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Archive for April, 2013

PREDETERMINATION AND MAN’S EARTHLY MISSION…Numen Yeye review

BOOK: NUMEN YEYE
AUTHOR: BIOLA OLATUNDE
PUBLISHER: IFWG PUBLISHING, INC
REVIEWER: SUNMOLA OLOWOOKERE

This work of fiction by this seasoned writer, Biola Olatunde is not a novel for the ordinary man, it is for deep thinkers who are striving for higher and ennobling recognitions and the human link with the spiritual world.
The book opens with a scene from a level that is much different from ours, Terra firma, to use Olatunde’s words. Princess Numen in the place of light is getting ready to go on an earthly journey. The author’s display of emotions is explosive as the reader struggles to understand the identity of the narrator in the story.
With infinite care, she established a link between the spiritual world and ours in the characters of Jasmine and Fehintola, Lije and Ayo, Numen and Imole Ife. Hence the first lesson; our journey on earth is predetermined and nothing by chance.
Fehintola was an unlucky woman who was plagued by “Abiku”. In the Yoruba Mythology, Abiku simply means evil child that dies only to be born again by the same mother, and keeping on the evil and vicious cycle until it stops. She was desolate with the turn her marriage took as her husband took another wife.
An end is to come to her troubles as she was visited and favoured by the priestess of Numen. Her life took on a new glow and demeanor of quiet confidence was surprising to her detractors.
Fehintola’s journey in life and understanding of the mystical world around her evolves quietly as she became acquainted with the spiritual beings that were deteremined to help her once she found her own link with the spiritual.
Lesson Two, each human being has a link to a divine connection which once detected helps individuals in tackling life challenges.
Amidst guidance and extraordinary tranquility, Fehintola had her baby and the child grew and began school with her knowledge of her extra-terrestial link still intact.
In the society however, she was seen as “strange” Even her friends could not understand her strange gifts. However, the people around her were glad of the divine intervention they got in the time of distress through her special gifts.
Her father and maternal grand-mother understood her being partially while her mother who ought to understand her more due to the other-worldly experiences she had before giving birth to her was surprisingly uncomprehending.
Due to the divine powers she possessed, she has a running battle with her paternal grandmother who could not subdue her. In several scenes, the reader is shown the woman’s dark powers and how she attacks her victims mercilessly, even those with whom she had familiarities.
The novel “Numen Yeye” portrays two main forces, one of the light and the other of the darkness. The duo are tackling at loggerheads as their missions are as different as day Is from night.
I am mostly intrigues by the regal figure of Numen, the Priestess of the Rose. Her humanness and empathy with people she came into contact with shows when she observes them through her spiritual visor.
She came to the world to help some important figures that she perceived to be in distress. The novel’s setting is based on two plains; one, earthly and the other, esoteric.
On the esoteric, we have Princess Numen, Lije and Jasmine amidst other creatures. And on earth, we have Lije and Jasmine as couple with earthly names Ayo and Fehintola respectively.
Princess Numen came to the planet earth with a mapped out mission of how to help mankind especially those around her to fight forces of darkness that might want to destroy them.
However, once she was born, she had trouble linking to her spiritual world from where she came. She could not understand the sudden insight about happening around her that comes to her inner being at intervals.
She had difficulty in identifying her inner self and this made her uncomfortable as she wondered at the source of her sudden but steady insights. In her household, the family regarded her with a mixture of fear and respect.
However, her grandmother had no liking of her because of her wicked plan which were thwarted by the goddess that she sees as mere slip of a girl. Her several attempts to destroy Numen whose earthly name is “Imole Ife” failed and her hatred for her young granddaughter grew. However, she could not make mincemeat of her as she did with the other family members.
With her witchcraft, she had upended the destinies of her children and those who refused to bow to her whims had been destroyed in her anger. In short, Imole Ife’s grandmother had met her match in the mere slip of a girl who was her granddaughter.
Imole Ife who was known to her mother before birth became estranged from her when she was growing up because the woman could not understand the strange daughter that fate had bestowed on her.
She was called several names “Emere, with witch, Ogbanje” etc and she was disturbed by the beliefs until she found her true self.
On the earth plane, three people had been her mainstay, her maternal grand-mother, Yeye at the shrine and her father. Her rapport with these people had helped her stabilize until she found her true self by discovering her link to ther eternal roots.
It was only then that she found peace and she could easily tap into the power that she could use whenever she needed to help anyone in distress. Her understanding and insight was so awesome that people began to respect her and see her as the high priestess that she was.
She had come to terms with her mission in life; to be of help to humanity. Despite the knowledge of this mission, she studies to be a doctor with her father’s help and support.
The novel was set in an era when females were not encouraged to go to school. However, her father supported her in her desire for western education.
At long last, she discovered herself and accepted to lead the virgin dance that she had dreaded and scoffed at. Ultimately, she found a worthy companion to mate with for life in Babatunde, her friend.
The novel, Numen Yeye, is about intertwining worlds and it teaches about predestination. The novel also her satiric properties as the readers become aware of the ills of polygamy and extended families. It also gently scoffs at Nigerian’s show of religiousity which had not helped in solving our problems. It also encourages female education.
It is a work rich with cultural practices of the Yoruba people. While the author does not bore the reader with traditional numbo-jumbo, it has brought home to us that we cannot forget our roots and our links to what has been before our existence.
The author, in this work, has outdone herself. Her understanding of man’s existence and the importance of understanding his purpose in life is portrayed in Imole Ife and her desire to understand her mission in life.
Really, I want to say the readers who know Biola Olatunde and the richness of her prose could not have expected anything less that the dexterity she exhibited in “Numen Yeye”.

