BOOK REVIEW: Small doses of happiness

As human beings, we pass through stuff we don’t understand; we experience tribulations that make us question God; we go through heartbreaks that are beyond our comprehension

By Olukorede Yishau

Twenty years ago Muyiwa Ademola’s life took a new turn, a turn for good. At the time, Ademola had produced ‘Ogo Osupa’ but’ Ori’ changed his trajectory. It was as if his ori ordained the film. Since that movie, he has been on the rise and remains one of the A-list actors in the Nigerian film industry.

‘Ori’, in direct translation, means head, but in the context of the movie, it means one’s personal god, the guidance spirit who sees dangers ahead and saves one using means that can be difficult to decipher. The lead character in Ademola’s movie, Bisade, for instance, queries his ori’s technique but eventually accepts it.

In the movie, an undergraduate and daughter of a rich man, Temilade, discovers she is pregnant for her boyfriend, Bosun, a fresh graduate on the verge of leaving for the one-year mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme. On the day she invites Bosun to her home for a formal introduction to her parents, her angry father, Adekogbe, chases him and his friend, Bisade, away with a gunshot. A return visit after the father becomes calm shows the father’s disdain for Islam and its adherents. Bosun happens to be a Muslim. Because of Adekogbe’s position, Bisade, a Christian, is presented as the expected baby’s father.

Things take a dizzying pace after this: Adekogbe hands over a chunk of his wealth to the pretend boyfriend; he changes his will and makes Bisade a major beneficiary; the real boyfriend accuses his friend of sleeping with his girlfriend; abortion is carried out; she dies; her father dies; and Bisade is detained and on release from detention runs mad and begins a road trip from Ibadan to a hilly town in Ekiti, where he is accommodated by an elderly man, Awosanmi.

The abortion and the death of Temi leave the Adekogbe family with just its matriarch. Temi’s younger sister is nowhere to be found after being snatched years earlier.

The climax of the movie shows us that Bisade and Awosanmi’s guidance spirits are intertwined. They have a deal that will change their fortune forever. Bisade’s personal god is said to have inflicted him with madness to save him from danger and his presence in Awosanmi’s home is also orchestrated because in his cure lies the source of the elderly man’s wealth.

To mark the twentieth anniversary of the movie that turned his career around, Ademola uploaded it on his YouTube channel for viewers to watch it for free. Some sort of remake is also in post-production.

As human beings, we pass through stuff we don’t understand; we experience tribulations that make us question God; we go through heartbreaks that are beyond our comprehension; and we’ve to carry our cross while hoping for a glorious future. So, is our ori at work in times like these? Do our ori truly put us through hell on earth? Are we passing through these trying times so as to escape worse scenarios? Are our lives premeditated? Do we have control over what happens to us? Is there anything like destiny? Are our destinies in our hands? Are their worlds beyond this one we can see? Are there metaphysical forces? These are posers the buzz around ‘Ori’, a movie I saw many a time between 2003 and 2006, have brought to my mind. I really have no way of confirming the case pushed in the movie, which also inspired a song, Egbeje F’ori by Sola Allyson. But, what I have seen are people bouncing back, really better, after a season of adversities that comes with or without small doses of happiness.

My final take: As we await the star-studded ‘Ori Rebirth’, we need to remind ourselves that we need to hang in there no matter the adversities we are facing. Most times, it is brighter on the other side. And during the waiting period, do the best you can.

On Chibok’s stolen daughters

A fantastic collaboration between Aisha Muhammed-Oyebode and ace photojournalist Akintunde Akinleye has birthed a unique book, ‘The Stolen Daughters of Chibok’. The book features interviews with 152 of the over 200 Chibok families affected by the April 14, 2014 schoolgirls’ abduction. It captures their lives before and after the abduction.

The book has contributions from ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, and ‘Fine Boys’ author Eghosa Imasuen. The book also has essays by Helon Habila and Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani, two award-winning writers who have written books on the Chibok girls. There are other interesting contributions that examine germane angles.

In his foreword to the book, Obasanjo captures the permanent nature of the pain of the abduction.

* Chibok Girls

I had suggested that Nigerians and the world needed to come to terms with the reality that these lives had been irretrievably cut short. That we would never see these young women, these girls, in the way we remembered them. That in the years following this tragedy, they would trickle out of the forest with the scars, both metaphorical and physical, of their time in captivity. I was vilified for my bluntness,” the ex-president writes.

Mohammadu Sanusi II, one-time emir of Kano, in his contribution to the book, argues that the anger towards Boko Haram over the Chibok abduction should also apply to the condition of the Northern Nigerian Muslim girls.

According to Muhammed-Oyebode, nearly all 107 freed girls are enrolled in a special programme at the American University in Yola. Four of the earlier fifty-seven escapees, who she now serves as their guardian, are attending a special programme in America. One returnee, Deborah Jafaru, Muhammed-Oyebode notes, declined a university education offer and is back in Chibok to be with the husband she married two weeks before she went to the school to resit her West African School Certificate exams and got kidnapped.

Imasuen’s interview with Bukar Zannah Mustapha of the Future Prowess Islamic Foundation focuses on his role as an arbiter in the negotiations for the release of the girls. It offers poignant insights into the mediation that freed 103 girls.

The contributions of two psychiatrists, Femi Oyebode and Aishatu Armiya’u, focus on the mental health of the girls. They contend that adjusting back to the real world after days and years in hostage can be as difficult as leaving it.

Bishop Kukah’s contribution to this remarkable book ends with a plea to the girls and their families to forgive their captors and see their scars as trophies.

* Yishau is a newspaper columnist and author.

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