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First novel is no foolish move for Nigerian writer

Last update - Wednesday, March 6, 2013, 10:59 By Catherine Reilly

From languishing in a Dublin asylum seeker hostel to becoming a published author and undertaking a PhD medical sociology, Nigerian woman Ifedinma Dimbo will surely pen her own remarkable story some day. 


For the moment, though, she is busy promoting her first novel She Was Foolish?, which is due to be launched in Dublin on 12 March.

She Was Foolish? centres on a Nigerian university student who, in a business arrangement with her husband, leaves their two children to travel to Italy to be a prostitute. She is then plunged into “a dramatic world of hard choices eventually leading her to Ireland to confront her past”.

The story was sparked by a snippet of an overheard conversation at the Hatch Hall asylum seeker accommodation centre in Dublin, where the Dimbo family lived for three years while involved in a protracted legal battle with the Department of Justice over the residency rights of parents of Irish-born children.

As Dimbo recalls, residents often gathered to discuss one thing or the other, and one day a group had formed around a man who was furious.

Apparently his wife had come to Ireland to give birth, got her residency and moved in with another man. He had journeyed to Ireland to get to the root of the issue.

Hearing about the man’s woes, Dimbo and her husband Ethelbert deliberated, with Ifedinma offering possible reasons for the woman’s actions.

“I decided to construct her own side of the story – what I imagined could have happened,” Dimbo tells Metro Éireann. “The truth does not always seem to be what it is. ”

Dimbo recalls that in Nigeria, while working in banking, a friend encouraged her to write. She began writing at Hatch Hall and found that it provided her an escape of sorts.

“At least you had something to do. People were not allowed to work – [it was] wake up, eat, slope around the city and come back.”

The family’s legal situation was resolved in May 2008 when the five-judge Supreme Court ruled that the minister had failed to give substantial reasons for issuing deportation orders against the Dimbo parents and those of another Irish child.

Life for the family has completely changed since the court decision. Dimbo is in the second year of a PhD in medical sociology at University College Cork while Ethelbert is working with Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council. Irish-born son George is a fifth-year pupil at St Michael’s College and has a broad range of academic interests. He is also lead singer of Neurotoxic, which will perform at the launch of She Was Foolish?

“It is interesting and exhilarating,” adds Dimbo of the book. “And it is a fresh take on the Irish-Nigerian divide.”

For more on the book visit or


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