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Numen Yeye……Impression from readers

I have been in between clouds and wondering when I might come down to terra firma. Why? I had been tensed up for weeks about my book Numen Yeye. There had been times when I had shrugged, told myself bravely I would take the bricks or I would be gracious if I got roses.
Okay, could I say anything in my defense. Numen Yeye is very important to me because of a couple of reasons. Maybe it is time I give a little bit more insight why Numen Yeye became important. In my neck of the woods, we have two fairly distinct camps. There are writers who write exclusively for the readers in the country and make no pretense about that. Then there are the ones who want to write for a global audience but those have two clear sub groups. The writers who write about our customs from the standpoint of seeing everything cultural as barbaric. They tend to want to write more for the western audience solely and have a taste to show us off as unmitigated savages.
There is the other sub group who talk to the global market square in a language that creates a reality of who we are, understanding where we come from but innately identifying with us, warts and all. I would like to belong to this group. I am Nigerian, with my eyes wide open, knowing about my country, accepting me warts and all. I feel we are not as terrible as we have been painted, because we are a round group of tribes with our suspicions of each other, exasperation at our leaders and the failures we face when we do not accept that Life is motion and it is important we get the business of living right.
Am I making sense? I wish to try to make sense. There is a saying in my corner of my country in my language which loosely translated states clearly that only an illegitimate child will point to his father’s house with his left fingers. When I came across that statement I was curious and asked my grandma to explain. She gave me a little lesson about loyalty. I learned being loyal does not mean whitewashing the truth when we are faced with it but being honest enough to admit our ignorance and courageous enough to take a peep into the dark ignorance that hold us in thrall.
Thus when my book Numen Yeye became available in print, I wanted to know what my tribe felt about it. After all I was writing about myths and concepts we have buried under our civilized skins. These myths and concept colours our beliefs and we needed to maybe be open about it and not shrug it off as ignorance, myths, superstitions.
Let us share excerpts of some of the reactions I have so far…
My first impression of Numen Yeye was WOW! This is different, I kept reading and I’ve come to the conclusion that its a breathe of fresh air, different from the norm. Its very insightful and paints a fairy tale yet plausible picture of a series of events, all in all a very good read and I recommend it for anyone who wants to step out of the clutches of mundane reasoning and have a different point of view on certain Nigerian ‘mythological’ beings….Segun Agoro (film maker/Stride Communications)
The book Numen Yeye is the story of Imole Ife before her conception through conception, birth, growing up to adulthood. It showcased partly the way an average girl would grow up in the western part of Nigeria.
On the other hand, Ife a special child mixed her eccentricity with the usual, while growing up. Ife only distinguishes people and situations by light or darkness and relates with them accordingly. Grandma Olaoye for instance was always surrounded by dark shades of colour while Yeye was always accompanied by light. In another instance, when Tinu’s baby was about to die, Ife required more light around her, in the hope that it would repel or clear the impending doom.

The constant migration of Ife between the physical and the spiritual is very gripping and keeps the reader hooked, if not for anything else, for curiosity. She is constantly in communication with one misty or another and most of her activities are pre-guided from the spiritual world. The friendship between Sasaenia and Ife suggest bonds that are out of the ordinary, that exist amongst humans but may not have any easy or ordinary explanation.

