Chimeka Garricks’ Tomorrow Died Yesterday is a recountal of one of those realities that define the entity clad in the nominal fabric, Nigeria. It is worth mentioning that its emissaries in a matter of months would be cutting murdering its centenary celebration cake. They are used to murdering cakes. And funds. And people. They do so in place of the ill-realities that blot the country.


Chimeka Garricks’ novel resonates with Chinua Achebe’s voice. In the proverbial way peculiar to him, he speaks through one of his creatures in Anthills of the Savannah:


“…Age gives to a man some things with the right hand even as it takes away others with the left…”


Age is a dunce in the case of Nigeria. It stares wide-eyed and unmoved, saliva dripping from its tongue as the nation’s grip on the droopy breasts of its shameful history refuses to slacken. I find myself wondering why all that could proceed from my thought about Nigeria’s resilience in holding unto the ugly side of history, is a quotation from Achebe’s work. It goes beyond the fact that we have just lost him. I’m not trying to evoke a memorial. No. What I’m saying finds articulation in the similarity of the plot of his Anthills of the Savannah and that of the novel being considered. Both stories present how the private existence of a group of friends spill into public discourse.


Tomorrow Died Yesterday tells of the reason one needs to blind one’s eyes to a future that has been aborted before its birth.


There are times when realities seem so bland to take in, their closeness to you notwithstanding. Such realities easily earn the ‘overflogged’ tag. Tomorrow Died Yesterday treads the path of stereotypes and I refuse to mark it down for it. It hinges on one of the nondescript realities that characterize Nigeria: the Niger Delta region issue. I have not read much Literature about this region but, having read Garricks’ Tomorrow Died Yesterday and recently, Christie Watson’s Tiny Sunbirds Far Away, I can assertively say it that the Niger Delta is not only a mine for crude oil, it is a mine for narratives too. All that matters is telling your story. And doing it, your own way.
Chimeka Garricks has told his. His is that of angst and pessimism:



“…‘You still get it, Kaniye, do you? There is no future for the children of the Niger Delta.  Their tomorrow is already dead. It died yesterday’…”(Page 236)


Remonstration,


“‘Why are you crying, Amaibi? Were they crying for us in ’97? Ehn, Amaibi, answer me. After 1997, weren’t you the one who always wrote, and I quote, ‘violence is now a justified option for dealing with the injustice in the Niger Delta’? This is violence, Amaibi…’” (Page 38)


Resuscitation:


“…After more than six nightmarish years, who would have thought that I’d get an erection again, in Port Harcourt Prison of all places; and they say there was no rehabilitation in a Nigerian prison…” (Page 50)


And a whole lot of other motifs. The novel is complex on different grounds. The scope of its plot is wide, but it is palpable enough that it is not a burden for the author to manage. His four-stranded cord of Kaniye Rufus, Doye Koko, Amaibi Akassa and Joseph Tubo are allegories of the different shades of humanity in the Niger Delta.


The novel reverses the convention in a lot of binary relationships. The most evident are in the light of sex and race. In the duo, the conventional ‘other’ finds a voice that either drowns its converse or that which gives it a similar standing as the privileged.


I remember reading Achebe’s essay, An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness’ where he alludes (though without resentment) to one Albert Schweitzer, an ‘extraordinary missionary’ as he puts it, who says:


"The African is indeed my brother but my junior brother."


It is in such context that one would understand that Garricks, though indirectly, writes back to the west in his work. Imagine these:


“I turned to the white man. His pink face was a blotchy and sweaty mess. Sweat plastered his thin, fair hair to his big head, and highlighted, starkly, how large his eyes were. He wasn’t really fat, but had a stomach that fell odiously over his jeans. His breathing was loud, wheezing and heaving. I interpreted it as fear.” (Page 7)


“‘Gentlemen, let’s focus on poor Manning, okay?” Granger said. We all smiled at the description. Manning was anything but poor. He was an arrogant, obnoxious bully, and a little more than a racist thug…’”  (Page 17)


What an honourable disrespect to one’s elder brother!


