Sector IV is a book set in the period of the Nigerian Civil war and the months just after it ends. A story of stories, the book runs through the lives (and sometimes deaths) of various individuals linked by a common fate in their bid to escape the distortions that wartime sorrow and pain visits on the lives of erstwhile normal and ordinary people. The book does not overly focus on the atrocities of war to create a horror fest or seek to apportion blame to any of the combating sides; rather, it simply takes us through the daily lives of the characters as they make choices concerning love, sacrifice, wealth, loyalty and patriotism with the war serving as a backdrop in a matter of factly manner.
It tells of how the war irreversibly affects the lives of the main character Onyiyechi and the others, how it brings to the surface feelings of discontent which were normally hidden and tests their loyalties to loved ones, how it forces them to adopt pragmatic solutions to problems that would have otherwise proved awkward and inconvenient at other times. Love is lost and found, as is friendship, while death, sorrow and suffering become familiar visitors, ripping apart the cocoon of peace and hope which had been wrapped around their lives before the advent of the conflict. It also reveals how people are forced to re-evaluate their positions and make strange choices in the face of overwhelming odds, all in a bid to survive the harsh realities they are faced with during war time. As we find out, sometimes the choices they make don’t always turn out for the best.
The book seamlessly fuses history with fiction and drives home its message beautifully with the author’s simplistic use of clear language. Account of events are written to enable the reader feel as if he/she is watching a movie, while the characters struggle to overcome all the challenges the war brings to their doorstep. It paints the interaction of the lives of the characters with the war in harsh vivid colors, letting it be known to everyone that reads that war is hell for all those who go through it, but there is hope for those who survive. It also subtly addresses domestic spousal issues, especially the usually silent but evident battle between both sexes for compromise and dominance and the right to take certain decisions based on differing viewpoints. You are breathlessly carried along as you live through Onyinyechi’s eyes, the challenges of a young adult female in a traditional society disrupted by war, how she deals with the consequences of the choices she makes concerning love, loss, duty and loyalty and her unwavering determination to survive all the ordeals with her humanity intact.
It is my opinion that there are quite a few loose ends which the writer did not satisfactorily tie up. Whether this was deliberately done to leave room for a sequel is what we wait to find out. Also, the twist at the end although brilliant, robs the reader of closure.
The book is particularly recommended for young adults – who were not born at that time but who have ‘romantic’ allusions of war, especially those who are part of the increasingly strident agitations for the sovereign state of Biafra – to read and understand why none of us should pray to relive the events of those dark days.
Abiodun Awodele daily juggles the Lagos hustle with running his personal blog and trying to stay sane in an increasingly insane world. Prose (fiction) and poetry roll of his pen as the spirit directs and his first collection of short stories is expected to hit the shelves very soon. He blogs at www.versesbybeordoon.com. Follow him on twitter @MASKURAID