Monday, October 10, 2016

Nigeria: Taduno's Song, by Odafe Atogun

Nigeria is one of the easier African countries to find books from. I had already read two by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - "Half of a Yellow Sun" and "Americanah", and last year's acclaimed "The Fisherman" by Chigozie Obioma. So that left me looking for something else, and I was delighted to see a new Nigerian author in our library.

What's more, Odafe Atogun was not only born in the town of Lokoja, in Nigeria, but still lives there, in the capital of Abuja. That was a bonus since so many other Nigerian authors seem to have left the country to settle in America or the UK.

Taduno's song is rather different in style from the others mentioned above. Taduno is a musician, living in exile in an unnamed country, in a lonely town seemingly empty of people. One day a letter arrives, and he realizes it is time to return home. But when he does so, he finds that all his friends and neighbours have forgotten him, even though he left only three months before, and remembers them all clearly. Taduno has lost his voice after a beating by the soldiers of his country's brutal dictator. To rescue his girlfriend Lela, who is in prison, he must find his voice and sing again.

Mostly the book is fairly non specific about names and places. However it does, once in a while, specify that the country is Nigeria, and that the city that Taduno has returned to is Lagos. It also mentions the annulment of the June 12th elections, which enabled me to search on google and find that the elections concerned were held on June 12th 1993, and that Nigeria's most brutal and corrupt dictator, General Sani Abacha, came to power after the elections were annulled.

The book is less complex than "Half of a Yellow Sun" or "The Fishermen". It has the style of a fable, and thus it is fairly black and white, and there is not a great deal of character development. Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable read, with a simple but powerful message, and added more detail to my knowledge of this large African country.

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