Life turns man up and down : money and girls turn man up and down


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Life turns man up and down : money and girls turn man up and down


Nigerian literature (English)


This cleverly-titled work from Sunday O. Olisah, also known as "the Strong Man of the Pen," is described as "a psychological pamphlet" that examines the connections surrounding poverty, unhappiness, success and progress, (pg. 3). The cover has an illustration of a pensive man seated on a chair with a caption below that states, "This man thinks about his life. His problems are many. I am very sorry for him." A strong theme running through this advice-filled pamphlet, also common in much market literature, is that "Men die in many ways because of money and women," (pg. 34).

One example of how "girls turn man up and down" appears on the first page where Comfort holds Dick responsible for her pregnancy, (pg. 1). Dick wants Comfort to leave him, but she insists that they marry. Olisah makes his message clear to any reader "who thinks that intercourse is a pass port [sic] to life," (pg. 3). Another story of a life turned upside-down comes from a long letter written by Paul Ebeme who laments his wife's attempt to poison him after carrying on an affair with his friend (pg.30-33). Although he recovers from the poisoning after paying for an expensive cure, his wife decides to leave him to marry the other man. This is just one case of how "Man is born to sweat before he eats," (pg. 35).

The author includes sayings labeled as "wise for your life to widen your knowledge" that include "A small man's mouth is his protection" and "Poverty is better than illness," (pg. 13). Some expressions have disturbing connotations related to masculine pride, such as "It is better to hear that a man beats a woman than to hear that a woman beats a man," (pg. 13) and "No man agrees that he is poor before a woman," (pg. 14). As a counter to these statements, Olisah notes" One does not know how valuable a mother is until she is dead," (pg. 16). Others contain even more wit such as "if a thief steals a thief he needs no sympathy," (pg. 15) and "a man who claims that he knows everything knows nothing,"(pg. 16). In a right-side-up world, wives would respect their husbands and the state would respect its citizens, according to Olisah.


Olisah, Okenwa


Onitsha, Nigeria: Njoku & Sons




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Onitsha market literature





Olisah, Okenwa, “Life turns man up and down : money and girls turn man up and down,” KU Libraries Exhibits, accessed March 2, 2021,