Garricks does not extend his disrespect to his female characters. In a situation where the African society has always rendered the male in the guise of a hegemonic entity, Garricks’ female characters refuse to be relegated to the background. Not even when ‘victim-hood’ looms. Kaniye’s mother and Dise typify this. Deola, even more.


That a male writer presents this is something tangible to note about how contemporary African Literature engineers a novel mode of treating gender issues. For instance, one would wonder what kind of feminist statement Doreen Baingana makes with her characters in Tropical Fish. Hers is a different approach to the issue of gender, in that her female characters take 

responsibility for their actions and not that they ascribe them to some domineering males. Here are some instances:


Rosa says this:


“…For swaying my hips deliberately, enticingly, as I danced with you, with others. For those jeans I bought that hugged my buttocks so tightly men turned to watch and whistle as I walked by. I am mocked for saying yes. I am guilty…” (Page75)


Christine has this to say too:


“…Why did I always seem to have my legs spread open before kind men poking things into me? I let them.” (Page 98)


Chimeka Garrick’s prose is scrumptious. His ability to invoke images is alluring. Here are my favourites:


“From Juju Island, Asiama River surges on, in elaborating crooks and turns, expanding at every mile. Then, a few hundred miles from the ocean, the curves stop, and the river suddenly opens out – the swollen head of a king cobra. The river can now sense the ocean and flows faster to meet it. The only obstruction, right in the middle of its path, is Asiama Island. The river is divided by the island. Two hydra heads are formed, but the river flows on nonetheless. It glides round the island, and finally, embraces the roaring ocean.” (Page 32)


“I stared at the beautiful body I worshipped for the past months of my life. The body I knew so well. The breasts were full, firm, big nippled, the aureoles the colour of dark honey. The tuft of hair between her legs was shaved in a neat triangle, one of Dise’s quirks. Her legs were long, slightly knock-kneed. My unborn son slept in the small bulge of her tummy.”


Such is the best compensation for the time a reader spends on a bulky paperback.


The book is bulky (429 pages in all). So are its editorial issues so innumerable that the reader feels like demanding the head of the editor that does a book like this such disservice.
As much as I acknowledge the author’s cultural background, I won’t spare him and whosoever helps him with his Yoruba translations the rod for allowing this in the book:


“‘…It’s the neighbourhood with the best bole and fish in town…’ …“Bole with dry groundnuts?” I shook my head in disbelief.” (Page 62)


For someone to have written booli as bole is a signal that our indigenous languages are on a fast track into extinction.


Chimeka Garricks is a writer to watch out for. His prose is luminous one cannot but anticipate other offerings of his.

***
This review was featured on CLR sometime in May 2013. Coincidentally, the post was published in May, days to Nigeria's Democracy Day. 

In the coming weeks, I will be re-posting some of my past reviews here even as I work on fresh ones.


NB: Not until I had read some of the comments on CLR did I realise that bole is also booli. The only difference is how it is pronounced in two different parts of the same country.


Hello friends, how body? I believe you have been doing well in this our Buhari economy. It’s like everything around us in Nigeria at a time like this has something to do with Buhari. But, you know what, pals? This too shall pass. How long it will take is what we may not know but it is a certainty that we’ll get past this period. Victorious and still living, of course. Don't lose your enthusiasm.

So I started a post on my top ten list of most impactful Christian and self-development books last week. In this week’s post, I’ll be giving the remaining five. I hope the list pushes you to read (if you have not read any or some of them) and read some more (if you have read all ten already). 

#6  The Law of Recognition by Mike Murdock

This is my first Murdock book and I have not yet recovered from it. I referred to it in my ‘Boosting your Self Image’ post.

In the Law of Recognition, you find laws that can help you recognise things as the voice of the Holy Spirit, an uncommon mentor, a God-inspired idea, your assignment, your dominant weakness and a whole lot of other important things.  It is not a fat book but it’s got thirty one chapters.

I think it should be read more than twice. I have only had one read by the way.

#7 Point Man by Steve Farrar

Yes, I am a Steve Farrar person! I remember being called point man by a friend of mine while I read this book. There was this feeling of manly pride that broke out from within whenever she called me that. God is actually, through Farrar, raising a generation of point men.

