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Absurdities In The Garb Of Beliefs

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BOOK REVIEW

Book Title:        Belief: A Trail Of Blood

                        (Random Reflections

                         Volume Two)

Author:             Ikechukwu Nwanze

Pages:  496

Publisher:         Renaissance

                        Communications Ltd

Reviewer:        Boye Salau

Ignorance, according to Molly Ivins, is the root of all evil. And the legendary Martin Lurther King Jnr. also said “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity”.

Regrettably, ignorance constitutes the quintessential elements of livelihood in our society. While ignorance and follies in the olden days could be attributed to backwardness, primitiveness, paganism and barbarism, ignorance in the modern world is rooted in religious beliefs, intolerance, extremism and destructive fundamentalism.

In the medieval ages for instance, ritual murder was a daily routine in many parts of the world. Thousands of innocent people were killed to make sacrifices, with the belief that by so doing they would appease the gods who they believed, were capable of providing them wealth, power, good health and long life.

Even in today’s world of civilisation, high technology and religious awareness, certain irrational, obnoxious and mysterious beliefs, myths, superstitutions, traditional cosmology and foolish bravado leading to needless deaths still dominate some societies.

For instance, every failure, misfortune in African society is attributed to witchcraft. Whenever a man dies a sudden death, witches or enemies are blamed for it. Whenever business fails, it is attributed to witchcraft. Whenever car accident occurs, accusing fingers are pointed at witches, even when it is obvious that the driver was driving under the influence of alcohol.

In other words, witchcraft is made a convenient scapegoat for every natural and man-made disaster and misfortune.

These are some of the beliefs and traditions Ikechukwu Nwanze captures with a demur in the Volume Two of his Random Reflections which he titled Belief: A Trail of Blood.

Nwanze makes argument that most of these atrocious beliefs and traditions are rooted in human ignorance and follies. He justifies this through historical analysis supported with dates, employment of quotable quotes of great writers and authors like Martin Lurther King Jnr., James Michener, Molly Ivins etc, and by making references to Biblical verses and some mysterious happenings around the world.

He particularly devotes a whole chapter to some of these beliefs, and another chapter to some ancient practices and traditions, some of them still subsist till today, such as voodoism, witchcraft, reincarnation, ritual murders, supernaturalism and other mysterious happenings that are commonly found among the natives of West Indies, South America and ultimately among Africans.

Nwanze gives an historical overview of some absurd and dangerous beliefs and traditions from the medieval Europe to modern Africa and how these beliefs and myths have claimed millions of lives.

He writes, “Today, the world suffers the consequences of the actions of some groups that believe that if they wear vests laden with bombs, and blow themselves up along with numerous innocent people, they would be doing God a huge favour and earn His commendation and reward in heaven with multiple virgins and other indulgences in the eternal paradise of heavenly comfort…”

He argues categorically that these atrocious and stupid beliefs and fantasies are founded on sheer ignorance.

Although, Nwanze believes it is what a man professes that comes to pass, as in the case of the Rivers State governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi whose judicial victory at the Supreme Court, he says, was attributed to his avowed and professed belief, faith and conviction that “I prayed myself to this office… I prayed and prayed and I believed that God will make me the Governor”, he says it is wrong and foolish for people to subject themselves to the beliefs of other people without subjecting such beliefs to questioning, examination, investigation, scrutiny and analysis.

He states, “Yet, some of us carry on with our inherited beliefs without questioning, without examination, without scrutiny, without investigation, without analysis.Our faith in our religion is therefore superficial and lacks depth and is absolutely dependent upon what the teacher of the religion told us. We fail to realise that, had it been intended for us to be totally dependent on what we are told, the holy books would not have been necessary. There would not have been need for the mind in the first place. We were given a mind and the capacity to think, to make choices, so we can analyse things independently. The holy books enjoin us to be critical in things we hear and to subject what we are told to examination, to be sure that the teacher is following the doctrine as the scriptures provided”.

Nwanze gives example of the Guyana tragedy in which “a preacher in the USA was able to convince his followers that if they all took poison and die, they would all go to heaven and live with God in eternal paradise. His followers believed him and they all took poison and died in their numbers”.

He also gives examples of how many people choose their respective denominations just because they are either infatuated by the eloquence and oratorical prowess of their Pastors, or admire the beauty and dressing style of their Pastors.

In a nutshell, Nwanze’s book reflects on human follies and how many people have taken absurdity to a high level in their beliefs, especially in Africa.

Nwanze is indeed right. If our ancestors could be forgiven for doing all what they did in ignorance, in this so-called modern times of civilisation when we brag about accomplishments in science and technology, and when we preach religious tolerance and appear to have divine endorsement, what excuse do we supply for all the oppressive, repressive and coercive tendencies that characterise our existence that go with our beliefs?

The way out of these erroneous beliefs and absurd perceptions, according to Nwanze, is to give room to education and enlightenment, which would provide us the ability to examine, question and scrutinise our beliefs.

He states, “To continue to live in the error of our absurd perceptions is to accept we are less than human”. After all, he continues, “no one should see or be told of fire and dip their (his) hand(s) in it”.

Nwanze’s book might be considered as a confrontational work against some beliefs and traditions, it is a well-researched and must-read piece that should be seen as a wake-up call to all our religious leaders and their followers in Africa, some of who have taken absurdity to a high and noble level in their beliefs.

It also serves as a wake-up call forAfrican nations to retrace their steps from the belief systems that are not only injurious  to natural justice, but also retard African progress and development.

The book is indeed a great improvement on its volume one. However, the voluminous pages of the book might be in bad taste to impatient readers, while lack of references to other religious books apart from the Bible makes Nwanze’s argument narrow and religious biased, and may make the book less appealing to adherents of other religions.

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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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