I have always stood by the school that favours human nature to be unchanging, as opposed to the contrary stating that our nature is predisposed to change. In defence of my standing, I am quick to ask why the characters of Shakespeare, Hugo, and Dumas are as relevant in their leanings today as those of Zadie, Emecheta, and Morrison. And while spaces and places differ, it does not take long to agree that across the times, we are as fragile and given to similar passions, as we earlier were. Limbe To Lagos, a non-fiction collection from culturally disparate writers between Nigeria and Cameroon, also proves this truth. It puts together the works of six Nigerians and four Cameroonians from different geographies and ethnicities.
As an aside, while we are slaves to our nature, and its looming presence afflicts us time and again, it is worth mentioning that our tenacity and resolve as a specie, is not only headstrong, but arduously prevailing. Because despite our dismal nature, the strides of our restless industry suggests otherwise; that we can rise above the limiting tentacles of nature.
Limbe To Lagos encapsulates the perspectives, hopes, fears, and aspirations of the average West African youth. It reaffirms death and grief as the same old infernal phenomenon. And even though it wears different masks, the same face is always behind the changing covers. More so, it oftentimes chooses to visit the best and undeserving of us.
Limbe To Lagos…edited by Dami Ajayi, Dzekashu Macviban, and Emmanuel Iduma, is a most fulfilled project in my estimation. I reckon that if we rise above the dismal truth of our nature towards entropy, perhaps…it may morph into a literary foothold…
Adams Adeosun and Howard MB Maximus unfurl grief in new ways. From them, we learn that the language of grief, however distant, is always personal. Adeosun says of death: “The Yorubas believe that the dead come back, that there is no place in the afterlife for those who die young. Usually their souls stay with the familiar, lurking in shadows, appearing in flashes. Other times they drift to places where they can keep living until they have fulfilled a purpose. They call them Akudaaya.” From Howard we see that grief and mourning are sometimes not immediate as is wont. Denial stands in lieu. He says of the dead’s sibling: “Rituals are done. Some boys have dug the grave by Tee’s grandfather’s house. The burial is set. I see Tee’s younger brother hurry into his grandfather’s house. I follow him to the room. It is now that he falls on the ground and begins to cry.”
Socrates Mbamalu and Raoul Djimeli mirror the mind of the ambitious child at the mercy of a frighteningly towering father whose words are sacrosanct. Socrates says, “My goal as a young boy was to make my father proud. To seek his acceptance in everything I did.” Raoul says, “He shouted all night, threatening to turn out my mother from his father’s property. Mother did not care. When she left her village in Bamboutos, it was to marry our grandfather, not the dictator his successor had become.” And while the story ends well for Socrates, who found and stuck to his resolution despite his father’s habitual dismissive reaction to his ambition; for Raoul, it was not so well: the child lost his satchel and went back home empty-handed. I remember thinking at the end of Raoul’s story: What will his father say at home?
Corruption and the subsequent disorder that it births is another theme dealt with in the collection. Godwin Luba’s “A Trip to Koto”, Nkiacha Atemnkeng’s “Impossible n’est Pas Camerounais”, and Sada Malumfashi’s “Out of the Window of a Train” treat the issue with grit. Which begs the question why we at the other side of the modern world, despite the undeniable truth that we’re serfs to our nature, do not rise above human nature as those in the West have done. Why we, as a people, do not, through the same restless industry, propel our narrative onward.
…it would appear that little or no praise is thrown in the direction of deserving fathers…. Perhaps this is a bias evident on account of my own gender, perhaps it is just the truth of balance as it were, but “Daddy”, was in more ways than one, a wholesome narrative owing to its handling of the good and the bad in juxtaposition, without throwing stones.
Afope Ojo and Caleb Ajinomoh talk about girl power in their stories in different nuanced ways. But perhaps the story most enthralling to me, not on account of the writing, but the story in itself, is Lucia Edafioka’s “Daddy”. Perhaps it owes to some sort of balance that I crave in narratives between genders, because while the world is today rife with oedipal narratives heightened by the feminist movement, it would appear that little or no praise is thrown in the direction of deserving fathers. Lucia’s attachment to her father (praising the many days he got things right), despite his many short comings, brings balance to the table. Perhaps this is a bias evident on account of my own gender, perhaps it is just the truth of balance as it were, but “Daddy”, was in more ways than one, a wholesome narrative owing to its handling of the good and the bad in juxtaposition, without throwing stones.
Limbe To Lagos, arguably the first of its kind, boxed together by Goethe Institute, Bakwa magazine, and Saraba Magazine, while edited by Dami Ajayi, Dzekashu Macviban, and Emmanuel Iduma, is a most fulfilled project in my estimation. I reckon that if we rise above the dismal truth of our nature towards entropy, perhaps, just perhaps, it may morph into a literary foothold — from which many things may spring from — in these parts.