3 out of 4 stars
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Gesiere Brisibe-Dorgu’s Tuburu is a biographical book that tells the story of a legendary figure among the Ijaw people in Nigeria. Tuburu lived in the Niger Delta during the nineteenth century, leaving behind a legacy of heroism and patriotism. His physical and spiritual prowess has always been used for the sake of his community, Agbere.
The book is thoroughly researched and covers not only Tuburu’s life but also the history and characteristics of the Ijaw people, the Tarakiri clan to which he belonged, and the Agbere community. Even if you aren’t familiar with Nigeria, this book offers plenty of contextualization to prevent you from getting lost. It even includes a glossary with some of the ethnic terms used throughout.
While the first half of the book acts as a general introduction, the second half focuses on Tuburu’s life. We follow his early years as a vigorous and inquisitive youth, his spiritual experience at Ereama, his first assignment and accomplishment as a warrior, his various achievements later in life, and, finally, his death in 1895.
Tuburu reads like a standard biography most of the time. The exceptions are the very beginning, which feels more like a novel, and a few chapters in the end, which describe the events from the point of view of Tuburu himself. One minor complaint I have is that I wish more portions of the book were written in novel style since that would’ve made for an engaging reading experience. For example, I would’ve liked to see Tuburu in action during his fights. More pictures (there are only three in total) would also add to the book.
Sadly, there are many instances of missing or misspelled words and punctuation issues. Some sentences also end with question marks for no apparent reason: “Tuburu’s kinsmen were furious with him for fighting and even killing such people, as happened on one occasion?” Also, while the glossary is helpful, there are still some terms that remain undefined. I don’t know what Bebeare-owei and Orukare-owei are, for example.
Tuburu is a short but engaging biography that will appeal to readers interested in African culture and history. I rate it 3 out of 4 stars, deducting one point for the editing issues. There are no profanities whatsoever, but due to the mentions of fights and killing, the book is unsuitable for young audiences. I don’t recommend it if you have no interest in Nigeria or if you dislike biographies.
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