Book: Hands of Destiny
Author: Anaduaka Christopher Chikeluba
Publisher: Thermac Press, Enugu
Reviewer: Adjekpagbon Blessed Mudiaga
Anaduaka Chikeluba’s ‘Hands of Destiny’ is a novella replete with very entertaining and enlightening issues about the Igbo traditionalmarriage culture in the South-East of Nigeria, coupled with some sociological activities. The 66-page book reminds the reader about Chinua Achebe’s Chike and the River and Cyprian Ekwensi’s
The Burning Grass, though it is far smaller in size compared to Ekwensi’s book. The story is about a lad, Ikenna Ubaka, who is an orphan. His uncle, Mazi Offor, like many Nigerian relatives, collects the entire belongings of Ikenna’s late father, leaving him and his poor widowed mother empty and bitter. With expression such as, “…
He was lying on his wooden bed…,” in the first page of the novella, Chikeluba weaves a tale of woes that runs through a linear plot with dichotomy of settings that starts from Amafor, a south-eastern Nigerian village and culminates in the south-west city of Lagos.
The author paints a canvass of sufferings Ikenna goes through in Amafor before his eventual relocation to Lagos. Hoping to be successful as soon as he enters Lagos, Ikenna’s hope is dashed as realities on ground hit him in the face.
This excerpt aptly describes the scenario he finds on ground as he arrives the city: “The first week in Lagos was very hectic for Ikenna as he had to put up in his friend’s apartment until he found a job to fend for himself.” Even after securing a sales boy job, Ikenna’s woes increases as he is wrongfully accused of stealing, and sentenced to jail for three years.
This is as a result of jealousy from his co-workers because of the comand punctuality at work. One of his colleagues, Mfon, sets him up by stealing money from a security safe only Ikenna and his boss has access to. Hence, Ikenna goes to jail.
The author takes the reader through labyrinth of difficulties and disappointments Ikenna encounters as he is dealt with by hardened criminals in Kirikiri prison. His resolve to hold fast to his faith in God’s power to overcome any challenge, gives him many reasons to hope for a better future, his incarceration notwithstanding. He becomes a preacher in the prison compound and well known as a servant of God.
However, Mfon, his antagonist at his former place of work, continues to steal his employer’s company’s engine parts after Ikenna has been set to jail.
Ikenna is freed after serving his jail term, and leaves for his village Amafor, where he starts a new business through sheer determination to succeed and put his detractors especially his notorious uncle, Mazi Offor, to shame.
Offor and Mfon, though does not know each other, they serve as the antagonists in the story line. Mfon is caught later with his robbery gang during in a burglary operation which resulted in a gun dwell between him and some policemen enlisted by his employer to guide Nduco Mills, where he works. After Mfon confession that he perpetrated the theft leveled against Ikenna which he went to jail for, the first twist in the plot is when Chief Ndukwe, Ikenna’s former boss sends for him to come back to Lagos to re-occupy his sales-man job at Nduco Mills in Lagos.
A further twist comes to the fore in the plot, when Linda, Ikenna’s girlfriend who travelled outside Nigeria to study before he went to jail, returns to the country and discovers that Ikenna is her father’s employee. Chief Ndukwe and his wife are perplexed by this development but supports the rebirth of their daughter’s relationship with him. He proposes to marry her and she agrees.
At this juncture, the author throws light on how traditional marriage is done in Igbo land as the following excerpt testifies: “The traditional marriage took place at the bride’s place, Amichi, in Anambra State. The occasion started by welcoming the suitor and his entourage. Linda was given a cup of palm wine and told to go and give it to whomever she had decided to spend the rest of her life with …”
One common feature that runs through the story is Chikeluba’s intermittent chipping in of Igbo language idioms to spice the story. The author did a good job by translating such vernacular to English for easy comprehension and enjoyment by the reader. Despite the very weighty issues the book raises, one cannot help but giggle at some jokes common place in the plot, in likeness of Chinua Achebe’s weighty but humorous style of writing.
The book is a pointer to the fact that no matter the challenges one faces in life, one’s destiny must come to fulfillment as long as one holds fast to faith in God.