Book Review – The Drummer Boy

Book Review - The Drummer boy - Cyprian Ekwensi

Book Review - The Drummer boy - Cyprian EkwensiTitle: The Drummer Boy

Author: Cyprian Ekwensi

Published by: Heinemann Educational Books

Year of Publication: 1991

Genre: Fiction; Young Adult

Pages: 81

Source: Inheritance 😉

Publisher’s Summary

A Talented blind drummer boy and singer moved from place to place entertaining people with his performance. But deep down there is an undisclosed unhappiness. Why is Akin unhappy? Who among his friends can he trust in his search for true happiness?

My Thoughts

Akin, the drummer boy, has had a difficult life. He had an accident that turns him blind. His parents have abandoned him because they assumed he would be a burden to them. This gives Akin a bit of a complex, I think, and he goes out in search of validation and love from strangers.

Luckily Akin has a gift for music. This along with his kind and cheerful disposition attracts all sorts of people to him. This short story takes us through the adventures of Akin from the moment he catches the eye of Madam Bisi.  A wealthy woman who takes it upon herself to arrange for Akin to go to school after watching him play at a hospital.  When he learns of her plans, he runs away and this takes him on a kind of adventure.

Akin goes on to be a school entertainer, a singer at a restaurant, a touring artist, and a pawn. Along the way he meets Herbert, a criminal delinquent and mastermind. Herbert brings Akin to the attention of a mysterious group of 3 men. These men are the definition of “vagabonds and thieves”. And they leave a wake of pain and death as they stalk Akin across Western Nigeria. Of course, Akin thinks they are his friends based solely on their ability to play good music.

The role of Akin in this story, I would say, is as an inspiration, a harbinger of good tidings and all that.

My Verdict

The biggest problem I had with this book was the constant referencing of Nigeria as Africa. How can we stop people from saying Africa is a country? When we ourselves have given them this misinformation. It was annoying to keep seeing that, to say the least.

This was an easy read, and would be appropriate for pre teens. There are also illustrations in it, though I have an old edition and it’s most likely not the same thing. With any luck they have revised the Nigeria = Africa bit as well.

As an aside, I always thought the Author was a Yoruba man. It was a pleasant surprise when I realized Cyprian Ekwensi wrote this book. (I haven’t read this since Primary School.


“…No one ever thinks of the boy’s own troubles. We all have our own troubles. But learn a lesson from that boy, See how that boy is putting up his own. Blinded for life, and he can’t be more than twelve;… yet he doesn’t sit down and mope. He makes others happy by being happy himself.”

P.s. I decided to write this review, after I noticed many queries about this book on Google leading to this site.  Yay for SEO!!! So if you are here specifically for this book.  Thanks for coming by.  Please feel free to look around and subscribe to the blog to stay up to date.  XO

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  1. I remember reading this book in primary school. I loved it.
    It definitely wasn’t a short story to me then. So I was surprised. Then I realised that it must have seemed like a full length novel to me since I was young. lol.
    And the Africa part is quite sad. I hope it has been changed in the updated version. Because I get very annoyed when Africa is referred to as a country.

  2. A book I can’t forget Easily. One of the best in those days of growing up