Folorunsho Abudu in Meandered Path
Francis Folorunsho Abudu’s autobiography is a veritable tour the force in literary consideration for someone whose abiding skills are numerical. He demonstrates unique skills in handling varied and contrasting vistas of his life with a freshness of narrative ingenuity and adroit compositional of maneuvers. In regaling his audience with his experience over meandered and ranging pathways, he demonstrates an engaging brilliance and mastery of the contrasting, colorfully conflicting changes that form the kaleidoscope of his life.
Abudu has written a fairly long narrative for an autobiography, few of which are seldom longer. Meandered Path comes up to 466 pages carefully sectioned into chapters each of which captures the essence of the content.
In 18 chapters, the book presents in considerable details events historical and experiential that span Abudu’s life from years of child to life in retirement. In the midst of these are renditions of his time as a pupil in primary school, secondary school at St. Ambrose Grammar School, Usiefrun, higher school certificate at the world-renowned Government College, Ughelli, and university education at Nsukka.
The story makes clear that going to school was an extraordinary act of triumph. The uncertainty of finding the funds to remain in school lent an urgently to the pursuit of knowledge and the determination to escape drudgery and object lack that characterised daily life in the locale of his birth. The reader learns that the parents persevered; painfully putting together all the resources at their disposal to ensure their son received the education that he so much craved. His circumstances improved somewhat when he received a bursary to go to United Kingdom for his doctoral studies in Economics He triumphed in his educational pursuit, returned to Nigeria and began a life of work, first as a university lecturer at the University of Benin, and later in the financial services, notably at First Bank of Nigeria.
The book presents several breath-taking events in the working career of the writer. The most dramatic of these is that his life always hung by a thread. The book retells of several death.
Defying events such as when a bomb detonated in his residence in Ikoyi, and when robbers visited his place of residence in the Ogba suburb of Ikeja and wiped out completely occupants of three flats in the four-flat house. His flat alone was unscathed. You hold your breath also when a young Abudu going for job interview in Lagos slips in the boat dockyard of Burutu and falls into the swift tidal currents of the Atlantic Ocean.
It is a grateful Abudu that retired from a life of work into entrepreneurship, variously in personal business and a stint at the Delta State government-owned Universal Investment and Development Company, Warri. In his foray into personal business, there is something to learn in reading this autobiography. One would probably learn that the employment of close relatives to help run a business is more than likely to spell the demise of that venture. One would of course, also learn that going into business with a view to making loads of cash very quickly in perhaps like building a castle without foundation. Concerning the goals of the autobiography the writer appears to have a fundamental interest in putting down his thoughts and life’s history.
The book opens with a genealogy and historical sketch of his forbears and ancestral lineage. For many city-born and bred generationZ, or soro soke, the book provides a veritable tome of family history if any has the patience to plow through arcane and mentally tasking archeological names and places. But I will encourage anyone interested in how to track their genealogy to come acquire expertise here furthermore, going to school, graduating and proceeding upon a career in adulthood may look ordinary until one reads the accounts presented in this autobiography.
In a point of story telling the writer holds the reader in suspense and usually spellbound by the uncertainties and vagaries of life in a society that is unkind to failure. I would say that the narrative is masterfully done with several cliffhangers. A narrative strand would introduce a slice of the life being described but comes to an end unresolved, only to draw the readers back to a future and related episode that provides a completion to the earlier story that began the narrative.
There are narrative prolepsis or what are popularly called flash-forwards. These are represented by anecdotes that temporarily move the story forward in time and help reveal and introduce significant parts of the story that have not yet been told, but soon will in greater detail.
Meandered Path is not a fictional composition. It tells the story of the life and times of Dr. Fransic Folorunsho Oghenero Abudu. Therefore a search for an artistic plot in the way literature understands it will yield only a narrative forwarded essentially by a sequence of events that stand in contiguous relationships. Avatars of art for art sake may demure the absence of an organising structure except one dictated by time. But this is an autobiography that expressly set out to inform and educate and this is an aim it achieved magnificently.