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Rose of Numen…official review

I am continuing today with Rose of Numen but actually want to share the official review of the book as rendered by the chairman Association of Nigerian Authors.

A REVIEW OF BIOLA OLATUNDE’S ROSE OF NUMEN
Rose of Numen is a 188 page fascinating novel published by IFNG Publishing Inc. Melbourne, Australia, 2015 by Biola Olatunde.

Rose of Numen is a sequel to Numen Yeye. It therefore continues Ife’s tale. Ife channels still the spirit of Numen Yeye, a princess from the kingdom of Light. Her mission, her purpose in life is now crystal clear and the extra-ordinary in her is still intact.
Rose of Numen begins in the prologue. The reader is afforded a glimpse into the past and into the metaphysical world of Rose of Numen, Ife herself. Princess Numen is prepared to embark once again on a journey to another world, the earth, which, however, is inextricably linked to hers. Her purpose, her mission is enunciated, and then the reader is jolted into the present.
Ife gets a scholarship from her old principal to study medicine at the University teaching hospital in a Nigerian city, Ibadan, and her life becomes “professionally fulfilling” afterwards, to borrow a phrase from the blurb, but that is not the end point. She must act out her predestined role on the planet earth.
Ife plunges headlong into her purpose, her mission, releasing the extra-ordinary locked up in her and effectively using the knowledge of her extra-terrestrial connection in the process. She begins with a gathering of a mini festival held at certain periods of the year for women of childbearing age by Yeye, the priestess. She focuses her lens on the culture and tradition of her people, wounding and healing at the same time. But she is not the only one in Rose of Numen whose fate has been predetermined. Babatunde her soul mate, has also been saddled with the responsibility of ruling and protecting his people, not as the chief medicine man nor as part of the inner circle of Ifa, but as a king. Not until towards the end, both the reader and Babatunde remain obvious of this truth. Just as Rose of Numen, Ife, immerses herself in her mission to humanity, stripping people of superstitious beliefs, pointing iconoclastic finger at the practice of human sacrifice, reuniting broken homes and restoring to them the cocoon of family love and care, opening the key to the riddle that dribbles many, with regards to whether reincarnation is a myth or fact, exhorting the woman to see themselves as carrying “a secret flame the man needs to grope his way through life, so also does Babatunde, the young lion preoccupies himself with the kinship issue.
Babatunde is a necessary part of the inner circle of Ifa priests. Based on this knowledge, Adewumi, one of the princes, and whose status is in doubt, approaches Babatunde, with the intent of bribing his way onto the throne, but he is disappointed. Following the latest in a spate of prince Adewumi’s futile efforts to bribe his way through; Ifa’s declaration of a missing prince and Babatunde’s firm refusal to be dissuaded, Babatunde is framed, accused of fraud and thereby suspended. A lawyer and close friend of Ife, Yomi, however shows up like a knight in shining armor and consequently, Babatunde is rescued.

Ifa, in the first attempt at selecting a king, declares that a prince is missing. The tale of the missing prince and potential king resounds around the village, even rending its air. Consequent upon this, prince Adejare, on the one hand, who had shown sign of promise decides and backs out of the kinship tussle. Prince Adewumi, on the other hand, seeks redress in a law court. The selection procedure is called to question. Babatunde, the young lion and an upholder of tradition however becomes victorious in the long run, but that is also not the end. The State Ministry of Chieftaincy Affairs requests for a fresh nomination and instructs that a representative of the ministry shall be asked to witness the selection process in order to give fairness a chance. At this point, the reader sees tradition and sacred secrecy coming face to face, clashing with civilization and openness. While still puzzled by the mystery of the missing prince, Babatunde dramatically encounters an old man through which he gains a fascinating insight into the tale of the first king and his missing son, and the two women who, before they could do anything were warded off by the roar of a lion. The day comes. The ceremony begins for the selection of the king. The procedure is simple: each prince is to step forward, mention his lineage and the spirit of the king his forbear will be called forth. Adewumi is the first to be called forth. He is asked probing questions. Answers fail him. The mask falls and it becomes patently obvious that his claim is false. He turns out to be a product of his mother’s shameless and senseless escapade with a farmer.
However, to the utter dismay of everyone, Babatunde turns out to be the missing prince during his first earthly journey. He has reincarnated as Babatunde. He has the symbol of kingship, a pointer to the identity of the sought-after prince and king.

