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You were 20 and he was 25,you were igbo but he was not,at first you didn’t want to get too attached to him because you knew igbo people especially parents were tribalistic;you were tribalistic too. He was a staunch Deeper Life member by birth and you were an Anglican by naturalization but you didn’t like the whole Deeper Life stuff because you see most of them claim to be “too self righteous “. You disliked everything about Deeper life because of the way your classmate Akuabia in your Jss class used to look at you disgustingly because you wore earrings and this irritated you then,and you’ve sworn never to marry any deeper life member or even the likes of its sister churches because that was exactly what tore your family apart -your father’s siblings. It all happened in your presence and you made decisions like,any church that is capable to tear up a family is not worth associating with. But you loved him anyway,you looked beyond his flaws and saw a different person and most times you wished he wasn’t a Deeper Life member -that alone gave you sleepless nights. You loved the way he looked into your eyes and those butterflies in his eyes made your heart beat too fast. You always stole a glance when he wasn’t looking and avoided him catching you stealing a glance,sometimes he caught you and you never looked at his face for too long to avoid initiating a kiss. Maybe,you were shy or was just acting all female. You loved the way he held your hands with so much strength and you felt safe at the same time felt the fear of someone that didn’t want to loose you. His hold was always too tight but passionate and you pretended like it hurt you just to draw his attention like the last time you told him it hurts,he said sorry and you replied saying sorry wasn’t enough,he asked you if you needed more than the sorry and you said no; you knew you needed more than the sorry but you wanted to keep cool so as not to act all demanding or like you wanted him more. After all,you are a girl and he should know what to do and not ask questions,you thought out loud.

You were in the same University but different departments. You met him in one of the most unexpected places and what used to seem like a normal friendship between two acquaintances sprung into emotional feelings. At first you would see his calls and ignore them but soon you started keeping tracks to know when he called. When he eventually called,first your heart skips and goes on a feasting journey and you wished the call never ended. On one of those days you sensed the call was about to end,you popped “so do you eat Afang Soup?”,he laughed over the phone and reminded you it was the specialty of his people. You didn’t know whether he bursted into a boisterous laughter because you asked the question or because he sensed you were fighting to keep the conversation going but you didn’t mind anyway because what mattered was that the conversation was going on.

You were different from him in so many ways but alike in most ways. Maybe that was what ignited the flame of what you shared with him. You were igbo,he was Efik. You were an Anglican but he wasn’t, much more a Deeper Life member. He was in his mid twenties while you were just kicking off 20 but he loved stories,he told lots of stories,read them and loved writing them just like you did. You exchanged stories and laughed at characters in the stories,sometimes you became quiet while he read these stories because you thought you were the character in the story,you were the character. The story that had so much effect on you was the one titled “Cold Night”. The first night he read this story to you during one of those cold nights you visited on weekends,it made you quiet the whole weekend. It made you wet you panties. For the first time you wanted him. You were quiet because you didn’t know whether the story was his own modest way of saying,”I want to get in between your legs”. You were quiet, you hated his thought but same time you loved it but that night you just wanted to sleep.
It was the weekend that changed you countenance over him,you were a church girl and you wondered how Papa will feel if he knew you slept outside the school and more in a “non igbo ” guy’s house. You left him because making out was not in your belief of a relationship. You were a virtuous woman before you left that weekend,you didn’t know anymore because your monthly visitor hasn’t come in three consecutive months.
Maybe,your Deeper Life brother boyfriend touched you and you didn’t know. You kept telling yourself nothing happened but maybe nothing happened and your hormones were just toiling with you. You couldn’t eat those months,you only stayed up in your room,rolled the bed cover over your legs and tried to recollect papa’s warning,”you can not bring in pre-marital pregnancy into my house “.
Last week,you told mama and with tears and anger in her eyes took you to the family doctor. You only got over that weekend when the doctor said, “Nenye,you have an irregular menstrual cycle”.

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REVIEW:Arrow of God by Chinua Achebe.

Before I start,I would want to say something about this book Arrow of God. I prefer it to Things fall Apart. 

Publisher:Heinemann African Writers Series.

Pages:230

Format:Hardcover
MY CHRONICLES IN “Arrow of God”.

I must say,having finished reading this novel,I feel a bit weak or rather sad to write something about Arrow of God.  Arrow of  God is set among the igbo people in southern Nigeria in the colonial era. The novel describes the downfall of a traditional leader at the hands of his diety and colonialism.

