Onwurosum rethinking alternative narrative for motherland
And so from political shenanigans, terrorism, kidnappings, ritual murders, armed robbery, an unpatriotic zeal and spirit to undo and rip the country to shreds, corruption, woeful infrastructure system and poorly funded education; just about everything that signals the hallmark of a failed state stare back grimly at the onlooker.
But one idealist, Mr. Emeka Onwusorom, has woven a counter-narrative of positivism and has fictionally turned the tide of Nigeria’s gloom and doom story into one of glory and unsurpassed rejuvenation in his fictional narrative, Smile, My Beloved Country (Origami/Parreisia Publishers Ltd, Lagos; 2018).
His is a story of hope and redemption from an unlikely source that cancels out all the negativism visited on the country by those who do not mean well for her.
Indeed, Onwurorom’s fiction departs from the regular stark realism that offers escape from the dire situation.
In Smile, My Beloved Country, the author presents the harsh reality alright, but offers a point of departure when Nigeria at last puts her right foot forward and Nigerians come to knowledge what to do for the kind of country they always yearn for.
In fact, Onwusorom’s narrative may indeed be playing out already in Nigeria’s current political landscape.
The obvious choices before Nigerians seem to be with the two dominant political parties – All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), two parties that have only offered suffering and hardship on the people for 20 years.
But comes a restorative third force, an alien force to the dominant political narrative in the unlikely person of Action Congress Party of Nigeria’s (ACPN) Oby Ezekwesili, an unknown quantum in Nigeria’s shark-infested political sea.
But she brings with her a certain greenness of ideas and persona that challenges the political orthodoxy and steers the intercourse away from the toxicity Nigeria are so used to.
This is what Onwusorom offer in Smile, My Beloved Country, when he turns a U.S.-based Nigerian lecturer and protagonist the breath of fresh air Nigeria needs to inhale for her to avoid the inevitable death she is headed.
And so the protagonist Ayo Okeke Musa (a name so representative of Nigeria’s collective woes) comes visiting from the U.S. after 12 of studying and teaching.
His first encounter is the most unpleasant. Eh barely escapes being robbed in the hotel he lodged along airport road; the hotel where the robbers strike is a story of tears and blood.
On his way to his native Ekena in a taxi, he witnesses the broad day murder of a top politician and publisher, Chief Boni Konida of Social Conscience Party (SCP).
Like the typical American, Ayo offers to help despite the protestations of the driver, who knew that his passenger was looking for trouble. And trouble Ayo gets for helping a dying man.
By the time he arrives the police station, he turns suspect. Meanwhile, the country is in a political ferment as campaigns have started in earnest and Konida and Dr. Wewe Jumanji are top contenders. Jumanki’s masterminding Konida’s assassination is to pave the way for him.
Inspector Goma, whom Ayo reports Konida’s murder to shows understanding, but his Commissioner, Judas Banderi, thinks otherwise and is bent on making Ayo prime suspect.
After reuniting with his family and his old heartthrob, Inspector Goma, believing Ayo has no hand in the murder, hands him his passport and Ayo travels out with his wife to the U.S. But the seed of change has been sown in Ayo’s mind following the sad events in his homeland.
He begins to plot the right action to take in the circumstance. Then he starts assembling the right personalities with impeccable pedigree in their chosen field both inside and outside the country.
When Ayo assembles these men in the U.S., what he has is the concern for his fatherland. And so when he is offered the chance to run for office under SCP, he is overwhelmed.
Ayo shocks the jagaban, Jumanji to win and ushers in the needed balm the wounded country needs for her regeneration.
Onwusorom’s idealistic portraiture is just what Nigeria needs, the politics of ideas that can regenerate and regreen a famished country that has suffered too much under the shadow of political evils.
However, the novel is poorly edited; it could do with a tighter reading.
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