Chapter 1 to 5 Summary of Pede Hollist’s So the Path Does Not Die

In this post, we are going to summarise Pede Hollist’s novel, So the Path Does Not Die, from the prologue, then chapters one to five.

Chapter 1 to 5 Summary of So the Path Does Not Die
Chapter 1 to 5 Summary of So the Path Does Not Die

In this post, we are going to summarise Pede Hollist’s novel, So the Path Does Not Die, from the prologue, then chapters one to five.

Prologue Summary

The prologue of the novel tells the story of Musudugu (a village where only women lived). Nightfall was not supposed to meet any man in Musudugu and any male child born in the village must be sent to his father once he takes his first step. This was the standing rule set by Kala the supreme and this made the village to be undefeated for years. A girl child born in the village named Kumba Kargbo ended up being the one to destroy her village due her restless questioning of the village rules and her subsequent insatiable quest for knowledge.

Chapter 1 Summary

Chapter 1 of So the Path Does Not Die starts with Baramusu’s visit to her son’s house, Amadu, particularly to see his wife, Nabou. She visits to discuss why Finaba Marah should be a ‘musu ba’ – an initiated woman. Finaba is Nabou’s daughter, and so, Baramusu’s grandchild. Baramusu is a popular ‘digba’ in the Koinadugu community. She dislikes her son’s marriage to Nabou owing to two things: Nabou is not a ‘musu ba,’ and she fancies modern culture like schooling to Fulani tradition.


Nabou insists her daughter, Finaba won’t be initiated owing to the loss of her first issue, Dimusu in the process. She and her mother-in-law have a little misunderstanding on the topic while Finaba eavesdrops. Finaba feels sad at her mother’s stance and how it affects her image amongst her mates. Baramusu notices her mood as she escorts her out.  Baramusu consoles her with the story of Musudugu – Fulani folklore which in turn assures Finaba of her identity as a ‘yeliba’ – a born storyteller. Baramusu knows she’s a child sent by the ancestors to keep the ‘Path.’ Baramusu, after the wonderful moment with her granddaughter disappears into the forest.

Later, when Nabou is away from the village, Baramusu secretly takes Finaba to ‘fafei’ – the initiation house in the forest. The little girl jubilates, relishing the process and sense of belonging it will bring to her among her age-group. She will no longer be referred to as a child but a full-blown woman.

Chapter 2 Summary

In Chapter 2 of So the Path Does Not Die, Finaba is rushed to the village clinic as Amadu intercepts the initiation process. She is in pain. Amadu desecrates the culture by fetching his daughter from the forest, a taboo for the men. Women gather in Amadu’s compound for family purification. Amadu breathes threat. Nabou beckons on Amadu’s two brothers to watch over him, suspecting an unruly moment.

The women sit in circle with cleansing articles: a tray of cooked rice, rice flour, kola nuts, gourds of palm wine and a bottle of palm oil, placed in the center. They await Pa Yatta, the healer, as they chant loudly to Amadu’s disgust. Finaba longs for their prayers to end, feeling sorry for dragging her father to a cultural breach.

Dimusu’s death is retold. She goes through hemorrhagic menstrual cycle, which emaciates her. Her parents take her to Pa Yatta. Finaba is brought alongside to determine their fate altogether. After few examination, Pa Yatta reveals that Nabou’s children are ‘Denkileni,’ children that have come to show ‘the path,’ setting examples with their lives, and usually have short life span. Nabou opts for a redemptive sacrifice which Pa Yatta disapproves. Dimusu dies after her initiation. Hence, Finaba’s parents vow not to accept such fate for her.

So the Path Does Not Die
So the Path Does Not Die

To the present, Finaba overhears the women praying to God to forgive Amadu’s recklessness, raining curses should the family decline to give a befitting apology. Amadu rages inside. A sudden uproar erupts and disrupts the activity.

Amadu rejoices, powerless to avenge the women who run into his space, babbling.  He and the brothers, culturally obligated, run to ward off the supposed intruder to the women’s activity. It turns out to be his wife, Nabou who chases the women away with machete. Afterwards, Amadu’s family leave Talaba village for Freetown.

Chapter 3 Summary

Freetown is a land given to freed slaves by King Tom to settle on. It portends a good memory for Finaba. Amadu settles with his uncle, Alhaji Umaru, a wealthy businessman who deals in building materials and supplies to the government.

Amadu’s arrival coincides with Pa Heddle entrance, who visits Alhaji Umaru on government enterprise. Amadu is immediately hired to work for Pa Heddle as a security guard and all-purpose labourer. His uncle also links him with a Lebanese business partner.

Nabou stays at home as she’s pregnant. She starts a petty trade to assist Finaba’s schooling. Mama Jinah, a food-seller besides the site where Amadu works, requests and pays for some building materials, which Amadou has been entrusted to guard, to fix her stall. Amadu obliges. It becomes a business contract, with Mama Jinah as the middleman to other customers. Amadu soon secures a house for rent.

The family through Amadu indoctrinates itself with a personalised adage of freedom to choose its path. Particularly for Finaba, who begins to nurture many dreams in the new environment. Unfortunately, death steals Amadu away from the family. Nabou, on Pa Heddle’s pledge, seeks for assistance to support Finaba’s schooling as she declines being a second wife to Alhaji Umaru.