It is funny and saddening at the same time how the gods toil with their worshippers. After reading this novel,it took me minutes to gradually assimilate everything I’ve read and I’m left gasping for answers to how a god can decide one day to mess with the lives/activities of it’s worshippers. Well,Achebe did say it all that a diety that chooses to destroy his own priest/people has also brought disaster on himself, like the lizard in the fable who ruined his mother’s funeral by his own hand.

Arrow of God didn’t give me joy at all because of the choice Ezeulu is left with in the end. Well,Achebe did use this style to employ greater meaning to the novel and that’s a relief. In the beginning, the book was becoming more and more interesting that I didn’t want to let go especially the character of Ezeulu and his powerful sayings. I was patiently waiting to read everything he had to say,I took sides with him from the beginning like he took sides with the diety  ULU because he believed that even though the whole Umuaro community turns against him for adhering to ulu,that ulu was solidly behind him(little did he know). Ezeulu believed that taking sides with the gods is supreme to taking sides with mere mortals. But who ever wins a war against his own clan?

Ezeulu’s predicament could be likened to believing wholly in a particular phenomenon not minding whose ox is gored then one day you are left in a space, trying to understand what went wrong,asking for explanations. I’ve never read a story where a character has been humiliated not by his fellow man but by a god like I read in Arrow of God. Ezeulu is ready to lead his people to destruction if only it pleases the gods but he in turn suffers the destruction alone. He pays with the head of his son Obiora. But the worst thing that can happen to a man is to loose in a fight you thought you’ve already won.

The people of Umuaro versus Ezeulu reminds me of the popular saying that if a man prepares food for the community, the community will finish it but if the community cooks for him,he would never go half way. Ezeulu did not know this or chooses to forget it when he went against Umuaro. As a headstrong leader whom upholds the doctrines of Ulu as has been handed over to him by his predecessors, even to the detriment of his own life, faces the wrath of a man standing up against his own people. But man is left with nothing when an unruly god decides to go against his own chief priest.

Arrow of God did not give me the joy I expected like I said. I kept asking myself questions like,”Why is nemesis always catching up with Achebe’s lead characters? ” but that’s for emphasis I’m meant to understand. Judging from what I’ve read,I’ll give the novel a 3.5 rate mostly because of Achebe’s style and the too many powerful proverbs he employed. Proverbs are used by people of all ages and statures to tell others about the importance of something. Achebe through the use of proverbs in his works,introduces us to the people in the igbo tribe he discusses about,their use of proverbs in their everyday as they are an important part of their culture and traditions,and this art of conversation is regarded very highly throughout the clan. Indeed,proverbs are the palm oil with which words are eaten.

Amidst all these,Arrow of God is a masterly piece that addresses a lot of issues ranging from the role of the gods over the living,colonialism, cultural clash and even a slight of feminisim. It is a must read if you haven’t read it. You would want to sympathize with Ezeulu.

Proverb that caught my eye:When suffering knocks at your door and you say there is no seat left for him,he tells you not to worry because he has brought his own stool.

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Review: “Blackass” by A. IGONI BARRETT

Blackass is a big time fictitious satire,that tells the story of a certain young man, Furo Wariboko,who wakes up on the day of his job interview to realize he has turned into a white man with a black ass. Eventually, Furo is forced by circumstance to leave his family behind in search of a new life because the misery behind his transformation is that which he himself could not explain. Yet,Furo is not a stranger. “I am Nigerian” he insists to people who marvel at his Nigerian name and Nigerian accent. The second effect of his transformation is not so bad, Furo soon finds out. After the stares and the whispers and the side comments, the mild-mannered and insignificant Furo finds that he compels attention and respect because of his new skin colour. At a job interview, he is directed to the head of the queue,and not only does he get the job,he is offered a more senior position, with a company car and a driver,even though he never completed his degree.

The first thing that struck me about the novel is the risk the author took into making himself a character in the book which greatly left me hanging because he couldn’t give the story a befitting resolution. Barrett toys with the themes of psychological and physical transformation. Igoni’s greatest assest is his ability to satirize the ridiculous extents people,especially lagosians,go to in order to appear important. His characters’ every foible is captured and amplified for effect but his handling of plot is not so masterly. On the surface,  A. Igoni Barrett’s “Blackass” is like a photo-negative of Adichie’s “Americanah”. If Adichie’s Ifemelu learns to be black in America, Barrett’s Furo Wariboko wakes up to discover that he has become white in Nigeria. Blackass is about the city that suddenly becomes visible once Wariboko is thrown clear from the life he had previously lived. As a white man,he sees Lagos in a totally different way. But the novel is also about the predicament of blackness in Africa,about the experience of race that  Adichie recalled never having felt in Nigeria.

