Wizard of the Crow

Title: Wizard of the Crow

Author:  Ngugi wa Thiong’o

Published by: Harvill Secker

Publication year: 2006

 

Written in Kikuyu and translated into English by the author, Wizard of the Crow by Ngugi wa Thiong’o will not disappoint anyone familiar with the author’s prolific body of work. This work of fiction sears with truth and lays bare the international foibles of postcolonial African politics. Pregnant with humour and irony, this allegory leaves nothing sacred as when one of the characters is cured of the disease of white-ache. It is a most human story examining both the character of leadership and the desires of the common citizen. Farcical characters become believable, while women, especially, are portrayed with complexity. The story challenges many stereotypes. For example, the main character, the Wizard of the Crow, is a witchdoctor or traditional healer or (~frochiatrist)(p. 622), and proves to be the voice of reason and sanity. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves storytelling or is interested in international relations and African culture and society.

The story tells of a megalomaniacal African ruler with a grandiose development scheme surrounded by conniving sycophants obsessed with greed who try to control the masses and outmanoeuvre each other. The trials of these politicos are interwoven with a love story involving the Wizard of the Crow and an underground activist posing as a secretary. The roles of thinly disguised entities such as the Global Bank also figure into this brazen expose of the (politics of poverty) (p. 87), while many other novel characters populate the landscape such as the (professors of parrotology) (p. 572).

The work is cynical, critical, insightful, and inspiring. Describing the fictional place, Ngugi writes, (If there were no beggars in the streets, tourists might start doubting whether Aburiria was an authentic African country) (p. 35). Contrast this with the line, (The world has no soul) (p. 62). The calcu180 Journal for Global Initiatives (Many a government in the world has been brought to ruin because it has been lax and allowed students, youth, and women to say and do whatever without proper guidance and supervision” (p. 557). And Ngugi observes, (Disorder reigned supreme, for any attempt on the part of the people to organise themselves was deemed by the Ruler’s government as a challenge to its authority” (p. 576). Describing the actions of one of the rich and successful political appointees, he writes, (How does one find humor in humiliating the already humiliated?” (p. 383). He also asks, (Why does needy Africa continue to let its wealth meet the needs of those outside its borders and then follow behind with hands outstretched for a loan of the very wealth it let go?” (p. 681). He also states, (It will not do for any region or community to keep silent when the people of another region and community are being slaughtered” (p. 726).

There is so much to highlight in this wide-ranging engaging story that no review could possibly do it justice. Don’t let the book’s size or the author’s reputation intimidate you. It’s a fun, easy read, and you may learn a lot. As always, Ngugi places the primary burden of resolving Africa’s maladies solely on Africa without shying away from the complex, detrimental influence of the colonial past. The question of whether Africa will experience globalisation as the latest reincarnation of an oppressive colonial past or participate actively as a contributing voice of reason may in some small part be presaged through the reception of this telling book. Thank you for this gift of a book and for holding up a mirror in which to exorcise so many daemons.

Credit: Daniel Paracka, Journal of Global Initiative.

 

Remember the Morning

remember-the-morning

Book title: Remember the Morning

Author: Thomas

Fleming

Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates Inc

Publication year: 1997

 

Thomas Fleming in this book, Remember the Morning, sets the foundational brick of an American classic and historical series, a saga that fires into one’s imagination and stays with you for a long time after you read it. It is a stunning book with two dramatic and powerful women, radically different yet bound together by heritage, experience, circumstance, in a blazing tale that plumbs morality as brilliantly as it illuminates a crucial part of American past.

Clara and Catalyntie both lost their parents while they were young (arguably I think while they were 5), they were killed by some Indians who captured them with Catalyntie’s two older siblings – Peter and Eva, who both died in captivity. While in captive, Clara the black young woman was treated like a princess while the other white captive was made to eat poorly. The book further narrows down into how these young women were made to suffer at the hands of their captors at a time they knew little or nothing     – After a number of years, the young women were part of a treaty that results in them being turned over to the white people. (This brought another “complication,” as one of the girls was actually a slave–but didn’t even know it.) The book gives that background and then moves into what happens to the young women as they enter the world of the white man. Catalyntie seems to be focused on material things as to the opposite of who Clara is, who is more disposed at giving help to others.

