Reviewer: Ifeanyi Emeka Vitalis
Nonso risks everything for Ndali his one true love, but class is the divide between their lasting love and the approval of those around them. She’s the daughter of a wealthy Igbo man while Chinonso, is a poor poultry farmer who’s also an orphan.
He will sell all he has to get a foreign education and a good job, not because he wants to, but because it’s the only way he can marry Ndali Obialor.
He travels to Cyprus on a three year course in business administration, there his world came tumbling down on him. From love to lust, forgiveness, vengeance and mistakes. Chigozie Obioma will weave a tragic tale of love told by the the guardian spirit of the male lover.
But how do I begin to explain how Chinonso’s Chi happens to be my favorite character. His gift of testifying is beyond measure. He is the mediator between God and his Host. Talking, as ridiculous as it sounds, seems to be the life blood of his existence. He knows how to tell a tale better than a gossip.
If I were him, I would get tired of talking,let alone testifying for 3hours and more.
But it’s my favorite chapter , ALANDIICHIE, that left me thinking about my ancestors,all the universe that conspired to bring me to existence. It felt more like a tribute to my own chi, for his countless love towards me. THE PLUCKED BIRD will make you question the modern world with rumbling laughter and rumination. There’s so much wisdom in Chigozie’s choice of language. The language is lyrical; the multitudes of proverbs, divine. Although I’m familiar with some of the proverbs, obioma puts it in a way that gives it more meaning and life.
Reading the novel I would sometimes think my own chi was watching me read about another man’s chi with excitement and warnings. I felt I was enjoying the symphonic style of the ancient cryptic language. A richer English Language from the wellspring of old Africa.
The language of the narrative isn’t the mere expressions of humankind. Why should it? We don’t expect a Chi to speak like mere mortals, let alone one who stands in the court of BECHUKWU in heaven to testify and plead on behalf of his Host.
This is a beautiful novel that reasserts the truth that no matter how good or bad we are, we never walk alone. It goes beyond the Igbo cosmology as it helps to complicate and also explain the mystery of the world. AN ORCHESTRA OF MINORITIES asks the simplest but most difficult questions about Love : How much can one do for love? How much can one give? Some times I will read out loud and see the frailty of my emotions staring at me.
Gaganaogwu, Oseburuwa, I salute you for leading me to Chinonso, Ndali, Jamike, Tobe, Mrs Fione, her husband and to that country that ushered in a tragic fate to the Host as it does to so many still_ Cyprus.
An Orchestra of Minorities will come to mean the songs of despair; the songs of pain from a brilliant writer who never fails to keep up the momentum. Read THE FISHERMEN , his first novel, to be blown away in double folds.