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With In the Name of Our Father, Yishau interrogates national decadence

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Olukorede Yishau’s In the Name of Our Father (Origami, Lagos; 2018) is a novel that captures Nigeria’s diversity — belief, culture, ethics, family, relationship, politics, leadership, economy, and socials. But beyond the author’s narration of the country’s plight during military era as a result of the dictatorship orchestrated by ‘soldiers of fortune’, he also captures the day-to-day life of Nigerians, how the choices they make not only affect individuals but others, and to a large extent, the entire society.

In The Name of Our Father is about a young journalist, who is also an author, Justus Omoeko. He has written a true-life story titled Angels Live in Heaven about a middle-aged, wretched man, Alani, who eventually becomes a false prophet. Ajani builds himself a ministry and uses occult powers acquired from a brotherhood to lure people to his church.

He extorts money from them in exchange for miracles and solutions to their problems. The sham prophet also manages to get to his beck and call, the Head of State, who is desperate to retain power and position through spiritual consultations due to a perceived coup.

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On the verge of being published, Omoeko receives threatening letters from the aides of the prophet to desist or he meets his doom. He eventually comes to a sad fate, as he is captured and accuse of attempted coup by the Head of State, a plot he realises while in jail to be the handiwork of the false prophet.

The author’s alluring and entertaining narrative technique will keep the reader racing through the story. “As the seconds chased the minutes to the hour, Alani started talking aloud, something between a complaint and a prayer. Olodumare, I see wealth around me, about me; I see the good things of life, abundance of them, but why? Why can’t I possess them? I’m tired of this wretched existence, this beggarly existence.”

The author initially starts with the first person narrative, but due to the twist in the plot, the omniscient narrator takes over.

Yishau’s In the Name of Our Father puts his readers through exciting suspense as he creates an entire plot. Alani’s liaison with Tosin results in pregnancy but because he is so poor, he cannot take care of her, so, she resorts to abortion and dies in the process. Just when he is to be caught for the crime, Alani flees to the village to meet his wife and son who he had sent off on account of his joblessness. But by the time he arrives the village, his ailing son dies and Alani does not feel there is reason to continue with his wife again. He simply walks away.

Faced with these vicissitudes of life, he simply teams up with his childhood friend who is already embedded in the occult church he initially declined joining over the years. This move signals Alani’s journey from poverty to riches and evil and how his path crosses with that of the country’s head of state.

Yishau depicts the tragedy poverty inflicts on human beings through joblessness and the extent to which they can go to seek solutions that usually have negative impact on other human beings.

Alani’s wretched situation forces him to seek out the occult brotherhood he had resisted all along. He knows it is a sham to deceive desperate citizens out to seek miracles, but the stack deprivations in his country drives into the dark world of occult just to fleece people of their hard earned money.

Yishau’s work captures the crucial era of a country doomed by the insatiable quest for power and wealth. He unveils other life-related issues like sex hawking, how it not only diminishes a woman’s beauty and body but how it can also lead to death. The novella is a compendium of the reality of life.

However, Yishau’s In the Name of Our Father Yishau is an educative story that is marred by obvious narrative and linguistic shortfalls from the outset. When Omoeko, the main character receives a threat letter to quit the attempt to publish his noand the author writes, “…Publishing that book is the same as bring storm into your life” should have read instead, “…Publishing that book is the same as ‘bringing a’ storm into your life.”

The book lacks proper editing that should have removed the numerous grammatical and structural errors and redundancies in it before publishing. The author could do well with a reprint edition to correct those errors.

Yishau’s In the Name of Our Father is an awakening for everyone to see where the rain of hardship started beating them and the need to build a shelter or get drowned in it. The novel is recommended for the young and older alike, but more importantly for the country’s politicians and leaders to make hay while the sun still shines.

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