Book: MY MIND IS NO LONGER HERE
Author: Ifedigbo Nze Sylva
Number of Pages: 312
Publisher: Parresia Publishers
“Have you not heard the saying that the happiest place to be in this country is at the departure lounge of the International Airport?
The above statement, made by Osahon in the book, shows how desperate the average Nigerian youth is to leave the country.
The book is centred on the lives of five young men; Chidi, Haruna, Donatus, Osahon and Yinka, who is the herd of the pack.
Chidi, an undergraduate, meets an old classmate of his who is now wealthy and asks him to show him the way.
Haruna, a doctor in the non-functional health system in Nigeria, gets his hatred for the country triggered by the death of his mother which could have been avoided if things were working as it should.
Donatus, a human anatomy graduate, who is a photo-journalist in a newspaper publication that owes several months of salaries even though the publisher swims in wealth, resigns to find a way to leave the country.
Osahon, a drop out from the University of Benin who fled to Lagos after he was accused of the murder of a cult member, is the most desperate of them all to leave the country.
Yinka, an ‘errand boy’ for a drug cartel who disguises himself as a consultant that helps people travel is nursing a political ambition to win the House of Reps seat of his state. Realising that he needs a fat account to accomplish this, he uses the four other guys as pawns in his money-making quest to win the seat.
The book is written from the angle of the five men and shows their struggles to become rich in a failed system. The travails of the four men can be likened to a Venn Diagram in which they all have a universal set of a desire to leave the country at all costs, thereby making Yinka the superset of the four.
The author shows the different everyday struggles of the typical Nigerian youth and how dysfunctional the country is. He made sure to touch every aspect; corruption, poverty, greediness, fraud, cultism, favoritism, exploitation, infidelity and interweaves them all together to showcase the current Nigerian society.
He also employs humour to pass some messages across. An instance where Osahon told Yinka that the first time he applied for an American visa, he was rejected because the address he produced was a graveyard in America.
The human trafficking signs were everywhere during the process, plus the fact that Yinka did not collect a dime from them to process the travel all in the guise of ‘you will do some work once you get to Europe and pay us back’. He didn’t state the kind of work they were to do and they didn’t ask either. Even after they were made to swear an oath in a diabolical manner, they could have backed out but still continued the journey regardless.
This highlights the backlog of numerous trafficking incidents where all the blame is heaped on the traffickers and forgetting that victims who are not underage should have a mind of their own to conduct adequate research of what they are going to do in a foreign country.
Ifedigbo also highlighted the relationship between godfatherism, politics and drugs as they represent three angles of a Bermuda triangle. He writes about these issues so authoritatively, like an investigative journalist trying to reveal what happens in the underworld in codes.
It will be a sin not to mention the style of resolution the author employs. It is a refreshing deviation from the norm, where one would have expected that the drug cartel be brought to book but none of that happened which implicitly shows the author’s intention to depict the actual Nigerian society.
For a debut novel, Ifedigbo is daring and does astonishingly well. Though the novel starts slowly, it picks up rhythm quite fast and you don’t want it to end anymore.
Honestly, I didn’t expect much from the book as the title doesn’t seem so intriguing, but I was proved wrong.
For me, it’s a 4.7/5.