Martins Agbonlahor’s latest publication, “Another Poor Cow”, published by Amazon Fulfillment in 2020, shows the author’s maturity and grip on his subject matter. The 193-page publication’s central theme is the negative impact of the cultural practices of Nigerian people as seen through the eye of a particular rural community.
Besides the central theme, Agbonlahor periscopes not just the cultural practices that seem to retard the progress of the people and hold them captive, with special reference to the women who are at the receiving end of these mundane and outdated cultural ways.
Also, at play are the sociological and developmental issues associated with these practices just as he opens the Pandora box of the socio-economic malaises of the people, touching on bad governance and its effects on the people and the country as well as the problem of economic migrants; highlighting sex and human trafficking to Europe and other parts of the world.
Just like his earlier novel, ‘Killingly them softly’ in which he examines issues related to women and the burden the society places on them through the eyes of a female character, the same he has done in his recent work, Another Poor Cow, as he tells the story of the burden that aged –long cultural practices placed on the women through the agonising story of Onaiwu.
Onaiwu, a young, pretty, intelligent but naïve little girl, with a bright future ahead of her, has her life cut short and her dream crashed as she becomes a tool in the hands of her parents who in the name of cultural practices gave her out for marriage at a very young age to an elderly and polygamous rich local chief, putting pay to her desire to further her education and contribute her quota to her community and country.
Her marriage was a troubled one and cut short due to her maltreatment by her husband’s senior wives. Forced out of her marriage, Onaiwu falls in the hands of a trickster, who turned out to be the head of a powerful syndicate group, which stock in trade is trafficking young girls and boys to Europe and other parts of the world as sex and factory workers.
Lured into marrying this trickster, she ends up in Italy with him under the pretense of being trained as a nurse. Her refusal to compromise her stand and prostitute herself as other young girls lured out of the country led to her tragic end as she was gruesomely murdered by the well – organised cartel when they failed to break her will.
Her death no doubt brought the spotlight on organised cartels in Italy behind the illicit sex trade and human trafficking, however, Agbonlahor, who is fast cutting an image of a social crusader and social fiction writer of note, as exemplified by his latest work and the one before as well as by his various published articles, he is more concerned with the under – development of the country and the Africa continent by these debilitating socio – cultural practices.
In his social construct, he lays the burden squarely on the shoulders of bad leaders, who promote bad governance as a result of their failure to empower their people, deconstruct the various archaic cultural practices that have held the people captive, which are responsible for the under development of the continent and drive for economic migrant to Italy and other countries to thrive.
Another Poor Cow lays bare the chains of socio-cultural, economic and political issues under which African countries are groaning, with the leaders appearing helpless in resolving the challenges and contradictions inherent in their societies.
The irony is that most of these contradictions are promoted by the political leaders and elite in order to remain in their hallowed offices to continue with the pillage of their lands while the people groan and make do with whatever devices that they can afford to create.
The author’s mastery of his subject and characterisation is very apt and commendable as he is able to draw the reader into the situation and create for him a vivid and rarified reality through characters that are easily relatable and identifiable as well because the reader easily flows with the story and characters as created as they are common and daily occurrences in his immediate environment.
As a social crusader, it is obvious that the author is not just only interested in creating these social fictional works to entertain but rather one should think that he seeks to inform and educate his readers on the reality of their situation, eliciting a positive response or action from them in changing the social construct that has held them captive over the years.
The 193 pages publication is reader-friendly with a good cover illustration that is very attractive while the print is smooth to the eye and easy to read, as the composition is very simple with the use of everyday language. The appendix is provided at the end of the book for vernacular and other expressions used.