Alex Agyei-Agyiri’s Unexpected Joy at Dawn is jam-packed with a lot of characters; some of which we will be looking at in this post.
Significant characters in Unexpected Joy at Dawn are Nii Tackie, Mama Orojo, Joe, Aaron Tsuru, Ibuk, Massa, and Tally O.
Other characters in Unexpected Joy at Dawn include Marshak (and her friends), Linda, Immigration Officer Paleo, the Proprietor of Beyees Restaurant, the owner of Beyerman Complex, and Tom Monday,
The protagonists of the novel, however, narrow down to Nii Tackie and Mama Orojo.
Now, let’s take a look at some of these characters one after the other.
(1) Moses Nii Tackie Bi Akrong Nabi is one of the two main characters this novel is centered on. He is Mama Orojo’s long lost brother. Though born in Ghana and christened a Ghanaian name (of Ga extraction), he is of the Nigerian ancestry. Therefore, he qualifies as both a Nigerian and Ghanaian.
However, he is considered an alien in both countries. Alien in Ghana because of his Nigerian tribal marks. Alien in Nigeria because of his Ghanaian composure and inability to speak any Nigerian language.
(2) Mama Orojo is Nii Tackie’s Nigerian sister. She lost connection with her brother during Ghanaian expulsion of aliens some fifteen years earlier.
She is an industrious woman with a growing construction company and a confectionary store. Apparently, she needs a man to manage these, and, hence a contributory factor to her search for her long lost brother.
She holds no ethnic prejudice; a pointer to why she agrees to marry Joe, a Ghanaian. She is religious and kind-hearted. She is pretty, obviously a delight to men’s hearts.
(3) Massa is the ailing woman we are introduced to in the first chapter of the text. She is down with some strange illness which according to medical experts has her living days numbered. She is Nii Tackie’s heartthrob and a Pan-African. Until her death, she encourages Nii Tackie not to leave for Nigeria.
(4) Joe is an illegal gold miner and the very man who comes to Mama Orojo’s rescue, first when she was duped in her gold quest by I-Put-It-To-You, and again, in her search for Nii Tackie, a known friend of Joe. Joe like every other man is captivated by Mama Orojo’s beauty and in the long run, proposed to Mama Orojo.
He seeks to legalise his illegal mining business.
(5) Aaron Tsuru is a soil scientist and the initiator of the Anthill Project. He is unfortunate to be a citizen of a Ghanaian society not ready to harness potentials like him. He is Nii Tackie’s partner in their journey in Nigeria through forced servitude to search for Nii Tackie’s sister.
He dies at the tail end of the text when he jumps down from a building fleeing.
(6) Ibuk is Mama Orojo’s hilarious partner in their Illere evangelical mission and an ally during Mama Orojo’s marriage palaver with the authorities of Amen Kristi church. She dies tragically during a religious brawl orchestrated by the Sahm Brotherhood.
(7) Tally O is the dubious character who dupes Mama Orojo with the sale of fake gold. A man of duplicity of identities, he is fondly called I-Put-It-To-You. Until his death, no one knows he is the evasive and troublesome I-Put-It-To-You.
(8) Linda is Nii Tackie’s junior colleague at Expense Bank. She is one of the two typists in the bank. She is particularly interested in Nii Tackie because of his Nigerian nationality. She banks on this as a channel to get into Nigeria and book a flight to England to reunite with her husband. She is ready to make any sacrifices to achieve this end.
(9) Immigration Officer Paleo is the lead officer vested with the responsibility of ejecting aliens. He is responsible for Nii Tackie’s slavery on the farm. Mama Orojo will later save his little child in a fire disaster, his wife is not lucky though.
(10) Marshak is another of the endless list of Ghanaians forced out of Ghana by the revolutionary government; one of the three Ghanaian ladies Nii Tackie and his friends meet in Nigeria. She prostitutes her body to make ends meet. Her mother’s situation in Côte d’Ivoire is not any different.
In Nii Tackie, she sees hope of settling down into matrimony. She is often irritated when Nii Tackie mistakes her for Massa (his dead lover). She dies later after a brief disagreement with Nii Tackie (on morality obviously), suggestively a suicide, a catastrophe Nii Tackie holds himself responsible for.
(11) Tom Monday is a businessman and widower from Illere, Nigeria. He is the elderly man who Mama Orojo and Ibuk paid a visit during their evangelical mission in the town. He has two children; one of whom is a twenty-eight year old daughter married to a man of the Sahm Movement.
He is captivated by Mama Orojo’s beauty and industriousness. He offers to marry Mama Orojo when members of Amen Kristi refuse to support her marriage on the basis of ethnic and national prejudice.