While dissociating herself from the crops of feminists, who believe that the woman has been long conditioned in the environment of masculine dominance, hence the need to liberate her from the shackles and pands of male dominance, Olatune in Rose of Numen gives the woman a new focus. The woman carries a secret flame that she must light in man. Among others, she revisits culture contact, bribery and corruption, predestination, the link between the spiritual and the physical world (a theme which the farmland of African writers have ploughed appreciably), and dwell more on incarnation and reincarnation. She presents us in this work of fiction, with two interconnected and interrelated world, and with the characters we go many a time on foray from this earthly plain into the world beyond. 
Numen Yeye is an intriguing and captivating novel that is laced in flowery language, garnished with local idioms. Biola Olatunde indeed rises to the challenges of originality and creativity.
Like a meandering gentle rivulet, the well-etched words flow smoothly as it takes on issues of global concern that borders on emotions: pains, loss, joy and love, with a force. Also, we hear the resonance of love as it permeates through the thickest of hearts to produce a relationship that cannot be forgotten in time.

Book Reviewer:
Sola Owonibi, PhD: Chair, Department of English Studies, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko, Nigeria. An award-winning poet and play-wright, he is the Chairman, Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Ondo State Branch.

I am really grateful for that review because for me , writing at the international level has been a learning process and I am sure I have not scratched the surface yet. I look forward to your comments and suggestions.
You can always get a copy of any of my books from ifwgpublishing.com as well as on amazon.com
Chat soon.

Random Musings

You know, there is always the question of asking yourself if you are ever going to be a best seller in your lifetime. These days, those are the questions that I find myself asking each time I start writing a story. The question started simply enough. A very young child came to my house and we started chatting. He wanted to know why I was hunched over my computer almost all the time he was in the living room. I blinked and tried to focus on the young man. He noted that most times he called to say hello to my  children, he invariably found me typing. I took a deep breath and wondered if I should do one of two things.

You know look down my nose at him and reply in a pitying voice on how he has missed the true calling of the writer and tell him he was not likely to understand what writing meant to me, yeah, I am still broke and I am not sure if I can claim that I have sold my book in thousands never mind millions. What? No, I am not about to discuss my despair either. Hey!, I mean my despair that I am never going to finish writing all I have to write. I never have enough time and the stranger thing is, I have had days that I sit by the computer and the stories just goes on in my head and the computer remains blank. That is really frightening when I wonder if all this is going to be worthwhile. I am not trying to change the world neither am I likely going to change my immediate community, unless I wish to be a liar.

That is another thing, my neice doesn’t think I work anyway. She came over to spend the holidays when I was part of a television series on teenage reproductive issues. She had liked me and was enthusiastic about the series, I NEED TO KNOW. She read the stories every night, staying up all night sometimes. I was preening and waiting for the commendations to flow in. She looked up and I saw real bewilderment on her face.

“seriously auntie, I have never met all these people you talk about in your story, you are just forming them up right?”

“You mean like I am making them up”? I asked her slowly puzzled at what she was implying. Here, let me insert a warning: We are writing Nigerian English and my friends across the pond may have to hold on for a translation later.

My niece nodded and I smiled, “Yes of course , that is what is called fiction, the situations are real though”.

“You mean Ikechukwu is not real?”

“No my dear, the young boy that acts the part is real but that is just his television name”.

“Hmmm, very easy job Auntie, just sit down, dream up stories about people and you get paid for having fun”.

I stared at her, opened my mouth to explain what enter- educate drama is all about and clammed shut as she stared askance at me. She commented that she envied my job and wondered why I had not become a millionaire at the very least. She said she might one day take up my job.

