The novel entitled as above is best appreciated by one, who lived in Nsukka in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The years with their scars are buried in the minds of people like me, and may be you, who experienced the unfortunate reality of the time, and retold in the novel but which, happily, Amamgbo has craft-stamped its trace in the sands of time. The novel is a creative work of fiction in the sense that its characters, situation, and language are depersonalised but which for us in the serene, hilly city of Nsukka bespeaks of our not too distant a past.
The University of Nigeria was once a beehive of cultists, who held the University of Nigeria and its immediate environment captive. Amamgbo is awake to have carefully laid the proper foundation for the seeming unrelated episodes, which dramatically coincided and which with mind unsettling complication and its accompanying intrigue smouldered into a huge societal crisis. With the same artful dexterity, the author complicates the plot into a mind rabble rousing climax that unsettled the characters that battled with their personal ambitions and the reality, which they face, a reality that is nurtured by the belief furnished by the cultural practices of the society around them. Like a stone rolling down a cliff, the climax dove-tails into a sensational denouement that settles the opposition between virtue and vice.
The cultists, after a vain-glorious adventure are presented with two alternatives, each of which leaves them as villains against the society they rebelled against. For the ones that turned a new leaf, the story leaves them with chances to reconcile with their society. However, the novel ends without clues as to how their pretentious immediate ‘holy’ past is healed against their new status as confessed criminals. The others, who continue in their quest for terrorising the society and vengeance against their confessed colleagues in crime, are impoverished, incarcerated or killed. The novel ends as a tragi-comedy, with lots of lesson to learn from the fleeting fortunes of life.
The novel appeals to be read over to particularly appreciate how the author has woven the story into the language, English, a second language, which the novel would probably not claim total mastery of but which the other ingredients of the novel hope to overshadow.
Dr B.M. Mbah, Esq.
Senior Lecturer, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (20/05/2014)