Book Review: Comparing Kabana Republic and Nigeria

The novel “Kabana Republic: The Land of Hurricane” is the story of a land in conflict with itself. It is the story of a land of want and despondency, suffering from myriads of under-development fundamentals that made it prostrate.

The story revolves around a young man called Oladiti Adeoyor, mainly addressed as Ladi in the novel. The life of Ladi is an expression of the seemingly hopeful future that awaits a hard working indigent student. Boldly walking into a future he saw as an undergraduate, Ladi is confronted with the reality of a society that eats its future with the brazen actions of the past and present.

The author narrates in clear, simple and sober language the agony Ladi goes through in getting university education. From a poor home, he shrugged-off the inadequacies that ordinarily would have discouraged him from continuing his university education. With a strong will and the assistance of friends and relations, he is able to surmount the huddles on his educational path.

Another phase in the life of Ladi, starts when he is posted to Achara for the compulsory national service known as NYSS in the novel. At the NYSS camp, he again experiences the selfish disposition of a state in her dealings with her citizens. The meals served are poor. The author suggested that the officials of NYSS must have short changed the graduates by expropriating some of the amount meant for feeding. Ladi experience firsthand the stratification, which allows some to get favour at the expense of others. Favour is dispensed to those who have connections and money, while the helpless are expected to accept their condition without complaint. Complaining attracts severe consequences in the camp and Ladi is not prepared to confront the system.

The young Ladi is eventually posted to teach in a village school where he performs meritoriously and is given the state meritorious award at passing out. For such a hard worker, what is left was for the Kabanian state is to provide him the succour needed for better life, but this is not to be. On returning home from his youth service, he is plunged into the labour market. He is under-employed and poorly paid, while struggling with life. His consolation is pain and anguish. He later turns to politics and is schemed out and left in the cold. In his frustration with Kabana, he and others pick up arms against the state.

They are militants, but they are also revolutionaries. On that fateful day, they storm Tarka Hill, the official residence of the Governor-General of the country and kidnap him, causing a state of emergency in the process. This is their own way of saying enough is enough to the negligence, arbitrariness, deceit and corruption of the political class.

Of course, the state swings into action to rescue the Governor-General. Ladi and his men are later sold out by one of their own; they are then brought before the law. Charged for treasonable felony, death is the penalty, but by a stroke of faith, the unexpected happens. The conflict and its resolution happen almost instantaneously. It is sharp, perhaps the author was very impatient and wanted to end the novel after a strenuous period of writing.

The point is that providence may have intervened to save Ladi and his men. The kidnapped Governor- General, shows magnanimity by pardoning Ladi and others, blaming the state for causing the condition that allows young men to take up arms against the state. For this failing, the Governor-General, Sir Godfrey Idolor, resigns as the leader of Kabana, but not without insisting on the younger generation taking power to fix the rot created by politicians like him. This period of hope sees Ladi becoming the Deputy Governor-General after the former deputy is elevated to the position of Governor-General. The sweet way the story ends is what really makes the novel fictional.

In “Kabana Republic: The land of Hurricane,” life is brutish and rusty. Poverty works on four legs. The police is a tool of oppression, and corruption is the name of the game. Kabana Republic lacks adequate infrastructure. Its roads are in a terrible state. Its hospitals are valleys of death. The land is infected with criminal activities with its politicians having unpardonable criminal disposition. It’s a land of law breakers.  There is no justice in Kabana Republic. There are no opportunities in the land. No adequate electricity. Kabana Republic is truly a land of hurricane.

Kabana Republic is the story of Nigeria. Though the author, Marufh Bello, was subtle in identifying Nigeria as the place under review, he was hard in describing the elements that define the sucking Nigerian state. Though he disguised NYSC as NYSS, we know what he meant. Erekusu in the novel, to me is Lagos, I don’t know what the author thinks.

This work, though fictional, can be described as an “essayic” form of writing a story. The cases are obvious day-to-day occurrences. The issues addressed made me oscillate around reading a newspaper feature article and reading a fictional story. I got worried by the long monologue of Ladi’s lamentation, sometimes spanning over fifteen pages. From page 107-125, Ladi talked to himself. This, to me, was too long and made it seem as if I was reading an article. This is a style on its own, which the author can improve on in subsequent works.

Ladi, found love during his service year, but the author chose to ignore this captivating side of the novel to my detriment. I expected more of this aspect to serve as comfort and relief for the tragedy that Kabana represents. I am not happy with the way the author handled the love story of Dooshima and Ladi. The author tickled and abandoned me.

I also noticed that the author was not proficient in the Igbo language. About 100 pages of the story of 167 pages happened in Igbo land of Kabana Republic. The first Igbo word was used on page 65 for what you can call an Igbo land story.

Clearly, the author has a mastery of the Yoruba language. This shows in its usage whenever Ladi came home. This is connected to the author’s background — being a Yoruba man. I suggest that in subsequent works, the author should consult widely with the people of the areas of focus in his writings. That is not to say that attempts were not made to use the Igbo language, but it came late in the novel. This is one of the challenges writers encounter especially when writing on cultures they are not too conversant with. As a journalist, I have observed such limitations in my works.

The use of Latin and poems in the work is commendable. They were like interventions that circulate the cool breeze of beauty. The reason the work can also be described as a poetic piece, expressing cultural relevance as in the Oriki rendered by the mother of Ladi.

The work is simple to read; it is fluid and thought-provoking. It is the lamentation of Ladi and the consciousness to evolve radical changes in a moribund state.

Therefore, “Kabana Republic: The Land of Hurricane,” is an addition to Nigeria’s collection of revolutionary literature; powerful in its message and subsequent in its effect. In the book is the stone against oppression. The author was only being magnanimous by not naming the book “Nigeria: The Land of Hurricane.”

  • Obilo, a broadcast journalist, is based in Ibadan.