Title of Novel: Yunhouse
Author: Ad’Obe Obe
Page of Novel: 262
Genre: Historical Fiction/Faction
Publishers: Ofitu Books, London, United Kingdom (2nd) edition- 2018
Apaugasam Communication Ltd, Nigeria (1st) edition 2017
ISBN: 978- 1999864-0-1
THE PAWNS OF COLONIALISM.
Yunhouse is a historical novel written by Ad’obe Obe about the gory past that has continued to haunt Africa up till this moment. The author gives an account about the pacification process and introduces to us his characters who are African students and intellectuals. It is set in Camden London by African students who engages in series of debate about these gory past and the Europeanisation of their minds. Metaphorically, the novel is set in the home of one of the major architects of colonialism. The effect of war or a tsunami is what the novel Yunhouse is all about; the tsunamis of human labour, capitalism and the participation and celebration on behalf of African’s without her presence and knowledge of what a so called banquet is all about.
Yunhouse, gives an account, experiences and description about what pacification is all about and what it means to be pacified. It shows to readers clearly the colonial crusades, its effects and implications on the continent of Africa and the minds of the natives.
Its thematic thrust discusses colonialism without contact or marriage, subjugation and the feast to rub it in without apology to the owners or natives.
In this novel Ad’ Obe Obe tries to interrogate the past, Africa’s past especially her stake at one of the most dubious stakeholders' banquets of all time called the Berlin Conference of 1884.
When reading this novel, there are questions that are likely to trouble the mind of a reader. Questions like: Where was Africa when the great Berlin Banquet to slice her like a piece of Cake took place? Who were the authorities that bequeathed her to themselves? Was she to be a prostitute, was her consent sought and in what manner? Was Africa duly represented, and if she was, what was her contribution and if she wasn’t why was she not?
I have read Alex Harley’s Roots but this one is quite troubling. Historical novel is truer with the Book Yunhouse. In YunHouse, we realize what exactly took place and later gave rise to the pacification of the natives.
But at the heart of this book, is the spark for a continuous debate that could last another decade to come if we are true to ourselves in redefining the black history.
Africans in Yunhouse feels it imperative to talk about Africans as the author rightly puts it:“Yunhouse is founded in London by Africans whose personal experience of the pacification of the Natives is is the Europeanisation of their minds through European education.”These group of educated Africans form themselves with the Berliner Cult with the motto: “We shall never be pacified” (Yunhouse, pg , 012)
However, the Yunhouse experience unfolds as a narration of the evolution of an establishment dedicated to managing “intellectual emission on Africa, be it ideation,invocation, evocation, incitation, excitation, expiation, agitation, agonisation, lamentation, jubilation, or –you name it, as long as the subject is Our Africa” (Yunhouse, pg013)
As the discourse continues, so also we are introduced to characters like Lekwot Abaka, Ogesayi Mamwe, Cyril Nikule, John O’Gafla as well as the metamorphosis of Yunhouse into the Palaver Hall.
In YunHouse, an actual contact did not take place at the Berlin Conference because Africa was not represented. It is a story of the thief that came at night and took away what was not his. However, the real contact between Europe and Africans and Europeans started with the pacification process that had continued even till today.
At the meeting, the continent was carved by the European powers who awarded themselves with Certificates of Occupancy. Armed with these certificates, they come knocking on the doors of the Continents, no longer contented with being restricted to the coast where the doors refused to be open peacefully, they devised all sort of tricks including getting leaders drunk before indulging them to sign treatise and other documents and where all these failed, force was used to break down the doors. This was indeed an era known to historian as the colonial period.
The second contact which had Africans involved started as isolated meetings between adventurers from Europe with Africans domiciled along the coast. At these meetings, there were mutual exchange between the two, but usually the coastal people were shortchanged. That was the era referred to by historian as the Mercantile or Imperialistic period.
After a while, the adventurers accumulated huge profits as a result of this exchange. He, therefore, decided to find avenues for investing his surplus so he can expand his horizon towards the American continent and the Caribbeans. But in other to achieve this, he needed cheap labour that he yet again had to turn back to African to introduce the commercialization of human beings which official historian had come to term the Trans Saharan Slave Trade.
During this period, millions of able-bodied Africans were stolen and taken to the new world as labour. This commercial interaction was to leave the African Continent underdeveloped and breed a hybrid of African who while possessing all the physical features of the African is neither European nor African; This hybrid Africans is to provide the template on which the colonial education system was to be established, providing Africans that are Africans physically but socially angling to be Europeans.
They now decided to converge at the Berlin in the year 1884 and decided to partition the Continent between themselves for effective possession. Surprisingly, the victim, who was the main purpose for the meeting (African and Africans) were neither represented nor invited as observers. Like a birthday party, at which the celebrant was not asked of his date of birth nor invited for the party, the organisers helped themselves to the gifts and entertainment at the party without regards for the feelings of the celebrant. Officially, historian had Christian this era as the Berlin Conference of 1884.
On taking possession of the property, each comes up with a template of molding his properties (the land and the people) in his own suitable image. Economic development and education policies were directed towards serving the interest of Europe and the European. The educational policy was deliberately designed to believe that Europe and what it stands for is superior to what African stands for and can provide. This ended up producing a distorted image of an Africa who is racially African but socially European. The educated African has become the second specie of the hybrid African produced by Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, after much pressure from the hybrid African and with the belief that he can comfortably take the risk after cloning the inheritors, he decided to grant them independence.
After the Hybrid has taken over, people find it very difficult to identify the differences if at all there is one because it turned out that if you were looking out for any information about African, you first stop should be Europe.
While some people see the post-independence as a progress, others simply see it as the continuation of the pacification process in disguise. The present discourse between Africans as regards to still being where we are today (under development) is nothing short other than the action of the discourse started by the contact between the adventurers and the people of the Coast which has been taking different dimensions. Yun House is a contribution to that continued discourse taking into action a microscopic view of what changed Africa and her people forever and the author is of the view that we cannot as Africans forget this in a hurry as the damages are too strong to be ignored however we want to look at it.
In conclusion, this discourse is tripartite and would further engage readers in a robust debate that could reawaken our consciousness rather than thinking “My African is better than yours or my Black is blacker”. It also sets the tone for whether or not we still want to be pacified as a people and a continent.
It is a great work of faction I will say. The author device some sort of stream of consciousness in the continuous debate of the Yunhouse story. Participants of the Yunhouse are real or are some people or characters who look too real.