The few excerpts are enough. With Chief Bisi Akande’s MY PARTICIPATIONS, one doesn’t need to imagine the sting of a bee. The book stings like a bee.
A stinger book acts to type. It forces the dumb to speak and makes the eloquent stammer. ‘MY PARTICIPATIONS’ has stung many, forcing them out of their cocoons. That’s its objective. It doesn’t set out to be friendly. Its intention is to make its targets scurry out of their carapaces and fight, or accept all lettered blame with benign resignation.
Biographies and autobiographies are good but autobiographies are preferable. They have no room for denials. Authors take responsibility for every word and line. Literarily, autobiographies belong to a class of non-fiction. Every scene is real or presumably real. Even the author’s whims and caprices in judgements are considered real and true.
But is there any such book that is absolute in truth? An element of fiction surfaces occasionally. Verbosity, terseness, or outright silence on issues of special interest to the author debunks any possible claim of total truthfulness.
Every autobiography is a first-person narration. The author sees all; judges all; and sometimes accesses the recesses of people’s minds to know their thoughts and their next actions. The writer assumes the office of an omniscient narrator. He speaks with acclaimed infallibility. No pimples. No wrinkles. True? Does any such superhuman exist? If so, why the objections here and there then?
MY PARTICIPATIONS outclasses Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s MY COMMAND in controversy. Obj’s book dwells on Obj’s personal exploits in the military, strongly challenged by some of his contemporaries though. Akande’s book is exceptional. It transcends Akande himself, sometimes, to discuss other people outside Akande’s participation.
Every politician’s autobiography flouts the rules of autobiographies. Certainly for a purpose! Politicians go outside the jurisdiction of their book type and personal reach to pontificate. Funnily, such trespass enunciates the chunk of their stories and entertains readers.
Unarguably, Chief Akande’s book is a good gift to Nigeria at this hour. It has stirred up a hornet’s nest. Its greater side is about the reactions to its contents. But one big spot too soon! Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and not Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, founded Afenifere as shown in a pictorial post on social media yesterday. Akande’s book gave Afenifere’s founding to Tinubu. Just proof that no one book can tell it all as it was.
Dele Omojuyigbe is a lecturer with the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ), Ogba, Ikeja.