My trip to Kaduna and An Abundance of Scorpions.

As the years roll by I become more and more aware of the need to engage in those things I love. While reading is one of the most consistent hobbies I pursue, traveling is one hobby I wish I could explore more; I have not really indulged in it very much.

So as a gift to myself and a testament to the growing restlessness I was experiencing this year (not to mention the zombie routine I had adopted as a Lagos worker) I decided to travel to shake off the stress and the monotony. Alas, I couldn’t afford a trip out of the country because my finances weren’t looking that joyful. Then I recalled that a very good friend had invited me to visit her in Kaduna earlier in April and I had asked for a rain check. After confirming that the offer was still open, I made a firm decision to travel to Kaduna.

The first challenge was to determine my mode of transportation. I love road trips (I travelled from Ohio to Texas last year on the Greyhound) but my friend was skeptical about the state of our roads in Nigeria and the safety of traveling on them. After several consultations, I grudgingly paid for a ticket to travel for a week by air to Kaduna. Everyone I mentioned my planned trip to would raise an eyebrow and ask what business I had in Kaduna. I wasn’t perturbed I needed the escape from busy, noisy and aggressive Lagos so I looked forward to my trip with glee.

As a book lover, the surest way to enjoy a time away from work is to read! Fully convinced that I would have all the time to kick back, lounge and sink into the books I had read half way, I proceeded to lug a huge hard cover by Nora Roberts, a smaller paper back by an author I have never heard of before (Amy Tan) but whose writing had caught me and my sure stack of e-books (which obviously go with me wherever my phone goes)

My flight was on a Sunday morning.

Fun fact: I love to travel in the morning.

Once we had buckled in and taken off, my seat partner requested to see my book (it was the Nora Roberts book) I smiled and handed it over. This wasn’t new to me, people often requested to see what book I had in my hand (it has won me many a friend) once he returned the book, I settled in and soon got lost in the ‘Northern Lights’ by Nora Roberts.

My friend picked me up from the airport an hour later and we were soon off. As she pointed out the important sites in the city, I took a deep breath and smiled. The short vacation had started.

When I walked into my friend’s flat, naturally my eyes found her book shelf (like I zeroed in so fast) she had a few books lined up but the one that caught my eye as I scrutinized was An Abundance of Scorpions by Hadiza Isma El-Rufai.

The title gripped my attention instantly. I picked up the book the next day and read 75 % of it. The next day I rapidly completed it.

An Abundance of Scorpions was quite a surprising book because the story line was pretty unique. I don’t think I’ve ever come across any story similar to what I read in the book, then again I haven’t read all the books in the world! The plot was well laid out. The characters were good but the lead character, Tambaya was the most striking. She came across as this soft wonderful, accepting person, so loving and truly kind.

When you start the book, you don’t really expect that it would have a tragic beginning to it, so when that came I was taken aback and it made me follow the story more closely. Going to the themes explored, I found child trafficking, case of abandoned children, poverty, grief and the uncertainty of life after the death of a loved one, the secrets that can be revealed when a man dies, also the attitude of in-laws toward a widow, politics, corruption and several others.

I liked the way the conflicts came into the story, the minute you begin to sit back and enjoy the good parts of the lead character’s life, you find she has other issues to deal with. I like that the author put a vivacious character in the person of Esther, Tambaya’s friend who brings some spice into her life. It is Esther who acts as her main support system and holds her up in the most difficult periods. Every girl needs an Esther in her life.

The biggest conflict I think the lead character had to deal with was the moment where she had to assist her brother Aminu by permitting him to drop his son with her at the Orphanage where she was the Matron. The deception behind it all, choosing to help family over her values to the likely loss of her job if found out; while reading this part of the story I kept asking myself what would you have done if you were Tambaya.

The story moved really nicely for me.

My only problem was the way it ended. I had hoped that the romance between the lead character and Alhaji Surajo would develop. In a way it was good the author left it as it was. But she didn’t tell us what would happen to her brother’s son who had been brought into the orphanage as an abandoned child. Though she writes a possible end to the story in the reverie that the lead character falls into at the tail end of the book, I still felt the story should have been nicely rounded out.