That was years ago, the juice train left and I stared into the hard glare of straining to make two tired ropes stay glued. Digital television, internet radio and programmes took me to hunger street and I needed to look at dim areas of my creative mind to quell the noise of my growling belly.

I have been writing since I can remember the meaning of pain, hunger, dreams and a compulsive need to talk to persons I have never met. My imagination wakes me up every dawn as the sun dips her fingers on my hopes and gives me a taste of its promise. I have like a thousand stories, impatiently jostling for attention. Men I know so well in my head, conversations that seem unending, situations crop up and I ponder on their solutions. An urgent need to tap a shoulder and start a conversation.

I am doing one right now right? Were you interested? Oh well, you got this far. That must count for something. But you see, a new fear is peeping at me. How much time do I have?

Will I ever write a best seller? Sometimes I picture a vast field, the sun is setting, the players are all gone, I am staring at the lonely abandoned ball in the field, the stands are silent and a lone figure walks onto the field, he touches the ball and hears in his soul the roar of his dreams and he makes a lob into the far end of the field. The sun yawns and calls me over.

I will see you soon my friend.

Conversations

I have something interesting to share with you this week. I do me melook forward to doing so for a few more weeks with some of the most interesting minds I came across during our recent convention. Remember I had promised to let you know what happened at this convention. I very rarely attend convention as there seemed to be more politics attached to the hosting than the event itself, but I felt this was different. It was going to be a gathering of creative minds and I looked forward to the event. Happily for me the author I had threatened to scalp for his less than admirable portrayal of womanhood did not attend. So I enjoyed myself and tried to ask a few questions around. It was like feeling my way around. The attendance was in the hundreds and there was some sort of mini book fair as publishers came to display the books of their authors. In the package given to us was a collection of poetry and I came across this one.

The Blithesome Butterfly Adder

Like the rainbow in its effulgence
You glistened into the horizon of my existence,
Your dazzling colours enrapturing my unwary soul.

Like the butterfly in its splendour
You fluttered with zest and zeal.
Your serrated wings a galaxy of beauty.

Like the rich new wine
You galloped gingerly down the goblet.
With your aroma, you compelled even the celibate appetite.
I reached out in my thirst for a satisfying drink.
Oh, what hemlock!

Like the gaboon viper
You patiently laid ambush and with avarice
You feasted on my helpless heels
Even when not provoked.

Ensconced in the bowel of the forest,
You dug your garish gash with uncommon adroitness
into the innocent tree, intent on felling it.
With feigned fervour, you ran through the streets
bemoaning the fate of the same tree.

I leap in joy for freedom,
Inured as I now am, the gash can go no deeper.
I cry in pain for your numb captives,
held in slumber and stupor by your practised pretence.

So I went looking for the poet, here is what happened.

Please tell us a bit about yourself
1. My name is Oluchi J. IGILI. I’m a female Nigerian author and a dramatist both by training and engagement. I’m currently a university teacher where my duties include instructing students both in the theory and practice of drama/theatre. I ventured, if you like, into writing because I find it as a veritable window of opportunity to express myself, my thoughts and my concerns about the world in which I live. In this regard, I share my thoughts through poetry, drama and prose fiction.

Nigerian authors seem to be very much in the background as far as international aweeness is concerned, is that a true assessment?
2. To say anything about one’s country except that which paints her in glowing colours would, ordinarily, be politically incorrect. But I think it is patriotic to admit that Nigerian authors are lagging behind in terms of awareness of what is going on on the international scene. To a very large extent, only Nigerian authors in the Diaspora have a good grasp of what obtains on the international front and in consequence, they enjoy a lot of international recognition. That is not to say that Nigerian authors living within the country cannot hold their own in terms of their creative prowess. What it simply means is that the writers in Diaspora are privileged to be to enjoy many opportunities not yet available to Nigerian authors living and writing in the country.

