by Sylva Nze Ifedigbo
Expected Publication 29th March, 2017 by Bahati Books
‘Be Warned, No Yahoo Yahoo Here’
If you have been following me long enough then you must know how I have been desperately looking for Contemporary African Literature especially Kenyan ones. Well, I cannot say I have fully succeeded in my search but when Bahati Books contacted me about My Mind Is No Longer Here I was so excited. Why? Because everything they stated on their website spoke to me:
African literature has always been much more than just stories of conflict, disease, poverty or even safaris. African literature is fun, moving, challenging and complex…Created to showcase diverse narratives of global African voices, Bahati Books aims to publish and market talented African writers. It will work to take African literature from being a ‘niche’ to a mainstream genre to readers internationally…We are committed to promoting authentic, multifaceted narratives in African story-writing which goes beyond the ‘single story’ of poverty, war and corruption that is continuously ran in many mainstream western outlets.
The project is an especially important one in Africa because we tend to get the same narrative time and time again and those who venture out are rarely heard. I am not saying they do not exist but they rarely share the same platform with the well known African authors.
So what is this book about? Here is a short blurb to give you a general idea:
Four men from different corners of Nigerian society find their fates tied to one man: Yinka. Drawn by desperation to leave Nigeria, the men are drawn to Yinka – a self-styled consultant who acts as the front man for a powerful human trafficking syndicate. The men come from distinct corners of Nigeria’s society: Chidi and Donatus – two unemployed graduates; Haruna – a doctor who could not save his ailing mother; and Osahon – a fugitive seeking freedom from his past become entangled in Yinka’s world, as they seek a better life abroad.
“My Mind Is No LongerHere”, written by Sylva Nze Ifedigbo, follows the journeys of Chidi, Donatus, Haruna and Osahon – as their ambitions lead them to fall deeper into Nigeria’s underworld. Set for release at the end of March, we are pleased to finally reveal this e-book’s cover art and we look forward to release this novel later next month!
The book follows four men trying to get a way out of the rut they are in. They each have something that motivates them to believe there is nothing left for them in Nigeria. The state of affairs has been plagued with corruption causing unemployment and poverty making even the ever so hopeful ones extremely hopeless. The way Ifedigbo describes their predicament is so powerful and relatable. The situations faced by each individual is something many Nigerians go through every single day.
“Did you not hear what I said earlier? The certificate will not wipe poverty from my family. I want to be a big man. Like you. If I get a chance to go abroad today, I will abandon school and go. I’m serious.”
The four of them are brought together by a guy called Yinka who promises to get them abroad without them having to make any payments but they know they will have to pay it off in some way. Their desperation to leave makes them vulnerable enough for Yinka to use them in his own little scheme. He sniffs it out of them and knows they would make the perfect candidates for his illegal activities. They put little thought on what the deal entails with some thinking it must be some yahoo boy business which is not a big deal to them while others plan to run away immediately they touch down.
The beginning was a bit slow and it took some time for me to get into but I got to a certain part and I could not get myself to put it down. I loved this story so much because it discusses the modern day issues. Yeah, I know a lot of books speak on this but trust me on, okay?
The problem of unemployment is common in many African countries leading the youth to take up illegal activities in order to sustain themselves. It ends up affecting the people in ways that it shouldn’t like what is going on in Kenya right now with the doctor’s strike. Because the doctors are not paid well enough they cannot do their work efficiently since they end up being understaffed and running in unequipped hospitals. Yet the ones representing the citizens in parliament can adjust their wages whenever they feel it suits them. In the end, those who suffer are not the wealthy since they can run to private hospitals, it’s the poor and the conscience of the doctors. These frustrations never have a positive outcome.
“They think hunger is a bad thing. No. Hunger is a blessing, I tell you. There is no motivator like hunger. It is only hunger that can make you do anything without fear.”
The issue of human trafficking is a sad one because not enough people talk about it. When I worked at the Foreign Affairs, there were people who constantly came to report that their relatives had been taken away with a promise of a job and ended up stranded, doing what they had not signed up for. They get there and their passports are taken away from them so that they cannot run away. While some manage to get to their respective embassies for help, many are not lucky enough. This was not the central focus of the story, but he brings it up in a way that makes you stop and think. Drug trafficking has also become such a nuisance because the ones who control it are the wealthy and some are in high political positions making it difficult to bring it to an end. I used to hear stories of girls who were being used to traffic drugs and how they would make money, get to travel making others want to join in. Preying on the desperate has become so easy nowadays.
The materialistic culture that has hit Africans is another one of the factors that promotes this culture. You have people who want to be flashy in a way that is not necessary; big cars, fancy clothes and devices, party in the right places and take flights to wherever. Like one of the characters, Osahon, who had decided he would only start using Facebook when he was abroad so that everyone would know he was no longer slacking in Nigeria. The issue of girlfriends shacking up with those with money because they want extravagant gifts and men who will provide for them. The number of guys who have been left by girls because of this is hilarious. Some don’t even leave them, they just have them as the main and then the side is the provider. Age does not even matter anymore, it’s crazy.
Make sure you pick this up when it comes out next month. As I said earlier it started out a little slow for me but it got better as I kept on going. And a big thank you to the lovely ladies at Bahati Books for sending this my way. I will definitely be getting a copy for myself.
“What am I going to use the degree to do? Do you eat degree? You are a graduate, not so? Have you been hungry before and you just bring out your certificate and look at it and the hunger disappeared?”