boys like Ehi always end up on the front pages of Bella Naija in a wedding suit they never planned to wear. Again, this is unlike most of the love stories we’re used to where bad boys always get away with anything.

In summary, it’s a good first book not without very minimal typos toward the end in the ‘About the Author’ page where Author is spelt as authour and a few others. And there’s also the over use of the phrase, ‘…in recent times’ …very Ruthy! Lol!

Anyways, what Ruth has put down here is the story of a waiting and dating game. Definitely not a chick flick but it teaches us that there’s a right way to date as seen in Remi and the wrong way to date as seen in Ehi and also the ‘not so wrong, not so right way’ to date as seen in Tee’s approach.

So thank you for telling such a beautiful story. Thank you for staying true to you. I look forward to your next book or your first movie since you’re hoping to be a screenwriter someday.

God bless you Ruth Adewole Oziofu! Thank you for writing the book you always wanted to read.


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