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Imminent River …An African Enchantment: The Quest For The Formula For Long Life

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Book Review

Chapters : 45
Pages : 316
Author : Anaele Ihuoma
Reviewer : Ngozi Osu

In this novel,Imminent River. written by Anaele Ihuoma, I wasn’t sure what to expect. From the title of the book, I imagined a story set on the banks off a great river, or perhaps a story about ‘living waters’ flowing through imaginary hills or cascading down imaginary terrain; a story that ebbed its way through dangerous and treacherous waters. With mermaids. Or big fish.
Then I realised I was letting my imagination swim away with me. So I  settled down to read.As I read the first chapter, I smiled and fastened my imaginary seatbelt. I realised this book was about to take me on a journey flowing through time… on a course with ceaseless tides, both high and low, strewn with endless currents of scheming and mind-bending intrigue. I was enthralled. And I had 45 chapters and 316 pages of pure magic ahead of me.
Imminent River by Anaele Ihuoma was about to change the course of time. Written in three parts,Imminent River takes us back in time to Africa in the early 19thCentury. The book is set in the hinterlands of western Africa and opens with the detailed description of a traditional rural African community in which the protagonist, Daa-Mbiiway lives, giving us insight into what life was like during this period. She lives in a location thought to be in the environs of Ogidi, Onitsha and Asaba, located in the south-eastern part of Nigeria, to be Precise, meticulously researched and written in fine detail, we encounter Daa-Mbiiway, the strong and resilient traditional healer who sets the pace for the book. A gentle middle-aged woman, her life is an embodiment of the African spirit of harmony with nature, of perseverance and determination, typical of the indigenous African traditional healer that she was.
More importantly, she had developed a medicinal formula for longevity which only she could pass on to a chosen one.At first, one would think Daa-Mbiiway is the only protagonist in this captivating book – and indeed she is, in a manner of sorts, as she features throughout the main thrust of the story.
However, just as we are captivated by her life and calling, the plot takes a twist and we are almost thrown into another story within the story.It is the early 19th Century; Daa-Mbiiway is attacked by slavers whilst walking through the forest and disappears. Now the real intrigue begins. And this is what makes Imminent River fascinating.
Fact, fiction and fantasy interwoven to create a story that reads so real. As we read the first part of the book, we are taken aback as the author gives lucid details of encounters with dreaded slave traders as they terrify people in their villages; the petrifying slave raids on communities, and the anguish of those captured and sold into slavery, and their journey into captivity across the great waters of the Atlantic Ocean into a strange, new and frightening world.
It is a gruesome tale. The horrific details are heart-wrenching, but they are also clear fact. These were the horrors our ancestors experienced. This was their terror. Man’s inhumanity to man. It makes us pause, think and decide that this must never happen again, as we strive to make our world a better place, where we can all live in peace and unity.But where is Daa-Mbiiway? And what has become of the longevity formula she developed? Did the longevity formula even exist?
The plot thickens.    Enter Jesse and Opuddah, Daa-Mbiiway’s principal apprentices. Enter also Daa-Mbiiway’s two sons Chimenam and Dioti-Ojioho, brothers in arms but enemies at heart, both in search of the longevity formula. And what was the significance of the mystical river given to Chimenam, by his father?
Imminent River is not just a story about mystical fantasy and conspiracies. There’s the delicate blend of the beauty and splendour of rich African culture that features throughout the book, channelling its course and irrigating the story with the freshness and ambience of Africa.We meander through traditional African society showcasing cultural festivals with captivating dances, music and masquerades: traditional African society in all its grandeur. Our rich African culture and heritage portrayed in such glowing words. And in some places, poetry.Even the fantasy felt real as I was transfixed with the adventures of Wopara, Ezemba’s father and his incredible journey into the rain forest.This is our Africa in all its glory. Proud.In Imminent River, I was transported into the midst of the community and I felt as if I was part of their lives. I felt their joy and pain, and even blushed reading the love story between the village beauty Agbonma and the handsome Ezemba, Daa-Mbiiway’s great-grandson. As we read on, we saw the unity in families and how communities shared a common goal: to be your brother’s keeper. The burden or concerns of a family were shared, as family and friends always came to help, no matter the situation. And when a child is born, everyone rejoices; when there is death, everyone mourns. This is our life as Africans, and Anaele Ihuoma writes it well.Imminent River is a story that flows from the heart. As we delve deeper into the book, we find a very delicate underlying theme of kinship, fellowship and friendship; the bedrock for living together in peace and unity, no matter the creed, colour or circumstance. This is the strength from togetherness that creates a support system; it is a concept of brotherly love. We see it in the bond between Daa-Mbiiway and her adopted daughter Edidion; we see it in the love story between Agbonma and Ezemba, and in the relationship between Ezemba and his childhood friend and business partner, Jindu. Even the people captured and sold into slavery are able to stand strong together.
The message is clear: No matter whom we are or where we are, we can overcome all odds with love, trust and understanding.Imminent River also has little pockets of humour delicately deposited around some rather amusing characters in the book, bringing out their personalities with often comical effects. The scene with the bungling policeman, who lost his job for his apparent idiocy, and his hen-pecking wife, will leave you in stitches. And there’s the baby called ‘Swivel’ simply because she was placed in a swivel chair after she was kidnapped;
One thing that stands out in the book is the large number of characters. Traversing from the early 19thCentury into the 20th Century, it is almost tasking to keep track of everyone, who they are and who they are related to.
However, as the book unfolds, the characters become clearer and as the narrative develops, we see their importance and the roles they play in bringing the story together. The third part of Imminent River,  cascades in the 20th Century. Ezemba continues the quest to find his great-grandmother’s longevity formula with new twists and turns, and a new adversary on his tail: High Chief Ojionu, a distant cousin.
This is where the story climaxes and an impending stream of devious conspiracies and disloyalties unfurl. I wasn’t prepared for what came next. Ezemba, with all his wit and strength, is thrown off guard by High Chief Ojionu. How could this happen? And what has become of the longevity formula?
Just as a river flows and ebbs with its high tides and low tides, so does life with its trials and triumphs, and this is the current that pulsates in Imminent River. For Daa-Mbiiway, Ezemba and his wife Agbonma, and the incredible African-Americans, descendants of their West African ancestors sold into slavery centuries ago, the end certainly justifies the means.In Imminent River, Anaele Ihuoma tells a brilliant story of perseverance and endurance, of determination and resilience that lead to a victory against all odds.
Often laced with lavish poetry, it is a riveting story that climaxes in one main theme: it’s never over until it’s done.Imminent River is a delightful read as authentic Africa meets fantasy, fact and fiction to create an unforgettable tale.Magic.