On Heddle’s proposal, Finaba comes over to live with his family: Mrs. Matty (Heddle’s wife), Taiwo, Kehinde, Ade and Edna, Finaba’s age-grade (children). Finaba’s name is short-formed to Fina. She blends into the family except for a quarrel between her and Ade. She burns Ade’s cloth while ironing it, lost in fanciful thought of her crush, Kemi Koker. She avoids him subsequently.

Ade and his friends compete in mango plucking. Amidst the contest, a stone accidentally hits Chernor’s head, a lad in the neighbourhood. Ali comes with his child to Pa. Heddle and he compensates him.

Later, Fina prepares for a party organized by Kemi Koker. Pa. Heddle misses his appointment to drop off Fina. Fina is sought after. Calls are made for her whereabouts. The shout of Taiwo’s name wakes Fina up from where she slept after sobbing for Pa. Heddle’s disappointment.

Pa. Heddle’s flogs Taiwo, discovering her visit to Samfa boy, her crush. He suddenly stumbles upon weary Fina, extends the whip to her for keeping them anxious. Pa. Heddle later makes amends to Fina with gifts.

Fina visits her mother, cherishes home. Mama Jinah’s derogatory remarks on Pa. Heddle’s wickedness startles Fina. Nabou dismisses her point and encourages Fina to stay through. Her ‘path,’ different from Dimusu, is to prove that a woman can be a success.

She braces up to face life squarely. A close relationship emerges between Fina’s friends and Pa. Heddle who splashes them money, driven by his lust. One of Fina’s friend gets pregnant, aborts it, but not until it reaches Pa. Heddle’s home. Luckily for Fina, she gets admission into Crowther College to escape the growing coldness and hostility towards her in Pa. Heddle’s home.

Chapter 1 to 5 Summary of So the Path Does Not Die
Chapter 1 to 5 Summary of So the Path Does Not Die

Chapter 4 Summary

In Chapter 4 of So the Path Does Not Die,Fina savours the freedom she’s gotten in Crowther College (CC). She rarely visits the Heddle’s family and her mom, occasionally. One of such visits, she realizes that Edna has travelled to America. She feels surprisingly shocked. She thinks Edna is cold towards her owing to the affair she led her dad into.

Fina meets a new friend and roommate, Memuna. Memuna has a boyfriend, Simeon, who normally sleeps with her in their room. Fina always hangs out lately. She senses Simeon’s abuse on Memuma but can’t do anything. She summons courage and confronts Simoen. It sours her friendship with Memuma.

Fina soon realises the humiliation directed on her tribe – Fula. It even leads to her break-up with her boyfriend, Kemi Koker. The space affords her focus on her studies. It pays off as she scales through in Dr. Samuel Prescott’s course. She nurses hope to study in America through him. However, Uncle Sam is sacked owing to his perceived incompetencies. It affects her academics. She resorts to Prof. Thompson Ghenahan (Tompe Organic), Uncle Sam’s replacement and a bit rigid man. The Prof. proves confusing and she goes for Dr. Davis Kamanga, who, however, is concerned but not reliable. Dr. Davis’s sexual advances makes Fina to desist.

The fear of failing chemistry rebuilds her friendship with Memuma, who suggests Kizzy (Hezekiah Mendelssohn Bacchus), CC’s senior lab technician.  Kizzy proves helpful initially until his lust betrays him. Fina notices it and desists again. She prepares to face failure.

Kizzy, angry of losing a game, orders Fina to pick a file in his place. Amid rain and minor accident, the phantom of Fina’s father forestalls her from breaking off from the right ‘path.’ Kizzy later pushes her inside his room where he sexually harassed her.

She runs from there to her mother’s place, recuperates and continues with life. She later gets a job at a health clinic belonging to Koidu mission, where she replans her life and dream to America.

Chapter 5 Summary

Fina now works with Meredith Frank, an American who manages the church mission. They share childhood experiences and become friends. Meredith is humane and humble and takes Sierra Leone as her home since she grew up there. However, she faces issues ranging from the hostility of the weather, the townspeople and dysfunctional equipment in the clinic. But Meredith’s resilience taught Fina resoluteness. It reveals itself when she rejects Sidibe Kaykay’s (a diamond dealer) notes of Leones to procure large quantities of drugs. The action motivates Sidibe towards her person. All his wooing attempts fails till he decides to use the ‘glitter bath,’ a wooing approach whereby he exposes and pledges his targets diamonds, should they accept him. Many have fallen for it in the past but Fina narrowly overcomes, especially when informed of Sidibe’s life through a coincidental encounter with his third wife, Aziza.

Meredith meets Chip Munroe and befriends him. Their relationship culminates in their marriage. Meredith leaves the clinic afterwards for the United States of America along with her newly-wedded husband. Her departure from the clinic affects Fina.

Sidibe visits Fina again, this time, surprising her with a Sierra Leonean passport, few dollars – a dream she has long coveted. Sidibe approves of her dignity and cautions her to be smart, as the world is a trade zone.

Other Chapters:

Further Reading:

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