This is his Joseph Edgar’s third book and definitely his best work so far.
Aaaarrrghh!!!! is an autobiography; an irreverent and hilarious account of the life and times of Joseph Edgar. The book is not “Wry Smile” funny. It is “Laugh Out Loud” funny. And riveting. How could it not be Edgar J lives for humour and laughter is his greatest virtue. As a means of sustaining the humour, Joseph often employs a literary technique known as authorial intrusion. This is a literary device where the author steps out of the story and speaks directly to his audience. Edgar J uses this technique very effectively.
Aaaarrrghh!!!! contains several vignettes of Edgar J’s 50 years and does he know how to spin a yarn. Joseph’s book is brutally honest and revelatory. However, wherever, