Genre Fiction: Thriller
Blurb “The desire to become a novelist suddenly seizes Justus Omoeko. He wants another title other than a journalist for which thousands know him. He is soon inspired by the story of a popular prophet in town and decides to write a thriller out of the dark patch that is the life of this renowned man of God, who has the Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Force, General Sani Idoti, as one of his clients. Prophet T.C. Jeremiah hits the jackpot when the military usurper in power recruits him to help ensure his longevity in office. Money begins to fall into his accounts as though he has a cash tree at the back of his house. But, the more money he makes, his family falls apart. He performs miracles. Yet, his ex-prostitute wife finds it hard to conceive.”
Dialogue Written in English and Nigerian Pidgin, the dialogue was sometimes, stilted and unnatural.
Themes Facing Darkness, Good vs Evil, Power and Corruption, Greed and Role of Religion.
Editing A few copy editing errors. Needed better substantive editing.
Plot Justus Omoeko, a journalist, writes a book about the shenanigans of a popular prophet in town, Prophet T. C. Jeremiah. Thereafter, he receives threats not to publish the book. Before he makes a decision on the threats, he becomes a political prisoner of a murderous regime.
This review contains spoilers. We review without spoilers but it’s almost impossible to do so for this book, hence the alert. May as well take advantage of Mo’s absence to do whatever I like (jk).
We usually split our reviews into “what worked” and “what didn’t work” but this is one time when those subheadings don’t work. So I’m just going to share my thoughts of both together.
In The Name of Our Father is narrated in the third person which is helpful to see the perspectives of all parties involved in the stories (there is a story within a story – Part I of the book is about Prophet T C Jeremiah and Part II is about Justus Omoeko, the journalist). Set in Nigeria under military rule in the 90s, it is the story of Alani, later known as Prophet T. C. Jeremiah who moves from a life of abject poverty to a well-known prophet of God following a series of unfortunate occurrences in his life.
The book chronicles the dark underworld of “pastorpreneurship,” and shines a spotlight behind the scenes of the miracles and flashy lifestyles of “men of god.” There is also the partly true, partly made-up story of the military rulers of the 90s, Ibrahim Babangida, who annulled the June 12, 1993 presidential election in Nigeria and Sani Abacha, who was Head of State for much of the story, and whose actions had a big impact on both main characters in the story, Prophet T. C Jeremiah and Justus Omoeko.
One thing which didn’t work for me was the names of the characters who were parallels for real-life characters in Nigeria’s history, Babangida, M. K. O. Abiola, Sani Abacha and Oladipo Diya. I don’t know if Olukorede was trying to make a statement by naming these characters with ridiculous sounding names.
I also think the substantive and copy editors did the author a great disservice, phrases such as; “surprise took over the prophet,” “as nightgown and boxers flew in the air, the world dissolved” to describe a sex scene and “she was neither too tall nor too short” to describe a character should not have made it to print. There were several similar cringe worthy phrases in the book. The editor also ought to have ensured the storytelling flowed better.
Some things were not clear in the story. Did the supernatural powers of the Brotherhood work or was everything just make believe and manipulation? I really couldn’t figure out which it was. One minute, Prophet Jeremiah was calling people fools for believing in his fake miracles, the next minute, he was complaining about the powers from the Brotherhood no longer being effective.
Some of what happened in the story seemed exaggerated and implausible, especially the deaths including multiple deaths in one family. The one thing which rang true was Justus Omoeko being arrested as a coup plotter for an opinion piece he wrote, “The Coming Coup,” even though the title was metaphorical. It was the type of dumb thing former, Head of State, Abacha, who was afraid of his own shadow would have done.
I think this would have been a compelling read but the storytelling let it down. Even for a debut book, the storytelling left much to be desired. The narration was choppy and attempts to introduce flowery writing just seemed forced and fell flat. There was no nuance in the story, Olukorede spelled everything out. Even the thoughts of the characters were in dialogue form. *cringe*
In the Name of Our Father is a reminder of Nigeria’s dark past and the dysfunction in all spheres of life the country. Sadly, most of the ills which the story highlights are still happening now, two decades later.
Number of pages 237.
Publisher Origami, an imprint of Parresia Publishers.
In The Name of Our Father is available on Amazon.
Have you read In the Name of Our Father? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.