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I will not write about tomorrow

Published by The Nation on Fri, 22 Feb 2019

Last Friday, I wrote about tomorrow. Tomorrow came but not the way we expected. Tomorrow was postponed till tomorrow. We were supposed to queue, get accredited and cast our votes for our next President and National Assembly members, but the umpire messed us up and pushed tomorrow till tomorrow. Now that I am not certain about the whole thing again, I will rather write about books yes, books; those paperback or hardcover or e-books that can fly you to Jamaica, Cyprus, Liverpool, United States and more while you are in the comfort of your home.They make you laugh, they make you cry and they make you think. Books. They make you enjoy your own company. They make you steal, yes steal time to be alone to live in the world of men and women far or near. They make you crave deeper meaning. Books, oh books!I will not write about tomorrow. Instead I will tell you about Of Women and Frogs, written by Bisi Adjapon. In this debut novel, we see Nigeria, we see Ghana. The Ghana we see is a country that went to hell and returned. One fact that a deeper meaning will reveal on account of reading this book is that like Ghana, Nigeria has also been to hell, but unlike Ghana, Nigeria is not back. We are still trying to find our way back. It is taking so long that many are wondering if the labours of our heroes past are not in vain.I will not write about tomorrow. Instead I will tell you about another book that brings the sorry state of things in our nation to heart. Chigozie Obiomas sophomore titled An Orchestra of Minorities can easily be mistaken as the tale of the main characters. In this case, an average reader will see Obiomas sophomore as the story of Nonso, a poultry farmer, and Ndali who he calls Mommy. A deeper reader will discover much more in this tale. The big takeaway for me in this book is the subtle political sub-theme in the book. It is encapsulated in these words: But he thought even more that these people were happy because they had been lifted from places where they were suffering into this new country. The plane had lifted out of the land of lack, of man-pass-man, the land in which a mans greatest enemies are members of his household; a land of kidnappers, of ritual killers, of policemen who bully those they encounter on the road and shoot those who dont bribe them, of leaders who treat those they lead with contempt and rob them of their commonwealth, of frequent riots and crisis, of long strikes, of petrol shortages, of joblessness, of clogged gutters, of potholed roadsand of constant power outages. This is like telling the sad story of our nation in one relatively long paragraph. And from the look of things, changes are not about to happen.Let me also tell you about Nze Sylva Ifedigbos debut novel My Mind is No Longer Here. It is the story of four menDonatus, Chidi, Osahon and Haruna. Connecting all of them is Yinka, who preys on their avarice and ignorance.Donatus is a photojournalist, who worked for a newspaper whose publisher is a big-for-nothing fool. Salaries were not paid promptly, allowances non-existent and welfare zero. Chidi is an undergraduate who suddenly feels the urge to hit it big. Osahon, on the other hand, has been on the run from Benin where he is wanted for cult-related offence. As for Haruna, his case is different. The medical doctor just feels tired of Nigeria after his mothers death and he feels going abroad is it.Their displeasure with Nigeria leads them all to Yinka, whose motive for wanting to help them go abroad is far from noble. The signs that Yinkas gestures may not be noble are glaring, but these men are blinded by their frustration with Nigeria. Their minds are simply no longer here. Even when family members call these guys attention to possible danger in the offer from Yinka, they lie to make the whole thing look good. All that is important is to just get out of Nigeria, which is likened to hell.The near monologue between these guys and Otunba shows how crooks with money prey on the desperate.Otunba says to the guys: You see, eyin boys, let me tell you something nobody else will tell you. Hunger is a very good thing. Our people do not know this. That is why they remain poor. They think hunger is a bad thing. No Hunger is a blessing, I tell you. There is no motivator like hunger. It is only hunger that can make you do anything without fear. You see, when I see young men like you wallowing aimlessly about, I tell myself they have not yet tasted hunger. Because when you taste hunger, nobody will tell you to get serious and do something about it.In another instance, he says: I tell people I am rich today because I was hungry yesterday. But he adds the icing on it all, when he says: But I was not just hungry, I did something about it. Today, see where I am' All those mouths that were running like watery toilet, talking nonsense against me back then, where are they today' The ones that are not dead yet are well on their way there. Every day they are on my phone, begging me for pocket money. These are the same people who said I was doing boy-boy for the military and that I was a friend of killers.The main message in this book is: When your home cannot offer you a bed to sleep peacefully on, a neigbours home becomes appealing.I will still not write about tomorrow. Instead I will tell you about more books I have read with messages for our nation.In Eghosa Imasuens second novel Fine Boys, boys love blood, love violence and they feel insecure without the badge of confraternity. Confra, as they like to abbreviate their affiliation, is life. These boys remind me of politicians like Colonel Dibarama and Eunice Pam in Richard Alis debut novel City of Memories. Eunice and Dibarama have followers who are ready to kill and die for them.Our situation reminds me of a conversation in Toni Kans Iron Age, one of the short stories in Nights of the Creaking Bed:Motu, you must leave with me. The land is doomed. There is no hope here.Exile is not an option. I would rather die than flee.Motu, this is not about exile.Then what is it about'It is about safety.My final take: I will not write about tomorrow. However, whatever tomorrow brings, do not waste your life on anybodys account. Your blood is precious; after all, you are made in Gods image. Go out and vote, but remember that your safety must come first.
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