. . . justice Ita Mbaba has proven an iconic in several ways. Having first read his novel, “Her Plague” in 2004 then a secondary school student and as a uniuyo undergraduate reviewed his other works one of which is this, “mercy” and “songs of wisdom”, I personal give kudos to him for having sustained a leading legacy in literary edification and please urge him to never let go of the pen soon. That is the mark of true legendary and I urge then general reading public to patronize his works. – De Kemcy (2014)
Author: Ita Mbaba
Place of Publication: Port Harcourt
Publishers: Salem Books (An imprint of Midcourse Limited (RC306944))
Year of Publication: 2009
Number of pages: Viii + 105 = 113
Price: Not Stated
Reviewer: *De Kemcy* [please replace this with your name]
Introduction – Purpose of the Book
“Mercy” is a concrete literary art piece that can best be described as a comely dream realised and also, quite a timely companion at times such as this in the critical life of our nation. It is a story that vividly represents a true life situation of things in evolution in the life of the average man living in a euphoried nation such as ours. The book is meant to serve as not just a material of instruction, but also a tool for wading the many
insanities in a developing nation bundled in the lethal web of corruption and brutal malpractices. It also seeks to encourage hard work, resilience, perseverance and absolute reliance in the power of the almighty, hence the theme, “MERCY”; as characterized by the life of the hero here, “Ufan”. This is well encapsulated in the styling of its content, arrangement of facts and presentation and/or preservation of both the ideas and the theme to reflect the true reward of well articulated adventurous life of a young man in transit, under divinely directed “MERCY”, and a call for its emulation by all.
This book has been well styled and its template put across coherently. The facts which blends with the storyline have all been well arranged into a series of seven chapters, preceded by an introductory note. The author has done a good job by maintaining balance in the linkages of chapters, each of which well articulates into another, keeping the theme intact. While the opening chapters are basically imprints by the author as flashbacks, the third chapter brings the hero of the story into the fore, followed by another set of flashbacks by the author before the hero, “Ufan”, reappears in the concluding chapter together with wife, “Mercy” and friend.
The story of “Ufan” and his many expendables may well be understood if well delve a bit into the organization of the book’s contents where a more engaging assessment may be required.
Organization of Contents
As the preceding section shows, the book, “Mercy” is a portable handheld literary fiction well organized into a set of well connected chapters, seven in number; but preceded apart from the cover page, by a copyright page, a “dedication” and an “Introduction”. The Introduction is a five (5) page account that puts in summary the theme of the book, in the which the title of the book, “mercy” has been said to be an “. . .apt and an appreciation of the manifold mercies Ufan enjoyed at different levels and times in his eventful life (sic)”
The first chapter exposes the eventful life of the hero, “Ufan”. It is a flashback that recounts the past life of an adventurer whose search for employment has had to put him through the many travails common to an average applicant and/or school leaver of contemporary times in our nation. But in his die-hard adventure, he has learnt perseverance, disbanded corruption, made life-long decisions and finally enjoyed the “Mercy” of God. These are all flashbacks as “Ufan” delves into exhaustive thoughts in his private chambers after and ruminates on his many bitter-sweet post-Secondary Education experiences. This is a narrative by the Author.
In the second chapter, the author has been able to stylishly enjoin the concluding part of the first, in the which an interaction between Ufan and friend, Ekom is portrayed; in the former’s office. Their discussion has “corruption” as its central theme including the state of affairs in the nation. The chapter comes full circle with a transit of the duo to Ufan’s home, introducing “Mercy”. This narrative though done by the author, is purely a real time reflection, not a flashback.
In the chapter that follows, the author reflects once again, upon Ufan’s past life not as a flashback though, but indeed an account of the hero’s past love life while still an undergraduate and after. He has been able to constructively expound how Ufan maneuvered through his many ordeals in this line and finally, the circumstances that brought about Mercy, who now is wife to ufan. All these happens at Ufan’s home in company of his friend, Ekom. It is indeed a story of blister and bliss.
Chapter four of the book is a complement of the previous section. Its is actually a throwback on Ufan’s past life, now as an associate lawyer. It narrates the circumstances under which he came to secure accommodation, together with his fiancée, now wife; who played a major role towards its success. In this chapter we again see how Ufan escapes death by the whiskers, together with Mercy. It recalls his ordeals in the hands of his landlord coupled by a betrayal of trust by his fellow learned colleague of the wig and friend, Mike.
Chapter five is the concluding part of the previous chapter. It exposes the ineptness of the Nigerian judiciary, the corruptibility of the Police force(ad portrayed by Mr. Ndehe the Police D.C.O, an erstwhile friend of ufan), and the rascal and brutal behavior of typical Nigerian House owners. The chapter concludes with Ufan’s escape from death, as meted by his landlord, Mr Akan Edem, the customs’ officer.
While the discussion ensues between the trio of Ufan, his friend, and wife, the author tries in the next chapter that followed to uncover the source of the landlord’s income, goes ahead to narrate his plot (together with his cohorts and as aided by the police D.C.O) to nail Ufan, which were after all counterproductive in the long run. But the case could not linger anymore as the Police IPO, Commissioner and the DCO came to the rescue and it was “killed”
Chapter seven brings the story full circle, narrating the interaction between the trio, exchange of pleasantries and a toast to goodwill. This happens at past midnight. Curtain falls.
While I cannot categorically pick point any typographical error in print of this book, “Mercy” I have to quickly add that technically, the book is sound. The lexis and structure used is quite simplified, the grammatical expressions are all coherent and self-explanatory, while the maintenance of balance between adjoining chapters make the work not just quite fascinating, but also very comprehensive.
The author deserves credit for the stylishness of the front and back covers, which are not just very appealing, but at a glance drives home the message contained in the well articulated literary piece.
The portability of the material is also quite commendable; of course it is so sleet and handy that one can carry it about and enjoy reading at one’s own convenience repeatedly. It fits perfectly into even the back pocket of men’s trousers, and leaves much space for accommodation of other essentialities in ladies’ handbags. It is such an irresistible offer that cannot ordinarily be rejected if presented as a gift; thanks to the high quality print, paper and size used.
However, I would like the author in his next edition, to consider effecting a correction on page 27 of the book, paragraph three (3), line twelve (12) in “-the Ibo girl. . .”. It would be more proper, I think, to put it thus “-the Igbo girl. .” in line with current trends. Also, the currencies could also be valued according to present day realities, so as to reflect what is obtainable today and make the book fit into the current trends.
These few weaknesses notwithstanding, this book has in no small way been able to remind us of our present as a nation, based on past experiences. It is a clarion call for all and sundry to rise up and emulate the good and encouraging example set by Ufan, shun malpractices of all types and levels, hoping on God for “Mercy”.
I strongly recommend this book to the reading public in general as a tool for National Progress, to the education sector as an instructional material in general, and for particular use in the Pre-primary and Post-primary cadre of education, due to its simplistic presentation of facts. It is indeed an inevitable companion, anywhere, anytime.
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