3 out of 4 stars
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Storytelling is an excellent way of transferring cultural heritage from one generation to another. While this is a tradition for most cultures, the Yoruba people of Western Nigeria seem to have an age-long history of storytelling. It is on this premise that Oladele Olusanya put together this book, A New Age.
The book took a trip from the pre-Independence years in Yorubaland down to this time — traversing about four generations in the process. The story introduced us to Efunyemi, a smart and enterprising woman whose children would later become an integral part of the political history of the Yoruba people. She got married to her first husband at the age of 16. However, tragedy struck, and she became a widow two years after the marriage. She didn't remain a widow for long as a man from Ijebu-Ode came and swept her away from her hometown of Ikenne. This marriage arrangement opened the door to a myriad of other experiences that would change her life, and that of her descendants, forever. The tales of her exploits, her children, and grandchildren are recorded in the pages of A New Age.
A New Age is a historical fiction that profiles the life and impact of most of the heroes of Yorubaland — male and female alike. Though it's the last book in a trilogy, it could be read as a standalone story. The author took me on a journey starting from four generations ago. It was impressive how the author could capture the lives of the Yoruba people with so much dexterity. As a young boy, I read the history of some Nigerian tribes, and I was pleased that the author captured these details with a high level of accuracy. I shared some parts of the text with some of my Yoruba friends. Most of them confirmed that the stories in this book had been shared at some points by their grandparents, though without the fictional parts. This showed me that the author did his due diligence in this book.
The storytelling ability of the author was glaring throughout the book. I got the same feeling I used to have when I listened to my grandmother tell tales of things that happened in the past. The author's description of events was top-notch. Every time a new character was introduced, he gave a backstory that showed the relevance of the character in the plot. The stories were not boring at all. I enjoyed reading them as they were laced with native wit. This book was a joy to read.
What I loved most about this book was how the author connected all the characters in this book. Even when he gave the backstory of each character, he found a way to connect them to the main character. This ensured there were no holes in both the characterization and the plot.
I had a few concerns about the book. First, the footer in the pages had the title of book two instead of book three. That is, instead of A New Age, it had A Time of Troubles. This got me confused as I had to check again to be sure I was reading the right book. Secondly, there was an instance of inconsistency in nomenclature. The tortoise was called "Ajapa" at one point and "Ijapa" at another point. This was another source of confusion. Lastly, there was a case of wrong dating. For clarity, here's the text:
The event described here was during the Nigerian Civil War that happened between 1967 and 1970.Now for two exhilarating days in August 2017, after crossing the Niger river and using Asaba as his staging post, Banjo led his men in a series of lightning advances as they made their bold move to capture the ancient city of Benin.
I wouldn't say that this book enjoyed professional editing. In addition to the concerns I shared in the preceding paragraph, there were a plethora of grammatical errors in the book. Hence, I rate it three out of four stars. I would recommend this to anyone interested in the history of the Yoruba people of Western Nigeria.
A new age
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