This is a book into the life and times of America and Americans with much of historical allusions in a story set primarily in 1700’s New York City. I guess most of some non-enthusiastic readers would have skimmed through some of the war sections in this book, I know it might just look boring to them. Though, an insight into the plots of the book will give readers a concise account into American history of the classics. Intertwined in the lives of the main characters is rich vivid history. French, Dutch, English,

African and Indians all played a part in creating America.

Remember the Morning helps explain how life was after the English took over from the Dutch. France and England fought over the land, trading rights and even the Indians. The Africans struggled for their freedom while they remain the major race that helped in gathering the ‘wealth’ we’re seeing in America today. The Catholics worshipped in secret and wished for their own freedom. Fleming writes wonderfully. He’s taken the facts of American history and made them the background to a good story. You hardly realise that you’re learning something until it hits you hard like a tornado. Not to worry, Fleming is such a distinguished historian with vast history into the making of a nation where it takes root from.

I will gladly recommend this book if you’re a historical fiction enthusiast and even a student given to historical account would want to learn more about pre-revolutionary America.

Six Seconds

 

six-seconds

Book title: Six Seconds

Author: Rick Mofina

Publisher: MIRA

Publication year: 2009

The opening prologue of Six Seconds will give you chills and sets up the novel for a relentless, mind-blowing and captivating resolution into a detective action to uncover some highly sensitive suicidal causes. Six seconds, ticking fast, so fast very fast so many lives are attached to it for survival or death, vengeance, religion or even in the case of redemption. Just in short lots of lives seems to be at stake.

The sudden disappearance of both husband and most especially her son wouldn’t give Maggie Conlin a senior associate bookseller peace until she gets to the root of the sudden disappearance of his spouse and son. The story unfolds into a detailed exploration of detective findings on crime and searches into causes of murder. In unveiling the whereabout of her son’s disappearance, Maggie Sort for help from different places, few helped, and some gave up along the way while others refused to. But above all, she never gave up believing her son is alive, likewise nursing the hope that she can save her marriage despite finding out he (her husband) might be cheating on her.

Daniel Graham, a cop detective who just lost his wife and unborn child was planning to take his own life. He believes he killed his wife by sleeping on the wheel while they were returning from the theatre and now he seems guilty of the death of his wife and wouldn’t be focused on his detective assignment and most especially when he’d lots of cases to deal with. Having to meet with Maggie was a bit of a twist to this narration. Maggi’s husband is missing and a nine year old son is nowhere to be found, also we have here Detective Daniel Graham whose wife is dead alongside an unborn child. The two cases bring to mind a close similarity when also bringing Samara’s ordeal with the Iraqi terrorist who abused her. It is of some sort a good threesome which was in a way related to each other in building up the plot in this story. If we’re to examine the cases of unborn child dead (Detective Graham), a missing child and husband (Maggie Conlin), and the case of Samara’s immediate family, one will think Rick Mofina did a good job. And now bringing Samara to the case, we can say categorically that the tension builds up well into a suspenseful fiction.

In writing a thriller and most especially a detective crime fiction, an author has got to know his or her onions well before diving into it. Having a good knowledge of crime and detective terminologies in analyzing causes of crimes, causalities and attack or even death makes crime fiction juicy and appealing to the eyes for reading. It makes every pages of the crime fiction stand out. In cases of wanting to uncover the secret to a crime committed, the author himself became the crime in question in order to get to the root of the matter. Rick’s inquisitive order of drawing on his hypothesis helped the mind of his reading audience get to understand the nature of certain casualties of crime committed. Without doubt, you will all agree with me that, questioning is all what detective operations is all about, and getting to the root of a story, case or crime, whichever is most appropriate, a detective’s mind has always been consciously programmed to ask questions. And here is what we have Rick Mofina establish in this six seconds of grueling but choice making Six seconds encounter with life and death when Graham was keeping records at the Tarvers campsite.

