Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Book Review: The Leprous Fingers, a symbol of genesis of Boko Haram in Nigeria

front cover
Back cover

The Leprous Fingers
Authored By Andrew Udeh
Joglas Publishing Company, Enugu, Nigeria, 2010, pp. 236
Reviewed by Okechukwu Onuegbu
The novel, The Leprous Fingers authored by Mr. Andrew Udeh, an Otolo-Nnewi, Anambra State born Journalist is very illustrative and historic. It captures the root of corruption, sit-tightism, insecurity and terrorism in Africa generally; Nigeria in particular and further proffered easiest remedies to end these malaises.
Like Will Ferguson’s novel, 419, the book, specifically unfolds the overwhelming impacts mendaciousness, inordinate love of money, power intoxication, intrigues and egocentric eating deeper into the fabrics of Southeastern Nigeria popularly referred to as Igbo land. Although the Author claimed that the novel: places mentioned; imagery; characters and characterizations were fictitious, a good reader born and bred in any part of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo states of Nigeria would attest to the facts that its plot, hero and heroine were judiciously used to correct anomalies currently turning into norms and traditions of this great people.
Unfolding the lives and roles of Jennifer Olaedo Ndianeze, Chief Israel Igbodiegwu (Idejimba) and Holy Cycle, Chief Gregory Isama (Eziokwu), Nze Okemili Otubu, Ikirikiri of Umuego kingdom among others, the Author explores the Nigerian landscape – a vivid and nearly accurate depiction of the land, her people, cultures, dreams, desperation and damnations, through imageries, metaphor, personification, witty, satire and flashback. Also, the omniscience narrator employed simple English language or diction.
He recalled the devastating impacts of Nigerian/Biafran civil war which lasted for almost three years. The untold story of massacre and counter massacre of Igbos: many were maimed, killed, buried alive, raped to death, forced to marriage, kwashiorkor and so on. Years after the pogrom, despite the 3Rs initiated by the federal government, Southeast is totally neglected not by government alone but by her selfish diplomats, academics, industrialists and business moguls who are interested in acquiring chieftaincy titles nation-wide. Till date; Igbos hover and develop other lands while social amenities, functional industries, companies, free education and others to absorb teeming populace are lacking in their respective communities just as the case of Umuego, the setting of the novel.  
Borrowing some of the Author’s words; “three things top the priority of Umuego people: money, money and money (pg 67)…The ancient kingdom, occupied a strategic position across the River Niger, about fifty kilometers from the coast. A dominant force in commercial activities with penchant for self-survival, the citizens was chiefly traders with a sprinkle of academics and over 50 Professors” yet it could not boast of single amenity, security of lives and properties. “… Umuego is a vicious circle…so many things have gone wrong. A situation where the Monarch of a kingdom conspired with the Holy Circle to murder truth is an abomination”.
Umuego as Igbos claimed marginalization “in the spirit of Nigerian civil war”; even though they have governors, senators, House of Representatives, Ministers and Commissioners, Local Government executives among others who could provide her numerous needs without feeling the pain.
But rather, the old fools like Chief Israel Igbodiegwu (a.k.a Idejimba) and his group, Holy Cycle, symbolizing Knights of various churches, NGOs, religious and professional organizations, unionists and care-givers who liaises with our today’s political parties to impose stooges as elected officials against the wishes of voters, siphon public funds without panics. They would never; “panic over challenges but believe that getting money without risk was like living without being born”, The Leprous fingers testified. And you dare not challenge them else they terminate your life spiritually, physically or financially.
Furthermore, it is in the southeast Nigeria you will see a well-built houses owned by world renowned billionaires or erstwhile government officials adjacently opposite a thatched mud; Multi billion naira vehicles of distinct model plying portholes (roads possibly) waiting for government action; parents or siblings abandoned to die of hunger and diseases in the village who would receive State burial tomorrow. Chief Gregory Isama (alias Eziokwu/cradle of truth) was the mainly courageous man to fight against this in the novel. What of others? They buried truth to avoid untimely death. Are there still likes of Eziokwu in today Nigeria?
Indeed, Andrew Udeh is indirectly calling for mass orientation and re-orientation of Igbos, Anambra people specifically and entire Nigerians considering the decadence of religious institutions (Churches and Mosques), politics, and traditional, public and private institutions, as well as our education sector before the hurricane fire overpowers the owners. “The land is full of flatterers and witch hunters. People take advantage of the foibles of the ignorant and foster their errors without a damn about the consequence.” Nigeria is a country where; youths, students, men market and women, rights activists and children would out-rightly condemn an evil in a broad day light and later swallow their vomits after collecting a bribe.
Charity is said to begins at home, that is why I picked my state-Anambra as a focal point of total cleansing, added to the facts that the writer hails from Otolo-Nnewi; enclave of Industrialists, wealthy Anambrarians who had never attracted a meaningful development to the community. In this 21st century, one would be tempted to ask the whereabouts of Aba women (recalling Aba women riot during the colonial era) or nationalism which gave birth to Nigeria since 1960.
Similarly, the writer noted some obnoxious customs and traditions of Umuego pertinent to many African nations such as mans-inhumanity to man baptized Osu cast, victimization and stigmatization of vulnerable persons and disables in our societies and so on.
To successfully pervert these evils, Holy Cycle brought De Vultures, a-group of four muscular bandits to assassinate their strong opposition. However, De Vultures later transformed to terrorists, satirical genesis of Nigeria’s Boko Haram, militants, kidnappers… But at the end, the good triumphed over the evil. Therefore, whoever cares to forestall insecurity in Nigeria should obtain a copy of this book; study and apply its recommendations for better tomorrow!
Okechukwu Onuegbu is a Journalist, Poet, Author, Blogger, Actor, Playwright…contact him to review your book atwww.okechukwuonegbu.blospot.com, Twitter.com@news48hrs, Facebook.com/comradedevoice



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