A writer and culture expert, Mrs. Ugo Agada-Uyah, has argued that slave trade which many thought ended over two centuries ago, has not ended in practice but has only changed its name to human trafficking.
Agada-Uyah made this assertion recently in an interview with NICO News, shortly after the formal presentation of her novel, titled, Omezue, The Complete Achiever, Thursday, 6 March, 2014, at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.
Fielding questions on what inspired the book, Agada-Uyah stated that it was slave trade, arguing: “People would say why write on slave trade that ended over two centuries ago. But, my dear, has it ended? NO! It changed its name to human trafficking. So, I want to bring to the focus of people the horrors of trafficking in human beings. That is one aspect of the themes of the book. The major sub-theme is on leadership. I want to bring to their attention the consequences of evil leadership and the gains of good leadership. I was in-charge of UNESCO desk and it was within my time that UNESCO started focusing on slavery, emancipation and so on. Then I started noticing and realising the horrors of slavery. I started researching; I started gathering documents. I made up my mind that I must write on human trafficking to sensitize the public on its evils.”
Agada-Uyah gave an insight about why she chose Omezue, The Complete Achiever, as the title of the book, saying, “The main character in the book, his do-or-die effort was to achieve the Omezue title and when you have read the whole thing through, and I have just told you one of the themes of the book is leadership, you will be able to decipher. Was it worth it? Did Omezue achieve it…? Yes! It was worth it because it made a statement on leadership. Leaders are not just money-bags. In Ehukpo Afikpo Society, before you can be an Omezue, you must be a man of outstanding character; you must be a man of integrity; you must be brave. You don’t take Omezue title because you are rich; you take Omezue title because the gods have said you are honest; the society says you are a man of integrity and you have achieved bravery in all fronts; that is why you are called an Omezue.”
Asked to talk about the challenges of writing the book, the author informed that it was borne out of determination and hard work, adding that it took a lot of time for her to achieve this: “If you read the book as to the depth of research that went into it, you will realise, it’s many years work. I started researching on the book even when I was still in service… I started researching, I started gathering documents. I made up my mind that I must write on human trafficking.”
When asked if her book was a masterpiece, Agada-Uyah was of the opinion that it can compete favourably with the works of Nigerian literary giants, like Chinua Achebe (Things Fall Apart), Wole Soyinka, Chimamanda Adichie (Purple Hibiscus), stressing that, “It an epic. Since it is an epic, that single word epic is not aligned with a wishy-washy work. It’s an in-depth work; it’s a serious work; Yes! It can compete favourably with them.”
Affirming the quality and stuff the book was made of, the book reviewer, Professor Egwu U. Egwu, former Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Ebonyi State University called it an epic; “This novel is a great novel situated in 1850s, in the middle of the 19th Century…. having read the 36 chapters of 432 pages, I think this novel is quite refreshing; it is explosive; it is ingenious; the music of the prose is rhapsodizing; the novel has an elegant prose…. The novel is about the tragedy of the society and rested in the mid-way of its history like a suspended animation…. but this novel has a bit of the Sophoclean attributes of the Oedipus Rex…. the book has marvellous psychological insight into the mind of the ages, the style is brilliant….”
On his impression, the professor averred on a final note: “My verdict: this is a novel that will always take the pride of place in Igbo cultural history and indeed in the national history of Nigeria. The author is a great mind. Finally, the hero of this novel is a character to study. The text of this novel is a re-read.”
In the formal presentation of the book, the Honourable Minister of Culture, Tourism & National Orientation, High Chief Edem Duke, who was represented at the occasion by the Executive Secretary, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, as the Book Presenter, congratulated the author, Mrs. Ugo Agada-Uyah for the giant stride she undertook in writing the book, adding that it was heart-warming that, “a director who has retired from the Ministry is not tired but is very energetic and focused.”
It would be recalled that Mrs. Ugo Agada-Uyah, a graduate of English from the University of Ibadan, whose whole life, career and endeavour had been devoted to the administration, promotion, presentation and development of arts and culture, retired as a director in the Ministry, after having contributed immensely to and adding value to the nation’s culture for national development and cultural diplomacy.
Njideka Justina Dimgba