Saturday 24 August 2013

“Tenants of the House” by Wale Okediran

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I won’t lay it on thick for you about this book. This book is watery. I wish I could be less frank about it. But that is just what it is, watery. This book should be taken back to the publisher, hauled at its editors and a quick thorough work done on it. This novel is a big spoiler to my reading taste and (maybe) to many others’ who may have always wanted to read it or had read it. Buy it and read but you most probably will demand a refund as quickly as it can get you through some twenty pages of the book. This book would have done better as nonfiction. Those who probably read this book’s drafts never helped it or Wale Okediran was just unprepared to tell his political account through the nonfiction genre. This is a shoddy novel. It is literarily starved, clichés riddled and uncertain between fiction and nonfiction. There is so little or nothing to look forward to in this book. That’s the simple truth. Don’t be disappointed when you read it because you already know how bad it can get doing so. But read anyway if you want to.

Tenants of the House struggles to narrate the country's political corruption and schemes, much of which still put the nation in a constant ruin. The genre this book is in is a great disservice to the reader. What should have come out as beautiful nonfiction, or simply as parts of Wale’s biography detailing his experiences as a former member of the House, turns out to be a dull published literature. And we are all calling it a novel. This book is a pitiful case on many accounts. It takes no finickiness to note these holes. There are too numerous to escape. Honestly, I did not learn anything new in this book. It is a book filled with numerous errors, ordinariness and clichés. In the few places where you are about getting closure on some past and present political issues, it again stares bland at you. You are entertained though. But that is only when you consider it as a weak stereotypic melodrama. Perhaps if I were a challenged (academically) secondary school student, I might have loved this book. Perhaps not. You never know the rubbish many Nigerian public (and in most cases, private) secondary schools teach pupils until you go through the same crippled education system. The country’s education is that challenged. This is not a book I want to give a friend or leave for my children to read. I would be doing them bad. I don’t recommend this book. And that is it. If my money could be refunded, I wouldn’t mind.

All I got from the book are no different from what news articles would have given me. It reads that shallow. Painfully though, I will be keeping this book on my shelf. I can’t toss it off. I love my money that much.

Tenants of the House is about the politics laced with shameful hypocrisy. You already know your political leaders are thieves. So, that doesn’t sound new. What moves you however is how this act is carried out. And how your future is being held to ransom in the hands of crooked elites passed off as Legislators, Senators, Governors and a President. The characters are vivid portrayal of the reality we have now, they are not just caricatures. You can easily relate with Wale’s fictional character representations of our substandard politicians. They are no different from what we see around. Pains are bitter memories. And those political humps are still giving us more. Every day. With every tenure. Perhaps, this is one thing you will like the book for. It latches on cheap stereotypes and stereotypes sell.

Amidst the many corruption, Honourable Samuel Bakara is our angelic politician. But his sanctity will always be threatened. From the move to unseat the Speaker, the constitution amendment stunt to whom to love, his travails are multiplied. Nobody in this book is as innocent as it is shown. Everybody is muddled in his own secret desires. And that is not only with the politicians. Everything is about politics and its effects and everyone is trapped. Batejo plays it along with Gidado; Honourable Elizabeth lures Honourable Samuel severally; the House of Representative is in an endless chaos and President Ambrose Oneya continues to play his citizens off each other.

However, in the midst of the clichés are some simplistic truths. This is one:

“…the minority will have their say, the majority their way, in this country where democracy is our mainstay.” (pg. 158)
The following are a touch of the dryness the book reeks of. And they pull me off the reading real bad. Cliché nonsense and tired expressions! I struggled to finish this book:

“In one fell swoop…” (pg. 58)
“As expected, the speaker’s press conference caused so much stir as an earthquake in many quarters.” (pg. 72)
“You cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs…” (pg. 85)
“To my great annoyance…” (pg. 125)
At many times, you really just want to know the editors of this book and have them questioned over much lopsidedness in the book. Consider this; Hon. Samuel had already met the President before, and he rambles on like he is just doing so for the first time as he again meets the President at the Villa. Read the following:

“He looked completely different from the cartoon caricature of a sleep-eyed and gaunt-looking with oversized ear lobes sticking out like a rabbit’s. President Oneya appeared smart, even handsome…” (pg. 177)
The above contradicts with the below:

“…I recalled my previous encounters with the President. In all four of them, I have found him eager to talk, down-to-earth and, to say to the least, quick-witted.” (pg. 177)
I do not wish to go on. Tenants of the House does not cut it for me. This book had better been done up by the publisher soon. It’s been over three years since it was published. It is not just the type of book I want to ever read again. Not one I want to recommend to anyone.