The beauty of this book lies in the author’s ability to take his reader on a precise journey, though that which they (readers) know not the destination. How? His unique use of words and the gradual unexpected unveiling of actions arrested the mind of the readers, leaving them to want to know what comes up next. You call that suspense right? Of course, it is.

In a nutshell, this work is a terrifying novel that cuts across a group of people, countries and continents. Six Seconds is a story of war, vengeance and terrorism. It explores terrorism in Iraq and its damaging affect on everyone involved from soldiers to terrorists to the innocent and the repercussions that are felt long afterwards. It is the story of painful loss, guilt and redemption sought by people who are worlds apart and separated by culture and personal beliefs. Do you want a rollercoaster –like a suspense thriller, and here you have it six seconds, a perfect prescription where your salivating reading pleasure is concerned.

Black Boy by Richard Wright

 

black-boy-1

 

Title:  Black Boy

Author: Richard Wright

Published by: Longman

Publication year: 1970

 

It would have been so good if Anne Moody waited for Richard before she got her book published two years before Richard published this title of his. Well, just a joke by the way. But then, I’ve only come to notice the close similarities between Richard’s Black Boy and Anne Moody’s Coming of Age in Mississippi.

The Black Boy sets in the black populated city of Mississippi where killing and lynching of Black folks was just the order of the day. The beautiful thing about this autobiographical account of Richard Wright’s life is the fact that, it holds close similarities with Anne Moody’s ‘Coming of age in Mississippi’. It is so much of an American story with imagery mostly related to America, (partly Africa, where the theme of suffering might just be concerned) Americans and might be so hard for one outside the United States to come to its full understanding.

In treating this book, lots of comparisons will be done relating Black boy by Richard Wright with Coming of age in Mississippi by Anne Moody. The initial chapters of this book preface on a ground of horror, pain, future uncertainty and feelings of sufferings where a black boy was made to know hardship at a time when he could hardly differentiate from his right to his left. The turns and consistent emotional torture meted on the black folks wherein he lives alongside abuse by the white bosses sets in young Richard a sense of coercion (even on real-life events and his thought) showing superiority to whites only, while the blacks remain at their (whites) mercy. The seed of coercion planted in Richard by several racial prejudicial happenings in his environment also becomes part of Richard. I ever wonder in the course of this autobiographical account, how a young teenage boy can put up courage and attempt stabbing or threatening an adult with knives.

Oppression and hostility on the black minority seem to be the order of the day thereby leading little Richard to learn to curse before he could read. Just as Anne Moody also had her own account, one can quite agree that severe hardship alongside ill-treatment was predominantly constant amongst the black folks in the early American days so much that the whites were treated with much reverence, while words from the black folks were meticulously selected when addressing them and even their young ones. The effect of several cases of ill-treatment on blacks soon becomes part of Richard’s subconscious when he naively thought; P.19 the white folks have got the right to beat Black kids, thus thinking that the right black parents have is only the parental.

The way children or youngsters will go arguably is dependent on the availability of their parent to foster learning and several teachings per time. In Richard’s case where his mother who ineffectively plays the role of the father became ill, Richard just had to live his life following his special ‘design’. Of course, you all will agree, these designs were never pleasant at all.

Racial prejudice which seems to be the main theme of this book stood gallantly still as far as the book is concerned. It was so much that Richard’s mum was stretched out of the hospital in a pretence to be lifeless and then to an ambulance. Reason being that, there wasn’t any hospital facility for the coloured people. Availability of better jobs, social amenities was also racially controlled such that the blacks were restricted from getting certain jobs. It even got so bad that blacks were not allowed to go borrow books. And at this point, I had a picture of how crazy racial discrimination could be. In her own write-up, Anne Moody gives insights on her personal experiences as well. In a portion of the book, she recounts how Negro students nursed fear on realising that there were a lot of white kids in some colleges they were going.

