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In the Jaws of Love, Ridge Maker and other stories



In the Jaws of Love, Ridge Maker and other stories

Book:        Why Women Won’t Make It To Heaven
Author:        Dul Johnson
Publisher: Kraft Books Limited, Ibadan
Pages:           176
Reviewer: Adjekpagbon Blessed Mudiaga

Dul Johnson is no doubt a very entertaining person to those who know him one-on-one, like the reviewer of this book. Though very jovial, he is a down to earth person who expresses his opinion about salient issues happening in the world.

His 10-novella anthology with a cover title “Why Women Won’t Make It To Heaven” is as entertaining and satirical about various occurrences in human society and history. Most of the stories’ settings are based in Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria. Apart from the aforementioned cover story, other stories in the collection include; ‘In the Jaws of Love’; ‘Tango and Blues’; ‘The Gift’; ‘Laughing in Sadness’; ‘Sour Dregs’; ‘The Ridge Maker’; ‘Game Up’; ‘The Wedding’; and ‘Brother Joseph’ respectively.

The cover story is a satire about women’s tendency of always delaying their spouses when preparing to attend any event. They are always fond of wanting to look their best and waste much time looking at the mirror over and over again. Their inability to choose the right cloth or dress, wig, scarf, lip stick and perfume to wear to any occasion receives the author’s scorching remarks. Hence, Mr. Changara Plank, the central character in the story makes a bonfire of his wife’s wigs while telling his children that: “This is the reason women won’t make it to heaven…” and at the same time tells God that: “They will want to carry the world, the whole world with them and that will weigh them down. They will be so confused even about how to appear before you, and in all that waste of time the rest of us will rapture and be gone long before they know it.”

‘In the Jaws of Love’ tells a story about how some people allow differences in religious denomination to kill their natural love for one another. Nanfa, who is a Christian, and Safiya a Muslim lady, are in love with each other, but were almost torn apart by Nanfa’s pastor’s religious bigotry. But at last the true love they have for each other breaks the religion barrier of their relationship, as each of them burned inside with desire for each other. However, their passion for each other is settled as the author says: “What they felt then, were the tremors from their sweltering skins that now stuck together like grafted branches- both lost, almost to eternity.”

‘Tango and Blues’ and ‘The Gift’ have a somewhat similar message about men who engage in extra-marital affairs and the children they have outside without their legal wives knowledge. The consequences of such acts are well captured in ‘The Gift’ where the central character, Mamfa is almost killed by his wife for betraying her.

However, ‘Laughing in Sadness’ aptly captures the sad realities of religious crises and common suspicion that have been going on for decades in the northern part of Nigeria. It is a story every concerned Nigerian should read for enlightenment about how to overcome the demonic spirit of religious fanaticism.
‘Sour Dregs’ is a swipe at praise singers who worship politicians in order to get one or multiple favours from them. Just as politicians use the electorate and dump them, so some praise singers use politicians and dump them after getting what they needed.

‘The Ridge Maker’ is about a lady, Onidiri who practices Christianity, Islam and African traditional religions simultaneously. Nobody seems to be able to provoke her to divulge her secrets. She is like the proverbial peacock that buries her ears in the sand always to avoid hearing words of provocation. The story underscores the magical power of silence, which makes it impossible for people to know ones mind despite great incitement to anger.

‘Game Up’ is a very good piece that prescribes solution for political dishonesty among many Nigerian politicians, as Abraham the central character in the plot is seriously flogged and beaten by members of his constituency for failing to fulfill his electoral promises, while gallivanting with cheap ladies to the detriment of his wife. Describing how Abraham was beaten, Dul the author says: “The first whip landed cutting into his thick flesh. His buttocks trembled… The second stroke fell across his waist, tearing flesh again…the echo of his voice rolled in the early morning air, scaring sleeping birds out of their nests. The combined blows from Janko and Bobo henceforth fell rhythmically as if they had rehearsed the action for weeks.”

‘The Wedding’ is a piece where the author depict himself, Dul Johnson, as the central character and bridegroom, confronts the reader with challenges of organising a wedding ceremony. The positive side of women comes to the fore in this story as two women serve as MC, after the original MC, a man disappoints the bridegroom.
The most hilarious story in the collection is titled ‘Brother Joseph.’ It satirizes some jobless people in the society who have become by-force pastors and prayer warriors just to make ends meet, as Joseph who claims to be a pastor is not really a pastor but looking for job. Dul’s narrative style is quite suspenseful. Most of the stories are laced with powerful figures of speech that any lover of enthralling figurative spices would certainly enjoy.

The diction is simple and has a communal coloration. However, some minor typos were noticed in the contents, but they do not in any way negatively affect the messages therein.

Dr. Dul Johnson, is a filmmaker, creative writer, literary critic and film scholar.

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