By NBF News

Faces of Destiny by Chimaraoke Nwokoji, , Cel-Bez & Co Publishers, 2004, pp 96

Destiny could be referred to as fate and vice versa. Chimaraoke Nwokoji in his book entitled Faces of Destiny focuses on how destiny affects lives of individuals either positively or negatively. He equally explains how people's actions and their relationship with their creator can affect their destiny.

Divided into nine chapters, the book in the first three chapters addresses Dike and his wife, who speak to their only surviving son, Akaraka after the mysterious death of their two other children, Ada and Echi.

' Hunters do not tell all they pass through in night expeditions because it is a secret which they would rather confine to themselves. The same God who makes a tuber of yam to grow in the soil would provide the instrument to dig it out. The future is not ours to tell'.

Akaraka's parents bestow great love on him, just as all his needs are carefully met, except for his desire to go to school because his father hated western education owing to his belief that people behave abnormally. In chapters four to six, the author observes that Dike's influence as a hunter had aroused Akaraka's interest in the trade. Dike invites his son to an informal tutorial in the morning of a work free Nso day, the first day of the new yam festival season.

No one in Mbam hunts, fishs, works in the farm or travel out of the village. Whoever flouts this rule would be fined as there are reported cases of people who met spirits on their way to the farm and other places outside the village. Instead, everyone stays at home, cooks and swallow pounded yam with egusi soup, carefully prepared with smoked fish or bush meat.

Ogidiga, the drunkard and one of the rumour mongers in Ugbala village gate crashes anywhere there is a gathering, where palm wine would be served. There is always excitement anywhere he enters because the people would be excited. In some cases, he gives information, ranging from secret love affairs to causes of and solutions to disputes among kindreds.

The immediate relations of the families involved might not even know about such information. Pretending to be drunk, Ogidiga would tell people about their sins to their faces. Sometimes, he would say, 'Those who persist in defiling ali nso shall have themselves to blame on the day of reckoning.' The general perception was that Ogidiga is usually under the influence of alcohol, hence no one would take his abuses and accusations serious.

One day, Ogidiga, the drunkard, visited Okeke and the members of his age group. He ate, drank, cracked jokes, danced and told stories to those who cared to listen. He sauntered and stood in front of Dike and told him to leave Akaraka alone. 'A child who leaves to make his own choice makes more progress than the one forced into it. You will suffer seriously for your refusal to send your only son to school. What was tradition yesterday has become a plaything today. A man who refuses to dance to the tune of civilization would soon be coerced into the same tune he had refused to dance to.'

The flood of modernization is flowing, those who pretend not to notice it would be swept off their feet. Dike starred at him in total surprise, wondering how this fellow got wind of his dealings with his own son, Akaraka.

In chapters seven to nine, Akraka goes to the forest, bends down to change his expired carbide when he is mistaken for an animal and shot by another hunter, Odum. Akraka's mind flashed back to the day he had shot a strange catch that looked like a grass-cutter on top of ali nso hill. Then he did not know that hunters were forbidden from shooting a gun at the ali nso and its surroundings. The reason was that the gods that resided there, might be shocked by the sound of guns, or their domestic animals mistaken for ordinary animals in the bush.

Akaraka survives the incident because what a man was ignorant of would not claim his life in Mbam. He was confused and he asked himself ' Now, who has the blame? My parents for refusing to have me educated in the western way or myself for bowing to their wishes and desires, even when I knew that they were conservative. Or, could this be what the future holds for me? Oh destiny, why are you so invincible that man has to grope in the darkness of life searching for you?' He is later taken to the village hospital where eight bullets are extracted from his body.

Some White-men came to the neighbouring villages and bought some of the lands from the people. The whitemen built roads, refineries which make the villages to have shortage of land and most of the villagers could not continue with their farming nor hunting of animals any longer. They worked for the white-men who offer them stipends as reward for their labour. Akaraka eventually gains the opportunity of travelling out to study in the white-man's land courtesy of his father's elder brother, who lives there. Akaraka enlightens his people and enjoins them to fight for their cause and they should take their destiny in their own hands.

Faces of Destiny is written in simple and easy to understand English. There are various proverbs and poems in the book. There are also a few errors in the book, for example, on page 18, the fattening 'pracrice' instead of 'practice' on page 25, mostly in the 'drea,m' instead of 'dream.'.

Chimaroke Titus Nwokoji was born in Ekugba-Egbema, in Ohaji/Egbema local gpovernment area of Imo state. he was educated at Collins Comprehensive College, Egbema, Oriwu College, Ikorodu, Lagos and Imo State University. He had worked with Independent Communication Network, publishers of the The News Magazine/Tempo and PM news. Presently, he works as a journalist in one of the media houses in Lagos.

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