Serving it Hot!

A Side Note on Objectivity

The social media space lends itself to a lot of analysis. Even a website like Instagram which should be about pictures has a comment section because when you think of it, even thougn a picture can speak a thousand words there is still room for a few hundred more.

Everyday, we are hounded by our very presence on social media platforms to offer an opinion, solicited or not, on an ongoing issue or situation. It takes string restraint to not comment on every issue when you know you have an aufience ready to listen. When we do offer our thoughts, we do not one to be judged as people taking sides, who are showing bias in our judgements, who are subjective.

The facts remain though that even before we open our mouths we are already biased by  our upbringing, religious leanings and learnings, political preferences, education, level of exposure or not to a given topic and so on. How then can we be objective?

The years between 2012 and 2015 will always be pivotal in Nigeria’s history. Most of the sociopolitical conversations we are having today were shaped in those years. People took camps or were camped based on the comments they made during the Occupy Nigeria protests. Terms were coined to label people, because really how can you identify people if you don’t label them? There was no room for neutrality (read objectivity). You were either for the government or for the people. The people eventually morphed into the Buhari camp and objective analysis of issues was replaced by group think.Today, there is a crisis of identity. Who really stands for the people?

In a way, I see Nigeria being replayed in America. But, I am no ‘expat’ in American politics and my observation is confined to the local exposure of one living thousands of kilometres away. The dynamics may definitely be different but the “Us vs Them” mentality that prevailed in Nigeria then is what I’m seeing now: If you voted for Trump then shame on you for supporting anarchy. If you had not been that stupid, we would not need America to be great again!

Lines are being drawn and objectivity is getting blurred as each individual is forced to take a side. The sidelines have been eliminated.

With the dearth of objectivity, one can imagine that if this trend continues, we will be running an obituary soon.

However, a few people are fighting hard to see that objectivity does not die. They are trying to keep it alive by engaging in what I term ‘Equal Bashing’. This is a system whereby one quantifies bashing in measures.Each bash is termed a dose. So if one issues two doses of bashing to Camp A, he must as a matter of principle find a reason (even if it does not exist) to issue two doses of bashing to Camp B.

When I was growing up, my father would never take my side in an argument that involves non family members. He said this is becuse he held me to higher standards. He felt I should know better. This annoyed me to no end. I felt this was really unfair.

This is how I feel about the Equal Bashing technique. Instead of helping build objectivity, it is actually providing the nails for this coffin. For example, A presidential media aide goofed, the proponents of equal bashing will after bashing them for impropriety, find a reason to bash the other camp no matter how ridiculous their reasoning sounds. It could be: If Jonathan’s media aides didnt set the bar low, you wouldn’t be able to go lower or why do these GEJ people always come to defend him when his name is mentioned. ( Will it be over the top if I inserted a meme here?)

One dictionary defines objectivity as fairness.Where is the fairness in turning logic on his head in the name of Equal Bashing? Can a person not consistently lend support to a side and still be objective? If we say they can’t, it means we are postulating that loyalty and objectivity are parrallel lines. Are they?

Objectivity means balance. Perhaps Equal Bashing borrows it’s tenets from this. Perhaps seeing a scale and wanting to ensure that one side is not tipped against the other on each issue raised. But here is the thing, balance is not judged based on equalising the scale but on presenting every possible side of an issue and weighing them. An objective mind will put all arguments on the scale weigh them and decide which is heaviest. His balance is achieved in weighing every argument and not throwing any out. At the end, one side may be tipped against the other as a result of objectivity.

Happily, there are still a few objective voices who can analyse issues with an open mind. Who do not care how they are being labelled and would rather remain open minded. To such people, I say, may your light not be extinguished. To those trying to learn the art of objectivity, I say, stay away from Equal Bashers. Try not to join people who are quick to throw labels. And this last thing I was taught: do not be too quick to give your opinion on matters on social media. Most issues have a life, when they are born a lot of people come out to talk about them, especially when their birth is accompanied by feasting of a ‘naming ceremony’ but the true worth of that child is in the growing and maturing. Then you will know in what direction the child is going and have something tangible to say about them. Always wait for a story to mature, when you have heard from all sides, then you can do an objective analysis.

