Thursday, 3 March 2016

Summary Of Echoes Of Violence Written By Emeka J. Otagburuagu

I just recently finished reading this book and I was really impressed by the work and so I decided to summarize it for those who may want to read it too but can't get it. 
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          Echoes of violence by Emeka Otagburuagu, is a novel that reveals the ills of the society. The novel begins where the elders of Alaoma (the land of the rising sun) are having their meeting discussing on how to escape the humiliation and the provocation that their neighbours with whom they share common interest and destroy had put them into.
          Due to this great torture that the people of Alaoma receive from their neighbor, they now decide to fight for their freedom. They considered how their pregnant women and children were brutally massacred, and how millions of people were forced out of their homes, as the hospitals were filled with wounded victims. There was a decision that everyone should go to war in self defense.
          They declared war, everybody accepted the war by saying that “it is better to die for something than to live for nothing” this was their belief. Not so long they began to establish strategies on how to go for the war both military titise were involved to ensure adequate commitment of the people for it was said that “he who is surrounded by enemies must keep awake to safeguard his life.”
          Onyekwere the son of Chief Akoma who has just passed the school certificate examination and had just gotten admission into the higher school certificate course refusing to join the army group because of the fear of been killed in the war front, rather, he ran to his half brother’s house (Azuka) who is a prominent civil servant in Portharcourt. Indeed Azuka was a kind man and is admired for his simplicity. But it was unfortunate for Onyekwere; he did not find it easy with his brother’s wife (Omerenma). Omerenma is a kind of person that would do anything to control people and subdue them. Azuka was handled as a toy in the hands of his wife; he would do virtually anything his wife asks of him.

