By IZUCHUKWU OKEKE
The book “Sin of the Father” is a social satire that mirrored a typical Nigerian society with its tendency to beautify wealthy people, especially the wealth- without-source folks who are ready to throw it around and buy anything they want including the leadership and even the clergy.
Nze Adachie retired just as a clerical officer with a government agency. However, it is just upon his retirement that he suddenly becomes stupendously rich. Like the tale of ants and sugar, Nze Adachie’s wealth keep attracting people to him, he is on the lips of everybody for his magnanimity and philanthropy, especially in his native Ozo village in Umunkata, a town in Anambra state, Nigeria.
Despite the fact that the source of his sudden wealth is unknown to the people, the people still flock around him. Since he has the mind to spend the money on his people, he is endlessly bagging one traditional title or another. His fame soars across the state and the nation. He is sought after in launchings and other social gatherings, as he is sure to donate huge sums of money there.
Nza Adachie’s money also baits social institution that should ordinarily insist on check and balances. The church publicly endorses him despite complaints from respected members that Nze Adachie’s wealth is suspicious. The priest who is desirous of achieving set goals just needs a man like Nze Adachie, as long as he (Nze Adache) is willing, even to a point of threatening sanctions on those who criticize the man unduly.
Meanwhile, unnecessary philanthropy often comes with exploitation. Nze Adachis soon begins to exploit his people. With his money he buys up every piece of land available in Ozo, using devious means. If one is poor, needing his assistance, he will give it on the condition that he mortgages his land. At times he instigates children against their parents to have his way.
Then someday, he strokes his hand into the eye of a man who cannot take it. Ebuka has refused to sell a piece of land to him, and like Ahab and Naborth’s vineyard saga, he loses sleep until he finds what to do. He invites Ebuka’s son Emeka and buys the land from him, then hires the best lawyers in defence.
Ebuka, having lost hope in the judicial system takes the matter to an oracle. This rankles Nze Adachie, so he starts sponsoring prayer crusades in his family, village and town, with a hidden intent to neutralize the power of the oracles.
After a passage of time, Nze Adachie takes a new wife as he prepares to take another title. This title, the highest in Umunkata, requires him to have a second wife, and he does. However, at the eve of the ceremony, the Chief suddenly collapses, and before he could reach hospital, dies. Nze Adachie’s death is believed widely to be the handiwork of the gods.
Meanwhile, at death what one has sown in life manifests; crises brew in the family. Nze Adachie’s corpse could not be buried for two months as the family fights it. Eventually when he is buried, another crisis breaks out on the sharing of his assets: this one brews to the heavens; litigation after litigation, arson, and a whole lot of atrocities by the feuding siblings.
Eventually government is forced to wade in, and this leads to a sudden discovery that the wealth the family fights over was gotten through a fraud Nze Adachie perpetrated with some people sometime before he retired as a civil servant. Hence government confiscates the whole assets.
“Sin of the father” is meant importantly for children and teen readership, and to this extent, the book is fantastic. It is hugely didactic, almost sermonic, to the point of exaggerations. However, the sentiment being shared by the author is that people, especially young ones, should not always praise rich people or share in their wealth without necessarily finding out the source of such wealth.
Nza Adachie’s sudden wealth is legendry, but same as many in our societies today, people who are praised as alpha and omega, and are given titles everywhere. The author did not write in isolation, he makes a statement of fact.
The author also dealt well with his setting. Spatially and sociologically, he was apt to it: if there is an area in Nigeria where the quest for wealth is hyper-driven, it is Igboland, if there are people keen to promote wealth no matter how it comes, it is Igbo people. In Igboland, Igwes are busy conferring chieftaincy titles to every Dick and Harry that has money.
The language too was apt for its designed audience. However, the plot is redundant in many scenarios, and there are undue tautologies and unnecessary repetition. “His fame grew far and wide” may have been used ten times in this work.
But in all, this is one story for every young Nigerian in a country grappling with the reality of corruption in high places, a country living in the reality that money is everything. Once one has money, he can do and undo: he can buy men, civil apparatus, law, even buy God as ‘men of God’ are at his beck and call. Hence, the book “Sin of the Father” tells the reader, “Nay, not always like that.”