Summary of unexpected joy at dawn by Alex Agyei Agyiri - OKVIX

Summary of unexpected joy at dawn by Alex Agyei Agyiri

Summary of unexpected joy at dawn

Unexpected dawn is a novel written by a Ghanaian novelist, Alex Agyei Agyiri. It was published in 2003. The novel talks about two blood relations, Nii Moses and Mama Orojo, who were separated by the Ghanian military government in 1963. On this page, you will find the analysis and full summary of unexpected joy at dawn by Alex Agyei Agyiri.

You will also, discover the themes, settings, moral lesson, and characters in the novel.


Every novel has its own background. Something that inspires the author to write about the novel. In the background of the novel ‘Unexpected joy at dawn’, African loved together as one before the colonial period. They were related to culture, economic, social activities, e.t.c.

But Africa was divided by the colonial masters into different countries. With these, new political entities, and identities were imposed on these African countries. They began to see each other as rivals, which led to xenophobic attack and deportation of non-citizens.

In 1969, the Ghanaian government sent Nigerian citizens packing because they thought that these Nigerian citizens were a threat to their economy. Also, in 1983, Shehu Shagari did the same, which was tagged ‘Ghana must go’.

It is because of this background that led Alex Agyei-Agyiri to write Unexpected Joy at Dawn. Now, let’s take a look at the summary of unexpected joy at dawn by Alex Agyei Agyiri.

Summary of Unexpected Joy

Life became very difficult for Nii Moses. This made him to run into debt, while trying to save his wife. His wife, Massa, eventually died. He was also, been chased by market women for alleged fraud. The only option for Nii was to reunite with his people in Nigeria, which he finds the idea attractive.

He has a tribal mark on his body. This will make him to easily prove that he is a Nigerian. This made him to be confident. His confidence finally failed because the Nigerian security officers caught him because he was unable to speak any Nigerian local languages.

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On the other hand, Mama Orojo leaves Nigeria for Ghana in search of Nii Moses, her relative. Unknown to her, Nii Moses was already on his way to Nigeria. Well, Mama Orojo found love during his journey, and the name of his lover is Joe.

She later returned to Nigeria with Joe, while Nii continued searching for her in Nigeria. Unexpectedly, they met each other. Before Nii arrived in Nigeria, he had experiences such as death threat, gunpoint robbery, and bribe.

Characters in unexpected joy at dawn

The unexpected joy at dawn characters were:

  • Nii Moses
  • Mama Orojo
  • Massa
  • Joe
  • Marshak

Nii Moses

Nii Moses is the husband of Massa. He was the person that was stopped by the Nigerian security officers because he was not able to speak any Nigerian local language.

Mama Orojo

Mama Orojo is a relative of Nii Moses. She found love during her journey to Ghana. The name of the love she found is Joe.


Massa is the wife it Nii Moses. His husband ran into debt while trying to save her. But she eventually died.


Joe is the man whom Mama Orojo met while searching for Nii Moses. He is a Mama Orojo’s lover.


Marshak was the one who committed suicide in the novel.

Themes of unexpected joy at dawn

The themes of unexpected joy at dawn are; Xenophobia, Separation, love, alienation, religion, identity, insecurity, Pan-Africanism, death, ethnic prejudice, leadership failure, and reunion.


The citizens of Ghana and its government do not want the Nigerians to stay in their country. Also, the citizens of Nigeria and its government, want Ghanaian citizens to go. They were both afraid and disliked the strangers the colonial masters created after the division.

During the xenophobia, Ghanaians were already hitting out Nigerians living in Ghana. Many Nigerians have to start travelling back to their country.


We can see the theme of separation, when the two siblings (Nii Moses and Mama Orojo) made efforts to reunite. They were separated by the government of Ghana. Though they later meet after 15 years. Also, Massa was separated from her husband, Nii when she died.

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If you’re asked to explain the theme of love in unexpected joy at dawn, you can say; The theme of love was found between Nii and Massa. Also, the love Nii Moses and Mama Orojo had for each other as siblings. Despite, after 15 years, they were able to reunite.


In the theme of alienation, Ghanaian government introduced an alienation policy, which eventually led to mass exodus of other countries’ nationals from Ghana. Also, the separation of families.

This led to the separation of Mama Orojo and her kid brother Nii Moses.


The theme of religion appeared in chapter 2 (Part 1) of the text during Mama Orojo’s Ibuk’s evangelical mission in Illere, Nigeria. It is made obvious that, many people they preach to show little interest because the Sahm brotherhood frowns at preaching to their people, and they do not want their people to have anything to do with preaching.


In the theme of identity, Nii Moses parents were Nigerians, but he was born and bred in Ghana. He became a Ghana citizen by birth. Due to his tribal marks, he was not accepted as a Ghana citizen by the people.

Furthermore, he was finding life difficult in Ghana, he then decides to travel to Nigeria. He was not accepted in Nigeria either because, he couldn’t speak any Nigerian local language, and he has Ghanaian accent.


Insecurity is one of the theme in unexpected joy at dawn novel. Both Nigeria and Ghana were experiencing insecurities. There were robbery in Ijase community where Mama Orojo lives in Nigeria.

Also, there was a religious attack on the Amen Kristi evangelical mission team, which led to the loss of several lives and properties.


In the theme of Pan-Africanism, Massa epitomizes Pan-Africanism. Against all odds, she believes in the African shared brotherhood, and holds on to the belief that anywhere (in Africa) where one finds peace is one’s home.


We have the theme of death. In the text, we witnessed the death of Massa who is the wife of Nii Moses. Also, we witnessed the death of the fat woman at Makola market, the suicidal death of Marshak, the death of Ibuk and several others.

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Ethnic prejudice

In the theme of ethnic prejudice, the members of Corpus Kristi do not want Mama Orojo to marry joe. This is because, Joe is from Ghana. They prefer she would have to marry Tom Monday because he is a Nigerian. Mama Orojo was threatened to be removed from Corpus Kristi is she married Joe.

Leadership failure

Unexpected Joy at Dawn also has the theme of leadership failure. According to the novel, the Ghanaian government wasn’t able to boost their economy. Their economy went so bad, which made them to blame the Nigerian citizens. Their leadership failure brought death, fight, and separation of families.


In this summary of unexpected joy at dawn, we can see the theme of reunion at the beginning of the novel. Mama Orojo was separated from Nii Moses for 15 years. Nii Moses, after losing his wife, traveled to Nigeria in search of Mama Orojo.

On the other hand, Mama Orojo also, embarked on a journey searching for Nii Moses. Unexpectedly, they finally met each other.


The setting is a place where the activities of the novel took place. The novel is set in Ghana and Nigeria. The major physical settings of the story are Accra and Lagos. It was centered on activities that happened in the 80s and 90s.

Moral lesson

The moral lesson in unexpected joy at dawn is that blood is thicker than water. Despite the 15 years separation between Mama Orojo and Nii Moses, they finally reunite at an unexpected hour.

The novel indicates that the African communities are all brothers and sisters. Africans lived and loved themselves until after the creation of countries by the colonial masters. This made these countries to see others as a stranger.

Frequently asked questions

How many chapters are in unexpected joy at dawn?

The number of chapters in unexpected joy at dawn novel is 20 chapters. This page shares the summary of chapter 1 to 20.

Conclusively, this page also, contains a chapter by chapter summary of unexpected joy at dawn. You can read the full novel to get deep insight on chapter 18, 11, and 21. I hope you enjoyed the unexpected joy at dawn summary. Kindly share with your friends.

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