Chigozie Obioma’s Orchestra of Minorities and the Nigerian analogue
Ah, so you are now into politics! My senior colleague said to me as he saw me with Chigozie Obioma’s new release “An Orchestra of Minorities”. I smiled and told him that the book has nothing to do with politics. I had to explain further seeing the unconvinced nature in his facial expression. The reference to Orchestra of minorities in the book had to do with a scene that the writer observed small chicks with their mother crying in frustration and helplessness as they watched a kite land and pick one of the chick. Nonso the lead character and his girl friend Ndali had rushed out when they heard the cry of the chickens, but they were too late to ward off the threat as the “Egbe” had already flown and even Nonso’s catapult could not catch up with the flight. It was a concerned Ndali that observed a rhythm in the cry as Nonso explained to her that the chickens feel pained and cries about it just like we human beings.
Having explained the title, we went on to other things and analogues of minorities in our national life. The minorities can refer to tribes as is the case when mentioned in the polity. But it can also go beyond tribes to the poor and less privileged in the society. We know that there is nothing like tribe among the elite when they want to share the national cake amongst themselves. Take for instance the 5,5 billion Naira SUV vote of the national assembly. In that issue, they are all one. Tribal minorities are used when the elite want to have advantage against themselves while using the poor who are the real minority in sharing of national cake and not in numbers. So, in Nigeria’s case, the Orchestra of minorities refer to the sharing of the national cake by the elite minority. To the poor, we will refer to as Orchestra of majority. The majority that are helpless in the mist of plenty. The majority that cannot afford decent wages, housing, medical treatment or education because the minority think they do not matter. The majority that is ever willing to collect the stipends dished out in the name of trader-moni on elections eve so they can learn the song in preparation for “An Orchestra of the minorities”. The orchestra of minorities in this case turned from helplessness to “sharethemoniness”. No, these minorities are not helpless or frustrated, they are the oppressors that have taken the common good of their country men and women and taken off like that kite! They have taken off to Dubai to buy properties. They have taken off to London to get some fever taken care off. They have taken off to London for the graduation of their children while leaving the schools in their country used by majority in ruins.
But what is wrong with this Chigozie sef? Must it always be tragedy? Coming from the “Fisher Man”, I thought and prayed he had repented but “for-where”! How can one use such a gift to dish out sorrow? I hope he repents and give us something with a happy ending next time. He has the Power to change the narrative; that is what writer’s do. They are gods, they create and destroy. Nothing stops him from ending the sorrow that Nonso went through and make things happen in a way that Ndali comes back to him at last. He is a god and has the power to do that but he would not, instead he chose to break my heart and get me angry at the character after spending my money to buy the book and time reading it. I am sure going to think twice before I read his next novel.
But do not get me wrong, this guy is a Master. I think I was just on the second chapter when I climbed Mark Zuckerbergs board to shout on the roof top that “this guy is good”. It was not up to a week I wrote that, I read that the book had been nominated for the “Booker” price. It was not a surprise to me because I have never read anything like that before. I have read very interesting novels but never have a writer described his character through the eyes of his “chi”.
GAGANOGWU, you will bear me witness that I am telling the truth because in these days of blogging, you will never know what is true and what is false. Some people have died because of fake news or being jealous from what they see in the social media. And “I have seen it before”.
Chigozie Obioma is a master of his subject and I was not surprised to learn he is an assistant Professor of literature. I would ascribe the same words of Chinua Achebe to Chimamanda Adichie. Chigozie Obioma came “fully made”.
Friday 27th September 2019