The statement of Jianzhi Sengcan, “return to the root and you will find the meaning”, reflects and emphasizes the importance of the source of everything. We cannot totally do away with our past as it has a way of manifesting in our present and future. Although the past may be behind, we are to learn from it and use it to build the future. The world may not be easy, of course, what we do results in the state of the world. This is why Jeremiah Oyebode’s work, “The Root”, is important and commendable.
Jeremiah Oyebode’s choice of roots as the central title comes forth as both deeply thoughtful and strategic. We see that just as roots, whether for big or small trees, have a continuous deepening intertwining relationship to keep the tree alive, so also the human story anywhere and anytime is driven by passion, frictions, hope or despair, laws and human genius. Also not to forget a recurring element of blood relation in Oyebode’s 8 stories which make up his debut fiction “Root”.
Oyebode’s modest and responsible background and his belief in using such a standard in creating a better society reflects in the story concern the man from a humble beginning who ran against the tide in ensuring success, but unfortunately sees his children tamper with his legacy. In the title story (“The Root”), a woman is made to confront her paramour past, the pressure to get married is the focal point of the narrative in “Ego”, and in “What Goes Around”, a man’s fortunes take a wild turn in a manner similar to the biblical Job.
“A Life’s Mystery” depicts the deep cracks that jealousy could cause in an otherwise blissful union, “Reward for Persistence” emphasizes the need to never back down when it comes to individual quests, “I Want To Be Like You” celebrates dignity in labour, and a family is forced to reconsider their perspectives on HIV in “The Other Side’s Pain”, the book’s concluding story.
He has not painted the picture of a Utopian society as he carefully accepts the reality that conflicts are an inevitable part of human life, yet he believes that there is always a way for amicable settlements if parties involved are willing. This is where it looks as though the writer “may sacrifice the world for peace to reign”, a dangerous addiction to peace one might say, for if the world is given up for peace to reign, in what world then shall humans dwell after the world has been given up. This is because life has taught or shown us overtime that conflicts are a natural reaction that brings about good most of the time like refining gold in fire.
This educative work reflects patience as a virtue to strive to get. This helps in assessing beyond face value. It also reveals family as an important theme in determining a healthy and responsible society. An Italian Proverb says “Hope is the last thing ever lost”, this is one of what this educative work has to offer its reader. The need to keep hope alive and should be the last thing to lose.
In this collection, there are topics that are pertinent to today’s society. These themes include childhood trauma, betrayal, obstinacy, and jealousy. Though some might think that the author would have been more detailed in certain descriptions like character development, yet Oyebode can be excused as he has used succinct lines to narrate events. This is even more commendable as research shows that in our current world there’s an information overload and people will want issues to be straight to the point while not leaving out the meat.
Oyedbode’s “The root”, has not betrayed his Nigerian background despite living in The United Kingdom. The work shows he greatly understands the overview of Nigeria’s setting and culture. Unarguably, this has added to Nigeria’s knowledge base in the class of fiction and this work can be giving the same rate as that of Ola Rotimi’s “Our Husband has Gone Mad Again”.