Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth by  Wole Soyinka

Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth

Wole Soyinka

A novel for readers who like a challenge. It certainly asked a lot of me. The witty intervals reminded me of the stand up comedy of ‘Live at the Apollo’ and made this fat brick of a satire of modern Nigeria more than worth the effort. Like the discussion about a new name for the Minister. Or the fantastic abbreviations for everything. But it’s a complex story which also criticizes political corruption, child abuse and self interest.


The machinery was ready; the graphic artists awaited the logo to move into action with images. The printing press yawned for fodder - time was short, and Sir Goddie on the impatient side. Glad he was that he had chosen to preside, because no sooner was the session open for suggestions than a primed, overeager voice proposed 'the Nation's Serf'. One look at Sir Goddie's face was sufficient. The peon tried to recast, refine, etc., but it was too late. The bellow: 'Take your yam pottage brain our of here!' found him already at the exit, fulsomely apologetic, to be formally banished and confined to his office until after re-inauguration. Slave as a proposition - 'Slave of the State' - fared only less suicidally. The proposer raced to place it within a rhetorical frame - 'I stand before you, a Slave of the State,' etc. It did sound less repellent than Nation's Serf, but Sir Goddie pronounced it slithering too slimily obviously down the chute of self-abasement - to be expected only from Pharisees and Sadducees. The proposer suffered the fate of his predecessor, with just a few refinements in administrative castigation. The 'People's Valet' was next to surface. It rated very high - so many angles to it, it struck an exotic tonality, and after all, did the party election promises not include a cleanup undertaking? When taken with 'Grooming the Nation for the 21st Century,' it became even more acceptable. The American-trained member of the Image Task Force, however, wrinkled his nose - it did not smell quite right.

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