Like some of the books I read that season, Farrar pushed me to study the Word and pray more and also to be more accountable. I love the part where he refers to his being raised by an oak of righteousness, his dad. How I desire to be that kind of parent to my kids!
I still have a chapter left unread though situations have thrown me into the book a couple of times. I hope to read that chapter soon. It must be said, however, that Point Man should be read by not just men…

#8 Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer

Two things about Joyce Meyer I like. One, sincerity. She’s open enough to share her own experiences, struggles and even more.

Two, simplicity.

Battlefield of the Mind is one book that will help you understand the power God has imbued in our minds and most importantly, the fact that our minds need to be aligned to scriptures if we must be fruitful at all.

I should add that you can’t be a slow reader when reading Meyer.

#9 The Principles and Power of Vision by Dr. Myles Munroe

Deep insights into the mystery that vision is are what this book contains. So many points need to be read and re-read and re-re-read… It is one of the books I think should be read early enough in life.


#10 The Final Quest by Rick Joyner

This is what I am reading now and (God!) what we have therein is mind-blowing. I learnt it is one of the books in a series. I’ll definitely get the remaining books when next I am stocking. This is a must-get book for a child of God. It is a book that recounts some visions the author had. As much as it revolves around the life eternal, it addresses in clear terms, issues that pertain to living right while we remain on this terrestrial ball.  


***


I look forward to hearing for you in the comments section. Thanks for reading and do enjoy the rest of the week. Keep reading!

Happy New Year, friends! And happy Valentine’s day celebration too. As always, I’ve really missed you guys. You know what? No more long breaks this year. I mean that. How are you celebrating valentine at your end? Hope you are sharing something sha? It’s a season to share, you know. Don’t wait for givers biko. Be a giver yourself!

So, in this post, I’ll be sharing the books that have impacted me tremendously in the past two years. It seems to be a season of sharing one’s top kini kan number of books. I never knew people do that during Valentine (Valentine o!) until yesterday when I saw this. And it’s really nice.

Prompted by a Facebook post of my brother, Bode-Badaki Olufemi, some of my other friends have been sharing books that have been helpful over the years, predominantly Christian and self-development books in the past few days. Truth is, my love for books has always been restricted to the literary circle and if I love a book, kai, we must do book review o. Thanks to a friend like Joseph Omotayo of Critical Literature Review for providing the platform to share some of such reviews. If I don’t love the book nko? I don’t know about that one o but I know little of what it is to be called an evil book reviewer.

 #rollsevileyes#

What was I saying? Yes, I was actually about saying that I’ll follow my friends’ model by providing my top-ten list of most impacting christian and self-development books though I’ll be doing mine in two posts.

Here we go, bookworms!

#1.  FINISHING STRONG by Steve Farrar
The first among the many book gifts I got in my service year. You should get this book if you haven’t read it. Farrar writes with such ease that you find it difficult to drop his book until you have read to the last letter. I have read more than two and half times (the half accounting for the times I had to return to just a chapter or two of the book as a result of some situations I found myself in). And I should say that this wonderful book taught me to appreciate accountability in relationships. This has made me appreciate those God has placed in and over my life the more.

I recommend Finishing Strong to Christian leaders who know or don’t know what it means to finish well.

#2. THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE by RICK WARREN
Abuse is the surest prospect for a thing or being whose purpose is unknown. I had a very bleak perspective of purpose until I read Warren. The Purpose Driven Life is a thick book (my hard copy has 334 pages) so I found it hard to finish the first time I picked it. I re-read it last December and it was quite easy as I followed the author’s one day one chapter instruction. That way, it was easier plus it made more meaning. See why it’s good to follow instructions. By the time I reached the middle, I could take three, sometimes four chapters per day. I think it’s a book that’s worth reading early in life.

I got The Purpose Driven Life as a gift from a great great friend. This is me saying I am grateful.

#3. THE RICHEST MAN IN BABYLON by George S. Classon
Saving. That’s the greatest lesson I picked from Classon’s classic. I really don’t do books on finance. Ignorance oshi! I tried reading Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad early in life and, kai, it was a struggle.  Why? I still can’t figure it out. I was kinda small then sha. Maybe I’ll try again. But Classon clicked like I-don’t-know-what.

