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Arinze Iloani

Some novels entertain while some dissect serious issues that shape the society and threaten the root of human existence. Edify Yakusak’s ‘After They Left’ is a story that explores love, innocence, violence, death, survival and helplessness in Northern Nigeria.
In this debut novel, Yakusak, a lawyer, weaves love and childhood innocence around violence and death, fuelled by ethnic and religious chauvinism.
The story tells of Mafeng and Samuel, two childhood sweethearts who dream of marriage. However, poverty and parental influences stand in their way. Mafeng’s mother, Alice will not let her daughter marry a poor boy. Overwhelmed by family pressure, both lovers take different paths.
Mafeng fulfils her mother’s dream and marries a rich Abuja-based Senator, Bot, not knowing she is in for a life with a promiscuous politician whose life of debauchery will make her a widow in just a decade of marriage. The marriage turns out loveless, lonely and tragic. Bot’s promiscuity and constant absence from home alienate Mafeng, but she finds solace in her two children, Kim and Jugu. But the death of Bot in a hotel room in company of prostitutes gives Mafeng and her childhood sweetheart a second chance.
Samuel, now a police officer in Jos, takes Mafeng as wife with her two children. Mafeng’s new home and happiness are soon punctured by the violence ravaging the city. Violent cla ... Read Full Review

Some novels entertain while some dissect serious issues that shape the society and threaten the root of human existence. Edify Yakusak’s ‘After They Left’ is a story that explores love, innocence, violence, death, survival and helplessness in Northern Nigeria. In this debut novel, Yakusak, a lawyer, weaves love and childhood innocence around violence and death, fuelled by ethnic and religious chauvinism.
The story tells of Mafeng and Samuel, two childhood sweethearts who dream of marriage. However, poverty and parental influences stand in their way. Mafeng’s mother, Alice will not let her daughter marry a poor boy. Overwhelmed by family pressure, both lovers take different paths.
Mafeng fulfils her mother’s dream and marries a rich Abuja-based Senator, Bot, not knowing she is in for a life with a promiscuous politician whose life of debauchery will make her a widow in just a decade of marriage. The marriage turns out loveless, lonely and tragic. Bot’s promiscuity and constant absence from home alienate Mafeng, but she finds solace in her two children, Kim and Jugu. But the death of Bot in a hotel room in company of prostitutes gives Mafeng and her childhood sweetheart a second chance.
Samuel, now a police officer in Jos, takes Mafeng as wife with her two children. Mafeng’s new home and happiness are soon punctured by the violence ravaging the city. Violent clashes are common there, but Samuel does not envisage his family being caught up in one. Unexpectedly, his family comes face-to-face with a blood-thirsty rampaging mob. Samuel is killed. Mafeng is raped unconscious. Kim and Jugu escape after hiding in a drum. The author contrasts Samuel’s “pure, unadulterated and giving” love with the hate that divides the residents of Jos, a city she described as “an active volcano that could blow up at any minute.”
The volcano has blown up and Kim and her kid brother are on the run to their grandmother’s. They find Alice and three other relatives in pools of blood, massacred. Kim and Jugu escape from an assailant and stumble into an Internally Displaced Person’s (IDPs) camp. The Author paints surprising pictures of high level corruption going on in the camp, reminiscent of what is reported on daily basis in IDP camps across the North-East where food from donors and philanthropists are diverted, while the people wallow in hunger.
An interesting part of the novel is Mafeng’s search for her children; the intrigues, the escape from the camp and the encounter with kidnappers.
Yakusak’s ‘After They Left’ takes the reader through what thousands of people have witnessed, not only in Jos, but in many parts of the country where violent clashes have taken place. The story dissects the ordeal of the victims and brings to mind the havoc which ethnic and religious crisis wrecks on the society. Appallingly, one sees the failure of the government in proactively protecting its citizens and the hidden agenda of those who supposedly create shelter for the internally displaced in times of crisis.
This is not just an ordinary story. The reader unconsciously gets immersed in the story, from love to gruesome murders, from arson to kidnapping, and from captivity to safety. From the first word to the last, the story draws the reader like a magnet to the suspense.
The novel is interesting action-packed and totally ‘unputdownable’ read. For real, Yakusak is a writer to be watched. This debut novel is commendable and the future holds prospects.

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