Country Tour by Chinedu L. Tabugbo (1994).
Chattanooga, Tennessee: Damballah Press.
Price: $9.95 (paperback)
ISBN: 0-913649-12-0 (paperback)
Country Tour is Chinedu L. Tabugbo’s fulfillment of a personal journey inspired by memory, hopes, and aspirations. Without a doubt, this book of biographical sketches and anecdotes shares with readers the traveling experiences of a man searching for a world where love, peace, and harmony reside. Written in a language that is both captivating and intriguing, Country Tour depends on satire, revelations and confirmations to make certain the author’s purpose. In addition to his thirst for the exploration of ideas associated with progressive thinking and the cultural practices associated with initiating girls into womanhood in southern Nigeria, Nigerian, African and Western politics and culture are directly and indirectly examined in this book. Clearly, Tabugbo makes no mistake in keenly adumbrating the obvious to his reader.
The characters in Country Tour are driven by their knowledge of history and their aspirations for a better society. For the reader interested in and familiar with modern African history, this book will certainly serve as a refresher of memory. In addition to the author’s constant travels and explorations of towns, cities and cultural practices in Nigeria’s Niger delta region, this book is a penetrating insight into issues politically driven and intrinsically related to how power brokers such as the OAU (Organization of African Unity), the British government and the member nations of the Commonwealth made decisions that changed lives. Additionally, there is the occasional but provocative reference to modern Zimbabwean politics.
One of the driving forces of this book is Tabugbo’s knack for details. He uses concise and colorful language to make his images memorable. For instance, in a scene describing a village community in Nigeria’s Niger delta region, the author writes: “The village communities along the route were having their seasonal festival. There were therefore beautifully decorated rowing boats and canoes for the seasonal regatta. All sorts of brightly colored cloths, raffia palm products, and artfully constructed wooden structures gave their boats and canoes impressive appearances that attracted the interest of passengers. Owu, water masquerades [of] different shapes and sizes including large python and fish shaped masks added a lot of [luster] to the show” (114). Images such as these, without a doubt, will form lasting impressions for readers interested in learning something new about cultures distant from their immediate world.
Also invoked in this book is the sentimentality attached to the joy of the traveler. This is illustrated when the character Uzoeme avers, “People, I for one, would prefer travelling in broad [daylight]. I would like to see the place I’m [traveling] through” (89). As I edged closer to the end of the book, I began to understand better the driving forces behind Tabugbo’s visionary commitment to change in Africa, especially Nigeria. This discovery became true for me when the character Qadri scrutinizes economic development in Nigeria’s post colonial era and suggests the improvement of resources linked to education as a way of stabilizing the country’s future:
No one ever expects the governments to be able to do it alone. Nigerian business
industrial conglomerates should start seriously thinking about boosting our
scientific growth by financing chairs in the universities; setting up or sponsoring
researches in already existing research institutes, and when discoveries are made,
endeavoring to invest in them so as to put into material use the effects of those
discoveries. After all, most financial support for researches and developments
in the developed countries come from the multimillion franchises, industrial
consortia and individual tycoons (124).
The rest of this book depends on ideas and inspirational statements for embellishment. Anthropologists or tourists should find most of the cultural aspects covered both fascinating and enlightening. For example, I was thrilled to uncover the author’s coverage of the “fattening room” custom associated with Nigeria’s Okrika community, to which he contends: “It marks the end of the hibernation period during which the girls are fed very sumptuously so that they look very well cared for and fully developed and ready for initiation into womanhood” (146).
In conclusion, Country Tour is a conscious tour of a writer’s visionary commitment and hope for a progressive future. Chinedu L. Tabugbo has carved his niche by sharing his published ideas with the world. But for some obvious editorial errors, this book is a truly captivating, lasting, and memorable read.