After hearing about Victor Ehikhamenor’s book, Excuse Me (published by Parresia Publishers), for weeks, I wondered what all the rave was about. Not having known the author from any of the columns he wrote from the now defunct ‘Next Newspaper’ and not having read that many essay collections, I took all the hype surrounding the release of the book ass just noise. Finally, I decided to attend a reading of the book, and after hearing just two essays, I was sold. Still having mixed feelings even after buying the book, I opened the book with a prayer not to be disappointed with it. I was enthralled right from the foreword written by Okey Ndibe.
Starting with ‘the scent of pubescence’, Victor took me down memory lane of how romance was done in his day. Though not in the same age group as him, I could still relate with his account of ‘love letters’ and their usefulness in wooing your village belle. His contrast of village life and city life made me jealous of his ‘village childhood’. Moving on to ‘apolitically speaking’, he gave life to the thoughts in the hearts of many Nigerians about the political situation of the country especially during the period of inertia the country went through underneath a sick president. ‘Viva Nigeriana’ detailed those things particular to Nigeria, ranging from police bribery to the new household gods all Nigerians worship.
Victor also shared his exile experience with essays such as ‘unseen noose of exile’ and ‘black Friday bargain hunting’. Other interesting and heartbreaking experiences he shared about his stay in and out of Nigeria in a funny and a I-wish-I-was- there manner . I dare say if this book had been published under a military regime Victor would by now be in prison for speaking the facts about Nigeria in black and white. Excuse Me is a collection of essays about Nigeria and Nigerians. It is the Ehikhamenor’s view of the Nigeria he grew up in and the Nigeria he desires to see.
This is a really good one from Victor and I must confess that he disabused me of the notion that a collection of essays has to be boring, dry and humourless.