Blurb “Four men from different corners of Nigerian society find their fates tied to one man: Yinka. Drawn by desperation to leave Nigeria, the men are drawn to Yinka – a self-styled consultant who acts as the front man for a powerful human trafficking syndicate. The men come from distinct corners of Nigeria’s society: Chidi and Donatus – two unemployed graduates; Haruna – a doctor who could not save his ailing mother; and Osahon – a fugitive seeking freedom from his past become entangled in Yinka’s world, as they seek a better life abroad.
‘My Mind Is No Longer Here’ tells the story of Chidi, Donatus, Haruna and Osahon – revealing their desperation that leads them to flee Nigeria. Osahon – a man who is haunted by a dark past, meets Donatus, a graduate obsessed with a single-minded resolve to be better than his father; Haruna, the doctor who could not save his mother and Chidi – an unemployed graduate who wants to become wealthy at any cost, find their worlds entangled with Yinka, the front man for ‘The Organisation’, Nigeria’s powerful drug and human trafficking syndicate. ‘My Mind Is No Longer Here’ is the story of a nation in the midst of decay, which leaves its citizens prey to unscrupulous vultures. This e-book reveals the story of men willing to risk it all in a bid to chase dreams which are beyond their reach.”
Dialogue Written in English with smatterings of Nigerian languages and Nigerian Pidgin. The dialogue is well-written and gives credence to the stories.
Themes Desire to Escape, Greed as Downfall, Power and Corruption, Ambition, Family, Fatalism and Despair Vs Action and Hope, Betrayal and Love.
Editing A few errors.
Plot Pushed by personal circumstances, four young men, Donatus, Osahon, Chidi and Haruna from different walks of life, living in Lagos have the same goal-to leave Nigeria for greener pastures abroad. Donatus works for a newspaper house that has been owing staff salaries for months while his boss, the owner gets conferred with a national honour, so he quits. Osahon has been running from the law for years after being implicated in a murder, he feels like his time is running out. Chidi has no hope of a job after graduation from university. Haruna has just buried his mum who died after a protracted illness and is filled with despair, he decides to find a better life elsewhere.
All four get introduced to Yinka, a member of a criminal organisation involved in drugs and people trafficking, who offers to help them achieve their goals to migrate to Germany. Preying on their desperation, Yinka entangles them in a web of people, drugs and sex trafficking. They soon realise they are getting more than they bargained for.
What worked? Narrated in the third person, the book tells the story of all five main characters, Yinka, Donatus, Haruna, Chidi and Osahon in alternating chapters. Each chapter tells each man’s story and how it intertwines with the others’ experiences. Even though it’s narrated in the third person, the focus on a different character in each chapter gives the impression that the story is being told from different first person POVs. This keeps the suspense going after we are introduced to the characters and helped with the pacing of the book.
The pace of the book starts off fast while introducing us to the different characters but soon slows down by the middle of the book. Sylva writes about different tribal cultures, pop culture and the Lagos scene. We get a glimpse into how dysfunctional the Nigerian society is as the story shines a spotlight on corruption within the police force and the daily average interactions of Nigerians. The book highlights the socio-economic challenges in Nigeria and its effect on the citizenry. It also touches on the influence of families and upbringing on the choices individuals make.
The story focuses on the ongoing concern about young people looking for ways to escape the hardship in the country and getting tangled up in undesirable situations. The book’s central theme seems to be how criminal organisations prey on desperate young men seeking a better life.
My Mind Is No Longer Here works because of how well it reflects Nigerian society but that is both a strength and a weakness. Sylva writes in a down-to-earth, easy to understand manner which makes reading the story a breeze. His descriptions of the scenes with backdrops brings the story to life.
What didn’t work?
Mo The implausibility that educated men would fall for such a simple and obvious scheme to get them to Germany…
I think having to narrate the views of five characters didn’t give enough room to explore their development.
The ending seemed rush and there’s the big fat loose end.
Lady B After reading this book, it felt like something was missing to make it a more compelling read. It was all too familiar.
Some scenes at the end were too convenient.
Number of pages 320.
Publisher Bahati Books.
Damage $6.03 on Kindle.