REVIEW: THE FUNERAL DID NOT END

TFDNE_cover3Title: The Funeral Did Not End 

Author: Sylva Nze Ifedigbo

Publisher: DADA Books (299pp)

Year of Publication: 2012

Reviewer: Oluseun Onigbinde

 

Regardless of the fanfare that surrounds a funeral ceremony, there lies a short span of despair as the body is lowered in the pit and the diggers quickly shovel in the sand. Few would ponder on the loneliness of the grave that leaves humans to account for their lives. Also behind aggrieved minds of the omo oloku lies the crucible of culture that stimulates you to expend all in the memory of the dead. The ghosts still loafs around; those bowls of boiling meat put them to rest. To those who ground their bank account to the red to please a heartthrob, announce the elusive bouncing baby boy or put a grandfather in his tomb, it’s an unending event. For the journeymen, the satellite-scarved women, the hungry neighbourhood that had a decent meal or the well-wishers that left with souvenirs, it all ended in their imagination.

 

But it bursts beyond the imaginary finishing line for the bereaved as the cooking pots are now empty, the creditor gives a hurried knock, the child slowly walks back to school in patched shorts and the shelves in the shop appear dusty.  Despair could set in days, months or even years later, just as Mmesi’s sister realized that his father was wrong to have taken quick revenge after lunch on a Good Friday afternoon.

 

The Funeral Did Not End (TFDNE) is a compilation of twenty short stories whose abrupt nature reveals the quickening span of its classification. Typical of an Olympian in the finals of archery, Nze majestically picks arrows and lets it loose at the bull’s-eye of our contemporary society. The 299-page book reveals a sombre perspective of all we ever knew but the minute details of which we skipped in our rush to know. Underlined in the stories are phrases that reveal a failing society who intelligentsia trade marks for their lust and whose politicians, in their waking hours, plunder the treasure of the commons.

 

One’s spirit sinks and rises on the trigger happy policeman who wastes lead on citizens or the reign of sycophancy in our political class that takes advantage of an unlettered grassroots. One feels how criminals cloaked as agitators run the creeks with guts and guns and the hypocrisy of religion that makes assumed chastity of melodious choristers a costly one. Like we read in tabloids and find amusing in Teju Cole’s small fates, readers will reminiscences on how cultism aborts the dreams of young students and shiver at the burst of irrationality as brother murders his own blood.

 

Nze puts a mask on this account, preferring to refer to the PDP [People’s Democratic Party] as ‘Fi-Di-Fii’—but shows genuine courage in how he lays it all bare. Rather than bringing us into the complex narratives or timescales that span years and decades, like a shrewd stockbroker, he shorts the story. With a mix of dry humour, TFDNE puts a thin stitch on the deep scars of the society.  

 

Though published with support of Federal Government’s YouWin programme, Nze didn’t put an expedient gloss on his stories. Not only does it have the best print in town, this book is stringed from paint store of words and brings up both memories of everyday living and the unknown accounts of the other side in the vibrant detail of words.

 

A recommended read for all.

 

 

Oluseun Onigbinde, an Engineer by training, leads BudgIT (Nigeria’s public data visualisation start-up). He is a recipient of the 2012 Future Awards for Innovation and Ashoka Fellowship for Social Entrepreneurs.

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