A MUST READ!
"THIS REAL LIFE STORY THAT IS BRILLIANTLY WRITTEN IS TYPICAL OF THE TIME AND PLACE OF THE STORY. THE DETAILS ARE SO FASCINATING. THE DEPTH IS INCREDIBLE. I CAN NOT SIMPLY DESCRIBE THE FEELING ONE GETS FROM THIS BOOK THIS BOOK IS A MUST READ FOR EVERYONE. IT IS HISTORIC, IT IS INFORMATIVE , IT IS SO REAL (REAL LIFE STORY) IT IS EDUCATING, IT IS FUN. THIS MAGNIFICENT WORK OF THIS TALENTED AUTHOR IS A MUST READ FOR EVERYONE. IT IS A VERY JUICY BOOK. EVERY AFRICAN AMERICAN SHOULD READ THIS BOOK - THIS HAPPENED FOR REAL AT THE MOTHERLAND. ALL AFRICANS SHOULD READ THIS BOOK. ONE THING ABOUT THIS BOOK IS THAT IT BRINGS YOU BACK TO YOURSELF, TO YOUR ROOTS AND TO REAL LIFE.
THIS BOOK GIVES YOU THAT SENSE AND FEELING OF BACK IN THE DAYS. THE GOOD OLD DAYS. THIS IS A BOOK YOU READ AND YOU WANT TO GET TO THE NEXT PAGE AND THE NEXT PAGE AND THE NEXT PAGE. GOOD PEOPLE: GIVE YOURSELF A TREAT. GET A COPY OF THIS BOOK AND UPDATE YOURSELF WITH THAT YOU THAT YOU HAVE LEFT BEHIND."
NY, New York
Every few decades a writer comes along who is able to truly capture the essence of African literature. Dr Oliver Akamnonu has been able to do just that. The suppers of many dishes is a unique biography that traces the life and experiences of its protagonist expressed through a deeply unique lens that had only been previously achieved by the great pioneers of African literature. For individual familiar with the intricacies of African culture this literary masterpiece is a great reminder of what is great about good African literature. For all others, this piece would educate and also inspire for only a few can tell their story in such a captivating manner. I highly recommend to all.
C. Akamnonu M.D.
(Orthopedic Surgeon & Spine Fellow New York)
"Inside the fictional country of Nianga, two sides battle for different ideologies "regional self determination" versus "unification of a nation".
The results are indiscriminate carnage and starvation of civilians at the hands of the federal troops. However, they are acting with implicit approval from Bature as most of the world turns a blind eye to this dehumanization.
As this wonderfully written story unfolds, it becomes apparent that as colonial power about to grant independence for Nianga, Bature has created a way to maintain power through manipulation, division and isolation of Nianga's various ethnic groups. It was in this manner that Bature would favor and aid the group easiest to manipulate.
This is a must read as this illustrates the human suffering of the Baimfrah people and their survival spirit. Furthermore, it exposes a story hidden from much of the world through carefully orchestrated propaganda. This story demands to be read for as Winston Churchill proclaimed,
"Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it."
Well written and compelling!"
Dr. Adaobi Kanu
Associate Professor Pediatrics
Pulmonology, Texas Tech University
The Vanishing Roots
"This book is one of the few books I couldn't put down until I got to the end. It is interesting, captivating and funny. Eberechi, a self-made man with no formal education builds an empire by hard work discipline and sheer determination. His efforts to raise children with the same standard and vision prove abortive as they imbibe Western culture and squander his wealth in Las Vegas.
Eberechi’s efforts to arrange marriages for his ‘wayward’ children fail. Other townsmen of Eberechi in Diaspora however benefit immensely from Eberechi’s arranged marriages.
This book is very true to life in Nigeria and among many in Diaspora. The poetry is superb; exposition of facts succinct: “ Light of day no longer holds the olive branch”;” Alleys in villages that used to gladden the heart now abandoned”; “People of other roots still know and treasure their roots”; “The damage has been done and the knowledge has been lost”; “Welcome to the era of the Vanishing Roots”
I recommend this book to all immigrants and those who have left their ancestral homes in search of greener pastures."