Becoming white,for Wariboko, is a matter of understanding what it is that Nigerians are staring at,when they stare at him. It is also a matter of realizing what whiteness isn’t: in Nigeria, white skin is not an invisible backpack filled with privilege, though it certainly does create opportunities.  When he was a 33 years old unemployed black Nigerian man,every door had been closed to him;his new self,by contrast,is inundated with job offers and propositions. In Nigeria, a white man is also,always,an outsider, and if his white skin is an asset,it is not always for him to use it. Whiteness,turns out is an opportunity to be used.

But regardless of the stories plot, Barrett ensures,with his deft, writerly description of the sights and smells of Lagos,that this farfetched,hilarious narrative is compelling enough for you to want to recommend it.

#Africanliterature

#Blackass

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REVIEW:A MAN OF THE PEOPLE BY CHINUA ACHEBE.

PUBLISHER:Heinemann

PAGES:167

FORMAT:Hard back

                          MY CHRONICLES

I’ve only read two of Achebe’s books and “A Man of the People” is one of them. Despite the fact that am yet to read others, “A Man of the People” is already my favorite. Reasons being that the novel’s focus is on West African political system and Nigeria to be precise.

There are so many things I like about the novel and who wouldn’t just like or better still love when the pen was held by Achebe. The distinctive,live voice of a flawed but relatable main character -odili,the unheard before and gorgeously witty African proverbs,how realistic,how smart,how sad, disappointed and still how hopeful Chinua Achebe’s view of politics is. A political satire focused mainly on the then newly independent Nigeria.

The story is a first person account of the main character Odili -a school teacher in a fictional country that can be identified as Nigeria and Chief Nanga the powerful but corrupt Minister of Culture.  Chief Nanga whom is addressed as “A man of the People” instead uses his position as the “War-lord” to enrich his stomach. Chief Nanga is a symbolic character of our corrupt society,he represents generally our leaders who are merchants of loots that claim to be our “Ambassadors” who in disguise impoverish us. Achebe’s “A man of the People”,gives me a deeper understanding of Obi Umeh’s “Ambassadors of Poverty”.  In one of the chapters, he makes a comment saying, ” And so long as men are swayed by their hearts and stomachs and not their heads,the chief Nangas of the World will continue to get away with anything “. This line had so much effect on me because it explains exactly what we are experiencing today in our country. The major problem Nigeria political system has today is because we have dubious sit-tight rulers whom are moved by only their whims and caprices, yet refer to themselves as our “servants”.

I might love discussing a lot about FEMINISM but discussing  political system and mostly that of Nigeria  is something am most passionate about. People like Chief Nanga then and today whom were the ones on the fore front, agitating to “self government “;creating awareness,saying that “their people” are suffering from the hands of colonial masters will still come back after been granted independence and construct half- baked infrastructures and amenities for these people and only when they need a favour from them. Then comes  Odili,despite filled with flaws is still ready to fight for a course even if it means soiling his hands because there’s no way to fight corruption without soiling your hands or even dying in the process. In such a regime,I say you died a good death if your life had inspired someone to come forward and shoot your murderer in the chest without asking to be paid.

Achebe is such a great writer that even as I write this, I still feel that he did not serve us a full plate of what we needed. After reading “A Man of the People”, my mind couldn’t behold such a wonderful piece Achebe wrote. His works are so much authenicated because he was not a writer that wrote based on what he felt but based on what should be. I wouldn’t argue less with anyone who decides to describe him as the “Father of African Literature”. Reason being that no author from what I know has given us a detailed history of the African Society and Nigeria as a case study like Achebe did.  After reading “A Man of the People”,am left with the question (how can corruption be curbed in a country it has already formed part of their DNA?)

I wouldn’t call it being bias because some things are just too good that you can not figure out any flaws in them and Achebe’s “A Man of the People”is no exception to this, though I found some minor errors in the diction which I considered faults from the side of the publisher. 

Rereading Achebe’s works is always such a treat. I forget how funny,how pointed,how delightful his barbs are. Upon reading this book, i declared Chinua Achebe a prophet because everything in this book has happened including the military coup. If you’ve only read “Things Fall Apart “then try one of his other books like “A man of the People”,you won’t regret it. 


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