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Odum Egege: Allegory Of N’Delta Question(II)

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Being the concluding part of a paper presented by Adagogo Brown of the Humanities Department Rivers State College of Arts and Science, Port Harcourt at a seminar organised by the department, recently.

The sense of loss and enormity of efforts put in generating the goods that are carted away by the Opobo traders, in the name of trading, is captured by Nna Odum Egege in his sarcastic comment:

All day long, in the rain and in the sun, you and your children toil in the bush (demonstrating): cutting, planting or harvesting. You cut, boil, pound and press the palm fruit for the oil; you pot or -calabash, the nuts are left to dry before you crack and basket. (He pauses and looks round). You take the goods yourselves to the market to sell to buyers or exchange them voluntarily for other goods. The work you do, the market you buy, the acceptance of their prices and articles, everything you do, you do willfully, they don’t force you … (p3)

The lamentation of the people of Azumini is an allegory of the exploitation and dispossession of the Niger Delta people of their crude oil by the Nigerian State and their collaborating multi-national oil companies.

More light is shed on the sense of loss and the exploitation of the Azumini people when Chijioke says:

… But today we’ve lost the value of our labour ….

The water people can now come and take our goods and offer us whatever they like …. (p.3).

Chijioke appears not to speak for the Azumini people only, he also speaks for the Niger Delta people whose natural resource is exploited and carted away without consideration for those whose land and environment the resource is taken. In the name of derivation, the Niger Delta people are offered pittance determined by the Nigeria state ever since the exploitation of oil from the Niger Delta, the same way “the water people” offer Azumini people whatever they like for their goods.

When Odum Ogege asks Azumini people in a rhetorical questions:

“Are you not the owners of the oil kernel and foodstuffs that make the peoples of Okoloama and Opuboama wealthy and great?” (p.3) he is indirectly asking the Niger Delta people if they are not the producers of the oil that has made the Nigerian nation wealthy and great. Even Ikechi corroborates the stupendous Azumini wealth that has been lavished in the development of Opuboama and Okoloama when he says:

Only those who have been to Opuboama and Okoloama know how much they’ve robbed us to build those their kingdom. (p.4).

The same is of the reality of the plundering of the Niger Delta oil proceeds which have been deployed by the Government of Nigeria in the development of Abuja, Lagos and other parts of the country excluding the Niger Delta.

With the increase in the awareness of the economic exploitation of the Azumini people, Odum Egege, tests his gift of all along been lying dormant.

First, he takes them down memory lane reminding them of the bravery of their forebears. Loaded with inflammatory elements, the speech is designed to spontaneously ginger and spur the people to revolt. Odum Egege queries:

… What has now come upon the brave people of Azumini … ·.? Your forebears were brave men who untiringly fought to protect their children from head-hunters. And you are now afraid of protecting these rights for which they fought and died, those rights without which you cannot ensure the continuity of your race …. (Pause) After eating basa, drinking manya ngwo and Esiriesi, you go about puffing, (demonstrating). I’m an Ndoki man! I’m an Ndoki man! (Pointing) to the water people, you are nothing! (p.5).

This and several other statements, no doubt, awakened the spirit of rebellion and prepared the people of Azumini for the assignment of protecting their economic rights from the invasion of King Jaja and Opuboama. 

From knowledge and self-realisation, the play moves to protest and self-preservation. This is the point where the Azumini people, having realized that they have long been cheated and  plundered, are ready to take their destiny In their own hands and reverse the trend. Readily, Odum Egege becomes ‘the rallying point of protest and military campaign. He urges the people:

… it is a good thing to recognize one’s rights, but a much better thing to be able to fight and protect them. Yes! Owughi egu a na ete na nkikara mkpuru. For it needs a lion’s strength, a devil’s determination to ask the oppressor to stop oppressing, the exploiter to stop exploiting, and the robber to stop robbing. The dangers are great, although the honour in life and even in death is greater. (p.6).