Professor Felicia Eke
Professor of Pediatrics,
University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria
The author, Dr Oliver Akamnonu, is an anesthesiologist turned writer. I have reviewed another book of his, The Honorable.
Coming late to America is a blend of facts put in the form of fiction. It thus can be classified as ‘faction’.
The book is a 254 page book written in clear language, divided into 34 chapters and published by AAINC.
The story is a tale of Dr. Ogbuebe from Africa who got an immigrant visa to the United States of America .
It was an emotional parting from his mother, mother-in-law, friends as well as a country that he had a passionate association with. While in his ancestral country, he and his wife, Ugoye had established themselves as successful health care practitioners: Ogbuebe the physician catered for the human body while Ugoye the dentist restricted her care to human teeth.
They set up an NGO (non-governmental organization) to cater for the less privileged. Life in their country, Mungeruun was a struggle from one obstacle to another one. It started with the children’s education far from their home as day students. It is remarkable that Dr. Ogbuebe prevailed over each obstacle he found in his way.
Following the instinct of self-preservation, Dr. Ogbuebe emigrated to the United States of America where he soon found out that ‘all that glitters is not gold’.
Exploiting qualities impacted in him in his revered secondary school, he and his wife struggle to find their feet in America , the wife as a dental surgeon and Dr Ogbuebe internal medicine. Ugoye succeeded but Dr Ogbuebe decided that the process was too prolonged because of ‘coming late to America ’.
As the resources he came to America continued to diminish, he picked up a job which turned out to be care manager. He soon found out that the word ‘manager’ meant different things between Mungeruun, his native country and America . The word was at the extreme rung of the ladder in one country and a different extreme end in another.
The period offered him some education about America .
He was to come into the care of patients with the dreaded Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Ogbuebe expounds a lot of philosophy about highly placed persons who suffered memory loss of their past status as well as lack appreciation of the present or lack of insight to the future.
Dr. Ogbuebe ventured into real estate management as a realtor. Finding that daunting, with door knocking that evoked insults and exposure to dog attacks, he had not made any sales by the time the story ended.
The book exposes the deep attachment Dr. Ogbuebe had for his ancestral native country in spite of the allure of the developed world as well as the striking material differences in the cultures of Mungeruun and America .
Perhaps this again reinforces the saying that ‘all that glitters is not gold’.Coming late to America is a compelling read.
It is easy to read and is a useful material for social science studies."
Review by Professor Ndubuisi Eke, FRCSEd, FWACS University of Port Harcourt , Port Harcourt , NIGERIA
"The author Dr Oliver Akamnonu is a certified anesthesiologist who now is a writer. The book is divided into 29 chapters that are easy to read. The Honorable is set in a big country, Konganoga with the capital at Karuja. The events depicted in the book are set in Kuveri a state capital and in Umudioha a Local Government Area in Konganoga. The plot is about the politics of the country Konganoga.
The author has clearly presented the situation that prevailed in the otherwise very rich but poorly administered country. A very rich man, Chief Suleiman decides to do the best for his son Ade who was only an average student at school.
The father indulges his son Ade's penchant for exotic conveniences before the latter learnt the need for responsibility. The father pays and induces teachers in Ade's secondary school to give him extra attention or marks as may be necessary. Chief Suleiman also effects admission of his average son into the highly competitive medical school. Ade is not aware of the source of his father's wealth and power. Chief Suleiman is not aware or ignores the fact that the road to perdition is often paved with good intentions. To make up for his deficiencies, Ade enrolls in a secret cult of wayward students whose primary interest is to disrupt the academic pursuits of those students who are focused on their objectives to enter the University. By coincidence, father and son discover themselves as members of the secret cult, father as a patron, son as a colt. The occasion marks a watershed in the life and politics of Konganoga ruled by buffoons and `money miss roads'.
The physique of these morons is hilariously likened to those of prehistoric animals. This chance meeting of the father and the son was the start of events towards repentance and restitution.
