By Ayo Kehinde
Ibadan Book Club (IBC) has finished preparations to host the only surviving son of the late Yoruba literary sage, D.O. Fagunwa, Mr. Diipo Fagunwa on Sataurday February 27, 2021, in Ibadan, the capital of Oyo State.
A statement by Wole Adedoyin, one of the conveners of the reading said the event will take place at the Race Course Amphitheatre, Opposite Recreation Club, inside Adamasingba Stadium at noon.
Uncle Diipo, as fondly called by his fans, is a fantasy writer like his late dad. He is the founder and Chief Executive of Elderly Care and Support Services (ELCASUSE). He was formerly a lecturer in the Department of Continuing Education, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria.
Diipo Fagunwa is also the author of a book titled, “Ifewumi, the travails of Inulayewa”. He is going to read from the book.
BOOK REVIEW: “IFEWUMI, THE TRAVAILS OF INULAYEWA”
Reviewer: Tunde Fagbenle
The story of Ifewunmi the protagonist of Dipo Fagunwa’s new book, IFEWUNMI, is one long encyclopaedic narrative of life and man’s foils and foibles, dreams and ambitions, successes and failures, love and malevolence; and, at the end, the triumph of goodness and innocence over evil machinations and man’s inhumanity to man.
The story is long and winding because of Dipo’s ambitious attempt to cover almost all imaginable circumstances of life and their contradictions in his biblical preachment of values for the reader to borrow a leaf or two from.
Although written in English but the book is essentially Yoruba folklorist in an unmistakable voice of Dipo’s late father, the iconic pacesetting Yoruba author Chief D. O. Fagunwa of blessed memory.
Early in the book Dipo regales us with a eulogy to palm-wine reminiscent of the late dramatist, Kola Ogunmola’s Palm-wine Drinkard, that ran for 3 pages and ends with this ode:
“The friend of ages, the balmy drink of time
The lathery imbibe of generations to come
You have my respect.
Non-drinkers are simply suffering.”
Dipo continued: “Palm-wine was my best friend, but meat toasted my throat. Tilapia seduced my spirit but catfish was jealous because mackerel was around so I prostituted with stock-fish who pitched its tent with pepper-soup. If you saw me you would want to be my friend. I was in another world. I was happy, contented and fulfilled.”
Replete with English rendition of Yoruba poetry, proverbs, and parables, Dipo demonstrates his mastery of Yoruba language and competence at their narratives in the English language. Describing the mood on the day Oroowole (Ifewunmi’s father) died:
“It was a day sadness took over our lives and men looked morose
and spent; children cried and their parents wailed; women banged
their heads against walls and men rended their clothes in public.
Pets were sad and refused to eat; dogs could not bark, fish went
down the deep, chickens could not come home to roost and goats
of the neighbourhood walked around with their heads bowed in
sadness. They had lost their stubbornness. Everyone was sad and
it was not difficult to know that a nobleman had gone and a gem
was lost. That was the day the cock crowed after a great man, the
valiant hunter went to the wild but never returned and the elephant
hunter held his gun but could not fire. Oroowole travelled on that
day to the land beyond, a place of no return where elders meet and
mortals are not allowed to engage with them except in dreams.”
Such is the captivating, even if at times salacious, language of IFEWUNMI, story of a lovesick hero that traverses the world (his world) in search of his kidnapped lover who is under the evil spell of his deranged friend turned foresworn enemy who is on perpetual run with his captive in an unending chase full of breath taken misses and maddening ironies.
Dipo has showed himself a master of improvising names that depicts the character:
“I am Inulayewa, a native of Ilakose. My father, Olowo Igbo…
My mother was Itunu Okan. She was from the home of Inurere.
My mother’s elder sister was Itelorun the wife of Igbadun from
the homestead of Suuru…My grandfather was Ifoya, the husband
ofIfedaru from the home of Aibale Okan where Inunibini is the
head of the family. Ifedaru had two children for Ifoya. The first
was Olowo Ibinu who was the husband of Idamu Aye and the
second was Olowo Igbo who was my father…”
Such apronym technique dominates the story such that almost no single character bears a name that does not take from his or her personality. And so you have such names as Kogberegbe, Ilenikuwa, Idamuaye, Folafoko, Inudidun, Ajedubule, Inulayewa, Mojereife, Ahonnirowa, Ajokomande, Agabagebe-obirin, Oyeparapo, Imodotun, Ogbonsayeko, Ikaseyi, Esandetan, and so on and so forth. The names are deep Yoruba contrivances that thankfully for non-Yoruba speaking readers are translated (explained) in the glossary at the end of the book.
The story is an epic of the proportion of the Greek classic Hercules or D. O. Fagunwa’sIrinkerindoNinu Igbo Elegbeje. Indeed it is tempting to conclude that D.O is speaking from the grave through his son, Dipo, but in the English language.
Today’s book reading event promises to be an avenue of book and poetry reading, Spoken words, book sales and signing, networking with fellow book readers and writers across the nooks and crannies of Oyo State, the statement added.
Upcoming writers who have works in poetry, short stories and novels can also attend to read their works to fellow writers and readers. Membership forms and Certificate of Membership will be made available free of charge to the first timers.
Ibadan Book Club is an initiative of Society of Young Nigerian Writers. It was founded in 2011 by SYNW in order to contribute its own quota towards the growth and development of Reading Culture in Oyo State. Ibadan Book Club consists of group of people who get together, periodically meet to discuss the book they have read, and to exchange such books. The members of the club encourage each other, and learn to read with a critical awareness, articulating their opinions on a particular book with the others. Certain types of books not available or read receive attention through the book club.
Few of the publications published by Ibadan Book Club are: Olubadan Centenary Anthology: A Collection of Essays, Articles, Poems and Artworks in honour of Oba (Dr.) Samuel Odulana, Odugade 1, Voices from Oja Oba Market and lastly Senator Abiola Ajimobi: Memories, Dreams, Reflections of A Mind Always in Motion.