The role of Odum Egege and other Azumini elders in the pursuit of their right to control their resources can be likened to that of past and present Niger Delta people in agitation to also control their resources. With time, the struggle has gradually shifted from dialogue to arms struggle. In this we see correlation: literary characters and actions literally signifying historical personages and events. The signified personages and events observed since the Niger Delta struggle have remained a recurring decimal. The include Harold Dappa Biriye, Isaac Adako Boro, Ken Saro Wiwa, Edwin Clark, etc.

Before Odum Egege dies, he challenges Alabo Fubara who has come to impose Opoboama trade and protection agreement on Azumini people:

… (To Alabo Fubara) On Okoloama and Opuboama, we’ve never sought to impose our terms, and on us we refuse vehemently their coming to impose theirs. We’ll begin trade with the whites. If you can trade with them, why can’t we? We want to derive full benefits from our labour. (Addressing the elders) Umunna, is it not so? (The elders nodding) (p;49).

The imposition of oil revenue sharing formula and other conditions by the Government on the Niger Delta people is a literal translation of the efforts of King Jaja and Opuboama people to impose their trade terms on Azumini.

The objection of Odum Egege and his men to the imposition of terms of trade, calls for King Jaja’s adoption of a military option in suppressing the Azumini revolt. This same situation plays out in the Niger Delta as the Government considers military option in quailing the protest and agitation of the people for higher percentage of oil revenue derivation or resource control.

Although King Jaja and Opuboama defeat Odum Egege and Azumini, consistently, Odum Egege’s prophetic statement while undergoing torture on his journey of death in the hands of king Jaja’s executioners comes to mind as reported by King Jaja’s messenger.

He said many things. He kept on saying, for example … em, yes! I remember: “for there shall come someone to avenge innocent blood …

as I die for justice others will survive it”. When they come to the mouth, blood spluttered, and his speech become unintelligible … then, in fact, your Majesty, he mentioned, “seeds planted … “ p.l09.

Odum Egege’s last words are full of prophecies of the emancipation and restoration of Azumini rights to the prophecies of the doom of Opuboama for denying others their rights.

Hear Oruogolo: Opuboamapu, moored by divine will, Infested now by human will, The ship stinks and soon Will be tossed

With a hopeless crew

For the hearts’ desire of men

Often block their ears to the voice of the gods

And lead them always to And lead them always to destruction…

Eeee! Eeee! (He turns, skips and smiles)

Quick! Quick!

For nothing but the cleaning of t his land

Can save it from being washed way.

And posterity from agony, disunity

Hunger and death…

(He turns to the king, who is looking blankly

In front of him) Amanyanabo, fromw hat

You have done.

Refusing others’ rights

Yours shall also be denied!

Nature has no better balance… (p.111)

In the concluding part of the statement of Oruogolo, the messenger of the gods, he appears not only to have prophesised but also cursed King Jaja for his unfair treatment of Odum eGege and Azumini people. The full implication of the statement for Nigeria is very obvious. In the manner Oruogolo has assured Opobo and posterity, of agony, disunity, hunger and death, except the land is cleansed, same, including disintegration appears to await the Nigerian State, except the rights of the Niger Delta people are granted.

For me, Oruogolo’s statements of caution or warning of impeding doom to King Jaja is one that the leadership of the Nigerian State should take seriously and learn from, in handling the Niger Delta question.

 

Adagogo Brown

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Arts/Literary

Last Laugh

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Title:                 Beyond Expectations

Author:             Reward Akwu

Publisher:          Ollybell Printing Resources, Port Harcourt

Pages:             136

Reviewer:         Boye Salau

 

Whatever instigated Reward Akwu to engage in literary prose writing cannot, with the extreme form of clarity, be dismissed as inconsequential. Like every other journalists, Akwu is one man whose profession and the hurricane of economic survival in Nigeria would hardly permit to venture into a literary expedition.

What then is the driving force? Could it be his personal childhood experience, or the chequered experience of someone dear to him? Certainly, it could not have been his own memorabilia. The author of Beyond Expectation is still one of millions of Nigerians yearning for better life. Otherwise, he would not have remained in the hollow of the Rivers State Newspaper Corporation as a Chief Correspondent till now.