This process is to lead to the tragic death of the father and happily, restoration of the intentions of the father that his son led a righteous life. The local community eventually gets purposeful leadership by fiat of the Governor who replaces a corrupt buffoon selected as chairman of the LGA. A bandwagon effect leads to elimination of the forces of evil by implosion in the cultic rulership.
An index at the end of the book arranged in an alphabetical order makes for ease of reference. This index section is welcome and should enable the reader refer to certain sections of interest.
Overall the author must be congratulated for this fiction on a topical issue, clearly and brilliantly articulated."
Review by Professor Ndubuisi Eke, FRCSEd, FWACS University of Port Harcourt , Port Harcourt , NIGERIA
THE PAGANS' MEDALS
"Taste of The West
Traditional African religion and Christianity clash in this sprawling, somewhat didactic saga of modernization.
Emenike Nnoli, a prosperous farmer in colonial Nigeria, pins his hopes for the perpetuation of his lineage on his third wife’s bright young son, Nadike. Although Nigerian village life is warm and close-knit, it’s also impoverished and dangerous. For example, the book opens with a cumbersome picaresque in which 5-year-old Nadike is briefly abducted and almost sold to slave traders, who are still an accepted part of society. In this environment, Emenike supports the growing presence of Christian churches, which seem like a force for civilization and moral uplift; they also provide access to the white colonial hierarchy. But the church frowns on allegedly “pagan” customs, such as polygamy and ancestor worship, which Emenike holds dear. When Nadike enrolls at a Roman Catholic school, he gets caught in a tug of war between his father’s traditions and the new Christian doctrines. In the novel’s most gripping section, this tension leads to a physical confrontation that puts Emenike in a hellish Nigerian prison, where he’s savagely beaten and subjected to disgusting humiliations. However, the narrative quickly shakes off that unpleasantness, as Nadike becomes the catalyst for a rapprochement between traditionalists and Christians. In this revised version of his 2008 novel Taste of the West, Akamnonu presents a nuanced, sensitive account of Africa’s conflicted journey toward Westernization and modernity, which are both welcomed for the progress they promise—Bicycles! Airplanes! Honest government!—and dreaded for how they overturn age-old social customs. He offers nicely observed, often comic scenes about the subtle chafings, accommodations and hypocrisies as the two religious communities adjust to each other. The sociology sometimes gets in the way of the storytelling, which pauses for lengthy ethnographic disquisitions on everything from marriage mores (a barren wife is expected to “marry” new brides for her husband to impregnate) to festival rites to the complications of “inguinoscrotal hernias.” In literary terms, Nadike’s tale isn’t overly compelling, but its anthropological context may hold readers’ attention.
An illuminating, if somewhat stiff, tale of a family wrangling with change, enriched by engaging lore on African village life.
Rich in African culture and traditions
"The book transports the reader to a culture-rich African setting.
This book narrates the story of a young boy growing up in a fast changing society-a traditional African society being influenced by Western culture. He experiences various aspects of his traditional culture and what differentiates them from the Western point of view. His subsequent Journey Abroad eventually puts him in a better position to help out his native community when he returned. "Taste of the West" uses language in such a manner that the reader fully connects with the culture and setting in which the book describes and opens up ones horizon to other traditions of the world."
Chukwuka P. Akamnonu
Student, Meharry Medical College
"Oliver Akamnonu's newly released Taste of the West is a captivating story of Nadike, the precious only son of a polygamous household in a rural Igbo community caught under the shadows of Westernization. It is unfair to compare a novel any novel cast in this setting with Chinua Achebe's timeless Things Fall Apart, but the temptation to allude to it is compelling.
The setting of Taste of the West is a latter period than the one described in Things Fall Apart, when the Igbo have already been subdued by British colonialism and have to straddle the "traditional" and "modern" realms in the wake of the penetration of Westernization and its contradictions. European colonial presence and Christianity minimized slave raiding, human sacrifice, and twin killing, and associated symbolisms conferred respectability, but the people of Umunta detested the coercive instruments of the colonial state and resisted missionaries' attempts to discourage polygamy.
