Posts tagged Nigerian writers

BOOK REVIEW || Under The Udala Tree

I read this book about 11 months ago and I didn’t, couldn’t write a review or bookmark any pages. I thought since I didn’t support the message the book was advocating I didn’t even have to review it. However, it unsettles me to skip out on this one, so of the many I ignore for review, this one forges ahead.

(P.s: I finally wrote this review like 5 months ago and still didn’t publish it because I was busy)

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Ijeoma was just eleven years when the war began. The life she’d known had been one of middle class comfort as an only-child in her family, where she was fed abundantly and told it would help stimulate her brain.
Prior to the war:

“as for us, we moved about in that unhurried way of the butterflies as if the breeze was sweet, as if the sun on our skin was a caress. As if slow paces allowed for the savouring of both. This was the way thing were before the war: our lives, tamely moving forward”

The book is a coming of age story which dwells on the Biafran war, and on the war against homosexuals.

“There is no way to tell the story of what happened with Amina without first telling the story of mama’s sending me off. Likewise, there is no way to tell the story of mama sending me off without also telling of papa’s refusal to go to the bunker. Without his refusal, the sending away might never have occurred, and if the sending away had not occurred, then I might never have met Amina
If I had not met Amina, who knows, there might be no story at all to tell”

The book consists of three parts. The story goes back and forth in the first part and reveals how Ijeoma’s father refuses to run into the bunker during one of the air raids; he embraces despair about the losing war, and is bombed in his own house by the fighter planes.
The book explores grief and loss consequent to this. Mama who fails miserably in coming out of her grief sends her daughter to live with a school teacher.

It is in being sent away to live with the grammar school teacher and his wife, that Ijeoma faces the question of her sexual identity.
After being caught, Ijeoma would go through tumultuous times in her mind seeking for the truth, and for peace.
She would have compulsory lessons with mama at the kitchen table every evening, in order to cleanse her mind with the word of God.

This book tries to raise questions and doubts in a readers mind. It wants you to question the religious beliefs you may have already held. The book does this by employing a strategy of shifting grounds on morality – what exactly is an abomination? Was Adam’s meeting with Eve only symbolic of relationship between different people, thereby having no relevance to their sexes?

It brings up forbidden love, and as with love which is restricted, the author tries to win the reader’s sympathy. Its moving when the lesbians hide themselves in a bunker from a violent mob – a bunker similar, and even worse than those used during the Biafran war. Again – a literary tactic to depict a greater war being waged on homosexuals.

The book leads you to watch Ijeoma try to repent before God but being unable to, “not being heard by God”.

Ijeoma’s thoughts often center on the context of Bible passages – discrediting the inference Christians hold from those same passages.

Chinelo Okparanta deliberately explores the religious background of Nigerians by making her central characters well abreast of scriptures. There’s nothing less than twenty passages on homosexuality in this book, some analyzed in depth (though erroneously). It’s a strategy that’s supposed to take the fight out of the opponent by seizing their very war instrument.

This book goes far to come close. Here’s why: It presents gay-torching Christians (arsonists), hateful Christians who will tear off the clothes on the neck of lesbians who are found out and kill them.

It presents a frenzied mother who casts demons out of her daughter for being a lesbian. Fast forward fourteen years and a failed heterosexual marriage, it presents the same spiritual mother saying:

“God who created you, must have known what he did. Enough is enough

Overall this book works to evoke empathy especially as its written in 1st person P.O.V. It also drops proverbs like this one:

“if you set off on a witch hunt, you will find a witch. When you find her, she will be dressed like any other person. But to you, her skin will glow in stripes of white and black. You will see her broom and you will hear her witch cry and you will feel the effects of her spells on you.
No matter how unlike a witch she is, there she will be, a witch before your eyes”

An unobservant Christian will probably begin to give room to thoughts like: “But its their human right to decide their own sexuality after all, why bother them?”
The book is a patient and descriptive read for the first two parts, the rest hurries through a bit. In the Epilogue, Ndidi, Ijeoma’s lover says her prophecy concerning Nigeria being a place where love is allowed between all sexes and tribes.
This book is written as a response to the laws passed by President Jonathan in 2014 which criminalized same-sex relationship.

In conclusion, for literature? it does well. For my sentiments and beliefs? I fault it every line of the way. I say it does well for literature because if it were to be another cause for which I stand, I’d have thought she made her case sufficiently well for a novel. But this – the issue of homosexuality, I do not stand for it both logically and spiritually. It is fundamentally wrong.

Books and Truth,

Debby

Chronicles of a bored and tired girl || Same Same Same

Same people, same routine, same environment.
21 May 2018
16:33


I’m a bit on a low. I guess I am tired. Tired of University. In need of a fresh perspective to life. Away from the boring routine.
I’m starting to think I should get myself out of the pressure.

Beware of generating pressure instead of impact.
-Bishop oyedepo

If the academic calendar were run smoothly, I would be going to Law school this November but that isn’t possible any more. The school year wouldn’t be over by then. My mates and I are going next year.
For a while that worried me so much (my thoughts: I want to stop schooling already. Why would I go to law school next year, then still be there into 2020?!) and I whined. I just had to tell myself to snap out of it. How easy is it for us to dwell on the not-so-positives? Sometimes the circumstances aren’t negative, they simply clash with our ideas of utopia.
Staying in UI since 2013( actually 2013 session but we resumed in 2014 due to strikes) is bound to take its toll someday. Same people. Same environment. Same routine.
I’ll explain.
Same people.
No offence to all my loved ones. You guys know you’re the absolute best. It may not show on my face everyday but I’m a sucker for good friendship and when I get attached, I get attached. I love you guys.
But help! Lol. I need fresh perspectives behind fresh faces. Just help. I guess I’m starting to realize (took me so long eh) that I’m not a social person.
My friend Chizaram in the past six months or so has gone for two international conferences and rubbed minds with other law students, lawyers and important people. Thats amidst other adventures I know she has had outside of that. Your home girl on the other hand… Now, were I to have been at those conferences, I strongly doubt I would have made friends as easily as she did(I mean I’ve seen pictures. Lol. how do you get to take a dozen care free pictures with not one, not two, not five people in the space of a week for each of the conferences).
I’m not afraid of introductions or initiating conversations, no. Its just that small talks don’t cut it for me. Big talks do. And you just have to appreciate that not everyone is capable of having big talks. So there goes my meeting lots of people!

Same environment.
If I were to be a loose talker, I’d have started this part with: oh shoot me. Lol. I didn’t say that though. It’s the same places over and over again. I only gave you my three types of mornings right? I didn’t give you a breakdown of my day.
Its predictably uninteresting.
That’s not to say I don’t do any interesting things but I guess I have more interesting moments from what I read or watch on my phone and laptop than where I go. That has to change, or what do you say?
I’ve stayed in a private hostel since 200 level and it’s the same feel. The same room. The same curtains. The same type of table and wardrobe! The same entrance.
Left to me, I would have added spice to my personal apartment; Introduced plants, bought new wall art, switched up the arrangement to become airy and minimalist.
But, it isn’t left to me.
Same faculty. Same Chapel of the resurrection(where my fellowship holds services), same hostel.
Same routine.
I think I’ve pretty much explained this already.
What next?
I would say okay, every Friday or Saturday, I’ll go with a friend to some new place in town, but *weeps*, that’s money. A lot of money. Because the new places that I have in mind are high-end places. Every weekend?
You see now guys, you see why I’m tired? Why I’ll like to get called to the bar, work and earn?
Okay, this is a positive post so we’re cool.
😀😀It just feels good to let that off my chest.


If you have suggestions, let me know o. Or if its an all expense paid trip to some high-end place, I’m also interested. On a serious note, that’s why you guys rock. You’re a different world for me. Thank you for constantly reading what I write. My pen owes you.

“Readers are not sheep, and not every pen tempts them.”

-Vlamdir Nabokov
(A quote you should know if you’ve visited my about me page).
Flowers and newness,
Debby.

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela

I appreciate that with my movie recommendations, I don’t have rules as I do for my book reviews. So prepare to read any and everything😊. (Long post alert).
After viewing Nelson Mandela’S LONG WALK TO FREEDOM :
Storyline and opinion
Nelson, is approached by the ANC to join the congress and he declines. He only accepts when his friend is beaten to death by white police officers one night. He agrees to politics knowing there is power in togetherness. Other than that, he is just someone who wants to do his family proud though prevented by his promiscuous nature. Mandela is now deeply involved in politics and his first marriage can’t withstand that pressure.
He organizes campaigns and protests against the discrimination of the blacks. He leads the people to burn their passports and refuse the authority of a state that hates them.
Winnie, the new love of his life and new wife shares the same political views as Mandela. She even becomes boundless when Nelson is locked away and she herself gets imprisoned. She is violent to a fault and instigates greater rebellion among the people who look up to her, she is devoted to this cause.
There is a portrayal of loss of the innocence of youth for them both as the battle with the state gets fiercer. The ANC employs violence to achieve its aims and they get labelled as terrorists. Mandela is locked up in a prison in Robben island with his three friends after being sentenced to life imprisonment.
More goes down.
How does a man go on from being labelled a terrorist to being the president of the same state and causing a radical change in the system?
It was a revolution he birthed.
When Winnie Mandela died on 2nd of April this year, someone tweeted something along the lines of Winnie and Nelson’s eventual fall out.
I genuinely wondered about that. I think on a whole Mandela had a poor relationship with women as reflected in the movie. Two marriages and both went sour?
Another angle is that, his thinking was advanced. Not only Mandela and his wife’s relationship grew a bit sour but his friends found it hard to believe him after he began dialoguing with the government. Something about this reminds me of pastor Sam Adeyemi’s teaching of how if you would be remembered 600 years from now, (if Jesus tarries,)the decisions you would be making today would be incomprehensible to the people around you because you’re factoring 600 years into the picture and they’re not.
Today, we still talk of Mandela, what if Winnie at that time and others, had some difficulties with him for a while? Perhaps because the cause he was pursuing was beyond their time; it would speak a lot in the coming years as we can now see.
Excerpts

My name is Nelson Mandela and I am the first accused. I do not deny that I have planned sabotage. I did not plan it in the spirit of recklessness or because I love violence. The hard fact is that fifty years of silence has brought the African people repressive legislations and fewer and fewer rights . Africans want a just share in the whole of south Africa. We want equal political rights. One man, one vote. I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination. I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the idea of a free democratic society where all persons live together in harmony with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and achieve but if need be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Interviewer:”Mr. Mandela, what is it that you personally want?
M: ”I want freedom. I have beautiful children and a beautiful wife. I want them to walk free in their own land.”

Likes
The national call at the beginning of the movie is very much appreciated. These days, I question unity in my country, I question allegiance. Are we really raised to be loyal, and patriotic? Are the primary and secondary schools teaching us that things may not be the best right now but we should respect, cherish and serve our country? Correct me please but I don’t think many are. I was at a judicial function some weeks ago*; a special court sitting and as you are wont to in the midst of important figures, I was on my best behaviour and alert. When we sang the national anthem at the start and close of the court sitting, I reflected on the words of our anthem. It was one of the rare moments of my consciousness and resolved patriotism to my country. Perhaps this discussion is for another post. By way of summary, I admire the call to the south African young ones at the start of the movie.
Dislikes
My dislike stems from the fact that Nelson didn’t have faith in Jesus. Of course that told on his family. Mandela is a deeply flawed human as reflected, even sometimes violent in his early years but with time, he aged with wisdom.
As regards the filming, I’d rather the romance part was done away with so the movie can be viewed at all circles but it isn’t so.
I’m very much interested in reading the book, his biography. How does a person walk that bravely? At the time he did that long and lonely walk, he didn’t know he would one day be celebrated, he only did each day, what he thought was right and stood by his decision.
I adore his conclusion in the movie:

no one is born hating another because of the colour of his skin…”

I think it’s a worthwhile movie. Worth-the- while. Worth the time. Made also to fuel ruggedness in your beliefs, and to encourage you to sacrifice, and to lead. It preaches perseverance and that a life worth living is one spent in a cause you believe in.
Disclaimer: this is a recap of what is portrayed in the movie and in no way an attempt to recap Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela’s autobiography.
* I wrote this article long before this publication. It isn’t a few weeks ago I was at the sitting.
Penny A thousand naira for your thoughts?
Love and Impact,
Debby.

BOOK REVIEW–And After Many Days

Title: And After Many Days
Author: Jowhor Ile
Publisher: Tim Duggan books
Review
The book traces the Utu family in PortHarcourt, Nigeria. The setting of the conflict period is 1995. It’s an interesting tale of children growing up in a privileged middle class family in Nigeria. The oldest son, seventeen year old Paul gets missing and we’re confronted with a personal loss and on a larger scale, political loss.
Political loss as evidenced by failure in virtually all sectors of the society. I think it’s despairing that the challenges faced back then in Nigeria, mostly as a result of political failure are all very much present in this day – even worse. The plot is rich and devastating. It however doesn’t hit you badly until the climax.
And after many days lends credence to the voice about the Niger Delta crisis in Nigeria; the development of the crisis and it’s impact (oil spills, gas flares, western oil companies arrival, the humiliating and harrowing experiences the military forces the members of the community through, the desecration of all indigenous land and even streams by the companies) – all from an insider’s point of view.
There’s also an exposure to the way the military government ran things at that time.
Jowhor is deserving of his award in the Etisalat prize for fiction in 2017. He is a delicate story-teller. This is his debut novel. The book employs a seamless technique of moving back and forth through time. The book has an intriguing and hooking opening, coupled with the author’s timeless and endearing way of describing events. It’s written in a third person omniscient perspective.
The characters are absolutely believeable and they draw the reader in. I think most Nigerians would relate with the upbringing of the Utus children. This book takes you back in time to your childhood.
One last credit: it had me checking the dictionary for the meaning of some words. What else can I ask for?
Excerpts

“You might be carrying a document instructing you to be sold and you won’t know it. Won’t read and can’t read would land you in the same place”

God forbid!” He spat out. He looked like the sort of man for whom all strong emotions came out looking like anger. Ajie couldn’t tell if he was angry that Paul was missing or angry with Paul for going missing or whether he was angry at all. Whichever way, it was clear his sympathy was with Ma “

“But whatever there was to know about desire and it’s cost was beyond Ajie then. He was at that time completely passionate and pure. He imagined himself, his brother, and his sister to be people who would shoot into the world and burn, fiery arrows set free by their parents from their home here at number 11. they would love greatly and do useful things. Bbi would become rich and important and build houses and hospital for the poor. Paul would simply change the world”

“When misfortune befalls you, people secretly blame you. Ajie noticed this. People can’t help it. They do it so they can believe it won’t happen to them. They haven’t done whatever it is you did to deserve this suffering.”

I like this book. I generously give it 5stars.
P.s for the those who’ve read the book: what do you think of Bendic and Ma’s parenting style?
Yours sincerely,
Debby.
So tell me, what do you think?