Your poem is striking as it suggests a deeper level of human experience. What genre of writing do you subscribe to?
3. I engage in any form of creative writing (poetry, drama or prose) that enables me to give expression to my innermost concerns for my society. Another way to put it is to say that I subscribe to any literary genre that has a clearly discernible commitment to issues that affect humanity. Without any equivocation whatsoever, I belong to that school of thought that says, art, whether it is literary art or any other form of art, should be placed at the service of humanity. Art should not be an architectural masterpiece which lacks utilitarian value. Art for art’s sake? Not for me.

At the recently concluded convention of the association of Nigerian authors, there was a move to bring the female authors together, what do you think informed such a drive?
4. Yes, I am aware of that move to bring Nigerian female authors together. Nigerian female writers are making the effort to come together under one umbrella or the other. One of such platforms is the Association of Nigerian Female Authors (ANFA) among others. The reason for this, I believe, is not far-fetched. The female Nigerian writer needs to be more visible and the best way to achieve this is to have a platform from which to seek both to be seen and heard. As much as I know that some of our male counterparts are sympathetic enough (I use that word deliberately), one can also understand that they are not too prepared to yield much space to the female writer. So, there is the need for Nigerian female writers to come together and create a strong visible image for themselves. If we fail to blow our trumpets, like they say, we should not expect any body to do that for us. And the time to do that is now.

As a published author, what has been your experience?
5. There are a number of challenges which I believe are common to writers in my clime. There is the problem of a continuously dwindling reading culture which has been worsened in recent years by a barrage of technological devices that have made reading very unappealing. Whereas in the past people spent their leisure times on reading, technological devices have provided ready alternatives that are a lot less intellectually tasking. It does not take much intellectual muscle to sit down in front of a TV screen to watch a movie or soap.
Another issue which published authors have to grapple with here is piracy which has made writing to be a non lucrative enterprise.

Tell us about your published book and how we can get a copy
6. My most recent literary out puts are a short story in Tales From the Sun and poems in One Poem, Fifty Seasons: A Collection of Poems in Honour of Sola Owonibi and they are available in leading bookshops. A collection of short stories is right now in the quarry.

Share a typical day with us
7. My typical day is basically the same as that of any serious minded wife, mother, public servant, responsible citizen and committed Christian, all rolled into one, who must also find time to put pen to paper and give vent to the creative impulse.

What do you see as the Nigerian literary scene?
8. The Nigerian literary scene has a lot of issues/problems to contend with. It seems to me that there are too many ‘writers’ who should have no business writing. In short, there are too many sub standard, poorly written works on the Nigerian literary scene. That is not to say that there are no good books any more but the not-too-good ones have become rather common place. Self publishing is another monster on the Nigerian literary scene. Many Nigerian writers do not see why they should submit their manuscripts to established publishing houses for thorough vetting. On the other hand, well known publishing houses also have the reputation of ripping off writers particularly upcoming writers. These are some of the problems the Nigerian literary scene is contending with.

I have had to convert my English from my Nigerian roots to what my publisher says will be internationally accepted format, have had such an experience?
9. Nigerian writers are no doubt faced with the challenge of writing a ‘brand’ of English language that must of necessity retain the flavour and nuances of native Nigerian languages in which they think and from which they draw their thoughts and passing same across in an acceptable format to international readers. So the challenge is about how to strike a balance between reaching the Nigerian reader for whom the Nigerian writer writes primarily and at the same time achieve international acceptability. This is not a particularly easy line to toe.

Talk to us about our reading culture and predict what may be possible in the next five years.
10. The reading culture of the average Nigerian is whittling daily, no thanks to technology such as television, telephone and other social media. Except something definite is done deliberately and urgently, the future is really bleak in this regard.

Finally what lessons or insights did the recently concluded convention offer you as an author?
11. One take home for me from the recently concluded convention of the Association of Nigeria Authors is the undeniable role of the literary artist in nation building. As noted by the keynote speaker, Prof. Toyin Falola, creative writers must connect text and imagination with policies and politics. In other words, the Nigerian creative writer must be actively involved in nation building because he has a lot to offer. This again tells us that art for art’s sake has no place in the Nigerian cum African literary landscape.

Thank you for chatting with us
Thank you for sparing time for this interaction.

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