Unlike Achebe's Okonkwo, Emenike allows his son to acquire Western education and to convert to Christianity but opposes the Catholic church's prescription that Nadike take a saint's name upon baptism, which Emenike considers a gratuitous affront to his no less virtuous ancestors who are more deserving of such recognition. The forces are relentless, and are fast co-opting Nadike, who survives the cold grasp of ruthless slave dealers and then embarks on an odyssey into Western civilization. Different readers of this riveting tale are bound to arrive at different conclusions--whether Emenike triumphs over or succumbs to these forces.
This book will be of significant benefit to African studies scholars and all manners of lay readers--including foreigners curious about Africa and Africans themselves desiring to recapture the nuances of rural Africa. Readers familiar with the setting will relate intimately with the story; Dr. Akamnonu's plain style will ease less familiar readers through a tour of the Igbo world. All will come out better informed of the breathtaking changes witnessed by Igbo society in the first half of the twentieth century. The ethnographic reward from reading this book goes beyond the story itself. The reader will also glean the peculiar perspective of a section of the Igbo intelligentsia of "native" or "traditional" society and changes it has faced, thereby providing a window into an ethnographic understanding of this important social group that Akamnonu represents.
I highly recommend this book."
G. Ugo Nwokeji, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of African Diaspora
Department of African American Studies
University of California, Berkeley
"The author, a successful practicing medical doctor of many years standing, has possibly dumped the stethoscope in preference for the pen in the narration of a fiction, "Taste of the West".The interest herein is the vivid description of the practices somewhere in Africa.The description of the simple life of the villagers in the rural village of Umunta is very enchanting and stirs up nostalgic feelings of the uncorrupted life that obtained in the typical African village.The diction and retentive memory power are immense.However the description of the polygamous practice of a childless wife bringing in another woman to help the husband raise children is discrete and distinct from same sex marriage as is now practiced in some countries of the world.Again it was initially a surprise that a fugitive who had no identity and visible means of livelihood could be granted asylum by the Umunta community.
The impregnation of a daughter of the village by the fugitive, compelling a rushed consent for the marriage possibly explained the saga. The villagers were later to find that they had made a gross mistake after a discovery of the crimes committed by the fugitive who in addition kidnapped a child from the community.The turning point was the rejection of the child by the notorious and callous slave-dealer who even when he could not distinguish between his various kinds of human ware ("a ware is a ware"), still acted in deference to his wife Enyidiya. The slave king pin not only refused purchase but he also ensured that the kidnapped child was returned to his parents.
The kidnapper had to return the child and abscond from the village without his expectant wife. Another very intriguing aspect of the people of Umunta was their desire for Christianity and Western education without their yielding to forceful acquisition of the name of a Christian saint for baptism. Another was their initial rejection of priesthood for their children because of the practice of celibacy which priesthood would entail. However in their wisdom those early missionaries overlooked some of the objections and administered baptism, thus sustaining the interest of the liberated boy for a future destiny in the church and for a very useful role in his community.The expression of intention for priesthood by the liberated young boy whose parents would want Western education but not priesthood did not go un-noticed by the missionaries.In response and as a result of the boy's academic excellence, the missionaries quickly recommended him for overseas training. He was thus able to acquire both education and priesthood.After his education and training for priesthood, coupled with several visits to the West, the young man's horizon opened up so much that he was able to attract a lot of modern utilities to Umunta, his community. The adjoining communities were not left out.
The realization of these achievements by a simple village boy should inspire all and sundry and invoke interest in this beautifully written book.The author's metaphors and vocabulary prompt interest for readers. The description of the happenings in the "Awaiting Trial Men" (ATM) cell even when they appeared as fairy tales only go to portray the possible extents to which man's inhumanity to man could go. It is possibly a way by which the author portrays the need for prison reforms against the backdrop of the beastly conditions under which incarcerated human beings are daily being confined in several parts of the world."
