Femi Ajayi's Outlook

''Tangled'' is a must read for most Africans that have left the continent for sometime, those that are willing to learn more about African culture and tradition, and adventurous readers who want to learn more about a typical African experience.
Monday, February 21, 2005

Dr. Femi Ajayi


'Tangled' by Eve Ikuenobe-Otaigbe
he first time I set my eyes on my wife, I was "Tangled" with her personality. Immediately I went down on my knees thanking God for the opportunity of coming that close to one of the seraph in Ilorin. My brain started spinning in finding ways to untangle the "Tangled" process surrounding getting married in Africa. A lady of humble, famous, disciplined, and well cultured background needs some 'Tangled' tactics to get closer to her. The 'Tangled' headache was what I have to go through her parents for their blessings in marrying their daughter. Graciously, my parents, back in Obbo-Aiyegunle, untangled the "Tangled" route in getting the extended families blessings in the marriage. The cultural process is one of the beauties of African marriage. Eve Ikuenobe-Otaigbe, untangled the African culture in her book, "Tangled", when most of us were misplaced from our culture.

Eve Ikuenobe-Otaigbe

"Tangled" is a must read for most Africans that have left the continent for sometime and for those that are willing to learn more about African culture and tradition. It is also a must read for avid, adventurous readers who want to learn more about a typical African experience. The book written by Eve Ikuenobe-Otaigbe illustrates the life of an average African family from one of the Nigerian communities and is culturally refreshing.

"Tangled" is very amusing with the use of common languages and expressions in the Nigerian society. Life at bar beach in Lagos with the young fellows, the menace of voodoo when it comes to unscientific approach to any tribulations that befall anyone in the African society, while people get closer to God in the time of trouble.

The opening part of the book reminds us of the old songs from some Nigerian Artists expressing their disgust about Lagos chronic social life with the use of some Lagos phrases such as: "Area Boys", "Eko Akete.. Ilu Ogbon", "Igbobi landlords", "Molue", "Bolekaja." That is typical of life in Lagos with molue buses, the filthy Lagos streets especially in Ajegunle where the family lived.

Lagosians, according to the author, while narrating a family life poverty situation, believes that

"the {Nigerian} system did not treat good citizen's well nor repaid honesty, dedication and sincererity with financial compensation. Instead, one was given a wall clock, a worthless piece of certificate, some stipend and a goodbye kick in the behind."
As the reward of hard work in the government is not forth coming, the people engage in some immoral practices, and those in public service turn to robbing the public treasury.

The summation is a loving family that lives in an area of Lagos. The children born into this family find themselves living with the type of lifestyle that their parents could afford. They live through a culturally afflicted society and challenges in their adult life: desolate bleak life; the female circumcision; fraudulence and moral decadence within the Nigerian University, what needed to be done to survive in a University; the experience with gangs; the menace of making quick money through immoral practices; the transition to royalty through marriage; the unfortunate accidental death of the Prince; the stigma on AIDS patient; the 419 practice in the United States; the challenges with the family life; and lack of fear of God in their daily life. The book is loaded and explicit in these various subjects.

In Africa, the cultural system, like the United States Social Security, is to invest on their children so that the children in turn would take care of them at their old age. Hence children have the responsibly of catering for their family till death and even beyond. This part is demonstrated in Africa especially ceremonies that follow the death of aged parents. Every family member is taxed to play some roles in the burial arrangements.

The popular saying that "it takes a village to race a child" comes from the African culture whereby your children are treated like your own children. It is not uncommon that Africans refer to themselves as brothers, cousin, niece, nephew, uncles and sisters until the Western Culture brought the division to the African family life.

"Tangled" shed some lights as to some practice in African culture, such as the societal taboos, and the strong beliefs in the gods of the land.

It also illustrates the impact of Western culture, the quest to explore other parts of the world and make life better. In the process, the subject gets "Tangled" with some unacceptable behaviors. Unfortunately, the inauspicious end results, is not going to be in the interest of the individuals and the community at large.

As it is becoming very difficult to obtain US visa in Nigeria today, potential visa applicants resolve to all sort of tricks to obtain a visa and retain legality. Generally after getting to US, especially without any work permit, or green card, they have to do whatever is legitimately possible for them to survive. In most cases the choice they have is to get married to an American to ease their existence in the United States. Most receive a cultural shock from this.

The most tantalizing aspect of the book is the illustration of the traditional wedding. That portion reminds me of the royal wedding scene in "Coming to America" movie. It is vividly portrayed and masterly crafted. The newlyweds are blessed with a baby boy and the tragic hand of death took the life of the Prince in an auto accident.

As scientific as some Africans could be, in this situation, when it comes to ill fortunes, the surviving wife was blamed for the death of her husband. It was believed to be an ill luck she brought from her family. Before getting married in Africa, in most cases, the parents get involved to inquire into the background of whom their children is getting married to before accenting their support to the marriage.

In the cultural setting, according to "Tangled", rituals must be performed to find the culprits. Unfortunately, in this case the wife is found guilty of killing her husband, and has to be stoned.

So it is not only Sharia Law that punishes with death sentence by stoning.

Going through the readings, it is revealed that whatever involves human beings, the end result could be easily manipulated to suit the purpose of those who set up an inquiry. Traditionally the gods could be made to lie. The priest was told to find the wife guilty, as opposed to the truth. Realizing what might befall the young lady; her family took her away from the village before she was to be stoned to death. The lady lost her son in the process of trying to adjust herself to already biased guilty verdict pronounced on her. Ironically she was infected with HIVAIDS virus. The family was isolated on this account and the book "Tangled" epitomizes typical African settings, power struggling, and the decision we make in our life that we have to live by.

"Tangled" is excellent reading for anybody because of its use of very clear and explicable language. It is a warning to future generation as to how they should conduct themselves within the community, the choices they make and the consequences of those choices.

Eve Ikuenobe-Otaigbe is a seasoned dramatist, television and film producer whose career spans over two decades. She studied Theatre Arts at the University of Jos and Mass Communication at the University of Lagos for her post-graduate studies.

Her acting credits include various soap operas and the role that endeared her to over 150 million viewers as "Efe" on Nigeria Television Authority's blockbuster "Behind the Clouds." From then, there was no looking back in garnering artistic excellence. She Starred in "After the Storm" another highly rated serial, did Media reporting for N.T.A's "Newsline' and featured in numerous home videos, stage productions with the Nigerian National Troupe in Nigeria, U.K, and South Africa.

She is written several short stories, plays and poems.

Throughout her successful career, she has never strayed from what she sees as one of her primary focus: re-orientation of youth through education and entertainment; the underprivileged and women empowerment. She is a member of Women in Films Atlanta and currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and three children.

Some readers' comments include:

"…The untold story of a close-knit family swept away by the magnetic forces of taboos and societal changes as the tide rocks the serenity of their world."

"…Will Onyinye and Nduka survive the hammering assault of societal dictates and values against the intense personal struggle of desire and pleasure in the ever changing world?"

"…Tangled is not trivial…it addresses the grave consequences of decisions taken and adverse effects on generations even unborn. It is the story that would change your views about the ties that bind and the cord that entangles us. Can they be broken without pain?"

"…Set within an African background, yet experiencing the influences of the western world, Tangled takes us on a journey from this quaint place across the continent to Europe and America."

"….Tangled is embroiled in power struggle, sibling rivalry, survival, passion, schemes, greed, drugs, prostitution and the ultimate repercussion from choices we make in life…"

"Tangled" is available on-line at www.iuniverse.com, www.amazon.com; www.barnesandnobles.com, or visit the website www.afrimedia.org to find out more information.