ANTHILLS OF THE SAVANNAH – REVEALING THE ILLS OF POLITICAL INSTABILITY
by Ernest Armah
The actual costs of political instability are not the fat expenditures incurred on ammunitions to exact compliance and on repairs of infrastructural damages, but the social collateral damages – the families that are torn apart.
Published in 1987 by Heinemann, the Anthills Of The Savannah, another creative imagination or let me say somewhat factual fiction by Chinua Achebe, is a novel that is revealing. Yes, revealing. It removes the curtain and lets you see the scenes behind the scenes.
The novel was set in Kangan, a figmental West African State. Chris Oriko, was the Commissioner for information. He was reservedly disposed and that explains why he expresses his dissent on policies with the military regime, under which he serves, weakly. However, his friend and subordinate Ikem Osodi, the editor of the National Gazette never minds scripting strong-worded views against the regime. The paradox of the attitudinal traits of these fellows reflected in the way their lives were truncated. They all received bullets, but in different circumstances.
Beatrice Okoh, a Senior Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Elewa, a semi-literate who works at a shop, were girlfriends of the men respectively.
What would you do if your loved one is coldly murdered? Would you revenge or ‘fa ma Nyame'(leave it to God)? And what would you do when you hate what you’re doing but too afraid to quit?
Romance, suspense, hatred, shock, oppression, mistrust, fatal schemes are all packaged in the 233-page novel. No wonder it was shortlisted for the 1987 Booker prize.
It was an interesting read, for me. But it would be thrilling, for you.