TITLE OF BOOK: Yellow-Yellow
AUTHOR: Kaine Agary
COUNTRY PUBLISHED: Nigeria
YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 2006
NUMBER OF PAGES: 179
BOOK REVIEWER: Mof’Oluwawo O MojolaOluwa
Zilayefa, a young girl of mixed parentage battles with social, economic and environmental factors on her journey to self discovery. She has to make several choices, most of which will either make or mar her. ‘Yellow-Yellow’ is an expository work of fiction on the oil boom of the seventies and its socio-economic implications on the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, amongst other things, as related from a young girl’s perspective.
Kaine Agary, the author grew up in Port Harcourt Nigeria and now lives in Lagos where she’s the editor of TAKAii magazine. Yellow-Yellow is her first work of fiction.
Using the first person narrative technique, the book chronicles Zilayefa’s journey from her oil ravaged village in Bayelsa to the city of and more importantly, into womanhood. She transits from the village to the capital city of Port Harcourt, from poverty into wealth, from a state of near hopelessness and a future so bleak into a world of opportunities. How will she fare? Will she make the most of this golden chance and have her dreams come through or will she make a mess of her new status for want and lack of focus and direction?
The book explores such themes as racial prejudices, social strata, power play, economic injustice, dictatorship, prostitution, single parenting, ethnic conflicts, rural/urban migration and youth restiveness in the Niger Delta amongst others. The thirteen chaptered, one hundred and seventy nine (179) paged affair offers an insight into the insecurities encountered by children of mixed parentage.
Yellow-Yellow, as Zilayefa is fondly called by all and sundry, a name originating from her complexion, the result of being sired by a Greek father and Nigerian mother; has to battle with the stigma of being neither here nor there, being mixed, and more so not growing up to know her father. She finds solace partly in Sisi, her guardian in the city, a product of similar parentage, and turns to Admiral, a man old enough to be her father, for the comfort and affection of an older man not found in her father, and perhaps, for much more.
On a closer look, one discovers that Zilayefa is not merely a fictional character, the product of the author’s imagination, but in fact, every girl at the crossroads into womanhood, wondering which way to turn; every innocent child resulting from complicated adult relations, trying so hard to piece together scraps of her origin while wondering what to make of her present and future, she’s every young girl suddenly thrust into a life not exactly as they imagined it, trying to find balance, she’s every girl grasping at anything and everything their hands can find in a bid to solve the coming of age puzzle…
As humans, we often wish for a higher station and a better life, endlessly imagining the great and mighty things we could achieve should our dreams come true. The truth is; many like Zilayefa would most likely end up confused and distracted when presented the opportunity much sought after.
Moreover, the book elucidates on the struggle in the Niger Delta, something which began as a demand for respite from the hardships inflicted on the region and its people by the activities of the oil companies, chief of which is oil spillage; before gradually turning into machinery for extortion and violence.
Worthy of note also is the fact that, unlike the usual play out whereby the hero or heroine leaves the village for the city in search of greener pastures with the principal aim of getting a formal education, Yellow is not too particular about getting an education and assumes a laissez-faire attitude to school in general. Even the overt support of her guardians and older lover towards this end mean little or nothing to her and by the time she realizes her folly, it is almost too late.
The book is an easy read, a successful attempt at giving the Niger Delta narrative a human (feminine) face and voice. The detailed fluency with which the plot unfolds tells of extensive research and the unpretending simplicity in the narrator’s tone and diction is just as is expected of a girl of Zilayefa’s class and station. It boasts of vivid descriptions and a finely woven plot line. A tasteful work of fiction to say the least.