The Conspiracy Theory in Othuke Ominiabohs “A Conspiracy of Ravens”
Title of Book: A Conspiracy of Ravens
Name of Author: Othuke Ominiabohs
Genre: Thriller (fiction)
Publishers: TND Press
Year of Publication: 2016
Reviewer: Salamatu Sule
Othuke Ominiabohs ‘A Conspiracy of Ravens’ is a political thriller and a work of fiction. The book exposes the present cause and developments of events that can be said to be spinoffs from the Nigerian Civil War which by the way now breeds militancy and insurgency in the South of the Niger Delta and the North East of Nigeria.
The novel consists of forty five chapters with a prologue and epilogue totaling four hundred and one pages. It is set in the rich oil producing Niger Delta with coordinated actions in other areas like Abuja, Enugu, Warri and Kano.
A Conspiracy of Ravens is a serious book that thrills and poignantly raises questions about the consistent political chaos, kidnappings, environmental degradation and the attendant social depravities because of corruption, both of which are internal and external. It is a story of the ‘great paradox’ that is tied around each of the characters in the novel.
The author tries to establish the connection between the activities of the power brokers of the Niger Delta and their use of the degradation of the Niger Delta to mobilise and arm the militants so as to use them as a bargaining chip in the politics of Nigeria to enrich themselves.
The author, using the conspiracy theory, raises the possibility of the isolated incidence in the Niger Delta, the Boko Haram insurgency in the North east and the resurgence of the agitation for the sovereign state of Biafra as a coordinated act by a particular group of people to achieve a specific aims which may be detrimental to the nation. The acts may be just a distraction towards achieving a certain purpose.
While we may not agree with the author about the use of the conspiracy theory, the chain of events can also be said to be too much for a coincidence. The book brings together people of diverse backgrounds who are linked to a single objective for different reasons.
Tari Kamasuede, leader of the Niger Delta militia group, is bent on liberating his people from the long suffering caused by environmental degradation as a result of the activities of the multinational oil exploration and drilling companies and the neglect of the people by the government. The inability of the government to establish industries and provide infrastructures like road, schools and hospitals has led to a great suffering as agriculture and fishing, which by and large is the main source of livelihood, is been consistently destroyed by the activities of the oil companies. But unknown to him, Tari is just a pawn in a high class game of political chess. By the time he discovers, the odds were against him.
“I fight for justice”. Tari rose. “And this is the only way the government will listen to us”. (ACOR: Pg. 303)
“Then he remembered the phone call he had overhead in the chief’s house:
Of course Frank, we can always recruit fresh militants. There are hungry youths all over” the Niger Delta youth would carry arms for a dime. We will make an army of youth to fight in the coming war”
Shamsudeen, the Boko Haram leader, also thinks that his actions are independent in the cause and defense of his religion. Unknown to him, he is being used as a tool of distraction towards achieving the goals of his sponsors which did not tally with his own objectives.
I want the same thing as you want, but with a little modification and some sense of expediency, said the Voice. (ACOR: Pg. 23)
The Fixer thinks he has everyone under his watch and control but soon misses it when he could not stop the Operation Ravens from taking place and save his grandson. If only he knows the vulture is not a faithful bird after all.
“He had failed. He had tried to call off the attack on the creeks and he failed. He still couldn’t reach the Niger Delta chiefs. All attempts to reach Tari proved abortive. His pilot was unavailable”. (ACOR: Pg. 371)
The author’s build of complex characters is flawless. The crafting of Taris flaws and virtues as well as the quest for survival makes the book all engaging. Friends becoming enemies is another very striking aspect of A Conspiracy of Ravens.
Tari Kamasoude, Rasheed and the Fixer, while imaginary characters in A Conspiracy of Ravens, each of the characters above are a reflection of the personality straddling the Nigerian political space. The fact that each of them is pursuing a different objective, they have never hesitated to manipulate and exploit one another’s situation to their own advantage. Like the Ravens, the characters are all sharp witted and are preying on each other.
ACOR discusses series of thematic issues; from trust to family ties, betrayal, deceit and retribution.
While history is like an old wine that is preserved to be sweetened, Ominiabohs in this book tries to dabble into instant history, recording a fatal end for everyone while the question of the causality of events especially that of Boko Haram is still much of a contention today.
The chronology of events and the speed with which they occur may look coincidental, but sometimes human beings tend to miss the obvious by overlooking isolated incidences that may be the missing links in grand conspiracies.
Readers can very much agree that the events in this book are too striking to be ignored. Did the author score a point after all?
In other news, Othuke Ominiabohs will be in East Africa from November 30 – December 2. Details shortly.
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