It was a wholesome read. There was that hope that love can come again after the death of a loved one. For me it gave me a window into the life of a Muslim, the prayers they undertake five times a day, the celebration of Ramadan, the fasting and all the rites that go with it.

I fancied reading the book and I found the title most apt. An abundance of scorpions tells me of the many challenges that can assail one in life but the resilience of the lead character reflects that hope can come again and perseverance pays.

My trip to Kaduna couldn’t have been complete without the pleasure of the presence of An Abundance of Scorpions; an unexpected read, a delightful experience.

Have you read this book? Would you read it?

P.S: I got to visit Kajuru Castle in Kaduna, the view was magnificent.

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Kemibon

 

 

 

BOOK REVIEW – THE SECRET LIVES OF BABA SEGI’S WIVES BY LOLA SHONEYIN

Everyone has secrets right? So what is the big deal about Baba Segi’s wives and their secrets?

You have to believe that for a book to come up with such a fascinating title then the secret must be a big deal. I cannot say if it was the title of the book that caught my attention or the fact that my younger sister kept dissolving into laughter as she read it (much to my chagrin as I hadn’t read it yet) but I was intrigued and I wanted to read it. When I finally got the book, I read with satisfaction and I felt the way I usually feel when I read Nigerian books by Nigerian authors; I felt all right. I felt heard, spoken for and relevant.

The story is short (201 pages) and ends quite surprisingly. By this I mean that I did not expect the end to come so quickly and so happily (for some of the characters anyway).

What is the secret that Baba Segi’s wives have kept away from Bolanle the 4th wife? What was the consequence of their actions? Why did the other wives dislike Bolanle so much? While these questions may sound like English comprehension questions, the answers will reveal the story in the book which the author, Lola Shoneyin crafted quite descriptively.

I enjoyed the humor (when Baba Segi has to give a sample of his semen) in the story as well as the delicate societal issues that were raised like sterility, rape, adultery and prostitution. Other themes like religion and poverty were also interwoven into the story.

I was initially confused when Bolanle (who appears to be the main character) married Baba Segi but it became clearer when the story revealed her reasons. Each wife has a unique character flaw which makes them relatable. You either love them or hate them but you can’t be indifferent.

There is tragedy in this book in the death of a child. I didn’t take it very well but the death came at the hands of her mother due to the mother’s jealousy (towards Bolanle, the new wife, of course). This is the stock that old stories on Tales by Moonlight are made of, that television series that aired on NTA in Nigeria in the ’80’s.

My best character is Baba Segi. This is one of the first books I have read where I actually stand in solidarity with a male character. He is just a proud, harmless, “woman-wrapper”*. He is a patriarch and he wears the badge proudly (when Baba Segi and Bolanle are at the hospital, he declares that he is her next of kin and not her mother) but beyond all of that he is just a man who takes care of his wives and children quite diligently. He is a man who desires peace in his home (seeking advice from Teacher) and plenty of children to show for his wealth.

There was something about Lola Shoneyin’s narration of this story that reminded me of Arundhati Roy’s style of writing in The God of Small Things. Or shall I say that there was something striking about her ability to describe things that are disgusting unabashedly; a certain way of describing body fluids like saliva, excreta and vomit. I had observed this same manner of writing in The God of Small Things as well.

I did wonder if the story would have a second part. There was a hint of lesbianism on the part of the first wife, Iya Segi. The story about her and the tomato seller was never completed nor explored. Perhaps it was not main story , a mere distraction.

The beauty of the story really lies in the nature of the tale including the exclamations that are natural to us in this part of the world, particularly the drama exhibited in the Yoruba culture.

At the end of the story the reader will find that the secret that Baba Segi’s wives keep away from him will shatter him. The story comes to a full circle when he makes a decision on how things will be in his household.

As small as the book is, the author is able to pack in several diverse characters. I thoroughly enjoyed the book but I expected a different ending. Oh well, what do I know? I am just a reader.

Have you read this book? What did you make of it? Leave your comments below.

*Philanderer

Kemibon

BOOK REVIEW: STAY WITH ME BY AYOBAMI ADEBAYO

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“Stay with me”, she said. I stayed till the end.

