Unveiling Familiar Stranger
Title: The Familiar Stranger & Other Stories
Author: Frederick Mordi
Reviewer: Justice Ilevbare
Publisher: New Africa Book Publishers
Frederick Mordi, journalist and blogger probably had Nigeria in mind when he was writing the book; The Familiar Stranger and Other Stories. Indeed, the book addresses the contemporary issues that still bedevil us as a nation.
Most importantly, as the country is currently going through a season of change as championed by the current administration of Muhammadu Buhari, the book is sure to give a road map to actually bring about the desired change.
The language used in the book is plain and simple making it a book for everyone. The stories are laced with deep proverbs that make an interesting read.
The eight chapter book is filled with inspiring stories that cut across all sectors of our everyday lives- economy, education, politics etc.
The opening chapter entitled: The Familiar Stranger captures vividly the struggle between the rich and the poor and how power play exists in our present day lives. While it places emphasis on how a group of people use their influence and wealth to bring about the needed development in their country homes, it also buttresses the fact that those vested with power to ensure our development as individuals, turn around to steal from our commonwealth – they are actually our ‘familiar strangers.’
The character played by Tambolo, one of those who came from the city with the intention of building a village and ended up becoming a thief in the village he was supposed to develop, is very instructive. These set of people are devoid of conscience even as they hobnob with people who will advise them wrongly.
Again, this captures the true story of what happens in our society today. While many people are engaged in corrupt practices, there are other accomplices who only turn out to betray them when the chips are down.
From the issue of corruption, to power play, to lack of trust and corruption, Mordi carefully and aptly captures our everyday lives using befitting story line.
The Farmer’s Daughter tells a typical African story that exemplifies the struggle to educate the girl-child. Mr. Erastus Udoka, the Chief Inspector of Education of Akama village practically had to fight Mazi Achara to allow his daughter gain a formal education. Today, there are still some cultures and societies that believe that the girl-child should be married out early without proper education.
Money Palaver is another story that relates to how people amass wealth and cart away what belongs to others. While some family members like the case of Pa Azuka’s wife would not care about the source of wealth of anyone so far as the money is used to meet some family challenges, her husband, Pa Azuka, believes otherwise.
He would rather choose to remain on the path of truth, conscience and integrity, which unfortunately is lacking amongst us as a people. Very few people in Pa Azuka’s shoes will find huge amount of money and damn family pressures to return it. Key point to note in the story is that there are still few who stand for integrity and uprightness world over.
Again, you would find out how poverty has pushed a lot of people into compromising their standards. Perhaps were it not because of poverty and the way things were in the family, Ma Azuka would have advised her husband to actually return the money.
“My children, it is a funny world we live in. People will talk no matter what you do. If you do wrong thing, they will call for your head; if you do the right thing, they will say you are stupid. So, why don’t you do the right thing and leave the rest for God?” Pa Azuka counseled his family when he was under serious pressure from his wife and children. In the end, it was songs of joy for Pa Azuka who was adequately rewarded.
Call it moral battle if you like, Mordi has again painted a vivid picture of what goes on within our society and until we do the right thing the much talked about moral uprightness will still be a mirage.
The use of humour to tell his story is quite refreshing, making the 135 page book with beautiful thick cover design, to stand out amongst others.
Mordi, a seasoned journalist, holds an MSc degree in Media and Communication from the Pan- Atlantic University, Lagos. Mordi’s passion for African Literature and traditional storytelling is evident with the recent release of the collection of short stories.
The author’s attempt in addressing issues considered as worrisome in our society is commendable.
It is believed that if the lessons contained in Mordi’s collection of eight short stories are imbibed, not only will people change, but the society at large will be better for it.
For the full version of the review published in The Nation Newspaper, please click on the link below:
Tags: african literature, author of the senator's car, Fred Mordi, Frederick Mordi, girl-child education nigeria, money palaver, tambolo, the familiar stranger and other stories, the farmer's daughter, the political spider, unveiling familiar stranger
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