A deeply moving debut novel set amid the perilous world of Nigerian email scams, I Do Not Come to You by Chance tells the story of one young man and the family who loves him. Being the opara of the family, Kingsley Ibe is entitled to certain privileges--a piece of meat in his egusi soup, a party to celebrate his graduation from university. As first son, he has responsibilities, too. But times are bad in Nigeria, and life is hard. Unable to find work, Kingsley cannot take on the duty of training his younger siblings, nor can he provide his parents with financial peace in their retirement. And then there is Ola. Dear, sweet Ola, the sugar in Kingsley's tea. It does not seem to matter that he loves her deeply; he cannot afford her bride price. It hasn't always been like this. For much of his young life, Kingsley believed that education was everything, that through wisdom, all things were possible. Now he worries that without a "long-leg"--someone who knows someone who can help him--his degrees will do nothing but adorn the walls of his parents' low-rent house. And when a tragedy befalls his family, Kingsley learns the hardest lesson of all: education may be the language of success in Nigeria, but it's money that does the talking. Unconditional family support may be the way in Nigeria, but when Kingsley turns to his Uncle Boniface for help, he learns that charity may come with strings attached. Boniface--aka Cash Daddy--is an exuberant character who suffers from elephantiasis of the pocket. He's also rumored to run a successful empire of email scams. But he can help. With Cash Daddy's intervention, Kingsley and his family can be as safe as a tortoise in its shell. It's up to Kingsley now to reconcile his passion for knowledge with his hunger for money, and to fully assume his role of first son. But can he do it without being drawn into this outlandish milieu?

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Critic Reviews (16)

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  1. Positive: 13 Out of 16
  1. Mixed: 3 Out of 16
  1. Negative: 0 Out of 16
Critical Consensus: Good.


24 May 2014
Have you ever gotten an email from a person you have never heard of who is promising you that they need your help to access a huge amount of money? Many of these emails usually go along the line of how they were once a member of a family of someone i ...

A Reader-Response Jour

27 Aug 2013
With struggles of unemployment, social decadence and the zeal to make it in a society that is ridden by corrupt people, the novel “I Do Not Come To You By Chance” chronicles the realities that lead people into a life of crime. Presented in a sati ...

Africa Book Club

27 Sep 2011
I Do Not Come to You by Chance is a comic novel about the life and times of Kingsley, a young 419er. A 419er, we learn, is a nickname given to those in Nigeria who run email scams, and fittingly enough, refers to the section of the penal code under w ...

The New Times

12 Nov 2010
Kingsley, the main protagonist in the story is a young Nigerian man who has a good education and a promising career ahead of him. His father is a poor but honest retired civil servant. His mother is a small-time entrepreneur who would rather starve t ...


01 Oct 2010
The book covers the travails of Kingsley Ibe who has a good education and a promising career ahead of him. Life however does not go according to plan with the economic crisis which makes it next to impossible to get a job even for first class graduat ...

Kinna Reads

06 Jul 2010
Several years ago, while browsing at an internet café, I noticed a young man sitting in the next cubicle whom I was certain was a ‘419’ scam artist. The term 419 refers to the advance fee fraud section of the Nigerian criminal code. From what I ...

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May 5, 2009


Hachette Books





Literary Awards:

Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa (2010)
Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book in Africa (2010)
Nigeria Prize Nominee for Literature (2012)
Betty Trask Award (2010)

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