Richard alongside Anne Moody delves into exploring an autobiography right from their formative years up till when they both became an adult, thus narrating from a time when the readers could be cleverly carried along. The duo authors were brought to limelight due to their prolonged curiosity to know why the black minorities were deprived in partaking of the American dream. These might have just been the reason why Richard starts reading about several authors he came across in some of his reading times, authors who also had some of their articles opposing the Jim Crow’s laws. Anne also advocates for the right of the black folks by joining the NAACP movement which later translates into the Woolworth’s sit-in demonstration (that which gave her much popularity).

Even though Richard Wright was more focused on voicing out his opinion (which he never did at the end of the book) on the Jim Crow’s obnoxious rules via his literary skills, but then Anne took to the streets and challenged the ‘challengeable’ and becoming an orator and a strong activist who became part of a strong movement (alongside the likes of Medgar, Martin Luther King Jnr. and others) for the proclamation of the black’s right. Richard can be seen as the more curious type compared with Anne. He wants to know more, ask more, read more and see more of happenings which were not to the merit of the black folks.

After a vivid look into their personality, one can successfully determine the temperament of both authors. Of course, they’ve both got an element of being choleric. They are both given to asking questions and wanting to correct the obnoxious laws which restrict black’s right and was never in favour of the Black-Americans. Richard most especially did this until he was told to mind his business if he really wants to live and be successful. (Same was said to Anne moody, then she took a break from Canton to New Orleans).

Richard Wright’s black Boy is an  autobiographical account that projects the dealings of the white majority with the black minority in a country where equal rights were withheld, thus leading to a divided society pioneered by intentional hate for the poor black folks. It is yet another good book that tells the difference between being courageous to the rise of our countrymen and that which opens the eyes of the entire public to our historical heritage.

The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason

richest_man

 

Book title: The Richest Man in Babylon

Author: George S. Clason

Published by:  Signet non-fiction (Penguin groups)

Publication year: 1988

If you go by the title of this book and think this is one religious book, then you’re getting something wrong. Beautifully written introductory chapter. George Clason leads his readers on with the story of Bansir the chariot builder of Babylon, a man who desires to have enough money. And of course, his story and his meeting with Kobbi the musician leads us into the real contest and on whose Character the book was written.

‘Being as you know, the son of a humble merchant, one of a large family with no hope of an inheritance, and not being endowed, as you have so frankly said, with superior powers or wisdom, I decided that If I was to achieve what I desired, time and study would be required…’ This happens to be in the words of Arkad, the richest man in Babylon. The author made most use of ancient Babylonian proverbial saying alongside stunning storyline and something kind of cinematic mental picturing to pass across his message. At the extreme end, of the last paragraph on [Pg 17] a friend of Arkad said he was fortunate for being that successful after he was made heir to Algamish’s fortune. And I tell you has become a popular saying about success in this present age, nothing of such is being fortunate. When you have the desire to succeed and you work hard, definitely success has to be the end result. Just exactly Arkad’s response to him.

The use of various archaic English phrases spurs up a special urge in me to read more. Reading a text like this brings famous writer, William Shakespeare to life. Who knows, it might probably be one of those rare reasons why this book hit the bestsellers record, though the fact that it deals severely with the subject of appropriate judicious use of money draws up the enormous acceptance its sales has been enjoying over the years.

It definitely can’t be far-fetch that one good acceptability this book also enjoys from its numerous readers is the author’s ability to drive down a good narration with a compelling story of finances, and of course, the story of the richest man in Babylon which most especially raises the anxious expectations of its readers.

This inspirational classic conveys through ancient Babylonian parables owes much to the thrifty and several financial successes of ancient Babylonian merchants dating back to about 8000 years ago. This book which was first released in a pamphlet with the title just the same with this book quickly wins for itself the world acclamation amongst individual, banks and insurance companies in 1926 and I can shock you, it is still winning till now. It is a book one’s generation need read, another yet good historical book civilization owes much.