The book went through a lot of the rich culture of the Yoruba ethnic group in Nigeria, treating the following parts of their culture:
The marriage process,
The value of chastity,
Initiation in to adulthood and guilds,
The art of story-telling and transfer of wisdom from the elderly to the young,
The seeking for divination
Traditional belief and superstition, surrounding the existence of abiku and emere,
Communal way of living in polygamous family settings, embedded with jealousy and mutual suspicions.
The beginning of Chapter 14 is a vivid account by the author in lewd as well as enthralling narration, a phenomenon called ‘OKO ORUN’ by the Yoruba. Quite strange, but almost real.
Many times the reader gets lost in the thoughts of Numen Yeye (written in italic) and makes them forget her story in the real world.
Noticeable is the fact that the book with thirty chapters has no pagination. The language of the book is very easy to understand and the content is very relatable for Africans. To other readers who are not familiar with that culture, it would be an adventure into the thought system of traditional people and their basic life and way of living….Ms Olufunke Tolutope(psychologist and blogger)

In my next post I will share the full review of the state newspaper on the book Numen Yeye. Meanwhile it will be nice to have your thoughts on this book.
Numen Yeye is available on Amazon.com

ROSES….or THORNS? Conversation from the workshop.

How long have I been out? I have been attending a workshop for writers in my neck of the woods and it was really an eye opener for me. I had a better understanding for Gerry, my chief editor who doubles and the face of my publisher as he is the one I really always relate with.

I was the only one who gave a paper on creative writing but I would share that in a moment. What I found really interesting were the comments of the writers who had gathered to listen to the presentations of the speakers who were a collectivity of learned persons, a prof and some intellectual doctors.

I came away with a better understanding of the agonies that Gerry must have gone through with me and maybe a few other authors. I never could understand for a long time why I had to wait forever to get a book out in print and I had a better understanding at this workshop.

Apparently the traditional publisher has a lot to contend with, from the minute he agrees to publish a book. An indigenous publisher who is acclaimed by all as being very successful agreed with the general outrage that enhancing our reading culture is an uphill task as it costs the earth to get all the materials needed for printing a good quality book.

He gave a list of that they had to pay for. The high taxes, the high level of corruption, and the intransigence of electricity, salespersons not remitting in record time . By the time he had finished his catalogue, the hall was silent. I sent a silent thanks to Gerry.

Before the publisher took the mic, I had gone round some of the stands of authors to see what the competition was, some had self -published their works. I was interested in that since I have been toying with that idea for a while. I need to keep my body and soul together. I write solely and have very little outside income so I have been hungry for a long time.

The idea of self- publishing became very attractive as I have quite a lot of books, (some in series) that I want to publish. I use to feel I do not have that much time left and should really do something to put out as much as I have written over the years.

However the lot I saw at the workshop dismayed me. Badly collated prints, badly stapled, and I just sighed and walked off feeling depressed. The other side of the coin did not look attractive either. Publishers want to wait months, some years to publish your book, cannot promise to help you promote and the very small matter of royalty is a strange word to them.

I mentioned that to my new friend, publisher chairman at the workshop as we got talking, he seemed to have liked my paper and he asked me questions about my new book Numen Yeye. He explained with a twinkle in his eye that publishers need to deduct their initial cost outlay before they can pay royalty and added that self publishers had the problem of marketing as well as the logistics of placing their books at location where it can sell.

However, he consoled that he has a large staff, and works along the coast of West Africa. I gave him a suspicious look and smiled, wondering if the same treatment of low royalty applied to his titles. He laughed and called over an author. He invited the author to be honest and confirm what he got last month as royalty payment. I stared as the man smiled and simply brought out a photocopied check for one million naira. I almost fainted. The author explained that he fainted too, but believed it when the bank confirmed payment. So he had the cheque photocopied as he was going to frame it.

I was quiet for long moment after that, but felt a deep sense of gratitude to Gerry Huntman. I wondered if he had ever thought of being a manager of talents. I recollected all my fears, tears and sometimes fury and each time Gerry had been rock solid and calm. Phew! I could never have understood the publishing mess but for him. But I still have questions. Why do publishers take forever to reply to queries?

I am still in a quandary about self publishing. I like to have somebody else make sense of what I am trying to say and not kill me in the process. I love to know that someone is there in my corner so I would love to have my book published for me. I really am not sure I want the ego trap of wanting to do it myself. Above all, I can’t stand publishers who think they are doing me a favour, for they make me want to shove my gray head down their throat.

Finally, I had a very beautiful time at the workshop as ah yes, my book was well received and I got quite a lot of enquiries. More than half of my friends cannot buy books online so I am going to be the book seller of my book from the look of it.
Oh yes, my reviewer took my book with him on the flight to Britain as he told me that he did not want to miss a page.

Wow, you could say it looks like it might turn up roses for this old lady who simply can’t stop dreaming.

 

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