SPECTERS, REALITIES AND CONSEQUENTIAL IDEOLOGUES



BOOK TITLE: IREDI WAR
AUTHOR:  SAM UKALA
GENRE:  DRAMA
PAGINATION: 100 PAGES
REVIEWER: ADENIYI TAIWO KUNNU

SPECTERS, REALITIES AND CONSEQUENTIAL IDEOLOGUES
The fact that absolute power results in unequivocal stupor is truth needing no form of verification. History is replete with countless insipid allusions which often leave one’s taste bud worse-off. It then brings to the light, issues that are germane as regards acquisition, delegation and management of power.
All that has been stated afore is geared towards situating the emanations of Sam Ukala’s Iredi War within our current socio-political intertwines, as lessons drawn from this historical master piece would go a long way in identifying the misfits of the colonial era, the consolidated misfits soon after the nation’s independence and the absolute nincompoops that unsettle our polity.  
The opening page reveals a narrator-audience interaction, where the call and response system attest to the immersion of every character mention here in the unfolding events, and by extension the impact of the imperialist’s carnage against those who only asked to be treated with a sense of human sanity and sameness.
The beginning:
Narator: E ye m onu nzun! (I give you white chalk)
Audience: I gwo, o re-re (If you concoct, may it be efficacious!)
This outset in itself has lent credence to virtually all issues which will yet unfold. It raises the question about, who gives the white chalk; who takes the white chalk. Although the chalk may be a powdery rock with which markings are made, the connotation is that “lepers”, as white men are referred to by Owa people, decide the fate of those over whom they bear rule. Could charcoal not have been offered as a substance with which marks are made?
Swines are destined for the mire and that is Mr. Crewe-Read, a yeoman to whom power was delegated for a brief period but proves that he should never be allowed near the corridors of power.
The district commissioner, Chichester left for Agbor but could not return in peace to a land that thrived under an arguable collaborative imperialism. Notably, while one finds modicum of understanding in Chichester, the thinking of Crewe-read, who is Iredi is suffuse with negatives.
In page 15, his detests for Africa and her faith goes thus:
CREWE-READ: “Jujus! That’s what they are!  … For Christ’s sake, can’t you pray to God Almighty, the Alpha and Omega, the omnipresent, Omnipotent, Omniscient? ”.
The failure to divorce himself from people’s faith and having to deal with them based on a preconceived and misconceived religious ideal, add up to the many limitations of a colonial master, who lacks the compass of administrative navigation.
Conversely, Chief Ektui – the Obi of Owa Kingdom manages his emotions maturely, even when dealing with the impudent Crewe-read. From not addressing the Igboba or ruler properly, asking for more burden bearers as if they are pieces of rubbish, Crewe-read obviously carved for himself a niche of death. He acted out the role of a dog that refuses to heed the hunter’s whistle. The whistle of restraint, the sound of respect for the traditions of Owa people, the need to perceive that these are people with “their own” acculturation and value and in doing so appreciation for a respectable people by all standard.
In page 25, the palace chief or Iyase tells readers, that the distasteful abuse of their humanity had been practiced in the lands of those with whom kinship is shared;
Acholem: “…. May I remind us of our neighbours – Binis and the Itsekiris. Only a few years ago, what’s happening to Owa happened to their kingdoms.
It is no gainsaying that the white overlords are characteristic evil in their handling of “fellow” human beings, particularly in usurping power. They purloin, after which they claim progress having pillaged with unbridled philistinism. The dignity of the Owa people however resounds in history as they steered their destiny, even when the gods seems to cow aside in disdainful indefiniteness and mutter unhelpful gibberish at an auspicious moment in page 77:
“Cripple in a desolate place! Everywhere weey like the road to the evil forest”
The impact of silence or incomprehensible utterance only spurs the Owa people to action. If the god’s silence means eternal subservience, at least the arms and feet of the Igboba led people would suffice in salvaging any honour left in their kitty.
The question of maybe their god’s incapability comes to the fore. Any deity that takes human allegiance as its own should expectedly fight for and protect those who pay it obeisance, but the limitations of the spiritual in helping to alleviate man’s shortfalls is clearly painted here. Owa people cannot make meaning of the non-definite response of the god they serve, and why at such an auspicious juncture of their lives, it resorts to speaking in metaphors and somewhat doomsday allusions. It may never be known; perhaps it has ceded it power to Crewe-read’s god, which may be its superior in the cosmogony of the supersensible.
 In page 29, Owa makes a clarion call:
Igboba: “Rise, loyal ones, rise. The fart that would disgrace a man doesn’t come through the middle of the anus; it escapes through the sides….”
It was Chinua Achebe who says that proverbs are the palm oil with which yam is eaten.  Igboba continues thus:
Igboba: “Yes, if the old one stays too long at the latrine, vultures mistake him for a carcass. Henceforth, we must all stand like the ears of the hound. If we do sleep at all, we must sleep like the cat”.
This juncture marks the reversal of fortunes, if momentarily, as the colonial master drinks mouthfuls of his wormwood when Crewe-read alongside other stooges, like Lawani and Gilpin lost their lives in the fire of battle which they stoked against the fearless Owa people.
The imbalance of power happens to be a trope that resounds in this work; co –joined by the challenge of leadership. One can confidently say that the experiences of the Owa people still remains a replicated inhumanity meted out against Nigerians and by extension, Africans. It is even more painful when the brand “neo-colonialism and intra-colonialism” takes sway.
 Chichester and Rudkin, both principal officers of the killed Crewe-read engaged trickery to bring Chief Ektui to the courts in Agbor, banished him, while others are gaveled to face the guillotine; but a lion never loses its identity even if distant from its lair. This is Igboba’s persona, whose aide include Iwekuba, Ekome, Onyela amongst others; dignified representatives of the Owa People.
The Ending: In page 97, a true leader speaks:
“Wait my people, wait …. Neither the white man’s chains on our legs
Nor the white man’s guns at our backs …. Can stop our feet, from marking our compound  
As a sign, we shall return”
Prophecy fulfilled, the Owa people did not only return, they now flourish in Ika North East of Agbor and Ika South in Oshimili areas of Delta state. A historical account re-cast in drama but intact in relevance. In a time rife with charlatans and political jobbers, our world could take lessons in altruistic leadership cum spirited followership as dearth true leaders hurt our polity badly.
This work takes readers through a historical reality of what our ancestors bore and borne, but have their heads in very high esteem as we course through their acts. It is without doubt, that had they been equally literate as their imperial “leprous” lords, it would have been a more glorious account of this great feat by Igboba and the Owa people.
Sam Ukala may well have produced a Sanskrit in progressive politics, with antidote in theme for the Nigerian “politrickers”. It is apt to recommend that all doff for the book which won the NLNG prize for literature, 2014. IREDI WAR.

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