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My Book Shelf

Conspiracy of Ravens Review. Verdict: Silver Plated Gold.

I just realized that my last post here was a review. I’m not sure I want to do this very often but when I’m asked by a fellow author to give an honest opinion about their book, I feel a sense of responsibility to do so. So here is a brief assessment of the last Nigerian Author I read.

Book Title:

Conspiracy Of Ravens

How I got to know about the book:

Friends who had read it talked about it on Twitter and then I was privileged to meet the author at the #GrillandRead Book Party Port Harcourt and got gifted a signed copy of the book.

Name of Author:

Othuke Omniabohs

Book genre:
Thriller

Book Summary:

It is a conflation of stories that are built around a ‘conspiracy theory’ that Boko Haram and the Niger Delta militancy is somehow related. It is about a man who seems to be seeking revenge for the wrongs his country meted out on him. The story is set off by an assassination and then the daredevil kidnapping of expatriates in a Shell Oil rig.

What I like about the book:

I loved the pace of the book towards the end. I loved the way the writer eventually wove the stories together and seamlessly married  Boko Haram, Niger Delta Militancy, and the Fulani herdsmen Crisis. I also loved the way the writer explored the issues affecting the Niger Delta through his characters.  The presentation of the story itself is suspense-filled and quite believable. I found myself drawing parallels with real people. The politics of kidnapping in the Niger Delta is also explored. In the end, one is left with the belief that things are often never as they appear to be at first. Most importantly, I also liked the way this could easily become a whodunnit movie. I was impressed by the work.

Other comments
I felt the resolution was a little Nollywoodish. I expected something stronger. I also thought the book dragged with unnecessary details at the beginning, I skimmed through certain paragraphs full of descriptions. Also, most of the characters sounded alike and so had a hard time differentiating them. Also, I didn’t like the idea of an American rescuing the kidnapped. Felt so let-me-just-roll-my-eye-at-this-ish. Can’t we save ourselves? I must say I almost stopped reading the book at points but I’m glad I read it to the end!

Rating *****Platinum ****Gold ***Silver **Bronze *Brass.

Silver plated Gold.

 

My Book Shelf

#TLGotS Review – Verdict: Refreshingly Different. 


Imagine if you were present watching the events that lead up to the ouster of Satan from heaven as recorded in the book of Revelation. And then,  imagine that the Devil and his legions make a comeback to reclaim heaven because of human error, not just any humans,  but the only four humans spiritually equipped to stop Lucifer – the Guardians of the Seal.  Hard to imagine? Worry not,  Tunde Leye has done all the imagining and put it down in his book, Guardians of the Seal.

This  185 page book tells a story that many Bible readers have had a hard time following. Yet,  the book is not a Bible story. In fact, only avid Bible readers will recognize how deeply certain parts of the Bible were explored. The writer takes many liberties with timing and order of these biblical events which,  of course,  is what qualifies his book a work of fiction. Beware, a fanatical mind might declare it heretical. 

The story starts out with a description of Lucifer’s Netherworld. Not anything you may not have imagined if thinking about Devils and demons is your thing. It may seem surprising that even in the midst of the chaos in this world, order is maintained in the hierarchy of demons. One is reminded of what it is like working in some industries, a dog eats dog situation.  

The reader is quickly eased into the connection between events in Lucifer’s world and the world of humankind through the eyes of a woman. You may begin to get a feel of the “feminist” leanings of the writer as one of the major characters in his book, Tara,  finds a way of having a child without the aid of a man. This episode appears to be a spin-off to the biblical record of the conception of Jesus presented as a scientific breakthrough. (Is God a feminist?)  This is just one of the many times that Tunde Leye gets the reader wondering if science and spirituality are as estranged as many want us to believe. 

