21 Nov A Portrait of Socio-Political and Religious Cynicism in Olukorede S Yishau’s In the Name of Our Father
- Title: In the Name of Our Father
- Author: Olukorede S Yishau
- Publisher: Parrésia Publishers Ltd
- Number of pages: 228
- Year of publication: 2018
- Category: Fiction
In the Name of Our Father, Olurokede S Yishau’s debut novel, illuminates the multidimensional issue of religious and political cynicism in Nigerian society, using the story-within-a-story technique. The first strand follows the travails of the protagonist, Prophet Jeremiah – formerly known as Alani – who sacrifices his spiritual and religious beliefs on the altar of materialism. The second strand centres on the brutalisation of the society during the long years of military despotism, as seen through the eyes of a journalist, Julius Omoeko.
The prologue addresses the ‘gathering storm’ in the life of the journalist and the threatening voices of religious leaders. The novel disentangles the debilitating issues that journalists, writers, and activists in the Nigerian society encounter on a daily basis. Yishau cites an instance of this through Julius Omoeko, who is endangered as a result of the socio-religious criticism in his manuscript for the book Angels Live in Heaven. The frustrated Julius receives a threatening letter in his house:
No time for pleasantries, Justus. This is the fifth time I am writing to you and you are still adamant pretending as if you do not know that publishing that book is the same as bringing storm into your life. Mr. Journalist, do you know what happened to Dele Giwa? He was blown to pieces for following a path similar to the one you are now following. If you love yourself, just keep the term of the deal. That useless book you are working on about our prophet must not see the light of the day. If it does, then light will be permanently snuffed out of your own life… (p 6).
In Yishau’s novel, Prophet Jeremiah suffers the consequences of societal decadence, notably in the deaths of Tosin, his girlfriend, and his son, Lekan. Both deaths serve as the bedrock of his predicament in this world of vanity and propel him to seek a new life:
Throughout the night, he took stock of his wife. They had tried to raise another kid after giving birth to the late Lekan, but it had proved abortive. Now, the only kid was gone. Perhaps it was time to be free from each other, to seek peace and presence of mind away from each other. By the time the cocks started crowing, he had made up his mind that he was going to ask Abeke to go away, while he would try to start life afresh in a new land (pp 24–25).
In his manuscript, Angels Live in Heaven, Omoeko points out the hypocritical beliefs of Prophet Jeremiah as well as the gullibility of the masses by unearthing the material basis of the clergy and its detrimental effects on national affairs. Through another, complementary, lens he observes the gullibility of the audience which unquestioningly believes every prophecy they are given, notably when the prophet televises the claim of his ability to cure AIDS