Nigerian performance poet Amarachi Attamah planned a sweet surprise for her husband Ike Ugwu on their wedding day. To support his writing talent, she published his magical realist novel Sakabula: The Widowbird with Parresia Publishers and presented him with the stunning copies at their wedding on July 8.

Sakabula is a fascinating tale about a spirit child who is rejected by both the real world and the spirit world. The young girl called Sakabula is rejected at birth by her father, but soon “reincarnates in a more acceptable body to the chagrin of her spirit relatives.” Ostracized by the spirits, she plunges into a human existence plagued by poverty, hunger, and strife. Will Sakabula survive or will she cave in and return to the world where she came from?

The story of publishing this novel is a sweet reminder of the passion and commitment involved in love. During the early years of her relationship with Ugwu, Attamah noticed his love for writing and hatched the plan gradually:

When we started dating, I found that he has insatiable interest in writing. He is good at it. He has multiple manuscripts. Sakabula is just one out of many. I read a few of these manuscripts. Then we started planning for marriage and wedding and all that. I remember asking him about his post wedding dreams and all that. He told me that he plans to publish one of his manuscripts. That was when the idea entered my mind to plan a surprise for him. I knew he will love it. He has been working on this manuscript tirelessly. I remember he kept asking me to read the work and give him feedback. I did.

Once Attamah decided to surprise Ugwu with the publishing of his book, there was no turning back. But planning a secret publication was no small feat.

Attamah adds she had to orchestrate everything from finding a publisher to going through the editorial process without Ugwu’s knowledge:

(smiles) It was fun but challenging to keep it away from him, especially during the editorial process. Of course, editing cannot be entirely possible without the author of the work. The back and forth with the editors with him over months, the timeline, and having him work on it even with his personal work schedules was a lot, but the beauty in it was that the author was very dedicated to his work. All the editors knew the plan except for him, so they played the script so well and for that, I am very grateful. Special thanks to Obinna Udenwe, Iquo DianaAbasi, Adachioma Ezeano, Chideraa Ike-Akaenyi, Azafi Omoluabi and Parresia Publishers Ltd. They played significant roles to see to the birth of Sakabula.

But love was able to beat the odds and the book was published just in the time for the wedding. Attamah remarked to us that it was important for her to give Ugwu this gift on their wedding day as her husband is very special to her:

My idea of life and people we share it with is empowering one another to achieve that which constitute our life’s fulfillment. If I am not getting that from you, we probably won’t be in our lives for long, or if we are, not for very long term… be it friends or colleagues who share the same spaces. This should be reciprocated? our people will say, aka nri kwee aka ekpe, aka ekpe e kwee aka nri; This could be loosely translated to “do to another as you will want to be done to.”

Yes, he is special to me. (smiles), he is one I found special love in, he was selfless as well and so, it is only right he receives such as well. I am happy it worked.

Check out the entire video of the surprise during their wedding and some photos below. We love the look of shock and delight on Ugwu’s face when he finds out.

Attamah included the sweet caption, “I did a little surprise something for Ikem at our wedding. A dream come true. 8/7/23 #SAKABULA #OurUnion.”


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Ike Ugwu is a Nigerian creative writer based in the United States. He has a background in mental health with years of experience in community mental health. He uses his writing to address African cultural mythologies, metaphysical beliefs as well as cosmological concept such as reincarnation and transmigration of souls. He also focuses on other issues such as taboos, inequalities, vices, economic conditions, human anxieties as well as resilience. Sakabula is his first published work. His style of writing has been described as magical realism.

Congrats to the happy couple!

Buy Sakabula in Nigeria here or by contacting the author or Attamah.

For readers abroad, you can order Sakabula through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Thrift Books, Foyles (UK), and Bol.