Barika’s anger as he left the palace twisted his face the way Pa’s double barrel had twisted his buttocks. I passed him, surrounded by my bodyguards, and he screamed at me, that I thought I was a man just because I could buy the Igwe and the village and put them in my pocket but there was one thing I could never buy and that was my manhood.
This was the very point that the engine of my life knocked, just like that.
The silence that followed was the kind of silence that swallowed the village near Ubiaja when Chief Ato lifted up the head of the bat from his soup. I saw Barika’s wife trying to cover his mouth but the demon of his anger gave him power to push the head nurse of Ikerre Health Centre, who was three times his size, to the ground.
He was shouting now: Leave me, let me talk! After all, if I am lying, let him pull down his trousers! Then let him go and marry tomorrow like his mates! Look at him! And when they call for men he will stand up!
Even from the ground, his wife was pulling and pinching him, but it was too late, his anger had provoked him to say what they had been hiding for how many years now. Otherwise, how did Barika know the biggest secret in the Jumai family, if it isn’t that his wife was the very midwife that castrated me?
As for me, what did I say? I heard my voice sounding like an echo, saying that if he doubted my manhood he should bring along his daughter to my house; but it was foolish nonsense, the sort of stupid threat that you can hear from an angry man in a wheelchair.
It wasn’t me that my bodyguards pushed into my car. It wasn’t me that Nacet drove home. On the way, some boys saw my car and hailed me, Ca-la-mi-ty! That was when I knew what a terrible nickname I had.
By mistake, that witch conceived me in another man’s bed. By mistake, my circumcision became a castration. By mistake, they called me Calamatus…
Tonight there’ll be no mistake.
(An excerpt from Chuma Nwokolo’s DIARIES OF A DEAD AFRICAN)
The only thing Calamatus Jumai wanted to see in people’s eyes was envy, not pity.
Without mincing words, this book is a comedy. How it’s able to have a gripping story line, nonetheless, is quite remarkable. He writes without quotation marks when reporting a speech. Chuma Nwokolo mocks the English Language politely.
‘Hilariously interesting’ is how I would describe the book in two words.