For those of you who haven’t read the book, The Son of Your Father’s Concubine by ‘Seun Salami, I suggest you go and read the book before you continue reading this piece. (I don’t have to tell you that I have read the book a couple of times myself). For information on how to get the book, visit www.vinemediang.com. Now, that’s said.
Back to the matter at hand. After reading a couple of reviews of the book, I was unsatisfied. I felt something had been left out. This was slightly unusual because the reviewers were professionals and I expected that they should leave no stone unturned, shedding lights on all the techniques and tricks the writer may have employed in fabricating the story, revealing hidden messages in the work (just like Da Vinci’s code embedded in the Mona Lisa). And mind you, I do have high regards for professional opinions. But I felt this was rather too obvious to be missed since it pertains to us as Nigerians. Guess, all they had to do was look behind the fiction!
I had this feeling that the author had subliminally directed the spotlight on the title story The Son of your Father’s Concubine – which might have been his favourite. Don’t get me wrong, I believe The Son of your Father’s Concubine is a great piece, packed with twists and turns that climaxed in the most shocking ending I have seen in recent times. But I don’t think that alone makes it deserving of all the attention.
For me, there are two stories that should have attracted more attention. I see these stories as two sides of the same coin. The coin in this case being Nigeria; while the tail represents the worst of what we are, and the head represents the best of what we can become.
Passport Office captures the realities of the Nigeria of today. It mirrored our society exactly as it is, showing to us in vivid description all that is wrong, and can be wrong with our present state. From the nonchalant disposition to duty by civil servants, the bribery and corruption that runs deep into the fabric or government organizations, the mutual distrust existing between citizens, to the readiness to exploit each other if given the slightest opportunity. The worst of what we are!
The year is 2033, and it’s hard to believe that the country in focus is still Nigeria. Greenland Reverie blew my mind away; homemade electric cars, subway systems, immediate employment upon graduation, world class air transport system, digitized modern markets, a mega business resort (TINAPA) – that rivals Dubai, and list goes on like that. Everything we ever wanted in the present day Nigeria, and more. The best of what we can be!
From Passport Office to Greenland Reverie, ‘Seun Salami did not just take us on a journey through time, but rather he offered us a glimpse into the Nigeria we crave. A destination we so much desire. A destination that can only be reached when we all believe in this project called Nigeria, and readily contribute our individual quota to make the project a success, regardless of what the next person is saying or doing. Then, that frustrating trip to the passport office may not be necessary, because the greenland reverie would be our greenland reality. We will be living the dream.
So when next you pick up ‘Seun Salami’s The Son of your Father’s Concubine, you know which stories to look out for. Take a minute or two to close your eyes, and look behind the fiction.
by Ayomidotun Freeborn. Follow me on twitter: @iamayomidotun