Author Topic: Yellow-Yellow Rivers Of Dreams (I)  (Read 3584 times)

Offline Lecturerdave

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Yellow-Yellow Rivers Of Dreams (I)
« on: August 21, 2013, 10:11:47 AM »
August 2007. I am alive. I just shook myself off a journey that I was definitely unprepared for. Ogun has sacrificed a mangy dog on behalf of my shivering spirits and thunderous sparks of fire mark Sango?s outrage at that cursed spot on America?s highway where the cutlass, hungry metal danced pangolo on a concrete road waiting for me, bush meat for evil deities. My faithful SUV looks like the broken trap that barely missed a prize antelope. I am alive, lucky antelope, and Sopono says to Iku, a pox on all your friends and our enemies! There will be another day when that journey will begin for me. But not now. Life is short. And so I land in August, bleary-eyed. FelaAnikulapoKuti is glaring at me. Ten years ago, AbamiEda, the Weird One moved on, wagging his saxophone at us. The people remember Fela in song and they celebrate this meteor that came streaking by in slow motion. Christopher Okigbo is staring at Nigeria shaking his head at empty volleys of thunder. Forty years ago Christopher Okigbo moved on. We remember Okigbo and we shake our heads. What happened? And Chinua Achebe sits in chilly exile looking out across the Atlantic, Okonkwo in the winter of his life. Fifty years ago, Chinua Achebe birthed Things Fall Apart. We remember and we shake our heads. What happened? Me, I am definitely not ready to move on. Life is too good. Even in exile. Besides, try to imagine a world without ME. Olorun ma je! I wake up born again, all sweaty in the dying heat of the August of yet another dying summer in America. What am I going to do with myself, my lawyers have given me a thorough medical examination and they say I am not fit to do anything until the insurance company of the olodo that tried to send me off settles me with oodles of useful US dollars. Medical malpractice, say hello legal malpractice. August, and I am restless. I turn to the priest Chinua Achebe for meanings locked tight in his brooding scroll Hopes and Impediments. We should all read that book again and again. The answers that elude us are there. What is our purpose? Why are we here? What are you doing with our gifts in the service of our people? Why am I asking all these questions? Perhaps my lawyers are right; this journey that missed me really messed up my thinking cells. It shall be well with me. Pray for me, people! My lawyers are right; I ache all over, I ache badly ? to wrap my eyes around a good book, just like my daughter Ominira yearns for a good summertime cheeseburger. So as I loiter around my hut waiting to be settled, I have been reading, searching for the book that will slake my thirst. I read Sidney Poitier?s latest, The Measure of a Man.  I greatly enjoyed The Measure of a Man because I greatly enjoyed Poitier?s earlier book This Life (published in 1980). The Measure of a Man, published in 2007, is a smaller book but it pursues the same themes (the black immigrant?s experience in America) and also updates Poitier?s thoughts from the benefit of an older man. Sidney Poitier is a great man; an amazing warrior who exudes dignity, charm, grace, and genuine, unique, self-refined intelligence, traits that give me goose bumps each time he appears on the screen. There are a few truly greats that will cause the earth to wail inconsolably when they step onto that pantheon in the sky and Sidney Poitier is one of them. I would strongly recommend The Measure of a Man to anyone interested in the immigrant experience, especially from the perspective of someone of color. Sidney Poitier gets it. Read both books of his if you can get a copy of This Life. This Life is grittier than The Measure of a Man, with a delightful edge that has dissipated with age. This Life is also a bit more candid. Both books do complement each other in my view and I think that the reader would be enriched immensely from reading both. I read JhumpaLahiri?s two books, Interpreter of Maladies and The Namesake. I simply could not put them down and do something else with my life. Interpreter of Maladies,Lahiri?s debut book of short stories earned her a well-deserved Pulitzer Prize. I don?t remember the last time I read short stories this gripping. If you enjoyed reading ChimamandaAdichie?s novel Half of a Yellow Sun, then you must hurry to get Lahiri?s books. Like Adichie, Lahiri faithfully and with a mythical intelligence records the lives and anxieties of Bengali immigrants struggling mightily, sometimes courageously, sometimes comically to come to terms with the meaning of life the alien planet that is America.  Poignant, evocative, haunting in the desperation of the lives of the exiles, and just plain gripping is how I would describe both books. In the novel, The Namesake, Lahiri flawlessly executes the daunting transition from a writer of short stories to a novelist. Well almost, I do prefer her book of short stories. I read both books with a deep sense of envy and sadness in knowing that the books swirling around in my head have already been written by a goddess of letters. And I am left to wallow in the cloying discomfort of my alienation, with no hope of profiting from my neuroses. Read both books and you?ll never be the same again. And so the other day, googling for Half of a Yellow Sun, I somehow came upon KaineAgary?sYellow-Yellow. I had never heard of KaineAgary and the fact that the book was published in Nigeria by DTALKSHOP publishers aroused my interest. I have been trying without much success to learn about Nigerian writing published in Nigeria and I was pleased to see that I could buy the book off the Internet at amazon.com. I can only say that this is the first time that I will agree with the blurb writers of a book when I quote RumbidzaiBwerinofa (?a truly authentic narrative of a region?) and Toni Kan (?stark and socially realistic?). Yellow-Yellow is not an easy book to write about; it is understated in an honest way and the writer?s limitations, if we call them that, ironically provide ammunition and strength to the telling of a great story. There is this spiritual defiance and attitude in Agary?s willingness to ignore traditional writing convention in order to birth a story about a phenomenon that I had never seen documented, certainly not in this fashion.  What is this book about? The main character Zilayefa or Yellow-Yellow is the half-caste product of a Port Harcourt tryst between an expatriate Greek named Plato Papadopolous and an Ijaw woman.  The father promptly abandons Yellow-Yellow and her mother and they live a life of quiet desperation in the village. In between long stretches of tedium, Yellow-Yellow dreams of finding a Prince Charming to rescue her from her colorless empty existence and take her to the city where the streets are paved with gold. It is really not as banal as that as the reader soon finds out. Yellow-Yellow is the story of the multitude of multi-racial children that are born of the liaisons between whites and Asians and the women of the Nigerian delta. Agary does a great job of tracing the history and documenting the generation (and generational differences), and subculture of these half-castes or ?Yellow-Yellow? as they are popularly called.  Yellow-Yellow was evidently not written to win literary prizes, it probably will not, and from my perspective, that is refreshing and confers on it a credibility that would be sadly missing were it to be ?written to the test? of the ultimate ? a prize.  If you are looking for highfalutin, elegant, high-sounding prose, this book is not for you. If you are looking for a book with a strong plot pregnant with complex intrigues, this book is not for you. If you truly want to curl up with a good eminently readable book, Yellow-Yellow will not disappoint you.

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Yellow-Yellow Rivers Of Dreams (I)
« on: August 21, 2013, 10:11:47 AM »

 

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