Prior to reading ‘Oil on Water’, Helon Habila had stolen my heart with his novel ‘Measuring Time’ (a review of this would be done later). Oil on Water was indeed worth the anticipation. Helon Habila is a fantastic writer and this book reiterates that fact.
Oil on Water tells the story of a young journalist, Rufus, who has been plunged into a dangerous environment in search of the perfect story. The novel is set in Port Harcourt (including the mangrove islands which surround the delta) and provides readers with a view on the issues in the Niger Delta.
Rufus, Zaq (a washed out, veteran journalist) and a few others are on a journey into the depths of the swamps to discover what happened to the kidnapped (and obviously white) wife of a British oil company expatriate. A relatively simple journey turns into something more complicated and arduous upon Zaq’s refusal to return with the other journalists. Rufus then decides to join him and has to face travails ranging from mosquito bites (think heavy duty mangrove mosquitoes) to gun-totting militants. We even have the crazed JTF commander who douses his captives daily with petrol as his soldiers await the day he flicks a match at them.
We are also faced with the decision of whose story is sadder between Zaq and Salomon (the driver of the kidnapped white woman). The book throws light on the consequences of poorly thought out de ... Read Full Review