As the subtitle says Choga grows up in a harem in Nigeria. The first years she lives in Lagos, the main city of Nigeria, where the main center of the harem is located.

Her father is the leader of a religious community called ‘the family of the black Jesus’.   Her mother Lisa is a German woman, who went to Nigeria with her German husband. He worked as a brewer. Lisa meets the leader of the community and in the end she marries him.  She is his 33rd wife and not the last one.

Choga has many mothers and brothers and sisters. She feels safe in this community. Her mother gets more and more a leading role in the community as an older woman. Father is often away for he travels to the other communities that he has started.

Choga gets her education within the community. The meeting of the family are very important to her.

Her life gets a cruel twist when her father decides to give her away in marriage to Felix, the second in command. He is a much older man, who already has severla wives. Her mother tries to play a pacifying role between her own husband and her daughter.  The young couple leaves for an other community of the Family. This community lives on a farm on the plateau of Jos, in central Nigeria ( an area not unknown to me). There she tries to stay away as much as possible from Felix. She makes friends with a boy her age, a son to one of the women of her father.

Her mother sends her a message that her father passed away. Felix travels with his four wives to lagos for the funeral of Choga’s father. During the time of the funeral and the seccession she manages to escape, with the help of her mother. She stays for several years with a woman who trains her as a herbalist. Once her mother comes to visit her, but leaves her again to take up her task at the co0mmunity in Lagos. Choga is with baby from Felix and she finds this very hard. She calls her son Josh.

In the meantime the word AIDS/HIV has crept into the story. Her husband Felix dies. Mother Lisa leads the community in Lagos, but her days are coming to an end. She has managed to get the titledeed to the farm near Jos. Choga will be able to live on the farm and build up a new life. 

Just before Choga leaves and her mother passes away Choga sees a letter written to her mother. The letter is written by a stepsister to Choga. 

This is a very special history. Choga speaks warmly about the time she grew up in the harem, that gave her shelter. To me it is not clear why mother Lisa took the decisions she made, but maybe even Choga did not know. 

Choga Regina Egbeme –  Hinter goldenen Gittern. Ich wurde im Harem geboren – München 2001 

Published by


I enjoy reading about Africa. New books. Old books. By African writers. By non-African writers. Novel. History. Travel. Biographies. Autobiographies. Politics. Colonialism. Poetry.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.