Whatever the reasons are, one is not in doubt that the various chequered experiences of life’s discomfiting paradoxes are the afflatus that make the zephr of history a reality.

In a country where many people are not sure of the next meal, Beyond Expectations clearly captures the reality of hailing from poor background.

The book is somewhat nostalgic about the fate of an average Nigerian man in the village and relieves the heart of the common man with the age long cliché: when there is life, there is hope.

The theme of the book can be located in the fortune of many people who rose from the creek and bottomless pit of life to stardom. The Abiolas, Jonathans, Amaechis fall in this category.

Written in simple narrative form with sublime simplicity, devoid of nebulous words and oratorical fancy, the 136 page novel thematises the pains and hopelessness of a brilliant secondary school boy whose intoxicating puissance and gluttonous appetite for sexual love with his classmate and child of an unforgiving gladiator with huge lubris, became his albatross. It is equivalent of the story of Adam who was sent out of the Garden of Eden for his inability to resist the apple in Eve.

How Chinedu came out of his quandary is what readers of Beyond Expectations should find out themselves.

As expected of a book that has its anthropology in local setting, communal love, family and filial affection are persuasive in this literary enterprise. The author proves that in a society where family bond is in short supply and where the only thing the rich harbours for the poor is hatred, the milk of kindness still flows in some peoples’ vein.

At the same time, the book inveighs the age – long conundrum of ersatz social class and unintentionally illustrates the yawning hiatus that exists between the Teflon rulers and the hoipolloi.

Akwu’s good understanding of the village life and his ability to capture the life and time of the ordinary people in graphic details further enriches the delivery of the book. Though sometimes too elaborate in details, the author succeeds in sending his message to the readers by employing simple diction and local parlance where necessary.

Unlike many books that are often built on hyperbole and far-fetched imagery, Beyond Expectations is convincingly obsessed with imageries that are deeply affecting and the realities of life that are both alluring and perplexing. By my assessment, the book is a fascinating nugget that addresses itself to all classes, age and gender.

Very well as the author tries to make the book flow from page to page, the book could not resist the temptation of unnecessary details, repetition and avoidable typographical errors.

Again, the book is most deficient, or better still not sufficient in suspense. A better application of literary suspense with regards to what befall Chinedu at last would have made the book more intriguing and interesting.

These few ‘slips of the pen’ can, however, be excused being Reward’s first literary expedition in the world of literature.

Without obsessive sense of sheer criticism, Beyond Expectations lives up to its name. It is sufficient for what it is meant to achieve, namely to fortify the forlorn hope, to encourage the poor not to be deterred by their poor background, while at the same time reminding the rich that no condition is permanent in life.

And until one reads the book from page to page, and from chapter to chapter, one may not be able to appreciate well the intrigue and metaphor of this heart-throbbing reality woven as fiction.

 

Boye Salau

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Arts/Literary

The Uncommon Truth

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Contrary to what you think or what you have been told, you are wiser, better and smarter than what you think you are. You are more powerful than you may ever imagine. Inside you dwells the very power, wisdom or intelligence that controls this very world. Thus, the answer to all your problems and challenges is, and always will be within you. It’s in you! In reality, you can never be helpless in this world, and the reason is very simple: “The help is in you,  the only true and lasting help.”

We live in a world where people offer us advice, even before we ask for it. There is nothing wrong with that, but the only problem is that most people are failures, and without direction.  They are still trying to figure out how to get their own lives together.  How can they tell you how to fish when  they don’t even know the path to the river? What does that tell you? Be careful whose advice you act upon. The good news, though, is that all the wisdom and direction you need in life is within you. Success, greatness, wealth and happiness are not found outside you, they are resident in you. The day you become conscious of that truth will mark the beginning of your freedom, for then you will be free from the manipulation of others. Therefore, I wish that you may come to that point in your life where you know beyond doubt that your wealth and riches are not in the hands of any person, company or organisation, but in you. When that consciousness is established in you, then shall you come to terms with this powerful truth: “There is no future in any job, the future is in you; there is no future in any country,  the future lies in you”  That which you seek “without,” can only be found “within.”

