Book Review: The Gods of My Parents By Olansile Ajetunmobi Umar


    THE GODS OF MY PARENTS is the first novel ever published by Dijemi Sodeke, a trained journalist and language educationist. The book, which contains five chapters and dedicated to the novelist’s mum, was published this year in America by Tolubooks. Chapter 1 of the 109-paged novel is titled MY LIFE; chapter 2, MY SCHOOL; chapter 3, MY CONGLOMERATE; chapter 4, MY FATE and chapter 5, MY DREAM.

    The novel begins with the story of Bayo (the protagonist), a focussed lad who gets his inspiration from his religious mum. As the story progresses, Dimeji Sodeke raises a philosophical question on the link between religion and science. In fact, the first chapter chronicles several sub-plots carefully woven round the chapter’s central theme- life is not a bed of roses.

    The author raises very important and current social issues in our society. Is it how Bayo was raised by single mum right from age 3? Is it how he was turned down by his principled mum when he desired to become a rap artiste? Or is it how he had to subject his choice of career to Divine guidance? Or is it how Bayo’s positive orientation enabled him to distance himself from the street hawks of Lagos?

    Relating these philosophical eye-openers to our society, one will conclude that Sodeke communicates to us as if he were an African oracle! For instance, the plights of single mothers are countless; youths now hardly promote academics, entertainment has become their new point of call. Surely, chapter 1 of his debut shows us that the role of a mother in a child’s life is indispensable- she makes or mars the future of her child/children just like Ben Carson’s illiterate mum handled Carson before he became one of the most successful neuro-surgeon in the history of man.

    Bayo’s story remains hanging if one fails to recognise Nkechi, a brilliant and religious Igbo lady he fell in love with in the university. Their union, though was frowned at by Bayo’s mother initially, is just like the cliché among the Yorubas that “Eni t’o n wa’ya t’o n rin wayawaya pade eni t’on wo’ko to n rin wokowoko, gege se gege- a wanderer bachelor meeting a wanderer spinster is like a predestined meeting.” However, Bayo, Nkechi and Bayo’s mum soon become worried as a result of the latter’s scary dream – the ancestral belief has to be obeyed! Isn’t this a taboo for the born-again Christian family of Bayo? In fact, the scene raises another philosophical belief about an African traditional culture- generational worship of gods and deities.

    In chapter 2- My School-, the novelist succinctly takes us on a journey to Bayo’s university, the kinds of socialization his fellow students romanced with, and the movement his co-friends formed- CIA! In order to show how important Nkechi is to him, Bayo flashes back to the special day he met his special half, Nkechi- it was in a garden where he went to compose a poem due for submission the next day, having developed ‘writer’s block’ in his hostel that day.

    Frankly, the setting and the actions in this chapter are true pictures of how life operates on our campuses.
    What is CIA? What brought the idea of CIA? Who are the founders? How does this movement of like-minds really operate? Is it a cult group? Is it a group of ‘Aristo babes’ or what gan-an? How were members of CIA treated by all and sundry on campus and off campus? Was the movement later hijacked? Chapter 3 is where you can get satisfactory answers to the interesting questions.

    Moreover, the kind of suspense, imageries and diction Dimeji Sodeke employs in chapter 4, “My Fate” show that he is a creative writer of substance. In fact, I put myself in the shoes of Bayo, Nkechi and Musa et al when a tragedy struck the passengers of the bus they were boarding to the NYSC orientation camp. You desire to know about the tragedy? Read page 80 to 96! What happened to Bayo, Nkechi and Musa after the tragedy? Did they escape being slaughtered like rams by the mysterious bald-headed men? Did Bayo finally know the genesis of the gods of his parents? You get a glimpse of all these when you have a copy of THE GODS OF MY PARENTS.

    At this juncture, it is a common saying that every sane man has a dream, but the method and the resources used in achieving that dream differ. Bayo has a dream, and really, his dream is one of nationalism, revolution and change! When you read the novel, you will clearly understand Bayo’s dream and the method and resources he employed with a view to achieving the dream.

    Before I conclude this review, I need to briefly highlight the themes of this wonderful novel. One, unity and love in multi-ethnic and multi-religious setting bring the desired growth and development. Two, waging war against corruption and other social and moral ills in our society demands our collective effort. Three, there is a strong connection between prayers and man’s predicaments. Four, those who fight injustice are not necessarily known to the public; at times, they are silent fighters. The list is a continuum!

    Finally, did Bayo and his mum bow to the spiritual pressure of revisiting the deities of Bayo’s father’s ancestry? Who are really the gods of Bayo’s parents? Did Nkechi and Bayo finally marry each other? Did the bad dream Bayo’s mother have come to reality? To answer these posers satisfactorily, you need to get a copy of THE GODS OF MY PARENTS now! You can get your original copy at Glendora Bookstore, Ikeja City Mall, Lagos State; FOLABOOKSTORE, Isabo, Abeokuta, Ogun State and The BookSellers, Jericho, Ibadan, Oyo State. A copy goes for #1,500. Trust me, you will get value for your money!

    Olansile Ajetunmobi Umar (OAU)
    Sunday 25th November, 2018 (12:21a.m.)