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Valentine: Couples Share Messages Of Love

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Rev & Pastor Mrs Ubong, married for 22 years, and blessed with five children
“We didn’t start on a golden bed but love and perseverance with God’s grace have brought us thus far. We chose from the day one of this marriage to put God first in all that pertains to our home.
“From our experience, one of the keys to a happy have remained as friends. Friends enjoy and esteem the company of one another, talk and express their feelings without fear or intimidation, share their common secrets, etc. On the contrary, couples who are not friends boss over one another.
“It is our belief that love must not be a seasonal thing but a lifestyle. This is God’s command and standard. So in our home, we try as much as we can to celebrate love every day. That does not mean we don’t celebrate special days.
“Because of the abuse of the Valentine’s day and the word love, we now use the Valentine’s day to talk about the God’s kind of love, marriage and sex designed for people of all ages.
“This year, by God’s grace, we are hosting it at Assemblies of God Graceland, at Iwofe road, Aker junction, by 9pm. It is often accompanied with a love banquet.
May God give us godly homes where love rules supreme.”

 

With February14, the world aclaimed St Valentine’s day, barely hours away from here, The Tide’s Women Desk took to town to capture some couples who inspite of their long stay in marriage, still retain a high degree of romance. Excerpts.
Mr and Mrs Martins Mberu, a Catholic couple married for over 20 years. “Valentine’s day is a day of romance. It should be celebrated to show love to one another through sharing of gifts and praying for St Valentine and the entire people in the world to live a life like that of St. Valentine.
“It is a day couples should show love to each other by ways of expressing their affection to each other with greetings and gifts.
“God instructs us to love one another and this is the biggest commandment of all.Today, many couples are too busy to have time for each other as well as transferring such love to their children.
“God calls us to be brave and to share His love with all who cross our paths. Scripture states that we should “not neglect to show hospitality to stranger.
“In loving others, there are many, many ways to do so, but to start, pray for them. Praying for others daily is an impactful way of loving them unconditionally, just as God calls us to do.
“Think about the people that are present in your everyday life, maybe a relative that you haven’t seen in years or a friend you’ve drifted away from. Resolve to show love.”