The child grows and becomes a subject of controversy like the biblical seed of the woman. But again, the child is female. And at this point, those who started off thinking this was just a bible story begin to wonder when Jesus will make an appearance or if Tunde Leye is in some way insinuating that there is a woman in all of us,  even in Jesus. Heresy? Or Feminism being put in perspective? I will let you be the judge. 

Guardians of the Seal is divided into ten chapters of two parts. Five light chapters and five dark chapters. This division,  which a few might miss, is further emphasized by a change in typography at the beginning of chapter 6. Perhaps, Leye uses this to symbolize the coexistence of good and evil in equal measure and the need for balance in making decisions as one can easily tilt either way. 

For a thinking mind,  #TLGotS offers a lot of fodder. Leye explores themes such as love,  heroism, lust, drug abuse, sexuality, spousal abuse and truth among others. He does this without moralizing. A part of the book that stood out for me is his exploration of how the abuse of drugs affects the human mind putting it in close proximity to the world of demons. Leye relates the experience of one of his characters,  Tony, after he had smoked the “illuminator”, “By the time they got to the podium in front and the DJ turned down the music, Tony was seeing different creatures flying over the warehouse.  One seemed to look straight at him like it really saw him.  For a moment,  a chill ran through him as their eyes met.  But he reminded himself it was just the high and he laughed at himself for being scared.” 
From the outset of the story,  the reader believes that good will triumph over evil, yet, as they read it becomes difficult to put the book down because somewhere in their minds,  they are unsure how the writer will spin the story. One of the reasons for this is that God is relegated to the position of an onlooker in this novel. So many times the reader expects an introduction of Deux ex Machina to the plot but God keeps allowing humankind use their free will to make decisions. This in spite of the fact that this ecclesiastical story lends itself to divine intervention. The writer deserves kudos for his self-control in allowing the plot unravel without such interruptions. 

At certain parts of the book, the reader finds himself flipping pages, often skimming to keep up with the story but at the same time being conscious not to lose the plot. Whereas at other parts the pace is leisurely and the reader may be tempted to skip pages to get the story going but for the fear of losing the plot. 

I would not say that Guardians of the Seal is the best Nigerian book  I have read this year but I can say that it would easily rank among the top 5 were I to make such a list. It certainly will not be described as forgettable.

#TLGotS will make a refreshing and easy read for a lover of fantasy and has a couple of plot twists that could make one’s heart race a little faster as one reads.  

I am biased towards this story. To understand why, read the acknowledgment page of this book. Nevertheless,  I  score Tunde Leye a 3.8 for his great effort in this work. Wondering why it is not a 4 then read the book and prove me wrong.

Guardians of the Seal is refreshingly different in a world where African writers are generally known for writing about pain and war. #TLGotS will be a great addition to any booklovers library.

My Books Reviewed

@toyosilagos Reviews #SectorIV

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SectorIV is a historical romantic tragedy with so many themes, facets and dimensions, rich in historical facts and dripping with various elements enjoyed by lovers of fiction.

How might a feminist see this captivating story of hope, and the pursuit of safety in the midst of chaos and mayhem? An unmarried young woman surrounded by the ruins of war; what could possibly go wrong three? The journey to the phantom safety of #Sector IV takes readers through love, bereavement and grief, pregnancy, polygamy, widowhood, tough marital choices, and being a single girl in a strange city. The fictional romance story allows the perceptive reader a unique experience, like a roller coaster ride, through the life of women in the midst of violence and conflict.

While telling the story of the Biafran war from the perspective of many vibrant characters, the writer subtly highlights gender inequality and bias, social and economic rights of women and girls, as well as gender roles in domestic relationships. In some homes in Nchara, a kitchen matter is strictly a woman’s business, a man is disappointed that his only child is a girl but dreams of sending her to school in Cambridge; a woman re-christened by her in-laws proudly bears her new first name, while a husband swiftly serves his wife a hot slap in the heat of argument.

