Book Review- Odimegwu Onwumere's Edutainment Novel
An x-ray on the two sides of the human nature, from the horizon to timeline infinity: A literature with varying amounts of entertainment, distractions, vices, virtues and every day trivialities.
Title: "The Many Wrong Doings of Madam Do-Good"
Author: Odimegwu Onwumere (c) 2009
Reviewer: Ugochi Ugo
Publisher: Mcdyke Printers
Odimegwu Onwumere's book is an edutainment summary of the many cracks in the walls of contemporary Nigeria . The book comes with many instances and provides quite a balanced assessment of life. Unlike what the tittle might suggest, Onwumere's book is not limited to painting Madam Do-Good as the only villain but rather it examines such villains as Hope's parents who reduced her to someone from who no-good-can-come. For why would a mother pursue her own happiness and abandon her little daughter to an abusive father who takes out the bitterness of life from his only daughter who is only but a child? What about the pedophile Prieye who lusts after a child without the features of a grown woman, and also the police who take bribe on the road and forget their duties and the drivers who give them as well?
Onwumere throws light on the problems facing the Nigerian citizens. The dilapidated infrastructures, the lack of amenities and the misplaced values, which sees the interest of the people border primarily on the acquisition of wealth but not how it is got, which is why people quest for money, no matter the means. Whether they have to join the police force and legitimize bribery; rob, defraud, kill for rituals or worst still run a prostitution ring with children barely out of diapers.
The book x-rays the ill effects of broken homes. How the children most often bear the brunt of the wrong choices of the parents. It also skillfully exposes the girl-child as a victim of abuse both at home and away from home.
Through the protagonist, Onwumere tactfully answers the question "What is in a name?" Hope as her name goes struggles to live above the shackles of despair. She presents to the reader a vision of a greater tomorrow, like the Igbo version of her name “Nke ihu ka” (meaning, the best is yet to come). Hope is a brave girl who left a familiar environment ( Obuaku Village ) and travels to Port Harcourt, a city she had only heard its name, in search of a better life with her mother. In Port Harcourt the very first person Hope walks up to, pays attention to her predicaments, which is every stranger's wish. For a child who has seen abuse even the common act of pointing out to a stone in the way will be understood as kindness and will paint the picture of a stranger as an angel. Therefore, the decision of Madam Do-Good to make Hope one of her victims is a gross betrayal of trust. The good part is that Hope endures to the end.
A critical view of the book in the opening chapter, the writer points a picture of a man who has lived alone with his daughter for a long time but that is not the case. The truth is that they have been alone for only two months. Unless of course he wants to cast "furious" on Mr. John as a brute, who has so abused his daughter in such a short time as to make the neighbors write him off.
Again, in Port Harcourt , while Hope converses with Madam Do-Good, her discourse sounds much more mature than that of a frightened 12-year-old. In addition, Hope who has just met Madam Do-Good readily forgets her predicaments and her mother whom she had set out to look for, without any persuasion whatsoever.
A few inaccuracies can be seen also in the language rules used in this book. For instance in pg5 “Are you not seeing ----?" 'See' is a stative verb, which does not bear -ing except as a participial or gerund. Therefore, it should read, "Do you not see…?” Pg 6 “I am not having …" should be “I do not have…” Others are the addition of "to " before abroad in Pg27, the omission of "the" before village in Pg11 omission of "a" before strong blow in Pg12, omission of "a "before noise in Pg33, the misplacement of comma in the sentence, ?“Though, this was not the first time Hope's poor performance at school irked her father and he decided to teach her a few lessons" which gives it the impression of a sentence fragment, and the spelling boo-boo of 'except' for 'expect' in Pg12 and 'gravy' for 'grave' in Pg 34. But I may say that the writer used poetic license in these areas and is free from any form of criticism.
In any case, the book makes a compelling case that there is a large unused potential in Nigeria whether in human resources or natural resources and that, if well tapped onto can improve the lives and the conditions of the citizens.
This book conveys an optimistic, but also a cautious message, since there are many examples of vices as well. While the instances in the book fit very well into the argument the author is leading, I am left to wonder whether there are examples that did not fit into the theme and thus are not to be found in the book.
All together, "The Many Wrong Doings of Madam Do-Good" is a very recommendable book, informative and well written. It bridges the gap between books for children and the ones for adults.
Miss Ugochi Ugo is an English Scholar based in Aba , Abia State . +2348036830257. Email: [email protected]