27 Mar Akata Witch summary
Witchcraft is often an interesting topic in books and movies. Akata Witch is no exception. Read on …
Akata Witch summary
Akata Witch is a story by an American-Nigerian fantasy novelist, Nnedi Okorafor. Published in 2011, Akata Witch tells the story of Sunny Nwazue, an American-born Nigerian whose patent is of Igbo origin. Sunny who grew up to discover she has some mystical powers, lived partly in America. She now lives in Nigeria where she is often berated and called Akata Witch — a derogatory word from Yoruba used to refer to black Americans — by her peers for being an albino. The novel title is derived from the insult Sunny receives from her peers at school.
Sunny Nwazue is a 12-year-old girl born in America to Nigerian parents of Igbo descent, who now live in Nigeria with her. Sunny is disturbed by her inability to fit into the society she finds herself in: she’s albino and black; moreover, she has some spiritual power. Last night, she saw the apocalyptic vision of the world in a candle flame. As she watched the flame burn out faintly, the candle flame caught her hair, shortening it, and now she has a short blonde Afro. She struggles to bear the hair loss making her cut it off. She gets teased more by her classmates as a result.
School is where Sunny has her nightmare. Her classmates often insult and call her Akata Witch, a Yoruba word for black Americans, which is now offensive due to its misuse.
Sunny’s writing skill is top-notch, and her teacher often backs her up to lash her classmates with terrible handwriting skill. She does refuse to flog anyone, anyway. One day after school, a boy in her school named Jibaku rallies his friends to beat up Sunny, but she was lucky as a girl named Orlu intervened, and saved her from the nefarious plan of Jibaku. They walk home together; they continue to do so, and Sunny feels less vulnerable as she finds solace in being friends with Orlu and her friend, Chichi, who does not attend the same school as them. She values her time with such a brave girl, Orlu, especially at the time Black Hat Otokoto, a ritualist who only targets children for ritual purposes, is on the loose.
After some time of Sunny bonding with Orlu and Chichi, she realizes Orlu went somewhere after school. She maintained a rapport with them, though, and goes further to invite them to her house, a mud hut not quite far from that of Orlu. Chichi is convinced that Sunny has some mystical power. When Orlu returns, she joined both Sunny and Chichi in the hut and performed some juju craft. She creates a ‘trust knot” and hands a knife to Sunny. Orlu tells Sunny to use the knife to press her tongue.
Sunny has become Orlu’s close friend, so they uncover their private lives to each other. Orlu and Chichi make Sunny know they are members of Leopard People, a family of magically gifted people: Chichi is gifted with the power not to reveal whatever she sees, whereas Orlu is gifted with the power to undo bad juju made against anyone. After Sunny learns this, she had to zip up her mouth and never reveal the secret to anyone else.
The next day, Orlu and Chichi take Sunny to a man called Anatov, who’s equally a member of the Leopard People. He draws a symbol in the air and Sunny sinks into the earth. Sunny makes a journey through the underworld before landing in Anatov’s hut, where metallic objects appear and run around her. She’s being inducted into the Leopard People as a free agent— an agent without a parent, although Anatov thinks Sunny’s mysterious grandmother was a member of the Leopard People.
Anatov introduces the three friends: Orlu, Chichi, and Sunny to Sasha, an American boy, who’s going to live with Orlu after being deported to Nigeria for using juju at his all-white school. Anatov sends the four to Leopard Settlement, known as the Leopard Knocks, where Sunny will learn the principle of the Leopard People. To get into the Leopard settlement, one must pass the rushing river in the spiritual world with a slippery bridge. The person must call upon his spiritual face to appear before being able to cross the bridge. The spiritual face is a unique mask for every Leopard person wanting to cross the rushing river to the Leopard Knocks.
Sunny doesn’t know how to put on a spiritual face, so Chichi taught her. However, the task requires privacy, and Chichi tries to teach Sunny about it. Sunny almost falls from the slippery bridge but makes it to the other side of the river. In the Leopard Settlement, Orlu gets a book titled “Fast Facts Free Agent” for Sunny.
Sunny soon learnt to sneak out of the house to make a juju that requires a sheep’s head, known as an ‘ebett’, but she couldn’t find the sheep’s head in the market. Out of options, she does the juju without it, and it works.
In a lesson, Anatov explains why Sunny can make the juju work without the required sheep’s head. Anatov says Sunny can do it because she’s an albino, which means she has one of her legs in the wilderness, and as a result, should be able to make juju naturally.
Anatov sends the four of them to Kehinde, a scholar in the dangerous Night Runner Forest. On their way to meet Kehinde, the bush souls ambush them, but Chichi defends them with her spiritual gift. In the end, they make it to Kehinde’s hut alive.
Sunny is enraged, staying awake through the last night, and asks her mother questions about her grandmother, but her mother avoids answering the questions. Sunny thinks her grandmother maybe indeed be a Leopard Person.