The only secret capable of freeing you from the manipulation of others, and the frustration caused by adverse circumstances lies within you.

You were created to be self-reliant, and to decide your own destiny. Embrace that truth. Never let anyone control or manipulate your destiny. You must believe in yourself, trust yourself, think for yourself and act for yourself. Remember, no one can ever let you down or frustrate you if you are not leaning on them. No one can control your life selfishly if you are not seeking for their approval, and you are not intimidated by their disapproval. And no one can hurt your feeling, make you feel angry or disappointed if you are not depending on them for your help, success and satisfaction.

Self-reliance is a necessity should you desire to live a happy and successful life. But self-reliance is only possible when you become conscious of the fact that everything you need for your success and happiness is within you.

Nwibeke, an inspirational writer lives in Port Harcourt.

 

ThankGod Nwibeke

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Arts/Literary

BOOK REVIEW

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Title:                TRAILING NEW TRACKS,

Author:                        JULIET MINIMAH, PORT HARCOURT:

Publisher:        HELPMATE CONSULT LIMITED, 2011.

No of Pages    48pp

Reviewer:        TELLE DANDESON AYASUK

AFRICAN CENTRE FOR EDUCATION                                       AND DEVELOPMENT, PORT HARCOURT

Writing in The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown stated that “men. go to far greater lengths to avoid what they fear than to obtain what they deserve”. Probably driven by similar opinion, Juliet Minimah has confronted the age-long limitations that generations of potentially great men and women have placed on themselves dying unsung with loads of untapped mental, physical and even spiritual resources. Lots of work has been done in books, journals, documentaries, public lectures, seminars, media events, movies, music, etc to motivate people to achieve by giving expression to their God-given talents and abilities. Yet far too little success has been recorded as many still pine away with inconceivable endowments.

Trailing New Tracks is a motivational piece of work aimed at reawakening millions of people world-wide, who have lost the confidence in brining their natural endowments to fruition. It is a call to action in which the author challenges everyone in this situation to “break new grounds, chart new frontiers and see yourself as a trail blazer”. Juliet Minimah sees this as one certain way to address “the various social, economic and political ills that confront the world today”.

Theme

In Trailing New Tracks, the author explores the theme of Regeneration and Attainment Through Conscious Effort. She sees hope in a world hampered by crises of all kinds, shapes and magnitudes. She attempts to re-engineer attitude through uprightness, conscious effort and the exercise of self-will. In her views, “the adversities of life teach us more lessons than the prosperities of life”.

Philosophy

Minimah attempts, in this work, to communicate with her audience through an elevated art form. The sub genre of philosophy is by no means the easiest way to communicate any message. Credit must be given to this author for her boldness, audacity and fearlessness.

Language

The author employs simple, persuasive and concise language to motivate with ease. She uses the first-person point of view to break down barriers between her and her audience. Mention  must be made of the rich use of biblical allusion.

Audience

Minimah obviously writes to a youthful audience but recommends (in chapter 7) the same sense of activity and attainment to every age. Also, she writes to a universal audience.

Summary

Trailing New Tracks is a motivational piece of art written in a forty-eight page volume in which the author attempts to inspire action towards achievement in a world where confidence and determination are almost completely eroded. The work may be divided into three main parts.

Chapters 1 to 5 persuade the reader to develop a good mind-set devoid of greed and selfishness. The fifth chapter attempts to inspire confidence.

The next two chapters inspire the reader to dream big and be visionary. They emphasize the importance of good company in the realization of good dreams and visions.

In the last twelve chapters, the author canvasses action through uprightness and focus. She warns against the evil of procrastination and fear. She urges the reader to set a pattern for himself and society, take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves and get some extra knowledge and information. She charges the reader to rise above limitations, find hope and the will to achieve and be a problem-solver, a Trail Blazer.

