Released in January 2012, The Ghost of Sani Abacha is a collection of 26 stories by the witty and satirical writer Chuma Nwokolo and has its setting in Nigeria. Seventeen of the stories are published here for the first time. Contrary to its title, the book is not about Sani Abacha, the late president of the country, but rather it’s about everyday occurrence of the human life.
Chimeka Garricks deals with one of the major challenges facing Nigeria, namely the oil militancy in the Niger-Delta. Through the lives of four friends, he explores the origin of the oil militancy issue and the role of self-serving politicians and rulers who sell out their people for money. He describes how for many Nigerians living in the Niger-Delta, the tomorrow indeed, died yesterday due to the action of these greedy elders. This is a thought provoking book – one that, however, makes clear that violence is not the solution to the problems faced by the Niger-Deltans.
Set in Kenya during the colonial period, Mwangi’s Carcase for Hounds, published in 1974 by Heinmann, is a typical revolution gone bad story. The story centres on General Haraka, a former village chief turned Mau Mau warrior and Captain George Kingsley who is after him.
Set in the early 1980s, the book portrays a country undergoing a revolution with the writer predicting what happens when the black majority overthrow their white rulers. Gordimer imagines a South Africa, where the blacks have revolted against the white minority, with help from neighboring African countries like Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Mozambique. Houses are set on fire, industries are burnt, and white South Africans are being killed in droves.
Soyinka paints a different perception of the street urchins otherwise known as ‘area boys’ in Nigeria. Where society generally views them as a group of no-gooders, thieves, pranksters and miscreants, Soyinka portrays them here as a set of people who are as responsible as the next person, and are only busy going about the business of survival.
Nine Lives is a story about Olupitan Ogunrinu, a young village boy and the travails he goes through to become a man. Pitan as he is called for short, comes from a poor rural fishing community. The first of three children, he has come to enjoy the serenity and peace associated with village life. But his life changes abruptly, when he gains admission to study at a university in the city.
Oguine’s brilliant and funny “A squatter’s Tale” is about Obi, a young high-flying Nigerian financier who decides to travel to America to seek greener pastures after the finance company he works for suddenly collapses. As a little boy of ten, his mother’s younger brother, Happiness had visited them from America displaying a show of wealth which registered on young Obi’s mind. Little wonder then, that when Obi decides he must leave the country, it is America he chooses.
The book tells the story of Nasula and her daughter Sula. Having been treated like dirt by her husband and his relatives, the only thing Nasula craves is proper education for her daughter. This she believes would give her freedom, emancipation, and independence from men.
In A Duty of Memory, Botha writes about the burdens of the past, and how they impact the Hartzenbergs – the family at the center of the story. Ultimately, this is a book about the effects of violence and intolerance on a people and a country as a whole. In the end, the Hartzenbergs are the tragic victims of society’s refusal to let go of the past. Their lives and family are torn apart as a result.
Life in the village can be fun and idyllic. It can also be frustrating and disastrous. It has a way of shaping people’s lives and putting them in a race to continually justify themselves. Such is the effect the village had on the Jumais, the family at the center of Diaries of A Dead Africa. This book tells the story of how rumors, envy and caring about what others said influenced the way the Jumais lived their lives.