18 Sep MY MIND IS NO LONGER HERE: A Migration that Almost Was
Book: My Mind Is No Longer Here
Author: Ifedigbo Nze Sylva
Number of Pages: 312
Publisher: Paressia Publishers
Reviewer: Femi Ayodele
“Suddenly, his medical school certificate seemed worthless and his life seemed like a shipwreck. Two thoughts came to his mind; he discarded the first because he knew he was nor brave enough to take his own life, but the second seemed more probable. He would start afresh – a new beginning, far away.”
The excerpt above details Haruna’s moment of truth – the location in time when he has an epiphany. He expresses his resolution in language that makes it seem like he has little choice. He tells his cousin, Ahmed, “I need to leave this country.”
Ifedigbo Nze Sylva’s My Mind is no Longer Here is a novel about the choices people make when they decide that they have run out of choices. As is Haruna’s choice, the novel is a migrant narrative. The place is Lagos; Haruna, Donatus, Osahon, and Chidi are the main actors in the drama. Their director is Yinka, an unscrupulous Lagos ‘big-boy’ who specialises in drug pushing and ‘helping’ people go abroad. As is true with every play, he has a producer and an executive producer. However, Yinka has decided to act out his own script, using his executive producer’s props.
Like Haruna, the other actors in this migrant play have lost something. Haruna loses his mother, Donatus loses a job, Osahon is on the verge of losing his freedom while Chidi has lost hope in a future that seems bleaker with each passing day. When each of them meets Yinka, he promises to help them in return for a little favour.
What Ifedigbo Nze Sylva has done in this narrative is to make the reader examine the reason why people choose to leave home (if it is home) at all costs. The narrative shows that some people know the risks while others do not know what they are getting involved in. As is with every good narrative, the reader is forced to look outside, to examine the rationale behind justice for people who are caught in the web of gullibility and desperation.
Also, the narrative examines the rotten underbelly of the city as it does the rungs of the ladder that known people have climed to greatness. The author shows that there is corruption on the streets as well as in the places where people are cocooned in privilege. One can indeed infer corruption in the low places subsists because it recourses to high places.
That said, the author’s handling of his subject is what makes this narrative worth reading. The narrative is told from the perspective of the five major characters offering the reader a unique a perpective to all sides of the story. The reader then does not need to rely on the perpective of a single narrator. However, the reader still has the opportunity to make up his mind about the characters in the novel, especially those not among the five previously mentioned.
The method of resoultion the nnarrative employs is mworthy of note. By a series of events, each of the would be migrants are rescued from what would have been a fatal trip and a hellish experience. However, the marauders in the city do not get caught. This shows that the author is sensitive to the nature of human and urban realities.
It is worth mentioning that this is a rather ethnic sensitive read, the author makes sure that not only are the three major tribes in Nigeria represented, the minority is represented also.
The language is accessible, and the progression of the storymakes for better reader experience.