Review on Kuku Damilare’s “Nearly All The Men in Lagos are Mad”

Apart from the colorfulness of the book, the title of the book is really appealing, it sparks curiosity. “Nearly All The Men in Lagos Are Mad” is a collection of 12 short stories describing Lagos women’s different experiences in their dealings with Lagos men. 


Lagos being one of the largest cities in Nigeria as expected is filled with a mixture of different types of people; it is a concoction of the good, the bad, and the ugly. It is a very big picture and this book tells a very small part of that big picture.


One of the arrays of things that comes with the mega-city is the assortment of men that are strategically dished out that you are bound to meet one that will leave you in amazement. This book was written for the mummy’s boys, the gigolos, the gay men who use their wives as a cover the peculiar ‘alpha male’ who, for some suspicious reason, loves to role play as a little girl during sex, the stereotypical energetic Lagos fine boy with a special interest in the city’s crackling nightlife, and all the way to the endless cheats.


Kuku Damilare in her book made it known that the madness is not limited to the men native of Lagos, it is almost like she is saying that it is the city that makes them mad. This was highlighted in the part where she talked about the oyibo guys (a title used to describe a light-skinned foreigner) who may have migrated to this bustling mega-city for one purpose or another. 


The novel provides an endless supply of laughter, amazement, and shocks. Kuku wrote the story using different narrative techniques of which the most captivating was the first-person point of view. The first-person point of view felt more thrilling because of the intimacy it carried in relaying the story, the conversational tone sets the mood for brilliant storytelling. 


She did not only use simple and relatable English, but she also threw in the Nigerian-English, a tasteful grammar that sounds correct to a Nigerian indigene living in Nigeria but is not necessarily correct grammar, and the Nigerian pidgin. The characters are reasonably witty and mostly relatable, giving insights into their various personalities.


Even though this book elicits laughter and the stories can be wild and ridiculous, it touches on certain things that happen and why these things happen, why these things seem normal to these men even though it is seemingly abnormal; the psycho-affective conditioning that impels their madness.


She tried to effectively relay the different kinds of socio-cultural and socio-economic structures that are supported by long-held norms. These abnormal characters of the men are the things that regulate the experiences of many women in the novel. 


One of the stories talked about a self-righteous pastor who believed he was celebrating the lord even while committing adultery. His hypocrisy is enabled by the fact that the wife has a perforated view of marriage, the same views that many African women have been conditioned to uphold. When her husband’s extramarital affairs threatened to pull down the picture-perfect she had built, she solely resolves to calm the storm, scared of the skeleton in the closet that might be brought to the public for them to analyze. 


Most of these stories brought to light the things women have had to endure just to be with most men at specific points in their lives. They have had to shrink themselves just to be with a man. This point was also made in the story of Shike Macaulay where a financially stable woman tells her experience of wounding up with a traditional man who boldly upheld the deformed standard of a regressive society. He continuously dismissed and reduced her success and financial privileges, his backdated ideals were seen to have clogged up his brain leaving no room for new ideals or even common sense to thrive, this resulted in him refusing to enjoy the convenience of Shike’s car and instead suggested the unsafe idea of climbing bike to go over the third mainland bridge. The irony of this particular story is that as much as he upholds his alpha-male-ism, he has a questionable sexual kink of role-playing as a little girl.


Kuku also touched on the issue of barrenness. As much as this particular topic spreads to all other parts of the nation, Kuku spoke on it in particular to Lagos as a city. Until recently where African women have begun speaking up and reacting against this deep-rooted bias, the burden of fertility usually rested on the women, hence the fault of a childless marriage automatically rests on the woman. A woman without a child was often ranked as the lowest in the hierarchy of most African households; the side talks, becoming a co-wife, and becoming a former wife, to mention but a few. The struggles a childless woman goes through are emotionally draining, this includes, and is not even limited to, fasting, prayers, tears, visiting several hospitals, resorting to herbalists, resorting to traditional medicine, visiting different prayer houses and so much more. They become desensitized to foolishness and extremely gullible as seen in Orode’s case. Orode’s husband’s uncle gave her a “pregnancy-causing” mixture to be rubbing on her “private parts”. It could be argued that her desperation dulled her sense of smell because the book described the mixture as a foul smelling mixture. The sad thing about this is that both the uncle and the nephew (Orode’s husband) knew that it was the man who was infertile. The sadness of the story did not end there as Orode’s husband also robs and abandons her later on. Her husband, Dele’s madness was spiced with wickedness. 


However, the book does justice to its title emphasizing the “nearly” contained in it. As much as there are many mad men in Lagos, some of them are arguably sane just like Ivie’s driver turned lover in “First Times”. As long as you expect to see anything in Lagos, you should also expect to see the good which sometimes can be more shocking than the bad.


Kuku’s book is very inclusive as it explains the plethora of things that could happen or not happen in the Lagos dating scene. Apart from the sad reality it brings to the readers, the book promises a lot of laughter. 



Beads of sweat scattered across her face. She kept turning sideways… her legs stretched out on the mat furiously shaking. Her hands were held down at each side. Billows of smoke filled the air as the priest moved from each end of the room making incantations. Neighbours gathered round the house as this was a frequent experience. The women were consoling the mother. “Mama Iyore, she’s going to be fine”.


Mama Iyore freed herself from the clasp of her neighbours and started rolling on the floor. The wrapper on her body almost fell off if not for neighbours who quickly held her down. “Why is this happening to me, she cried out loud. This is the only fruit of my womb after loosing several other children. She looked upwards to the sky with tears streaming down her face “OLOKUN, she cried out loud. Why have you done this to me”. She bowed her eyes down with more questions lingering. The fear of the gods was so powerful that one had to be careful of words and utterances.


The Jingling sound of anklets could be heard. Voices accompanied the jingling sounds. The people in the compound gave room for passage for the procession. Standing in the centre of the procession was a woman clothed in white. Her exposed hands and legs were covered with native white chalk. Her hair had cowries intertwined and woven together. She was covered with white regalia which was tied round her chest. Her neck beads were white as it is a known symbol of the Diety Olokun.


Surrounded by other maidens in white, she walked towards the hut with her staff which is a symbol of her authority. Mama Iyore looked up with hopeful eyes as the gods had heard her prayers. The Priestess stood in front of the entrance to the hut. Suddenly… she turned around, her eyes were like snow balls of fire, she looked at mama Iyore with a piercing gaze. Tiny shivers ran through Mama Iyore body. The Priestess took 2 steps backward and forward and swirled around. The spirits had taken hold of her. She ran swiftly to the back of the house as her maidens ran after her. She stopped at a particular spot and a white cockerel was handed to her.


Heavy incantations filled the air as with one swift move, the cockerel’s neck was broken. Iyore screamed out loud from the room, calling out for her mother. The priestess took hold of a hoe and hit it on the very spot where she stood. Papa Iyore who had been surrounded by the men of his age group, took up the hole and started digging. Under the hot glaring sun, Papa Iyore dugged until the blade of the hole touched something. He dug furiously and brought out an item wrapped in a black clothing. The Priestess while muttering incantations stretched out her hands and Papa Iyore placed the item on her hands. The Priestess turned and her procession followed her out of the compound.


Mama Iyore ran inside to meet her daughter who was vehemently asking for food to be brought to her. Mama Iyore planted thousands of kisses on Iyore’s forehead as her daughter was hale and hearty. Sympathisers were happy as all seemed well with the family. The men patted Papa Iyore’s back as a sign of congratulating him for doing a great job.



To be continued…
This is purely a work of fiction. Not all parts are entirely true.