I wanted to stay with Ayobami Adebayo. I wanted to pick up her words and memorize them. I wanted to stay in the pages of her book and immerse myself in the depth of the story. I wanted to stay.

There are so many reasons why I loved this book:

  1. Style of narration
  2. Figures of speech
  3. Vivid descriptions
  4. Strength of the Characters
  5. The story
  6. The themes – Lust, Love, Forgiveness, Human Nature, Tradition, Politics, etc.

The author’s style of narration is in first person but what makes it even better is that the narration is in two voices; the voice of the main character, Yejide, and the voice of her husband, Akin. Ayobami Adebayo is able to achieve this by setting out their narrations in different chapters interspersed throughout the book. This gives the reader a good insight into both of the character’s deepest thoughts. The story swings from the main character to her husband’s narration in a seamless stream.

Her similes are fresh. These are some of my favorites: “she was fair, pale yellow like the inside of an unripe mango”. “if one moved close enough, that mouth oozed an unbearable stench, like stale urine.” “I was coming undone, like a hastily tied scarf coming loose, on the ground before the owner is aware of it”.

I loved her style of description. Take a look at this, “I wanted to leave them standing outside and go back upstairs to sleep. Maybe they would melt into pools of brown mud if they stayed long enough in the sun. Iya Martha’s buttocks were so big that, if melted, they would have taken up all the space on the concrete steps that led up to our doorway.”

I like the way the author gives details and then connects the dots later. For example after the main character’s husband marries a new wife, the new wife comes to visit Yejide at her salon. Yejide tells the story: “…the nails were painted hibiscus red, like the matching mugs Akin and I had used to drink coffee that morning…”.

Later in the story, Yejide tells us she bought new mugs. When her husband asks, she said she broke them.  We don’t know why until the author narrates it thus: “I could see that he assumed I had simply knocked the mugs over by mistake or dropped them as I was putting them away. There was no reason for him to think that I had slammed each hibiscus-red mug against the kitchen wall as the cuckoo clock in the sitting room chimed at midnight. He could never have imagined that I had swept the broken pieces into a dustpan, put them in a small mortar and pounded them until I was sweating from every pore and wondering if I had lost my mind”.

It is this kind of narration that makes the book a page turner.

The strength of the characters – Yejide, the main character strikes me as a resilient woman; a woman who is able to remain strong through all her difficulties yet  she is a flawed character just like any one of us (feeding her in-laws with beans knowing well it wasn’t freshly made just after they introduced her to her husband’s new wife is something I could have done).

Her husband is an equally strong character; his depth! The depth of his deception clearly drives the marriage into the ground. For me, the most striking thing about Akin, Yejide’s husband is his calculated deceit. Not to say anything of how he pretended to be disappointed when the doctor told him their son’s genotype and the likelihood that Yejide had cheated on him.  Of course, he knew that he was the one who got his brother to sleep with his wife yet he acted like the wounded husband. Classic! Just classic! Ayobami Adebayo portrays the characters so creatively that one cannot help but be surprised at their actions and reactions (getting to know that Akin killed his second wife was mind-blowing)

The story is richly and proudly Nigerian. It gives the Nigerian that sense of “this is our own”. Ayobami Adebayo weaves the tale with an excellent craft. The story moves fluidly between different times, the present and the past. The suspense is steady and agreeable. The use of imagery is superb. The story is deep and loaded with drama. At first, I was thinking, “basic story, man marries new wife because wife can’t get pregnant? Big deal”!

But no! The big deal about this story is the layers in the story. Like cabbage, you can keep unfurling the layers and you won’t get inside fast enough. From having to contend with a new wife, the protagonist has to grapple with visits to the mountain top for prayers (breastfeeds a goat to simulate breastfeeding a baby), a pregnancy that exists only in her head yet manifests in a protruding tummy (pseudocyesis), a hostile mother-in-law, falling into the trap her impotent husband cunningly set for her (to sleep with his brother and get pregnant), battling with sick children and finally the discovery of her husband’s betrayal.

At a point I felt the drama was a tad much but it all came together nicely. The tragedy in the story is heavy. The pace of the story keeps the reader interested and invested so much so that you feel like taking Yejide by the hand and saying “please sit a while, unburden your heart and rest”.

It is a story of the deepest betrayal – the betrayal of the one you love and trust the most.

The themes visited in the story are many – we have love between Yeijde and her husband, Akin, then lust from Akin’s brother  for Yejide and his struggle with himself. Yejide’s lust for something she had obviously been deprived of from her husband for years.

Politics is beautifully addressed as the story moves in between years; you see the transitions in Nigeria’s political scene.

Tradition and societal ills is another theme Ayobami addresses in her book. She reveals how easily families interfere in the affairs of a childless young couple. She tells us how desperate a woman can get to satisfy society – some validation to show that she is really not barren. The reality of mental instability that can arise from the desire to be pregnant is depicted – a condition called pseudocyesis. The scourge of Sickle Cell Disease is also sewn into the fabric of this very unpretentious book.

The inherent wickedness of man is visited in the person of Yejide’s husband who keeps his secret and makes her miserable in all her suffering. I loved the use of folklore in the book. She used two of my personal favorites; the story of Olurombi and the Iroko tree as well as the story of greedy Ijapa (the tortoise and the porridge that got him pregnant)

She also  manages to talk about the period when armed robbers used to write to residents.

I couldn’t help feeling disappointed that Yejide didn’t really have a close friend or relation to be a support through her pain but I suppose that is what makes the story so moving.

The brilliance of this book is in the ability of the author to wrap all of the things she addresses into 306 pages, make the book funny in parts, very poignantly sad and yet so real.

I rate this book a well-deserved 9/10.

This is a story that will stay with you.

Kemibon

 

 

 

 

 

 

Second Class Citizen taught Abiola Bonuola some life lessons

I know it’s been a while, I’ve just been super busy with my blog beautifulthoughtz.com , school and work so please forgive me as my amazing sister, Kemi Bonuola has forgiven me for not contributing for so long. My office book club got me reading Second Class Citizen by Buchi Emecheta and I read it quite slowly, not because I didn’t like the story line or the book but it failed to get my already busy attention.

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I read it for about 1 month plus. Yes, the (192 pages) book was read for almost two months but I concluded that Buchi taught me five life lessons through Adah, the main character:

  1. Marriage is overrated

Adah taught me that we make marriage too special in this part (Africa) of the world. In my opinion, marriage should be for complementary purposes. A human being can survive, live happily on earth without marriage. I do not understand the arguments of companionship or support because I feel these can be gotten without the institution of marriage especially when this school (marriage) becomes more of a burden than a place to grow.

Adah had to live with her great burden called marriage for a long time and I could only feel sorry for her. I am not married and I do not know what the good and bad ones are like but I feel if you really want it, it should be for the right reasons. Oh well, we’ll talk about that later…

  1. Education is important

It’s important to be in the know and be prepared to learn as much as possible. My boss at the office says the day we stop learning is the day we die which I believe is so true. Adah despite her burdens flew past deterrents and became what she wanted to be. Despite achieving her dreams, she continued to learn and that I must say is very inspiring to me.

  1. When in war, do not push your opponent to the wall

Adah achieved her major feats with patience and slow calculations. After reading ‘The Art of War by Sun Tzu’ (which by the way I haven’t reviewed yet) I must give her credit for her tactics. Buchi depicted her as a very humble, precise person.

  1. Laziness does not pay

There’s this song I learnt when I was quite little about a farmer. It says one who doesn’t work would steal and if not he would go hungry. So I can understand that Francis (Adah’s husband) was so lazy, he stole from his wife by collecting her money and giving her funds for her children and house keep alone despite the fact that she was the one who worked for the money.

  1. Support the support system

Adah taught me that the support system is even more important than we think especially if we do not support it. What I mean is, we should give of ourselves as much as we can to those who love and care for us so that we would always have the support we need when we are at our weakest.

Adah lost her only support system, her brother when she traveled to London. Adah’s story is Buchi’s story to me. Although the book was published in 1974, a period when there were few female Nigerian writers, it still settles subtly in a reader’s mind kudos to the story line and the soft reality of Adah’s plight.

Some of the themes in the book were racism, tribalism, love, marriage, religion and literature. Compared to other classic books I’ve read, it’s a 5/10 for me. I leave you with the fancy that someday society’s ills will no longer dictate the decisions we make in life.

Abiola Bonuola

Through Chimamanda Adichie I saw a side of the rising sun

I shivered, cried, stared into blank space, laughed out loud, closed my eyes in embarrassment, thought hard about life, wrote interesting pieces just because of Chimamanda Adichie’s Half Of A Yellow Sun. I had read another book by her, The Thing Around Your Neck which my lovely sister, Kemi reviewed here but I did not expect what I got in this book.

It’s definitely a shelf book and I would read it again during a vacation or holiday just to see the details and explore the characters. It inspired me so much, I wrote about her on my blog several times.

I want to write as deeply emotional as Chimamanda does when I’m older and wiser. With this book, she made me see a side of the rising sun, the war and the pain that has affected every Nigerian tribe. I saw the killing of the Sardauna, the jokes about his death by the people and the death of Olanna’s extended family during the killings in the North. It was worse than the movie.

“Olanna looked into the bowl. She saw the little girl’s head with the ashy grey skin and the plaited hair and rolled-back eyes and open mouth. She stared at it for a while before she looked away.”

I could talk about the history themed in the book and it may feel like “bla bla bla” to you but the book has made an impact and told me; a young lady who did not witness the Biafran war, that it should not happen again.

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The book was published in 2006 by Farafina in Nigeria. It is based on the pre and post- independence era in the country and focuses primarily on the activities of Nigerians and “Biafrans” between 1960 and 1980.

Did you know that the secessionist Biafran state is recognised to have existed between May 1967 and January 1970? I didn’t. I thought the Biafrans were a group of people fighting for their land, I had no idea it was recognized or that so many things were involved in the process of secession and living in such a state.

In fact, I wonder how those who survived did. Chimamanda’s Half Of A Yellow Sun may just be fiction but what were the realities and how did Nigerians and Biafrans cope? We shouldn’t even start talking about the survival tactics such as hustling for salt or egg yolk as protein for the children or underground bunkers, the surprising deaths and betrayals…

It talked about the military rules and rebels and pain that would forever remain in the hearts of those who faced the war and survived it.

My favorite character was Ugwu, my dear Ugwu who loved women and treated them according to how he felt about them, my dear Ugwu, who was confused when he saw water come out from a tap, my dear Ugwu through whose eyes the story begins and ends.

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Ugwu in the movie

Chimamanda knows how to portray love realistically. The woman is good biko (please in Ibo). Olanna and Odenigbo were not just lovers, they were friends and that was what kept them together even when the love was hungry for food.

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Odenigbo and Olanna in the movie

This book is a classic in that it discusses the war from the perspective of the Igbo people in the most realistic way. I feel she achieved what she set out to do with this book because it changed the way some saw the war. Anyway, I realised that in all times, we should endeavor to show humanity to our neigbours.

Watching the movie is not enough, reading the book is so much better.

What I found a bit uncomfortable was the fact that Richard who was meant to understand Igbo so fluently hardly said a word of Ibo in the novel for us, the readers to translate and Chimamanda kept going back and forth from one character to another, which is why I would advice that one read the book before watching the movie, I kept expecting the same chronology I got in the movie.

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Please find below an excerpt on the story behind the book;

Both my grandfathers were interesting men, both born in the early 1900s in British-controlled Igbo land, both determined to educate their children, both with a keen sense of humor, both proud. I know this from stories I have been told. Eight years before I was born, they died in Biafra as refugees after fleeing hometowns that had fallen to federal troops. I grew up in the shadow of Biafra. I grew up hearing ‘before the war’ and ‘after the war’ stories; it was as if the war had somehow divided the memories of my family. I have always wanted to write about Biafra—not only to honor my grandfathers, but also to honor the collective memory of an entire nation. Writing Half of a Yellow Sun has been my re-imagining of something I did not experience but whose legacy I carry. It is also, I hope, my tribute to love: the unreasonable, resilient thing that holds people together and makes us human.

Chimamanda Adichie

Cheers, Abiola

Note: This excerpt was gotten from chimamanda.com

FLORA NWAPA’S “EFURU”

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Abiola Bonuola reviews “Efuru”:

Flora Nwapa is a woman! She has been called the mother of modern African literature but I perceive from the stories heard and read about her, she is so much more than that.

Her first book, Efuru clearly states her love for women and her support in the growth of women even in 1966 when the book was first published.

Would you believe it, Efuru is 50 years old this year!

Efuru, also the name of the major character in the book, was the first book to be published by a Nigerian woman, Flora Nwapa therefore it is not surprising to see that the book is such a darling to Nigerian women.

Efuru, the character is a beautiful, wise, strong and talented woman. She seems to understand everyone’s problems and attitude to life. She is very diplomatic and could serve as a good modern female Nigerian politician. (simply speculation)

Ajanupu, Efuru’s friend and former mother-in-law’s sister is a pillar in so many troubling matters that affect the beautiful lady especially when she advises Efuru at a period when she is at a loss on how to handle her adulterous husband, Adizua who made off with a “bad woman.”

Ajanupu says here; “You know that I am proud of you. You are a good woman. There is no woman like you. Your mother-in-law knows this very well though she does not show it. It is a pity that this has befallen you. But don’t worry, it will be all right. By the power of God it will be all right. Adizua has wronged you. You have been rough-handled, but don’t worry. Give Adizua one year, just a year and if he does not come back to you and you have an offer of marriage from another man, with a good background and wealth, leave him and marry the man. Wait for a year, just a year. After a year and you marry again, nobody in this world will rise an accusing finger at you and say you have not done well.”

As a Yoruba lady, who does not understand more than twenty Ibo words, the book got to my “inner woman”. I felt the richness of the Ibo culture, I also understood the ways the women avoided trouble so they do not come to be ridiculed in their society.

Though Efuru is of noble birth, she does not show pride as she converses with the people in her town. She helps where help is needed and gives where giving is needed especially when she is chosen by the goddess of the river, Uhamiri (which if translation permits me “miri” means water in Ibo) who gives her riches, beauty and happiness. Her character is that of a Super Woman.

The setting of the book is colonial highlighting the influence and activities of the missionaries, tax collectors and the British government. Flora expressed her thoughts about the British rule in her Ibo proverbs, the people’s belief in the traditional gods and their attitude to education. Even the language and the way she writes reflects how deep she was in her culture. In this book, she clearly depicts the people as being educated in their own culture but not in the culture of the British.

This book is a shelf book, to be read over and over again. I rate it a 8/10.

Abiola Bonuola

THE LION AND THE JEWEL

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Hallo Readers! I have been really lazy about reading lately although I just picked up L.M Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables but I am reading it ever so slowly. Luckily my sister came to my rescue with this review of The Lion and The Jewel by the Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka.  I can’t say if she gave any hints as to who the lion is and what jewel is Wole Soyinka even talking about? Can you figure it out?

Abiola Bonuola reviews:

The Lion and the Jewel by Wole Soyinka

The first time my sister, Kemi Bonuola read this book in JS 3 (equivalent to middle school in the U.S.A ), she obviously hated it. I know this because right at the beginning of the book, I came across the following scribbles:

“Question: What do you think about the book? I think it is a very boring book. The writer himself must be very dry and uninteresting to write such a boring local led comedy. When reading it, I did not laugh at all so I can’t guarantee the fact that it is a comedy. I will just call it a dry play written by a dry man, Soyinka.”      -Opinion by Kemi Bonuola ,13, JS 3 C.D.S.S

Now that she is much older, she read the book again and just oohed and aahed over the book. She urged me to read it too but I remember very clearly that I did not like the book as a child either but as the stubborn yet compliant lady that I am, I decided to force myself to read the book by suggesting the book to my colleagues for the office’s monthly fun and relaxation plan.

That said, this is what I felt about the Lion and the Jewel by the Sagacious, Wole Soyinka, on reading it for the second time:

Lakunle is a fool, no doubt about it.

He has no wisdom whatsoever in wooing a woman and/or marrying her in his village, Ilunjinle. He tries to prove that he is educated but his education lacks substance despite his supposed vast knowledge of the city.

That’s too much adjudication for one man, I know but… this book, the Lion and the Jewel is an exciting, wise, colorful and inspiring book. The Lion, Baroka and the Jewel, Sidi prove to know their turf in their town so does everyone else apart from Lakunle.

Anyway, there is use of wisdom in this book especially as Baroka begins to speak the words of persuasion to vain Sidi just so he can win his war. He says, “When the child is full of riddles, the mother has one water-pot the less” or “It is a bridge”. The longest-so they say in the whole country. When not a bridge, you’ll find a print of groundnuts stacked like pyramids, or palm trees, or cocoa trees, and farmers hacking pods and workmen felling trees and tying skinned logs into rafts. A thousand thousand letters by road, by rail, by air from one end of the world to another, and not one human head among them; not one head of beauty on the stamp?”

Sadiku went on errands to Sidi for Baroka so many times in his attempt to woo Sidi. I wonder how her mind really works. Is it that she was blind to Baroka’s ways or is it just tradition that has clouded her “brains”?

There is comedy so sensational especially when Lakunle agrees to mime the drunken photographer.

I still cannot believe this play was published in 1963 by Oxford University Press because the language is so simple, it could have been a 1990 play. Even in this book, there was a sense of the constant modernization of Africa which is still ongoing.

At the use of imagery, culture, song, dance and poetry, I was ultimately awed. The theme of encouraging the youth to embrace the good aspect of culture is unique. I couldn’t stop talking about this book with my colleague at work. I rate it 10/10.

lion ans the jewel

Abiola Bonuola

 

WEEP NOT CHILD BY NGUGI WA THIONG O

Abiola Bonuola says:

A manuscript without a little bit of history and reality is really no book. That’s my opinion.

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To me, Weep Not Child is an investigative story about the experiences of the Kenyan people before independence. Kenya, in East Africa was to the settlers (Europeans) a land of milk and honey due to it’s fertile land and “facility for big game hunting” compared to the lands of the West Africans.

The introduction in the book written by Ime Ikiddeh tells us that, “settlers could cut out and farm an indefinite number of acres and turn the original African owners into labourers on low wages…and by the end of the Second World War, it was clear to a large part of the African population that they were little better than slaves on their own soil.”

Although the book is 54 years old, published by Heinemann’s African Writer’s Series, it feels like a bee sting to me, an African, who did not witness the war to freedom from the British society. I only heard and read about it from elder ones and in history books, having no idea what the reality of the situation was.

The book opens the blinds to the sun of truth presenting how bitter the people of Kenya were during the Mau Mau uprising. It’s even more surprising how it could be the first major English novel published by an East African because I’m wondering how it could have been accepted at the time when the wounds were sour.

The writer Ngugi Wa Thiong O who now writes only in Guruntu is a Wole Soyinka who sort to validate history through his own experiences in the minds of his readers. His technique of telling this story is not a common one. In fact, I moved from an ancestral story to Njoroge’s dream to reality to tit bits of another character’s secret scene to the women’s play and pain.

Weep Not Child began with a woman, Nyokabi and Njoroge, the heroes and ended with the same characters exhibiting the talent of this writer. The story was sweet and soft and dreamy at first and then it became hard and real at the end.

I loved the love in the book. The love between Njoroge and Mwihaki, Nyokabi and Ngotho, these were unique to the situation.

I loved the love between Njoroge and his brother Kamau who was a carpenter’s apprentice. One scene that cracked me up between them was when Kamau suddenly professed deep knowledge and thoughtfulness that even Njoroge  was surprised.

The themes are obvious; racism, colonialism, war, love, religion, family values, anger and so on. The book is poetic yet prosaic.

weep not my child

Compared to other non-fiction antique books I’ve read such as Wole Soyinka’s The Lion and the Jewel, (a review on that will be written soon) it is an unusual classic. The writer’s purpose was definitely fulfilled in this book linking the story to the future lives of the devastated Kenya people reminding us of the cliché, “where there is life, there is hope”.