By TOPE FASAU
It is an apt moment to write a review of this wonderful book by a friend and avid fan of this page, Mr SMH Ellakkawi.Last week I had written a sort of satire, about what would happen exactly if we choose to balkanize Nigeria. Disaster is all I can see, if that happens. Flowing from the above, it is apparent that The Sons of Lugard are at war with each other, when they should actually be cooperating, working together and creating a great future. Whatever happened to the sons of Lugard?
Mr Ellakkawi writes in his book, an impeccable and mind-broadening treatise about the fate of the tribes of Nigeria. Their amalgamation at the whims of Lord Lugard, their christening, in the bosom of Lady Lugard, and the lack of any proper orientation for them to work together, despite their being bestowed with plenty of resources and talent. Written in a readable prose, The Sons of Lugard interchangeably employs a mix of reality and fiction, at once weaving between known names and locations, as well as persons, and at other times lapsing into the realm of fantasy. A provocative book indeed. The style of writing is perhaps geared to enable us look at ourselves in the mirror, especially since the problems of Nigeria has been analysed from many logical and realistic perspectives, with little or no impact.
The sons of Lugard are Arewa Lugard, Afenifere Lugard and Ohaneze Lugard. Who decided to do whatever they liked right after they came to consciousness of their brotherhood. Of note is the role played by Mr Lugard, their adopted father, who, bitter from the experience of his excision from his adopted children, decided to play a voyeuristic role, hoping for the failure of the union so that he can have his I-Told-You-So moment. Looking into the future, the book analyses the predictions by some US-based intelligentsia, that the union of Nigeria will disintegrate soon. The book also explores several themes (other books are recommended to readers, histories and alternative histories, and especially, the conscience is pricked as to religious tolerance and our unity as a people).
The copy I have read is impeccably printed in fine material. There are hardly any typographical or grammatical errors at all in the entire book – a great achievement when we consider the fact that even books written and published abroad, by the most accomplished authors, do come up with some of those. The cover artwork is simple but catchy, the finishing of the book projects the image of Nigerians and Africans in a good way. It is evident the author takes himself and his work very seriously.
Now the critique: The book takes on a question – or questions – that are larger than life, but seeks to compress these issues into less than a hundred pages. This is an impossible feat, given the many ramifications of the problems. As someone who has written about such issues myself, I know that a few hundred pages will not be able to explore all the issues adequately enough, for they are heavily nuanced. And it is those nuances that we should explore. For example, it is easy for anyone to say ‘Nigerians are Corrupt!’, but a nuanced approach will ask ‘Why are Nigerians corrupt? Why are they considered more corrupt than other peoples? How did the corruption start? What can be done to correct the problems?’ You see, nuances expand the scope. Exploring the nuances, the why, how, the history, of a problem, is the only way we can project into the future and proffer solutions.
The book is however pitched at our growing children, especially teenagers, and could be used as a good text for our secondary schools. To that extent, it is perfect as a primer for those young brains, who can then explore further as they grow. A recent outing with youths exposed to me that they know absolutely NOTHING about Nigeria, and often comment out of prejudices. Perhaps this book – The Sons of Lugard – is a good place to start off in their quest.
The Sons of Lugard is a must-read for everyone.