Nigerian political landscape since Independence has been bedeviled with pronounced inequalities between the elite and the larger populace. In the Niger Delta, the resultant deprivation encountered by the people, particularly with the exploration for oil, has heightened tensions within the region. The resultant socio-economic and political disequilibrium has created a dysfunctional relationship between the privileged class and the disadvantaged people of the area. Instructively, the government and the multi-national corporations who operate there have attempted to improve the living conditions of the people to no avail. In the book, The Virgin of Yenegua, which is based on the Niger Delta experience, Emeka Ijere attempted to unearth the depth of the loss of confidence among the people, on the one hand, and between the people and the government/multi-national corporations, on the other, leading to disordered quest for individual gains, primitive acquisition of wealth, and other attendant ills. This article is primarily a lesson in culture, history and politics. In the analysis of this literary work, the author has applied various political postulations as espoused by erudite scholars in the field of Political economy and History to show that in the strive for a better society, patriotic fervor and nationalistic inclinations are the precursors to nation building.
The book, The Virgin of Yenegua, is a drama text of 106 pages, written by Emeka Ijere. When the author approached me to review this book, numerous questions agitated my mind: Firstly, what motivated a Mathematician and Computer analyst to embark on a literary exercise? Secondly, why write on the Niger Delta? Thirdly, why did he decide to choose me, a Political Scientist, to review the book? I posed these questions to him. His reply was brisk and challenging. He informed me that he was motivated to embark on this project by his love and flair for literature despite his professional qualifications in the Natural Sciences. Secondly, the whys and wherefores of the prevailing chaotic situation in the Niger Delta have always provoked his curiosity. In answering the third question, he made it clear that it is his hope that a Political Scientist would embark on a holistic overview of the book, with a view to deepening the universal approach to various academic postulations.
My initial impression that the book was a mere attempt at book writing for fun was thus immediately dispelled with the explanations and fluid delivery from the author. I immediately began to feel the flurry of an informed mind which I was to encounter in the digest of the book. As I read further, I was struck by its key message and realized the academic puzzles irking the young mind seeking to understand the political inelegance and depravity in the evolvement of true Federalism, patriotic fervor and concrete nationalistic ethos in Nigeria. Without further ado, I accepted the challenge to review the book, not because I am trained in the discipline of literary writing, or because it is a soft read, but primarily in appreciation of the prodding mind of the author, a mind which apparently agrees with my belief and hope in the positive potentials of benevolent leadership working in tandem with the people’s hope and aspirations towards the provision of basic needs in education, agriculture, health, and sundry infrastructure, respect for human rights and the rule of law.
It is instructive, at this point, to mention that the explanative structures to our review cannot be appreciated without understanding the minuscule underpinnings to the characters and the plot which characterize the genre of the work. This review will therefore draw from the microcosm of thoughts as portrayed in the book which insist that the work cannot be read or appreciated in a vacuum. The book draws its essence from the avarice and humanistic machinations of man which is built on “selfism” and the “grabbist” tendencies of a whitewashed mind whose infantile understanding of an alien culture and jaundiced toga of tutelage in “mordenisation schooling” have not evolved beyond an unscrupulous and scandalous level of ineptitude and a crisis of identity. The concept of identity began to pervade my thoughts as I read the book. It dawned on me that the Virgin of Yenegua is not just a metaphor for the geographical region in which the book is set but a wider figurative tool to x-ray the pathway to a crisis-ridden society in which we find ourselves as juxtaposed to a tranquil society devoid of imperialist and cultural contaminations.
Read the rest by downloading the document in pdf at the bottom of this page
Ekeh, P. P. (1975). “Colonialism and the two publics in Africa: A theoretical statement” Comparative Studies in Society and History, 17(1), 91-112.
Fisher, D. & Galtung, J. (2013): Pioneer of Peace Research. Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. Retrieved from www.springer.com.
Galtung, J. (1971). A structural theory of imperialism. Journal of Peace Research 8(2), 81-117.
Oji, O.R. (1997). Strategies to democratic mobilisation in Nigeria: Transition in a depressed economy. Enugu: Autocentury Publishers.
Rodney, W. (1973). How Europe underdeveloped Africa. Dar-es-Salaam. London and Tanzanian Publishing House: Bogle-L’Ouverture Publications. Retrieved from http://www.marxists.org/subject/africa/rodney-walter/how-europe/index.htm.
Rousseau, J. J. (1762). Social contract or principles of political rights. Translated, 1782 by GDH Cole. Public domain. Rendered into HTML and Text by John Rowland of the Constitution Society. Retrieved from www.constitution.org