The author brought some often-overlooked and underrated feminine qualities to fore in this book: a mother’s problem solving ability, a girlfriend’s role on her friend’s wedding day, a confidant of the most intimate secrets and providing succor in times of grief. The writer showed women supporting other women through childcare challenges, while some others demonstrated generosity, compassion and resilience in the face of fear and danger.

Harmful traditional practices rear their ugly heads, even in time of grief and mourning. Picture a woman who has just lost her spouse in a war, returning to confront in-laws who prevented her from returning home because she could not bring the husband’s dead body back home. Such are the usually unexplored battles and struggles which the writer also beautifully captured in this interesting book.

Who would have imagined that a naked woman could disarm a soldier faster than a Dimkpa? The writer did, revealing the power of seduction and how it could save or take a life.

Not every man in Nchara is a wife slapping brute; a number of men defied the likelihood of brutality and stood bravely in the face of almost certain death in defense of women. Protectors, rivals, hunters, providers and lovers all make an otherwise terrifying trip to SectorIV a worthwhile voyage for all lovers of fiction.

My Books Reviewed

Joyce Odukoya: #SectorIV Review

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SectorIV is a treat for lovers of fictional historical romance. It takes place during the Biafran war in a village called Nchara in present day South East Nigeria. The book explores various themes which resonate with the reader including love and sacrifice, loveless marriages, childlessness, self-preservation and vanity as downfall.

SectorIV adopts a unique style as it is written in present tense. This brings the book alive and keeps the reader actively engaged with the story.  I particularly liked the names of the four parts of the book (Revelation, Exodus, Chronicles and Genesis) which I thought captured the content of each part very well.

The characters in the book speak to you and are relatable and the writer ensures that the characters have a story within the story.

The best thing about SectorIV is its unpredictability. The writer makes it quite difficult to second guess what happens in the book and captivates the reader. My favourite scene is the sex scene between Onyinyechi and Duke which is very unusually but beautifully written.

The author set out to write a love story which takes place during the Biafran war and I think she succeeds. The ongoing war does not detract from the main idea of a love story and the relationship between the choices one makes and the consequences of those choices.

The only dip in the otherwise engaging plot is the beginning of the fourth part, though that is only because of how intriguing the rest of the book is.

SectorIV is a romantic tragedy which is set around the Biafran war, inevitably there is suffering, death and destruction but what I found really tragic was that the story ended without Onyinyechi really knowing…really knowing what? Well, you would have to read the book to find out.

As I read the final paragraph of what was a brilliantly written novel, my main thoughts were captured by this quote: “Vanity can easily overtake wisdom. It usually overtakes common sense.”

Follow this writer on Twitter @JoyceOdukoya

What's Cooking?

#SectorIV

*Dusts Cobwebs*

It’s been a while.

I’ve been searching far and wide seeking my mojo.  I had lost it for a while you see. Until sometime in May, it came to me. It wasn’t like a vision or anything. My mojo just came strolling back like it never left. And I thought: how to celebrate this return?

How about I write a book I thought.

I have been playing with the idea of writing a book for a while it never quite got round to it.  So I decided to give myself a deadline: Write a book. Complete the first draft in a month.

I’m happy to report to you people,  that I did it!

Here I am officially presenting to you the cover of my book titled #SectorIV. #SectorIV is what I would describe as a historical romantic tragedy. It is set in Nigeria of 1967-71, a period in Nigeria’s history that totally fascinates me.

It is the plan that the book will be available for pre-order from June 15th, 2015 and the first 500 orders will get autographed copies packaged in a custom made bag :). It should be out on sale from June 30th. Yes,  I’m excited.  If you would like to get in touch with me regarding the book in any capacity please mail me at na2anaba@gmail.com

Oh, and I do have an arrangement with Stories.ng to have a preview of the book available on their blog site.  Of course,  followers of this blog will also get to read the preview here.

Thank you all for always reading my blog.  You have been a great source of inspiration.

Watch out for #SectorIV

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