 

Engr & Mrs Ozuru Chibuike Monday, married for 22 years, “ it has been very awesome, God has been so faithful, so far so sweet, come Friday, February 14, being Valentine day which happens to be our second son’s birthday, we will renew our love with sweet and lovely words, going out to places of interest, and showing love to others”.Valentine: Couples Share Messages Of Love

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Monarch Gets Kudos For Upholding Okrika Culture

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A one time Chairman of Okrika Divisional Council of Chiefs and former Chairman of Ogu/Bolo Council of Chiefs, Chief Marshall Daminabo Ockiya, has been applauded by his sibling and others for performing the traditional marriage rites of Bu-Yaa which automatically qualifies him to be his father’s heir apparent and by so doing giving him the leeway to succeed his late father as the head of the Oforibokakaka’s family in Ogu/Bolo Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Commending him for the feat, his younger brother, Joe Ockiya said in an interview with newsmen in Ogu, that he came all the way from United States of America to be part of the occasion due to the high regard he has for the Okrika culture.
He commended his elder brother for fulfilling his marital obligation as customs demanded, and expressed satisfaction and excitement over the development. He advised young people to always uphold the culture passed unto them by their forebears.
The monarch’s children, Sepriye Emmanuel Ockiya, Belema Okujagu and Vicky Jackson, while also commending their father for performing the traditional marriage rites said their excitement knew no bounds as they had worked together to ensure that he performed the Okrika tradition.
They said that they hold their father in high esteem, describing him as a loving and philanthropic ruler who positively touches the lives of those who come in contact with him.
Speaking with newsmen shortly after the event, Chief Marshll Daminabo Ockiya said he was elated that the marriage rites which he had planned for a few years ago had finally been fulfilled through his children, and thanked them for their benevolence.
He explained that the decision to marry from his mother’s family was borne out of the love he had for his father, late Oforibokakaka and equally because it was an obligation to do so based on the Okrika tradition.
“We have three types of marriage in our tradition: Lekria; Igwa and Bu-Yaa. Lekria and Igwa are smaller types of marriage while Bu-Yaa or Okuru Kaka is the highest kind, where the woman fully belongs to her husband even in death. And the one I did today was Bu-Yaa. I did this because my father was not married to my mother due to some circumstances that are not for public consumption. I will add here that I have wonderful children and I pray God to continue to bless and keep them,” he said.
Highpoint of the event was the handing over of the ‘Okuru’ and the elephant tusk to Chief Ockiya, signifying that he had fully become a bonafide son and Chief of the Oforibokakaka’s War Canoe House of Bolo.
Among dignitaries who graced the occasion included Chairman of Ogu/Bolo Local Government Area, Mr Erasmus Victor; former council chairman, Mr. Victor Alabo; and one time Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Sir Morrson Tamuno; among others.

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Women Rights Group Preaches Accountability, Transparency