A.I Onuchukwu PhD Professor and Dean,
Post Graduate StudiesAnambra State University Uli, Nigeria.
This was such an interesting book and very different from anything I’ve ever read before. Mr. Akamnonu’s writing style is very good, and he does an excellent job of showing us what life is like in a different part of the world and in a different culture. Along with being moved by the storyline and the adventures of the characters, I felt like I learned something about a different civilization that I didn’t know. Very enlightening and interesting. (5 stars).
“The Pagan’s Medals” is the first book I’ve read from this author Oliver Akamnonu, but I am certain it won’t be the last. I was happy to learn he’s written several more books, and I will be happily checking them out very soon. This was an exploratory revelation for me about life in Africa for a young boy growing up, and the pressures he and his family face with all sorts of conflicts. There is so much that happens, it is hard to sum up, but there is great character development for the young Nadike. It was fascinating to watch him go through his journey and I liked when he visited Rome… I can only imagine what a culture shock that was for him, seeing all those new types of people. A great read and one that I won’t soon forget. (5 stars)
It took me awhile to get into this book, “The Pagans’ Medals”, because the narrative style wasn’t one I was used to, and to be totally honest, wasn’t sure I was going to like. It starts off with what are almost like freestyle poems, which were very good, but I was unsure what they meant. And then the story started, and oh wow, it was so good! Crazy at parts and very interesting. The men have lots of wives and this is considered good, and there were things that just blew my mind (like a woman marrying another woman for the sake of the husband, and living amongst slave traders…) such an unique look into a life that most of us will never know about, especially not firsthand. The author is clearly very knowledgeable and is an excellent writer. However, there were some formatting problems and some editing issues that prevent me from giving 5 stars. But enjoyable and very interesting, nonetheless. Recommend for fans of cultural fiction. (4 stars).
I think it took me about 20% of the way through this book to really hook me, but once it did, I was totally in! So stick with it, you won’t be disappointed! I have to say first off that I like the cover (especially since we understand why the young boy has his arm over his head), but I also really liked all the other drawings and sketches that were interspersed throughout. They were simple, yet perfectly fitting for the tone of the novel and the scene in which they depicted the actions. This book doesn’t employ the typical 3-act structure of many novels, it is more in the literary styles of having event precede another and another. The world building and the descriptions make you feel like you are really there in that small African colony experiencing like through the eyes of multitude of characters. I think it could have benefited from some proofreading, as I noticed several (small) editing mistakes. The formatting was off in several places as well, however, this didn’t lesson my enjoyment any. A terrific read. (4 stars)
What an absolutely wonderful novel! I liked learning the different customs and rituals of the African tribe as we read the book, I thought the author really did a wonderful job of showing them in action, as opposed to just telling about it. Almost the whole book is written in narrative form, with little dialogue or conversation. So it’s not a ‘quick and easy read’, but instead one you should savor and get invested in. I felt like my eyes were opened to a whole new part of the world and a way of life that I never even thought about before, and it was really fascinating. Would like to read more from this author in the future. (5 stars).
I admit I was totally interested just from the beginning where the author thanks his father, who had 8 wives and 46 children…WOW! I knew I wanted to read about that slice of life because it is so different than anything I could ever imagine. The story starts right off telling us about the life for the villagers in Umunta, a rural village in Africa. Family is the center of their world (and lends for some entertaining stories revolving around it…) There are several characters, but the main ones are the family of Emenike (the father), Namee (the mother), and Nadike (their son). Although a ‘simple’ family from a small village, there is great conflict and strife that occurs, and Nadike undergoes a courageous transformation that will touch the lives of many. I found it fascinating how even though their lives couldn’t be more different than ours, there are so many things that we all have in common. A very good book and one I would recommend to others to read. (4-5 stars).
