Saturday, December 23, 2006

Yellow Yellow!

Yellow Yellow
Kaine Agary



The many issues on the Niger-Delta revolve around the familiar words used to describe the activities of the people of the Niger-Delta. The bunkering, killing, abducting, spillage, vandalization and now bombing.

Yellow Yellow is the story of Zilayefa; born to a Greek father. Her mother who out of naivety at the time; was hoping she would have a better life with him, but she had been thrust with an unexpected pregnancy instead. Zilayefa, while battling with her racial 'confusion' moves out of her village, which is slowly being robbed of its farm lands by the oil spillage. The writer opens the book with the scene of an oil spillage, "During my second to last year in secondary school, one of the crude oil pipies that ran through my village broke and spilled oil over several hectares of lan, my mother's farm included. When she got to the house, she knocked on the door and said very cooly. "Zilayefa, bring me my bathing soap and sponge." Zilayefa finally leaves the village and the shielding of her protective mother for the city. In Port Harcourt Zilayefa gets a guardian with the recommendation of her Church Pastor to execute her dream of a better life in the city. She encounters a life that goes in a long way to expose the wide social gap which exists in the cities and the villages in the Niger Delta region.

The book tells us a new story; one, which many do not know or have been made to forget in countless charges of blood, and oil spillage. Agary's story is the story that is told of usual people who have not been sensitised enough to know how much of the issues going around affects them enough to contribute. It is the story of cultural demise, the birth of immorality and the loss of identity and loss of focus. Yellow Yellow opens a new vista to the many untold stories in this region. The many stories that go beyond the spilling of oil or blood, the disintegration of kindred and the loss of confidence in justice, as the people had known little of it. In one of the chapters she writes,
"People did not call the police to settle disputes, and even when they did and a matter was charged to court, there was so little confidence in the fairness of justice that very few waited for the court's decision…."

The people learnt to take matters into their own hands. "Everyone who could afford it had their own army they could call on to fight their wars, which were over property, contracts, even girlfriends. And the boys who made up these armies were so caught up in the anarchy that they lost all sense of decency and respect."

Yellow Yellow is simply narrated. Although there are several unanswered questions as one reads the novel, the book is subtly engaging. Zilayefa becomes a typical example of the many 'confused' children born to oil workers, sailors, British expatriates and the many people of different colours many women meet for so many reasons that lead us back to the 'oil matters.' She is the example of the many young girls who lack direction and disillusioned with the life and lack of vibrancy in the village leave its ebbing rustiness for the bustling city life. In contribution to the literature of this region, Kaine Agary goes further to tell one of the many untold stories of the area. The psychological trauma many young people are forced to face. One of which basically is the issue of growing before their time.

Yellow Yellow
perks up reasonably well in its description of the old rich and the nouveau riche in the Niger Delta, the submissiveness to poverty and the way so many people have accepted the poverty-lives-next door-lifestyle. Yellow Yellow is a simple narration of what to expect from that next generation. The story is told very directly. It is certain the writer just wants to tell one story which would embody her intent and she seems to have captured the trauma of a people well without slapping our faces with the details of what is known.

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