Title: Novel, Clouds of A Ghoulish War
Author: Bobby David Gboyor
Publisher: Publish America
Publication date: 2011
Number of pages: 265
I'm delighted, if not privileged; and I consider this my passionate responsibility to present to the reading community a respectable and promising debut novel, Clouds of A Ghoulish War, a well crafted artistic book penned by Bobby David Gboyor (photo), a Sierra Leonean who works at the Attorney General's Office in Washington, DC. Despite his legal education and ingenuity, he probably has endured the formidable hurdles related to writing and publishing, while embarking on a dramatic journey on the landing pad of the literary community made up of published writers and readers based in the US.
Increasingly, Sierra Leoneans are catching the latent creative writing bug and the need and desire to write, leaving a legacy for posterity. Only when indigenous writers tell their own stories would this war-recovering nation called Sierra Leone present with passion and compassion the rich and enchanting culture and traditions of its people, outshining the distortions or ridicule posed by others with a selfish and profit-laden motive. The global fatigue from endless wars whether transplanted, manipulated or homegrown, have done a disservice to new titles related to war, though Bobby's brainchild belongs to a mystical and infectious world of its own. Invariably, the novel's title could be misleading to those who form sound bite judgment on a book based on its title, not the quality and contents of the storyline.
Gboyor's story is an indictment on Liberia's and mostly SL's post and current political and socio-economic heartbeat and destiny. Both nations are close geographic neighbors and founding members of the Manor River Union and the Economic Community of West African States, bodies that were set up to promote cooperation and viable trade. But the porous borders pose formidable and chronic challenges and danger during a crisis. It was the Liberian war and pandemonium that initially spilled over to the southern and eastern border towns of SL, where a receptive caboodle of ethnically power conscious, divisive and disgruntled group of folks lived who apparently would become vulnerable to foreign intervention and rampage based on greed and dubious personal motives.
Dangerous political rage and consciousness were already ripe there and only needed the spark of a match to harvest and blaze out of proportion. Pujehun is the home of the once powerful late vice president Francis M. Minah, during the All Peoples' Congress rule when the feared Ndorgboyousi carnage was prevalent and scores of innocent and political opponents were slaughtered for political gain and dominance. The vice president and others would be later charged with treason and hanged by the late president Joseph S. Momoh, a loyal soldier turned politician recruited by then crafty president Siaka Stevens, who mutilated the constitution and instituted a one party system of government. Power was thus transferred to Momoh in a bogus legal theater as nationals looked on with wide-eyed wonder.
The historic novel is a factually moving story revolving around Kagbindi, a university graduate who entered the poorly paid Cinderella teaching profession as a stepping stone to other pursuits or careers. During the 80s and 90s teachers were eternally sentenced to poverty and indignity and they could not compete with other professionals to purchase goods and services and live a respectable lifestyle, in a nation with misplaced priorities where politicians are at the pinnacle, even in academia. And they are more interested in paying back those loyal to them. And putting square pegs in round holes. Landlords are still reluctant to rent accommodation to teachers, habitually paid a couple of months in arrears and they could barely afford the going market price of houses or apartments. Kagbindi's salary could not stretch beyond a week after paying off his fixed expenses, even though he was involved in private lessons to supplement his meager income. Because he could not afford a transistor radio, his wife Wuya would often sneak out to a neighbor's house to get some entertainment and fun that fueled the displeasure of her husband.
But his dire situation would change when he landed a job with the United Nations as a journalist, a position and status his colleagues could only dream of. But the advent of the protracted war would change the dynamics at work for his family, as well the whole nation. But hard work and integrity are often rewarded in due season. Despite the enigma of corruption prevalent in the society there's humor and wit invested in the novel. It's a disgraceful practice for journalists to demand brown envelopes from diplomats and other dignified people, after covering a news conference. If the envelopes don't seem forthcoming, the men would ask for petrol when they use "footron" that operates on two legs. In response the diplomats would ask how many cars do you drive? Don't worry about that, just give us the money and we will buy the fuel for the cars, in response to the question posed by the diplomat/organizer. How could newsmen be objective and report accurate news when their focus is glued more on survival than the news? But often they become the news too, neglecting the sacred duty of being advocates and liaison between the voiceless and those in authority. Presently, this negative perception about journalists has not changed. While others face molestation and ridicule there are a few good and morally upright ones who are rewarded like Kagbindi who comport themselves professionally in pursuit of their career goals or calling.
When you work hard and gain the confidence of those who matter in the society,
You will one day get the reward no matter how long it takes in coming.
This is a reward which you truly deserve, Kagbindi. I have no doubt
that you will do well when you go to Germany. It is a beautiful country to visit.
These pointed words of the hero's editor to him resonate and should be the tenets and guiding light for us all to imbibe in our various stations in life. Today, it's not so much about how much we know but how much we care about the welfare of others that matters most. About 600,000 unemployed youths are in SL, mostly without any education or job skills and are very thirsty for genuine and passionate leadership that would say to them I feel your pain and suffering and ready to do something concrete about it. As the national elections loom, don't be shocked if these social outcasts begin to go off like grenades around the country at prime time to demand attention. What about the self centered and conceited Cain within us waiting to terrorize the innocent and upright Abel in SL?
I think Bobby has produced a page turner that I would encourage everyone to read for it speaks to the heart and conscience that lasting peace that comes from above is found within us. For we are our brother's keeper, in a world that's quickly growing insane, but peace and sanity are indispensable gifts from above that we all should prayerfully ask the Almighty to receive today, if our society should evolve into a better place.