Anatov sends them to another scholar named Taiwo. At this time, Sunny has advanced her juju-making craft: she can perform some tasks easily and make herself invisible to unspiritual eyes. In the Leopard Knock’s bridge, Orlu can convince a Miri bird to fly them to Taiwo’s hut. Taiwo informs them about their personalities: they’re an Oha coven, a four-member group of Leopard People. He also tells them about Black Hat Otokoto, who is a member of the Leopard People but uses children for evil practices. Taiwo wants Otokoto to be stopped, but Sunny thinks that is dangerous. Taiwo calms her down by telling her that they are things bigger than Otokoto.
At school, Jibaku attacks Sunny once again. She reveals her spiritual face to him to put fear into him, despite the spiritual mask meant to be private. Immediately after that, a car comes to pick Sunny to Obi Library in Leopard Knocks, where a Leopard scholar named Sugar Cream rebukes Sunny for revealing her spiritual face to Jibaku. Sugar is the scholar meant to teach Sunny the rest of Leopard People’s craft, but Sunny’s behavior has made Sugar rethink. Sugar also reveals to Sunny that her grandmother was once Otoko’s mentor, but he killed her in cold blood.
Anatov takes the four kids to Abuja to get Sunny a magical knife, which she will use at the Zuma festival. In Abuja, the junk man sells them a magical knife; Sunny feels it at a touch. In the Zuma Festival, Sunny feels overwhelmed until a kind-hearted fellow helps her regain her strength. When she attended a wrestling game in the Zuma Festival, she discovered the man ‘Miknikstic’ from Mali— a country in West Africa— who comforts her when she is down as one of the wrestlers. Unfortunately, Miknikstic was killed. The crowd is thrilled by the elimination of Miknikstic, whereas, Sunny is angry.
Outside the wrestling competition, there’s still a soccer competition in which the boys signed up to participate. Sasha persuades Sunny to sign up for the soccer games because she’s good at it, but she’s reluctant, especially as the team’s coach frowns upon girls participating. As the coach watches Sunny play skillfully, although her opponents jest her, she still plays well, the coach reconsiders signing her up into the team.
A day came, the four students attended a social gathering at the festival where Chichi encounters a rival group and dares them. She suggests calling upon a masquerade, but Orlu discourages her. She ignores Orlu’s advice to do some juju which leads to the eruption of an ants’ mound with horrifying creatures that attacked the students watching. Orlu used her spiritual power to undo the juju and got angry with Chichi. Chichi, as a result of her refusal to be tamed, is taken to the Obi library to be punished for violating the principle of the Leopard People. Sasha is not angry about the punishment to be meted on his crush, Chichi. Soon after that, Sasha and Chichi take their relationship from platonic to romantic.
Rain falls for seven days uninterruptedly, and everyone becomes heavily worried about that. One morning, Anatov takes Sunny to Obi Liberay to meet the other three Leopard people: Sasha, Chichi, and Orlu. There, a group of scholars tells them about Otokoto’s plans to bring Ekwensu to the world, a reason there’s uninterrupted rainfall for the past seven days. The scholars reveal to the four students that Black Hat Otokoto has learned some evil juju, which he intends to use against children. The Leopard scholars tell the four students to stun Otokoto and save the two children he has kidnapped for juju purposes.
The four Leopard students travel to confront Otokoto at his gas station. On their way, the bush souls attacked them again, however, they made it to Otokoto’s base. Orlu conjures his juju, making a little house come forth where Otokoto is with two dead bodies of the children. Otokoto, on the other hand, thinks of the four friends as playing with children, so he ignores them, but Shasha blows a conch shell, surprising Otokoto as insects come out from all angles to attack him. Sunny and Orlu bring out the bodies of the two children while Sasha continues to fight with Otokoto with his magical powers. Sunny is just noticing the two children are lifeless; she’s angry. Orlu tells Sunny not to worry as she can undo the juju that made the two children lifeless.
Otokoto’s juju knocks Sasha unconscious. Chichi works on Sunny’s grandmother’s juju and uses it to kill Otokoto. His death brings out Ekwunsu from the earth. Sunny walks to Ekwensu bravely with her spiritual mask and commands it to sink back into the earth. Ekwensu screeches as it is sucked back into the earth.
Orlu brought the two children back to life and took them to the police station. Sugar Cream is proud of them and accepts to be Sunny’s mentor after renouncing her for revealing her spiritual face to a bully at school to scare him. At home, Sunny asks his mother about her grandmother once more. This time, she tells her that her grandmother had some secrets.
On Sunny’s grandmother’s anniversary, she discovered a letter written by her grandmother in which she talked about the decision to live a double Lamb-Leopard life. She said in the letter that she loved her unborn grandchildren and Sunny had the power of invisibility like her.
In the end, Sunny and Orlu agree to work with their new mentors and lament about how strange it’s to be in the Lamb school. They talk about their double Lamb life and agree that it’s better to have a double life than not to have any.
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