          The war has just begun; Onyekwere was still taking refuge in his brother’s house while waiting for their school to resume. Day after day, week after week, the war reports dominated the news item rather than when the school will resume. Onyekwere resolved that the only way out of the misery was to convince his brother to fix him in opportunities in the bank, ministries, food and information, research and production directorate because his brother is a well known man in Portharcourt. Onyekewre knowing the key to Azuka’s hearty revealed the plans to Omerenma his wife without knowing that it was his last stay in that house. Omerenma started calling him names, abusing both his parents, it was like someone sitting on a time bomb or key of gun powder which had been ignited by a single stick of match, Onyekwere wondered what could have caused the provocation. He never imagined Omerenma had such terrible grudge against him, he pleaded for what he knew nothing about but to no avail. Omerenma concluded that if he doesn’t leave the house, then she would leave it for him. She claimed she can’t be there and see him succeed.
           It was in the morning that Omerenma succeeded in her plans, for using accusation of rape against Onyekwere and he was sent packing/ he left the house and rested his hope on the adage that “when one way closes, another one opens”. As he was moving, he met his old friend Chinanu, and they exchanged pleasantries. Onyekwere was welcomed by Chinanu’s parents and he spent the night there. Onyekwere arrived at Azuka’s house in the morning but Azuka ordered him to leave his house and he tore the symbol of separation and flung the torn leaf into the air. Onyekwere now resolved and said “if the worst come to the worst, I will go home and stay with my aged parents”. Onyekwere went on three-day journey on foot he arrived Amoekpu on Friday he was welcome by his mother (Ugoeze) she was excited see her son. She saw how hollow and hungry Onyekwere was and went quickly prepare a meal for him. Onyekwere dealt with the food with military precision.
          Later in the evening his father (Akoma) returned then Onyekwere narrated his experiences to his father. The story was so shocking to him. Onyekwere stayed indoors throughout the day. His mother had gone to Nkwo market to sell some cassava and cocoa yam, after the sales she gave the money to Onyekwere to count. After counting he announced the amount which as Σ1500. Onyekwere was impressed by this boost which farmers seemed to enjoy. He started gardening after six week of his return from Portharcourt. But knowing well that farming is a difficult work, he resolved to trade but had no capital for it. He thought of a way to raise the money and went to his uncle (Nwaosuagu) and tabled his request for a loan. His uncle was keen in helping him but has not received his full salary since the war began but only gave him three shillings; he concluded that “half of bread is better than none” and left. On his way out he met his uncle’s wife who equally gave him Σ50.00 as her support for his self-employment initiatives. In addition, Ugoeze sold her plot of cassava farm as he had pleaded with her. It was sold at the price of Σ35,000.
          As a determined man, he apprenticed himself to one livestock dealer, Amadi. Everyday Onyekwere would wake up early to join the livestock traders. One day he had a quarrel with Amadi and Amadi decided to throw him out into the army: the conscription team came the first time but could not catch him, but when they came the second time before 12noon, they caught Onyekwere and was taken to the camp but later ran away. Onyekwere was later released with the help of Akoma and his friend. Akoma came home determined to have his revenge on Amadi which he later did and Amadi was killed.
          Onyekwere having survived the onslaught decided to join the red cross as it would be god assisting the military hospital or in refugee camp and kwashiorkor clinic. Immediately he went to meet Onyema one of the Red Cross officers in the community. He was given the job; he worked throughout the day helping the patients. He worked in this centre or eight weeks, during this time more refugees had come in to the community including Omerenma and her children because the town had been taken over by the enemy soldiers.
          Due to corruption in the camp, Onyekwere decided to disassociate himself from the camp. He opened a new refugee camp by himself through the food and resources from his mother he worked slowly but steadily at the idea. Indeed when he was starting the new camp, he had too many enemies and Omerenma was among the worst antics in this regard.
          One day Azuka came back with a letter of appointment for Onyekwere from one of the ministries, this idea was just to silence Onyekwere, without knowing it was just a stepping stone. Onyekwere rejected the job but after a little persuasion from his father, he accepted it with the idea of combining the two jobs. First he was posted to Umula on Monday but after two weeks he was served a letter transferring him to Nchara. Nchara which seems like the war front, there were no electricity nor good road, his father encouraged him to accept the transfer and move on. On arrival there he met a young man called Ikechi; Onyekwere saw this man as a co-sufferer and offered to help him. Ikechi had just been discharged from the hospital after undergoing a surgical operation; Onyekwere played the role of a houseboy and assisted him on his sick bed.
          As time went on they got a contract of five million pounds to supply live stocks to the depot but how would they execute the contract without been conscripted when going to the market. So they bought the idea of inviting their neighbour’s wife, Esther as their purchasing and supply agent. They called on Esther and she gave in to the idea even her husband. Esther was to begin the supply the next day. She was given one thousand pounds for two goats. The trip was successful; she bought the goat and some fish and supplied them to S & T depot.
          Onyekwere went to collect the approved invoice for the supply and the cheque, he collected a cheque of Σ100,000.00. He was astonished. When he got home, he showed it to Ikechi his partner and both of them were happy for the success of the contract and its profits. This made them multi-millionaires.
          It was the tenth Sunday since Onyekwere left home and Ugoeze felt his absence, each time she saw Azuka or Omerenma his wife, she would remember how they had schemed together to send her son away so that he would meet his untimely death. The absence of Onyekwere and his plight was a burden which God alone could handle. Ugoeze knelt down to pray again to commit her son to the care of the Lord.
          It was now twenty months after the beginning of hostilities, the war was taking different shape in different sectors at this time, it was difficult to provide adequate meal for the soldiers in their different military locations, facing the threat of dying, hunger, disease especially kwashiorkor. The only way out for the soldiers was to conduct what they called “fatigue”. It was a tedious and hazardous way of fining one’s own food, they harvested crops from other people’s farms, slaughtered domestic animals, and human beings were used in different ways to prosecute the war.
          A day after Onyekwere left on transfer to Nchara, Omerenma took over his work in the camp as procurement and stores officer in the refugee camp, her office was that of a store keeper. St. Michael’s camp was known as a result of Onyekwere's ’rain child. As soon as Omerenma assumed duty in the camp, she summoned all the workers and told them a false story saying that it was her husband that worked to establish the camp. At the end of the speech, she called for vote of thanks but no one said anything. Many expected the camp director to react to the speech but he said nothing. As days went by, they discovered that Omerenma had been removing relief materials from the camp which include bags of salt and large quantities of stock fish to sell for her own use. So the camp director and other staff members decided to set up a team that would look into the evil agenda of Omerenma. It happened that after all said and done Onyekwere resoled to come home. At night he set off on his homeward journey. In Chief Akoma’s compound, the return of Onyekwere made the children shout for joy. Ugoeze leapt and wept for joy while Akoma gave him a hug. It was only Azuka and his wife that did not show up to join the jubilant family.
          The enemy troops were now over running and smashing the freedom fighters almost on all fronts. The land of the rising sun became smaller and smaller as the freedom fighters lost one battle after another. There was a warning that was passed on to the people to be vigilant and alert any nearest military location if found any strange movement. Chief Akoma was one of the community leaders that reminded people daily about the paratroopers through the help of the town crier. Akoma was lying in bed shivering with fever.
          There was a misconception; Mary one of the villagers went to harvest cassava and saw a Whiteman in the bush and thought it was the paratroopers they have been warned about. When she came to report to Akoma, he forced himself out of the bed and came to the scene; within one hour Akoma’s compound was covered with soldiers and civilians who came to fight. They searched all the bushes around but could not find anybody. Soon, Onyekwere made a suggestion that it could be that Mary only saw an albino man which was the only albino they had in that village which turned out to be true. It was only the albino man Mr. Ubani that she saw. This triggered the soldiers to anger and Mr. Ubani was brought for questioning. They decided to take Mr. Ubani and Chef Akoma to the station but Onyekwere came to his father’s rescue, then they took Mr. Ubani and Onyekwere to the army station. They were maltreated and were about to execute them but luckily for Onyekwere the military commander was his school mate. Soon, they were referred to the police station but when he narrated the event and what really happened in the village then they resolved that it was a case of mistaken identity. They were released. For Onyekwere, his release was a great miracle from his old school mate Major Ikpeme.
           The rest of the day in Amaekpu was reported that the enemy troops used heavy mortar bombardment on the location of the freedom fighters that led to the death of many soldiers. The story of the detention of Onyekwere and Ubani became a minor issue. The atmosphere was covered with smoke and dust from the collapsed buildings. There was mortuary silence in the community. Onyekwere and his parents were able to escape the mortar fire but Omerenma and her husband could not, they all died. The war has just finished, the camps gone, the refugees have all return to their homes.
          Onyekwere resolved and said “wars can lead to freedom or servitude, when war ends, their echoes still remain, and peace and war are two things that help to define mortals”, he quoted “never fight a war that you will not win”.
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Yeah, I know the summary is long! But I couldn't spare the interesting parts. Wanted you to get the full gist too. Hope you enjoyed it too?
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