Like every other work of art, there are a few weaknesses which this reviewer must not fail to point out in this work. For space and time, we shall take just three of them.

For a philosophical work, Trailing New Tracks is rather too small in volume and lacks the depth to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with other philosophical works in world -class libraries in Nigeria and universally.

It is the view of this reviewer that the author should have localized her audience and injected aspects of our cultural, social and philosophical ethos which would have made this work more relevant to the African, or indeed, Nigerian reader.

This reviewer also identifies a few grammatical and semantic inconsistencies which could be attributed to the now-popular (printer’s devil.” Particularly, the expression: “Trail New Blaze” (in the introduction) should actually read “Blaze New Trail(s)” (brackets mine) as obtained in the first paragraph of chapter 18.

Conclusion

Juliet Minimah’s Trailing New Tracks is without doubt a great attempt by a young African woman at reaching out to young people and even the older ones to dig deep into their mind and realize the potential hidden there. She challenges them using achievers like Barrack Obama of the United States of America, the first black president of the world’s most powerful nation, and even our own Pat Utomi, who became Presidential Adviser at twenty -seven years of age, to inspire this and other generations to rise to their talents and make new and amazing contributions to their society.

To the extent that Minimah has effectively communicated to her audience, inspiring every reader, irrespective of age and class, I consider Trailing New Tracks as a monumental success and recommend it as a must-read for everyone who aspires for unparalleled greatness.

 

Title:    ORDEALS OF A BABY MOTHER

Author:            JULIET MINIMAH, PORT HARCOURT:

Publisher:        SUNNY ALADE PRINTING PRODUCTION

No of Pages    46pp

Reviewer:        THANKGOD EMEKA EGBUCHU (JP)

PRINCIPAL ASSISTANT REGISTRAR,

RIVERS STATE UNIVERSITY OF SCIENCE

& TECHNOLOGY

INTRODUCTION

May I inform the esteem audience here today, that I am here to appraise the monumental work done by Miss Minimah Ishmeal Juliet, titled “Ordeals of A baby Mother”.

As we all are aware and I know that Minimah Ishmeal Juliet hails from the Ancient City of Opobo in Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Area of Rivers State. Born in the family of Mr. & Mrs. Ishmeal Minimah. Being the first and only female daughter of six children of the parents, graduated from the University of Port Harcourt with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Political and Administrative Studies.

As a template to all her growing contemporaries of  the  female folk in Nigeria, Minimah Juliet, had additional colour on her academic pursuit by possessing a Diploma in law from the Rivers State College of Arts and Science and a proficiency certificate in management from the Nigerian Institute of Management.

Miss Minimah Juliet seem little but mighty and mature intellectually in the field of academic spectrum.

In her book, “Ordeals of a Baby Mother” chapters I to 5 deals with convincing themes, which delved into “Who is a baby mother, Is motherhood a curse, why rejection and ageing forcefully rather than gracefully”, serves as an eye opener which creates awareness needed by mothers and baby mothers across the country over motherhood.

Similarly, chapter six to the last, deals with implications of early motherhood, More advantages for unequal opportunities, Refuse to be a school dropout, Being a baby mother turns you into one true life stories and a word of note, serves to show positive measures a baby mother should take to avoid being victim of the circumstance.

DICTION

Minimah Ishmeal Juliet was very careful in choosing her words to convey the intended action in the book which all levels of individuals can understand easily to read.

The sequence of the chapters flows naturally to the sense of would-be readers of the book. This has demonstrated maturity of articulation of words by the author.

However, we must expect as a matter of fact that the production of this book may experience minor errors, which she accept entirely all the faults to herself but form the basis for her further encouragement to produce the best in her life.

Lastly, in my opinion, the book, “ORDEALS OF A BABY MOTHER” has served the purpose for what it was addressed.

I strongly recommend the book to all ages of womanhood to read,  especially students in secondary schools and higher institutions across the country.

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