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The Gathering Of The Tribes: A review

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The Gathering of the Tribes is the first full-length novel by the attorney at law, Evans Ufeli, of the Lagos State Branch of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA).

It was published this year by Winepress Publishing, an imprint of Noirledge Limited, Ibadan and has 11 chapters, 142 pages, with praises from various critics, including a winner of the Nigeria Prize for Literature.

The lead character and protagonist of the book is Ike Ibe, who leads his group of progressive patriots sworn to bringing reforms to their town, Anieze.

Their focus is that the public good and prosperity of the town shall be the purpose of governance in the community.

But the diehard political establishment, whose stock in trade is embezzlement and contract selling, vehemently opposes this noble ideal of living.

In the ensuing battle of supremacy, violence and bloodshed erupt.

In the narrative, Ufeli ensures Anieze’s cultural heritage is venerated. Carnivals of dance entertainment, featuring nubile damsels swinging to intoxicating beats of Antilogwu drum at the Ukwata festival become the toast of the people.

The Gathering of the Tribes is a provocative metaphor showcasing how Nigeria’s rapacious political elite swindles the Nigerian people of the proceeds of their oil wealth.
   
The author ensnares the reader with warmth, intrigue and applause.

Indeed, it is the customary football children play around the house that woke Ike out of his slumbers.

A clasp of the ball that landed on his face snapped him back to reality.

He had stayed depressed all day owing to the detestable political condition in his community.

Anieze, a sprawling town of about 100,000 people, is the centre of gravity of the game of cheat, the prophet straddling the West Coast of Africa.

Ike, who had grown up in Western Europe and North America, cannot overlook the pervasive injustice going on in Anieze.

Structured in the manner of our colonial past, Ike organised the people and convened an assembly, where the people can add their input in the administration of the town.

This time, the assembly convened for a meeting to discuss matters of urgent pubic importance.

The community needs basic amenities- good roads, portable water and regular electricity supply.

Since Ike chairs one of the committees- the development committee- he is neck deep in the politics of the town.

He was chosen to chair the committee because he is one of best educated and cosmopolitan in the community.

The novel is set in an oil-producing community in the Niger Delta region, where oil spillage is rampart.

Due to oil exploration by foreign oil companies, the region has been bedeviled by oil spillage, which renders the countryside uninhabitable, because oil spillage has destroyed portable water, fishing and cash crop cultivation.

So, these people rely heavily on imports of food and manufactures to thrive.

This volume’s theme is a replication of real life scenes common in the Southeast and southern Nigeria.

It is common knowledge that oil spillage has ruined human habitat, farmlands and the wellbeing of the people.
 
Therefore, Ufeli has brought into focus, the agonies of the oil-producing areas of Nigeria.

To everyone’s dismay, neither the government nor oil companies is doing anything to alleviate the travails of the people of Anieze, who need relief from poverty, land degradation, neglect and man’s inhumanity to man.

Corruption is so widespread that the $1billion oil spillage compensation given to Anieze could not be accounted for; hungry elite had embezzled it.


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