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Archive for August, 2020

MOYMichael Afenfia’s The Mechanics of Yenagoa is an interesting feel-good read that grips the reader from the first page and keeps you flipping the pages like a compulsive disorder, as the narrator leads you deeper into the funny, disjointed and often troubled lives of the different characters it portrays.

From the title, one is wont to assume that it tells the story of different mechanics in Yenagoa, the capital of Bayelsa state. Not quite so. Instead, it is the story of one mechanic, his apprentices and how the choices they make impact on or is influenced by, the cocktail of characters in their lives.

At the center of it all is Ebinimi (who also goes by Brother Jacob), from whose narrative voice the story is told. He is a university graduate who opted to be a mechanic and runs his auto repair shop on Kalakala street. The irony of a graduate as a mechanic is made even more remarkable by the fact that he is also pursuing a second degree, an MBA, at the state university. With that somewhat unusual profile, he presents an image of one who had it all together but that seems to be all that is good about his life. The rest of it is a web of emotional entanglements, perpetual trouble baiting, fights, ambition, betrayals and their unintended consequences.

When we meet Ebinimi he also introduces us to his allegedly pregnant on-and-off girlfriend, Blessing (who will prove to be his undoing in many ways), his sister Ebiakpo whose marriage is perched on the precipice, his three apprentices, Biodun, Broderick and Saka who seem to have no cares in the world and Reverend Ebizimor, who is that behind-the-scene character instigating much of the conflict in the book and who smartly exits the scene, like he was never there, just when it is all about to unravel. We see how Ebinimi, in the course of his normal existence is drawn into situations which in his effort to solve, triggers other events that threaten to engulf his entire existence. Indeed, for most of the book, he is basically quenching fires, and sometimes igniting new ones himself but managing somehow to navigate through it all.

At its core though, The Mechanics of Yenagoa tells a much deeper story about the dysfunction of society, the everyday coping mechanisms of ordinary people, the breakdown of marriages and the games people play to get and retain power including the weaponizing of religion and the use of violence as a political tool.

Read the full review here in the Lagos Review

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