I have mixed feelings on this novel, “The Pagans’ Medals” by Oliver Akamnonu. On one hand, it is clear that this author is a very talented writer. Some of the prose was the best I’ve seen in a while, and the story was truly mesmerizing. I laughed out loud at several parts, and was genuinely invested in the fates of Nadike and the others. However, many times I felt the novel lacked a certain sense of focus, I could never really tell where it was going, or what the point was too many of the scenes. There were so many characters that just sort of seemed to ‘be there’ but I didn’t really see what their true purpose was, and they weren’t well developed. There were several punctuation errors throughout… nothing too terrible, but I did notice them. The story itself was good, and I’d definitely read more from this author. (3 stars).
“The Pagans’ Medals” is more than just a book, it is an examination of life, culture, religion, and the humanity in all of us. It is very dense with lots of descriptions and stories within the larger narrative story. It’s not your usual novel in there sense that it is dialogue and character-driven; in fact, you’ll find little of either here. Instead it is told in a more literary style, expository in third person omniscient. So some readers may be put off by it, but I for one thought it worked very well and this way were able to get so much more information and backstories that would have been impossible has it been written like a regular novel. It is lengthy and there are many layers to the plots and subplots. It is clear that the author is quite intelligent and knows his subject matter first hand, for his attention to the details was evident. There were some minor editing mistakes but nothing too off-putting. Recommend for ages late teen and up as there is some adultish subject matter and some shocking scenes. (4 stars)
A great book that captivated my attention from the beginning and I didn’t want to put it down until I had reached the very end! Although I have to say that some of those names were hard to pronounce in my head (I did appreciate the handy guide at the end), and I always wished that I knew what characters looked like better so I can picture them. But the main characters were all very well written and fleshed out, even if the supporting ones weren’t. I did get confused my some of the side characters, and there were many. Sometimes it seemed like there was almost too much going on in this book at once, but then certain places were kind of slow and felt off tangent. But I never lost interest because the writing was good, and we have emotional investment in the characters, especially Nadke and his family. It wasn’t predictable at all, and I was sad when it was over, but it had a satisfying conclusion. (5 stars).
I could totally see this book being read in a college anthropology class or something (after it’s been re-edited and reformatted), because not only do you get an AMAZING story about an incredible young man, you also learn so much about other cultures and their worldview that is different from our own. But it’s not done in a boring or lecture-y way, just something the reader is immersed in whilst traveling along in the pages of the entertaining novel. I do feel that certain parts were a bit repetitive and even unnecessary, and slowed the pacing down a bit…but then there were also many ancedotes and twists to keep me totally captivated and look forward to reading more. This is one of the most unique books I’ve read in a long time, and think others will really enjoy it. Give it a chance. (4 stars).
Overall, this was a pretty good book, I think. I give the author a ton of credit for the fact that he has so much “story” in his story… I mean, I felt like there was more information and ‘plot’ in the first 25% of this book than in entire novels that I read. Everything from the life to the traditions and practices of the people, what was expected, what was standard… it was great. But along the line I felt like the story seemed to lose direction at parts, and several times I found myself wondering if certain scenes or events were really necessary. Sometime things felt kind of redundant and slow, and there were so many characters they were sometimes hard to keep track of! I think there really is the potential for a great story in here, had it been tighter and more focused. But I can definitely see other readers really liking this, as it is different, really original, and has excellent writing. (3 stars).
“The Pagans Medals” is a fascinating look at a life that is very, very different than one in modern America. I felt like I was getting a hefty dose of world cultures along with an engrossing novel. I especially liked how relatable the characters were… we feel a connection with Namee as a mother, and Eminike as a father as they have the worries and concerns of any parent, yet also a whole set of unique circumstances only for them. And Nadike is one of the best characters I’ve come across in a long time. It was amazing to watch him from a very young boy as he went through different stages and what resulted from his actions. Very admirable and heartwarming, even gut wrenching at parts. I want to note that I liked the personal touch of the drawings, and think readers of almost all ages will enjoy it. It is a book with religious themes, but it isn’t ‘preachy’. The character development and scene descriptions were great, and the overall flow was very smooth. Looking forward to reading more from Mr. Akamnonu in the future!