The role of the writer in a society cannot be overstated. Writers are the touch-bearers that direct the society towards illumination. The materials in print otherwise called books are always there to help liberate the society from the grip of darkness and ignorance. Nigerians poor attitude towards books is noted with disdain. This has manifested into the maxim that “if you want to hide anything from a Nigerian, hide in a book.” That is to say that we are a nation with poor culture or no regard for reading. In books however, there is unparallel; unquantifiable; invaluable knowledge and unquenchable wisdom.
Literature in English thrives on three major variables called genres. These are drama, prose and poetry. The Short Story is a sub-category of the prose fiction. Edgar Allan Poe (EAP) renowned as the father of the modern Short Story demonstrates its features unequivocally. In his works like “The Cask of Amontillado” and “The Tale Tell Heart” Poe is directional that the Short Story concentrates on few and undeveloped characters, paucity of information (avoiding details), singleness of event and single setting. This is not to undermine the other arguments advanced for the style of the Short Story.
A Dance of the Wizard
The Edgar Allan Poe standard is what you find in A Dance of the Wizard, authored by Paul Vihimga Abuul. The young scholar in is early 20s has combined academic brevity, doggedness, perseverance and knowledge to represent society and life as it is lived. His hunger for academics is unquenchable as can be seen in this debut attempt. His proficiency in the art and clarity in expression have been harvested to weave together these anecdotes which explore witchcraft; an area that has become topical to contemporary scholars.
The stories are independent but related in philosophical terms or world view. He has carefully arranged the stories in a chronological sequence which makes him a realist of note; depicting life as lived. This chronology is:
Anger of the Clansmen
Blood and terror
The Horse Rider
The Immaculate Heart of Darkness
A Dance of the Wizard
The Lost Treasure
Grindstones and Blenders
The nature of The Short Story however dictates that these stories should not be read from the literal standpoint. The author is stylistic through the use of techniques like symbolism, irony, allusion, metaphor and simile to convey his message.
Most importantly, the 147 pages book will enlighten readers on the basic realities of everyday life in a Nigerian cum African society. Witchcraft is a trending topic for the academics. Not too long ago, there was a witchcraft international conference at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. The point was to address myth and reality relating to the African art. Let me repeat that in the context of literary studies, the stories should not be appreciated through surface lenses.
Paul Vihimga Abuul has shown class and passion for the art of writing as demostated in this collection. No wonder, he has graduated top of his class at the Benue State University. He is also a reference point to his alma mater. His passion for writing saw him through Writers League of the Benue State Univeristy where he was a Vice President. He is currently a member of Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Benue State Chapter. I see him as the future of ANA in Nigeria.
The book is by every standard a great achievement that commands our support. Above all, the material is a must read for every household, because it is educative, enlightening and entertaining. Paul is to us, members of the letters a celebrity of some sort. Read books, read A Dance of the Wizard, encourage creativity.
Thank you all for your attention!
About the author:The reviewer James Adzande, is a Media Expert/Editor-in-Chief of The Transmitter Media and visiting lecturer with the Benue State University –Makurdi.