 

Things fall Apart

Book title : Things fall Apart

Author: Chinua Achebe

Published by: Heinemann publishers

Publication year: First Published 1958

things fall apart

After reading Things fall apart by one of Nigeria’s renown writer, I got to understand the two intertwining stories Chinua Achebe told with ease. The first which centers
around Okonkwo, a “strong man” belonging to an Igbo (Ibo) ancestry in eastern part of Nigeria and the second, the missionary movement in the ancient village of Umuofia. The first of this story traces Okonkwo’s fall from grace with the tribal world in which he lives, and in its classical and economical beauty it provides us with a powerful fable about the immemorial conflict between the individual and society. The second story, which is as modern as the first is ancient, and which elevates the book to a tragic plane, concerns the clash of cultures and the destruction of Okonkwo’s world through the
arrival of aggressive, proselytizing European missionaries which wouldn’t co-relate with certain ritual prone traditional practices in Umuofia. These two sagas perfectly harmonizes, an awareness capable of gathering at once a rural native life, nature expectations and the mysterious compulsions of the soul.

This is one book of several contrasts I have ever read. It brings in a story, the marriage of colonialism, native culture, animism and Christianity. Masculinity was also never exempted. The author brings it more in the quest to showcase Okonkwo’s manly ego over the women folks.

 Achebe did justice to this character by epitomizing Okonkwo who is the most intriguing character in this African fiction for an abusive, misogynist, who has little patience for the weak, and perhaps his over-ambitious nature. Despite all his faults, his struggles to uphold the traditional practices of his people. But it’s still possible to cast an iota of pity on him after his valiant displays of a true descendant of his ancestors even up to the point of death.

Achebe did brilliantly in this work of fiction by cleverly driving home his story-line with the right visuals and loads of African proverbs in his reservoir of knowledge, no wonder the Europeans got to understand him better on the basis of his clever use of words. I though stand to be corrected, but I’m of the opinion that, no other book of history summarizes the pre-colonial ways, tradition and culture of the Ibo descent and even Africa like Things Fall apart does. Chinua Achebe did justice to all you need to know in this masterpiece, no wonder the celebration of his death was enormous, second to none in the funeral history of his country.

Things Fall Apart is one good novel you need stock in your library and even if you’ve got it already, ain’t nothing bad in buying for someone else.

Brilliant Presentations by Richard Hall

 

Title: Brilliant Presentation

Author: Richard Hall

Publisher: Pearson Prentice Hall

Publication year: 2nd edition 2008

 

brilliant presentations

The main reason executives fails is not because they are slack at their duty post, not necessarily because they embezzles company’s fund, but because they are poor presenters.  Learning to do brilliant Presentation has often been the challenge encountered by top executives and I tell you folks, reading this masterpiece cooked and well spiced by Richard Hall makes a good eye opener into the nitty gritty of a brilliant presentation.

Richard Hall kicks off with the first chapter summarizing basically what presentation generally connotes. Stating five brilliant phrases every presenter ought to know, he uses the ‘fires’ acronym. Richard centered the ideology of this 182pages long book on three key factors.

The presenter

Presenter’s slides and

Audience.

The presenter. Here the author says the presentation is all about the presenter himself. He is the actor who is reaching forth for the stage and thus this demand him to familiarize himself with his slides and materials he needs for the success of his presentation. He further buttresses the need to control one’s nerves, voice and maintaining good body balance at each presentation opportunities. At this point in the book, he mentions some basic posture the presenter needs to maintain while he delivers his presentation.

Presenter’s Slides (PowerPoint). Just as spanners, wrench and bolts are tools essential for fixing breakdown machines, the presenter’s slides is also of necessity for an effective presentation. Here Richard brings to light the importance of giving the layout and designing of a presentation slides also referred to as PowerPoint slides, to a competent graphics professional who will add the appropriate colour needed to it with the fact that poor visuals slows everything down and it also registers as a first impression which cannot be corrected. Quoting from his brilliant tips, he says. If you care about your appearance, then you care about your slides.

