A Blonde in Nigeria: Marilyn Inspires Coming-of-Age Tale

Marilyn is featured on the cover of Stephen Buoro’s debut novel, The Five Sorrowful Mysteries of Andy Africa (designed by Greg Heinimann for the UK edition only, published by Bloomsbury in April 2023.)

“Fifteen-year-old Andrew Aziza lives in Kontagora, Nigeria, where his days are spent about town with his droogs, Slim and Morocca, grappling with his fantasies about white girls – especially blondes – and wondering who his father is. When he’s not in church, at school or attempting to form ‘Africa’s first superheroes’, he obsesses over mathematical theorems, ideas of black power and HXVX: the Curse of Africa.

Sure enough, the reluctantly nicknamed ‘Andy Africa’ soon falls hopelessly and inappropriately in love with the first white girl he lays eyes on, Eileen. But at the church party held to celebrate her arrival, multiple crises loom. An unfamiliar man claims, despite his mother’s denials, to be Andy’s father, and the gathering of an anti-Christian mob is headed for the church – both set to shake the foundations of everything Andy knows and loves.”

Marilyn is only mentioned once in the novel, alongside two other iconic blondes whom Andy admires from afar – and on the cover, her picture looks as if it were taped to his bedroom wall …

“The x of the equation is that there’s a blonde here in Kontagora, a platinum blonde if I’ll believe Isaiah. A Marilyn Monroe who has never had mosquitoes sing in her ears and suck her blood, leaving red swellings as they fly away. A Princess Diana who has never woken up at midnight with hunger. A Taylor Swift who has never experienced a blackout.”

The artwork is based on a series of postage stamps issued in the Marshall Islands (located between Hawaii and the Philippines) in 1995, seemingly inspired by classic glamour shots of Marilyn circa 1952. Even in our current era of instant communication via email, text and social media, Monroe-themed stamps remain popular worldwide with fans and collectors – especially in Africa.