An interrogation of Asianah’s Storms In Humanity
Title: The Storms in Humanity
Author: Victor Asianah
Year of Publication: 2021
Reviewer: Bayo Ogunmupe
Vicissitudes of Life as the subtitle of The Storms in Humanity is an apt description of the content of this didactic novel. It is satirical of the Nigerian reality, Nigeria as civil servants, politicians, businessmen and the like currently operate it.
This book is the story of stepchildren at war with themselves. Ray, the elder brother of Desmond, marries Afoma. They have two children, Daniel and Agbomma, a girl. After the death of Ray, Afoma marries Desmond, the younger brother of Ray, instead of remaining single.
With Afoma, Desmond has three children: Sunny, Okenna and Nwada. Alas, before Desmond dies, he declares Daniel and Agbomma as his first son and first daughter. That decision runs against Igbuzo tribal tradition because they’re not Desmond’s biological children.
But in line with the Desmond declaration, Daniel considers himself the legitimate first son in spite of going against the grains of Igbuzo tradition. In the aftermath, the confusion bred by the five children fighting among themselves becomes the substance of the novel.
Okenna’s death was the opportunity Ike, one of their relatives, had to bring peace to the beleaguered family after 25 years of family infighting. Other plots of the drama emerge, making it acceptable for a woman to take the initiative in romance where a strong attraction exists between two lovers.
The book also showcases the misdemeanours of policemen towards the general public. The book as a satire of Nigerian life shows the ills of society in the activities of kidnappers, bandits and murderous activities of pretentious religious protagonists.
In Part One of the novel, the conspiracy of why and how Igbuzo elders arrived at the rejection of the adopted first-born children of Daniel. The findings of chiefs Odinani and Emenike, the privy councillors of the paramount ruler of Igbuzo — the Obuzor nailed the coffin of that matter. Besides, the issue was a moot one for aside from tradition; there isn’t any difference between Desmond and his late senior brother for in many societies, he could inherit the wives and properties of Ray.
On the mastermind of the kidnap of Agbomma, it was clear she was trailed and kidnapped by members of the National Association of Kidnappers (NARK). It was not with the knowledge of the siblings of Daniel as it was alleged.
The fierce physical fight between Daniel and his siblings, which ended with, a moving elegy from Sunny shut down all the conspiracy theories of the discord. However, the deep-rooted animosity created by the incident lingered in the hearts of Daniel and Okenna for generations. Okenna married in a way as dramatic as his mother married his uncle Ray Ofunneka. His father-in-law Leo, supported by his friend, Emma, simplified the giving out of his daughter, Maggie to Okenna, giving Okenna ample time to finish the marriage process at his own pace. Okenna was more grateful for that uncommon gesture. That was part one of the story.
Part Two, the subject of this review tells more of the vicissitudes of human existence in Igbuzo; man’s perennial deception of one another, the shortchanging of one man by another, the necessity for consultation in families before family heads take decisions in the face of deadly, diabolical superstitions and conspiracies. Among other societal vices is the inhuman treatment by law enforcement agents meted out to the citizens. Other ills exposed by this piece include non- forgiveness when one is wronged; how death which triggers sorrow could also be the harbinger of peace and dialogue between the government of Nigeria and the NARK, an innuendo of the ongoing Buhari/ Sheikh Gumi dialogue with bandits, kidnappers and Boko Haram.
“Daniel in Warri was living big too. He heard that Okenna was now married, relocated to Port Harcourt and had built his own house. After over 15 years, Daniel had not forgiven his brother Okenna. Okenna too hadn’t forgiven Daniel and his wife Julia. Over the years, Daniel had been diligent in his sensitive procurement job. He had never had a query. His integrity was unquestionable. He was in the good books of the management. But somehow his inability to resist the temptation for quick cash put him in a big mess. As a procurement manager in Ajala Steel Mill, Daniel had a signature limit of N 10 million for Local Purchase Orders (LPO). This was a strict policy of the company. Any order with a value of more than this amount would require countersigning by his boss. It was however possible for a corrupt purchasing officer to break orders of higher values to make it possible for him to sign them without recourse to a superior.
“Filthy lucre arranged by a supplier, Chigos Ltd, put Daniel into trouble. The company needs 10 units of steel plates, each measuring five metres by eight metres with three-millimetre thickness for the construction of an oil tank farm. Chigozie, the CEO of Chigos Ltd got wind of this and approached Daniel” These corrupt practices are legion in Nigeria. They always find ways to circumvent those rules. Even in government, they practice padding. “How do you think government workers make their money and ride all those Sports Utility Vehicles (SUV) you admire on the road? And lawmakers practice it too. You see them with paid police and even Army escorts? Or do you think government pay for all that? It is from those humongous contracts they award to themselves and call it oversight functions.”
“And we keep clapping for them. See we have a quick solution to what you see as a challenge. You can break the LPO into three or four different LPOs to give you the same sum. First, how much do you want to add to the N100,000 I am keeping for you for each unit? Lawal has N100,000 too but you can add something more to your own.’ Chigozie said making the lure more enticing to Daniel.” Indeed, Vicissitudes of Life is replete with episodes portraying acts of corruption as satirical anecdotes of Nigerian life.
However, to avoid litigations arising from similar names and behaviour, the author, Victor Asianah deposed a disclaimer as follows: This book is a novel therefore fictional. The author used his great community, an incredible land of his birth- Igbuzo, Delta State of Nigeria as his base and springboard for this story. All the characters and places are common names and in and around Igbuzo community and indeed, Nigeria. It is for the clarity of the narrative that the names and places are used. It is not that they actually happened in those places. Neither that the characters actually performed those actions. The narrative is simply the product of a spark of the author’s imagination. Every word, every name, every place and every line is used or aimed at being used fictionally.
The author, Victor Asianah attended Saint Augustine’s College, Igbuzo (SACI) with old students capturing a chapter commending the creative genius of their mate. Asianah is also an alumnus of the University of Ife, Nigeria now Obafemi Awolowo University. He was formerly a senior manager at Michelin Limited. In retirement, he is now a Logistic Consultant where he advocates that leaders must lead with a moral compass to avert the wrath of angry youths- the leaders of tomorrow. Asianah also contributes opinion pieces to The Guardian, Nigeria.