The Richest Man in Babylon was recommended to me at a time when I really needed it. I was fresh out of NYSC and had just got a job. It helped me settle down fast when it comes to managing my income. Like The Purpose Driven Life, this ought to be read early in life too. I wish I had read this while in uni.

You can download the PDF format for free. Don't ask me how. Ask Google.

#4. BOY MEETS GIRL by Joshua Harris
If you know what it means for one’s heart to begin to do this gish gish dance step concerning relationship matters when it should be relaxed, you will understand what pushed me to get this book. Menh! This quote from the book is one of the many that did the mind-reset magic:

Patience is an expression of trust that God, the Master Chef, can serve up an exquisite relationship. This lets us enjoy each part of our love story. We can be faithful and content right where we are – whether it’s in friendship or courtship or engagement – and not try steal  the privileges God has reserved for a later season…time is God’s way of keeping everything from happening all at once. If you’re not ready to get married, don’t grab at a relationship. Patiently wait for the right time to start one that can eventually lead to marriage. If you’re ready for marriage and you’re in a relationship, don’t  let impatience cause you to rush. Take your time. Enjoy where God has the two of you right now. Savor each course. Don’t settle for mishmash.

Boy Meets Girl is a good Valentine’s day gift. #justsaying#

#5. LIVING BEYOND YOUR FEELINGS by Joyce Meyer
I love Joyce like kilode! Sorry. The book Living Beyond your Feelings is special. Really special. I remember being asked, ‘How far? Are you ok?’ when a friend saw this book with me. Dealing with one’s emotion is what the book is about. Everyone needs to read this. 

***


You’ve read any of these books? What’s your view on them? Or you want to share your top (any number) list of books, let’s talk in the comments section. I’ll really love to hear from you. Thanks for reading and watch out for the second part.

I've been trying to murder a part of me, albeit unconsciously. It's painful to accept that that's what I've been up to but it is exactly what I’m doing. I've been squelching my writing side. It's annoying...really annoying. I can’t remember the last time I stringed two words together. Two words o!  Whatever happened to that desire of becoming a writer, a full-time one at that, is what I can’t just puzzle out now.  How I used to dream of being in a room, furnished to taste but with lots of books, correct internet access, crumpled papers and of course, my pen, note pad, laptop and common sense.  Twenty-four hours, seven days! How dumb I must have been. God!

You know what? I love God. He loves me too. In fact, He loved me first. He loved me so much that He impregnated me with this writing thing. Did I say that? That's how you know I can't write simple ‘psss’ as things stand now, I can't find words to just capture my feeling. Yes, He impregnated me with this baby I've been trying to kill ('abort' does not just capture the feeling). This is it: I don't want to write but it comes to me. Like an unsatisfied lover. You don’t gerrit?  The mere feeling of putting draft pieces (which I'm growing a cemetery for on Tobby, my long time mini-lappy-friend) gives me satisfaction but I don't get to finish those pisses. Shouldn’t that be ‘pieces’? Rewind and fix the right word, pleeeaaease. Why I don't finish those pieces, I can't still figure out but their ghosts and the spirits of the ones yet unborn (which I'll definitely not finish) have been haunting me. Truth be told, I'm sick.

I AM SICK.

I hate drugs; I've not been thinking drugs. Been thinking mum's meals, the hot, spicy ones (when unaffected by recession, I mean) and what miracles they can work more than anti-malaria. How I miss home? 

I AM HOMESICK.

I am sick. But something says mum's food will do nothing. The same thing says writing this may be of help. Its per second shouts of ‘write…write…write', I’m beginning to think, is my headache and cold.

Here I am indulging a feeling I have consistently squelched, I hope I get well soon. 

But I must not fail to say it, by the way, that I HATE WRITING. 

But you love it

No, I hate it.

Yes, I love it. And I hope the pains it, alongside work-stress and my students, have brought stops altogether this night. My students need me back tomorrow morning.

I wish me a speedy recovery.



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Oyebanji Ayodele is passionate about literature. Life too. He explores these passions in this virtual space of his. He tweets @ayoyebanji and could be reached via email (ayoyebanji@gmail.com).

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