Publisher: Odseme Publishers, Port Harcourt
Year of Publication: 2000
Reviewer: Olutayo IRANTIOLA
The first time I heard the name, Kudo Eresia-Eke while I was a small boy on holidays to the Garden City. As time rolled by, I can across the name again as a technocrat, and then I found the book: Things Men Do
. Possibly, because I am now a man, the title attracted me and I discovered the many opposites that are evident in the human nature.
The book has about 22 extremely short stories. In fact, there are some that are not more than a page but it is cohesive while the reader would have made meaning out of it. It is also a book filled with humour. The book can be described as having a simple language but heavy laced with symbolism. The dialogues in the book tell the story than the characters would name is tucked into the story.
These are some of the opposites in the book; “Night of the Vampire” is story in which the character had a nightmare and he woke up to reality. The sub-themes in the story include Poverty and Affluence; gender abuse, tribal as depicted by the manager who has tribal marks; poor remuneration and feeding; superstitious beliefs and poor social infrastructures.
“Things Men Do” is the telephone conversation between Esther’s father and Egbuna who called to give Esther a message but was “bullied” on phone. In a short while, Nkechi, Esther’s friend called and the father almost developed an amorous relationship with her on phone. He promised Nkechi a trip to London and Paris. When Esther and her mum returned; her father complained solely about the call from Egbuna but he did not talk of his “intending” atrocity with Nkechi. The mother tried to defend her daughter but he was not ready to listen. The themes in the story show that a man can cheat on his wife but protect his daughter(s) from cheats.
“Friends” is a discourse between three people: Ima, Eka and Paul. Eka and Paul are married while Ima was playing the role of a peace mediator. Unfortunately, all the advice she gave to her friend was a means of finding her way into the family. She switched roles based on the person she was with. The story reflects how man cannot be depended upon; wrong advice and double standard.
“Do as I Say” is a narration of what happens in an African studies class where the Professor is teaching his students that “we must truly Africanise our every sphere” only to discover that he has not done what he is teaching most especially in the naming of his children. The theme in this story include lip-service; stagnancy of African culture; theoretical teachings and life applications.
“The Maternity” is a story of a family that has been waiting on the Lord for the fruit of the womb. In excitement, the maternal grandmother of the baby described all that her daughter has gone through to the nurse on duty as the father of the new child was running helter-skelter to provide for the mother and child. The nurse revealed that the child is white. Considering the cosmopolitan nature of Port-Harcourt, one would understand that there are many inter-racial children born in the state. Other themes in the book include gender pride at birth; delayed conception and family interference.
“The President’s Son” is the story of Ifeanyi, a drug addict who is incoherent in his explanation. He mixed his explanations to Beze by claiming and disclaiming his relationship to his wife. This story is a deterrent to many people who are towing the line of drug addiction because it has a lot of unwholesome effects.
“Gubernatorial Plea” is on the overbearing influence of spouses. The First lady determines the people at the helm of affairs in her room based on her personal sentiments. The story depicts that spousal influence is real on political office holders; difficulty in making personal decisions; selfish ambitions and mafia associations exist among the political class.
As a trained journalist, the author squeezed in a story on electoral “Victory”. This story is about the happenings in a newsroom where the publisher admonished the editor to thread softly on his reportage of the “rape” of the election. The editor got a car as a gift and urged the reporter to change the headline from the agreed “Rape of Democracy” to “Victory for Democracy” as he left office. The narrative shows that values are compromised; conscience sold out; destruction of the fourth estate of the realm and the boss’ final decision.
“Police Commissioner” is a piece on the rot within the Nigerian Police Force as many officers make money from robbery by “leasing” out ammunitions to robbers while urging the robbers not to shed blood.
As a religious society, “And It Came to Pass” is a narration on the conversation of two priests. One is affluent while the other is wretched. The wretched priest came for advise and he was counselled to do the following: treat the church as an organization; be the sole signatory to the church account; preach on prosperity and material blessings; twisting the Bible to sooth the need of his congregation; acquire expensive wears; leaving ladies to wear whatever they desire; increase church events and services. This is a lampoon on the church as it is losing the purpose of evangelism.
Happenings within the university are also in the anthology as it is in three successive narrations; “Roommates”, “One Night” and “Professor’s Paradise”. The roommate is about a religious student and her promiscuous roommates while “One Night” is about an undergraduate in a hotel with a rich man who said he has HIV/AIDS while the lady showed no concern for the disease but her intention to drink wine. The “Professor’s Paradise” is on the death of a randy professor who had an uncanny feeling towards his female students. She pleaded to buy him shirts but he said, “Once you let me reach your kingdom of heaven, everything else can now be added”. He also mentioned that sexual harassment is “part of your education”. The Professor died while trying to satisfy his sexual urge. As a former lecturer, the author understands the language of the academic community. However, these acts by both the students and the professor should be discouraged.
“After Wedding” is a description of the profiteering nature of people from wedding ceremonies. They make gains from the selling of “aso-ebi”, invite the affluent who can give valuable gifts. Contrarily, the groom who boosted of being a cultist went into hiding when he had a knock on the door.
“The Ring” is the story of Lali who traded his manhood for money. He went into a pre-arranged wedding with the daughter of Aminu Akilo, the billionaire, who was impregnated by a houseboy. He rushed out of the union losing everything when the lady gave birth two months after.
“Grandma’s Lies” is the story of a young man who does not want to heel to the advice of his grandma and the grandma’s position of not listening to him as well. He sees those who had lived according to grandma’s counsel as paupers while he desires to be prosperous.
“Congrats” is about the many times a guy has been attempting GCE, the almighty exams that determines progression into the university some decades ago in Nigeria. In order to cover his shame when the result was announced to him; he said, “My brother has failed again.”
Conclusively, the book is full of hypocrisy as said by Pa Gabriel Okara. Men, generic term for human beings, switches as they play different roles within the same storyline. Despite the brevity of the book, there is no societal stratum that was not discussed. Also, the characters have names from the different geo-political zones in Nigeria and the language is a blend of English and Pidgin. Dr Kudo Eresia-Eke is a quintessential communicator.
5:51pm; May, 12 2015