Ogbuefi — Endless Chase by Henry Chikwuji Edebeatu
In a small and underdeveloped town in the area of Nigeria, Olise has but one desire and that is to claim the ancient and prestigious Ogbuefi title. Very few men aspire to this position since, as farmers struggling to make ends meet, the title requires that a man is “financially capable of providing as many cows as possible for his clansmen to dine and wine with him.” Regardless, Olise pursues his dream at the expense of his wife and children, even though there have been a handful of mysterious Ogbuefi deaths. The situation becomes convoluted when an Ogbuefi and his wife are viciously murdered and the perpetrators are still at large. Henry Edebeatu shed’s light on a traditional African society in his moral-to-the-story themed debut novel. Narrated by Akala, Olise’s son, Edbeatu portrays a teen who is not only describing a series of events that take place in his local hamlet, but also recognizes the foolishness of leaders whose unfortunate ruling powers hurt more than help the townspeople. While Edbeatu’s plot is set in a small town in the Niger Delta, it could easily represent many other African countries since, as Edbeautu poignantly points out, “it spells out simply and without ambiguity, the plights of some individuals, who because of traditions and superstitions beliefs, suffer untold hardship in their quest to rise to the top, in order to massage personal ego and satisfy vain human ends.”
Edebeatu’s narrative reads like a folktale. Characters are lightly developed and plot focus is placed on cultural aspects of a Nigerian community that are replete with daily routines, burial rites, proper salutations, as well as a flurry of African idioms—to name a few. Because of the heavy cultural attention, the nuances of traditions steeped in a patriarchal society may be lost in translation. Obviously not earmarked to reach a wide audience, Ogbuefi—Endless Chase is nonetheless a perfect addition for African culture aficionados and to historical African literature collections!