24 May In the Name of Our Father: A Bird Eye View
For those who are not writers, lovers of literature or those who are not inclined to read novels beyond the surface, the debutant work of excellent journalist and Associate Editor with The Nation newspaper, Olukorede Yishau, titled in the Name of Our Father may be mistaken in its entity for the story of a fake prophet, a diabolical man and murderer who sees the calling into the vineyard of God as meal ticket and a means to end his poverty problem once and for all.
But Yishau is a clever man. He has managed to sell the story as a call out to the shenanigans parading our religious circles. At the same time, closely woven at the beginning and end of the story beside the story of the Prophet T.C Jeremiah, is the tragedy of Justus Omoeko, an idealist, moralist and uncompromising journalist, who realised much too late that his society is not ripe for the kind of ideals he propagates.
Prologues are written for a purpose. They serve as kickers to the main story, but if you are like me, always in a haste to delve into the chapters, you might have missed out on Yishau’s kicker “Prologue to disaster.” It was on these pages three to seven that laid the foundation for the story, here it was that we get to know that Omoeko was the one writing about Prophet Jeremiah and that what we see as In the Name of Our Father, was a clever arrangement by the author to bring us into the just concluded novel of Omoeko titled “ Angels Live In Heaven.”
Two worlds are seen through the eyes of one man but carefully brought together, tying all the loose ends in a paragraph, in a sentence and all making sense. Genius.
The sudden re-introduction of Omoeko following the madness of the prophet at the end might come as a huge jolt and a disconnect if you did not read the prologue, but actually, that is where for me, the story began. A clever but vainly disguised reference to our recent military history, it is a story of the journalist who in my opinion represents a vast number of uncompromising Nigerians who stood against a deadly dictator and who did not soil their conscience at a time peoples’ soul was going to hell.
The story also brings to our memory -for those old enough to remember those years and a history for those who are not- the terrible past and legacy of one of Nigeria’s most autocratic and sadistic ruler. We were treated to a first-class account of what prison life would have been under the despotic ruler.
It is however sad to see that much of the conditions described in the prison are unfortunately still with us or they have become worse. Also, the optimism, the hope enthused by Omoeko about the future is now a mirage.
Reading the enthusiasm of the soldiers, that a better tomorrow beckons once the maximum ruler is out of the picture makes me feel I wasn’t reading about Nigeria, but some far-away country where hope can become a reality. If this book claims anything of a prophecy about the future of Nigeria, in that it failed and we will expect another, a sequel perhaps that will not be so sanguine about the prospects of a failed giant of Africa.
The author has done us a great favour by writing In the Name of Our Father, in simple, easy to read language. He also related it so well by using contemporary everyday imagery and storyline to convey a very important message that we all feel we are actors in the book and one can pick his or her own roles.
Also, it is easy to assume that the end of Prophet TC Jeremiah was madness and a one-way ticket to the Aro Psychiatric Hospital in Abeokuta. Far from it, the eventual end of the prophet was concealed from us till the very last paragraph of the book. “I also forgave his now pauperised ex-boss, who committed all sorts of atrocities and performed fake miracles in the name of our father-our father in heaven,” Yishau wrote.
Overall, I think it is two books in one, through the name of our father, we see indeed that angels live in heaven and earth is no abode for the celestial.
*Written by Seun Akioye an award-winning journalist, based in Abuja, Nigeria.