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Kebetkache Women Development and Resort Centre, a women rights organisation, has taken a bold step to promote accountability and transparency in order to address issues of corruption as they affect women accessing social services.
The Executive Director, Madam Emem Okon in an interactive workshop session with the International Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), the Police and other anti-corruption agencies, organised by the body, on the topic: “Gender And Accountability: Promoting Ethics And Integrity,” recently, in Port Harcourt, called on Nigerian citizens to promote ethical standards, accountability, transparency, and integrity so as to engender peace and progress in the country and society at large.
She said that in order to put an end to the high level of corruption in Nigeria, every citizen needs to conduct themselves in an acceptable manner worthy of emulation and commendation, while calling on anti-corruption agencies as well as the media to intensify efforts as much as possible at building consciousness in that direction.
In her response to if it is only women that suffer corruption and social vices in the society, she said: “Of course we know that it is not only women that require social services: such as quality education, functional health facilities, access to clean drinking water.”
She expressed optimism that if every individual in the society begins to address the issue of corruption internally, there would be hope that in the soonest, it would be a thing of the past.
She charged that everyone need to know what is expected of them, noting that some people are made to feel that they are stupid, weak and don’t know what they are doing when trying to promote transparency and accountability, which ought not to be.
“So people need to be encouraged that it is good to have integrity, it is good to be ethical in your profession. I want to charge participants to take the message home that there is hope as there are institutions that are still upholding integrity,” she said.
She called on both leaders and citizens to have a change of attitude, mindset, behavior in whatever they find themselves doing, adding that their actions should be able to build good governance and better society and not to mar it.
“I am not only calling on leaders, but on every citizen, because people takes bribe, because somebody gives bribe, so am calling on everybody to change attitude, mindset, behavior, so that we can have good governance. If we don’t have good governance, we cannot have those services that make life meaningful.
In his paper presentation titled: ‘Entrenching Principles Of Ethics And Integrity In The Workplace,’ the Guest lecturer, a member of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, (ICPC) facilitator, Mr Aveyina Peter defined ethics as those moral principles that control or influence a person’s behavior, or the rule or standards governing the conduct of a person or members of a profession.
Peter also defined integrity as simply “doing the right when no one is watching or the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles,” adding that without integrity individuals are untrustworthy.
Peter stated that ethical frame-works are those constitutional laws set out to checkmate activities of individuals, private, as well as public office holders and where the need arises, prosecute any airing member of the society that abuses his/her office.
He explained that public office is a position of stewardship for which an account must be rendered as it is a public trust as well as a national service for which an oath or pledge is made as a sign of responsibility and obligation to the people being served.
Talking about common forms of ethical risks, he advised that people guide judiciously against such risks, adding that ICPC has continued to surmount all those risks to maintain her integrity.
Peter itemised common forms of ethical risks as non-compliance with rules and regulations, conflict of interests, leakage of confidential information, unorthodox recruitment, compromised procurement, favouritism in training and promotion and abuse of office.
He stressed that if people adhere to rules and regulations and boldly doing the right things always, the society would be a better place for all.
The ICPC facilitator emphasised that ethics promote and preserve the well-being of members of the society as well as guide public servants in carrying out their official duties in order to achieve a united, peaceful and progressive nation, whose social order operates on the ideals of freedom, equality and justice.
He said: “It is the duty of every organisation in the public service to align its corporate behavior with the national ethics and goals.
He maintained that integrity in workplace fosters a positive workplace culture, stressing that organisations known for integrity perform better and as well gain more patronage from members of the society.
Also speaking, a Board member, Kebetkache Women Development Resort Centre, Chief Constance Meju commended ICPC for a well packaged lecture on corruption, describing it as a very welcome development, especially as everybody is crying that corruption is on the increase .
Meju stated that everyone needs to really understand what needs to be done and who needs to do what, noting that one of the things that need be done is first of all, everyone must have to check themselves as individuals in order to know how they are contributing to corruption and have a retrace upon realisation.
She condemned the act of over demanding which she said encourages people to take what does not belong to them.
She stressed that peace and progress cannot be achieved in a nation where there is injustice, noting that in order to achieve peace and progress, everyone must imbibe very high level of ethical standards in their day to day activities.
Meju charged public and private office holders to maintain high ethical standards in the discharge of their duties, while also calling on the anti-corruption agencies to ensure there is no sacred cow, but ensure that corruption check is on all.
Noting that Nigerian leaders are servants, she charged them to serve the interest of the nation first and not their own personal interest.
Meju added that they should also remember that they are in position of power because people put them there and as such they are accountable to the people, adding that they make themselves ready to answer questions, operate an open door policy and be transparent to the people.
She appealed to Nigerian leaders to lead the way that the people should go, noting that leadership is ‘do as I do not do as I say’.
According to her, “Nigerian leaders must ensure that all the sectors function optimally by releasing the needed money that should go to all the sectors as well as ensuring that the people use money judiciously for the purpose it is meant. Everybody should do what is expected of them. If you are in the power sector give us light, if you are in the education sector upgrade our schools, so that we don’t need to send our children out to study abroad. Let everybody go to school here and have quality education.”
Meju maintained that education is very vital and as such it is important to check and monitor what is happening in the educational sector, adding that there is so much corruption as teachers are not teaching the students, thereby making them come out half-baked and as a result can’t defend their certificates which in turn makes the future blink.
She said: “In future we may not just be talking about corruption, we need to make our children employable, we need to make them people that can compete favourably with people from other parts of the world.”

 

Susan Serekara-Nwikhana

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