LEGALITY OF THE SALACIOUS

BOOK TITLE: TRAM 83
AUTHOR: FITSON MWANZA MUJILA
PUBLISHER:  DEEP VELLUM PUBLISHING
REVIEWER: ADENIYI TAIWO KUNNU
YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 2014
PAGINATION: 211
GENRE: PROSE

LEGALITY OF THE SALACIOUS
The predatory imprints of the colonial masters and rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo truly never saw this creative expression coming. I bet that Africa has other distractions when this burst forth. It is without doubt an auspicious moment and a most explicit architectural expression in words, where there are unbridled effusions with repeated musical accompaniments; and as such credence lent to those painful realities that the central African country has become and by extension her centrifugal essence.
Sex is a reprieve for the oppressed and supposedly liberated, a means of dominion and an essential ingredient of survival, an important experience in shades of jerks and thrusts without strain. Get angry because you are conservative, frown upon it as immodest, wonder if you’d keep it away from your children in their formative years, resort to it for the frivolities splattered page after another, preach against it because it is hell-bent on sending people to hell, but the verdict of our lives in actions or thoughts are inked and too late to be banned from circulating. The author has exorcised the demons of hypocrisy about sexual excesses, the ubiquity of illicit drugs, the mundane-nature of man’s inanities, unrepentant gluttons for the processed hops and barley in water, while equally defying the publicized condemnable to give his world the unadulterated and fearless representation of lives that, realistically speaking, stare us in the face daily and would not go away.
On page 57, 
“…. Baby –chicks are girls aged twelve to fifteen who prostitute themselves in the quarries, walk in single file, and don’t hesitate to band together and alert the soldiers should a customer refuse to pay the agreed rate. The slim-jims are barely adolescent boys who toil as casual laborers: extracting, carrying and washing the gravel to separate out the diamond crystals”
This excerpt practically sums up the level of debauchery as regards the exploitation of ‘children’ who must survive or cease from survival in an ‘unfair’ world. The world that many either repress as not existing or pay lip-service to when it comes to averting the inherent evils.
Tram 83 is astride two historical junctures; the first being cracks from preceding years of explorative impact and the rapacious tendencies of colonists, while the other – much more - dwells on the aftermath, albeit the present discountenances of the ravenous ‘frenemies’. It is in these current realities that Tram 83 thrives, is nurtured, fought to be protected and defines in practical terms, the entire gamut of its human space; thus, it is the microcosm of the living sphere, where deviants, devious and illicitly dexterous amongst others hold sway.
Fitson Mwanza Mujila presents the Tram as where countless ‘existing humans move to and from daily, to the point of resorting at Tram 83 every night. It is an unofficial parley of hope where one least expects to find it, plus a renewal of spiritual aspirations in which music and what society has termed debasing, to be the elixir of pleasure and fulfillment.
In thirty three chapters, two main characters amongst several others drive the intertwines of a work that reveals the factional underbellies of a society, which may never recover from the stuporous impact of man’s seeming eternal inequalities. As noted in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others”. The first resort to the term ‘animal’, asserts the level of little or lack of humanity that thrives in its fictive setting.
Power is never in isolation but is complemented by a combination of advantageous factors on the side of the possessor. The ‘Polygon of Hope Mine’ is one such trappings and the cash-cow for all and sundry; locals and foreigners, whose fate must be attuned to faith in the benevolence of ‘The Dissident General’, also referred to as ‘Father of the Nation’. The one without whom nobody could have access to the mine. It is however a stark irony, that the hopelessness of the mine is evidenced in the repeated deaths by those who need to eke out some means of survival and the lack of premium on their lives. In this work, the POH Mine and Tram 83 are places you’d rather be or live an eternal life of misery. By implication, see both places and die would be better than going to the South Western European country of France, particularly Paris before death.
Requiem also called Negus leads Lucien his squatter-friend and writer in virtually every area of survival. The former’s experience in ‘the school of hard knocks’ and his near-death experience after the Ogden War as an army results in the street wise mode that he engages all the time. His life eventually becomes endangered when the nude pictures of the ‘Dissident General’ get to public glare, having first secured the pictures of Ferdinand Malingeau with a threat to publish same if he does not receive royalty for Lucien’s publication.
The published work however makes the duo of Lucien and Ferdinand wanted by the General, in addition to Negus, who had earlier smeared his personality. Their lives are also not complete with the former wife of Requiem-Jacqueline and the perceived wife of Lucien, whose approach to things at times reproaches common sense; in the light of the unrequited love by Emilienne. The affection for dog meat must also not be missed, because at some point, it seemingly becomes a culinary ideology or leitmotif.
Fitson explores the themes of connotative cannibalism, parasitic alliances, political upheavals, struggle, casual sex and prospects of sexually transmitted infections, baby-chicks, baby-mamas, slim-jims, prostitution, life on the tethers tethering off tips of cliffs and deaths.
On page 181, the author repeats the word mournful 80 times, summing up gloom and distaste in which our world is enmeshed. Tram 83 is self-redemptive and salvation is neither recommended nor sought.



No comments:

Powered by Blogger.