Today’s trip through time and place from Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History lands us solidly on a specific date, April 21, 1929, in Aba, Nigeria—the day the Aba’s Women’s Riots began (it was to protest an exploitative tax the British were trying to introduce after a census). Here, we meet Arro-yo, who has a gift she’s keeping secret from everyone as she (literally) flies from rooftop to rooftop listening in on what the women are planning and wondering about it all.
On the morning, Arro-yo doesn’t go to the protest (she sleeps in), but is quickly made aware of what’s going on, and she and a friend head to see what’s happening, arriving at the worst possible moment and leaving Arro-yo to witness murder and brutality—and leaving everyone else to see Arro-yo reveal herself and what she can do.
What I love so much about Okorafor’s fiction is how quickly I’m immersed into her characters. I find myself rooting for her champions within moments, and viscerally angry on their behalf when things go awry. “It’s War” was no different—and in fact, doubly so since I know the framework of the tale is built upon a real, historical moment where women bled and died and suffered at the hands of white British colonizers and the drunk-on-small-power local bosses who would use them for their own gain.