Two brothers' quest

2008-10-02 08:05

Descriptive, gripping, realistic imagery detailing the lives of ordinary village folk. These are the trademark traits I have encountered when reading Nigerian-authored novels and Measuring Time is no exception.

The novel captivates with the harrowing tale of the bond shared by twin brothers, Mamo and LaMamo, living in the northeastern village of Keti in Nigeria. The twins are raised by their aunt Marina and uncle Iliya after the death of their mother shortly after their birth. Mamo and LaMamo grow to despise their absent father, Musa Lamang, who spends his days following political pipe dreams and entertaining desperate widows who shamelessly throw themselves at him for money.

Noticing their father's empty, loveless life despite his wealth, the twins vow to live their lives to the full. Eager to explore the world, they become obsessed with immortality and fame.

When the boys meet their uncle Haruna, a soldier who returns to the village and is hailed as a hero, they become more determined to fulfill their mission of becoming famous, brave soldiers who will one day return to their village as heroes.

The novel traces the lives of the dissimilar twins from birth to adulthood in pursuit of their dreams. Mamo, suffering from a deadly blood disease, lives most of his life in his brother's shadow of health and bravery, until his life takes an unexpected turn.

Set against a volatile political context of modernisation and subsequent corruption in the late eighties and early nineties, the author contemplates the passing of time and how it alters one's destiny as priorities and desires change. It makes for a good read; however, at times the author tries too hard to attach a philosophical meaning to every incident that occurs in the lives of the characters, thereby breaking the flow and coherence of the reading.

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