Audience. Inability to know the audience you’re presenting to can really wash off several hours of painstaking preparation. Rehearsing like crazy and not coming to terms with the audience you’re presenting to can still make things go wrong. Citing an instance of a famous motivational speaker, the author makes things more clearer to his readers through an illustration of a motivational speaker who would never prepare well to know the audience he’s presenting to until he gets it flawed. And then the author corrects such action with his prevalent brilliant tip captions which helps resonates some of the key points in this book. He quotes.

Not only know your audience but also feel their feelings, needs and hopes.

Brilliant presentation by Richard Hall, happens to be the first book on presentation effectively written with all the nitty-gritty of visuals and compositions to portray ideas to an audience. Well I may be wrong by saying that, but it is the first book I ever read that drove home the point on how to deal with presentation related issues. Richard brought all necessary technique needed to drive home his point in this one, hereby making use of his predominant Brilliant tips which summarizes some of the most important points. Eureka! At last, final lasting solutions to sleepless nights of an anticipating presentation. With Brilliant presentation by Richard Hall I bet you it is show time. Of course a brilliant Presentation can be achieved via the candid analysis of a professional presenter who has wine, dine and shook hands with several large audiences and I can categorically tell you this book will change your articulation where presentation is concerned. Thank me later, probably with some Calamansi muffins and coffee (lol).

The Defence

the Defence 51kr-Vt65VL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_ (2)

 

Book title: The Defence

Author’s name: Steve Cavanagh

Published by: Orion Books

Publication year: 2015

Taking his reader all through suspenseful moments of Russian Mafia kidnapping and a forty-eight hours countdown to get a crime case acquitted got Eddie Flynn thinking outside the box. Eddie Flynn a formal con artist, who later became a lawyer, but it turned out the two weren’t that different as they both complement each other in the courtroom.

It’s been over a year since Eddie vowed never to set foot in a courtroom again after his six months suspension, but now he doesn’t have a choice but to represent a mobster who held his ten year old daughter hostage. Olek Volchek, the infamous head of the Russian mafia in New York, has strapped a bomb to Eddie’s back and kidnapped his ten-year-old
daughter Amy. Eddie only has 48 hours to defend Volchek in an impossible murder trial and win if wants to save his daughter.

Under the scrutiny of the media and the FBI, Eddie must use his razor-sharp wit and
every con-artist trick in the book to defend his ‘client’ and ensure Amy’s safety. And With the timer on his back ticking away, Eddie was given the option of either convincing the jury of his client’s innocence or losing his ten year old daughter Amy.

Steve got the chapters under close supervision, bringing the storyline delivery for the understanding of everyone even the lay man. The succinct use of various law terminologies, such as is obtainable in the courtroom today drove home the point and would explain  better what each move in the courtroom mean other than just using the conventional or the ambiguous English phrases.

This novel being a crime thriller, connotes serious work and then you’ve got it with Steve’s delivery of an almost ninety percent in-depth narration into Russian mafia illegal moves. You know, initially I’d thought I was reading a non-fictional biography of someone, not until I came back to myself.

Steve’s narrative technique was quite compelling with his delivery in the first person point of view. This helps encapsulate the mind of the reader into the heart of the story, hereby making them more immersed in it. The fact that Steve mostly represented his protagonist with the pronoun I, also made his readers to live in the story-line progression as well.

Though Steve made some chapters shorter than is traditionally expected in a Crime thriller, hereby expanding the chapters to extend to seventy two pages (guess he’s kind of managing his space, Lol…) Well, it wouldn’t make much meaning to any good reader who had enjoyed the suspenseful delivery of the various characterization in this piece and most especially the final turn of event for Eddie Flynn who triumphed at the end over his arch- enemy Arturas.

The defence was thoughtfully thought out by a good author who lived in the mind of a con artist, lawyer and at the same time mafia. A good book for everyone.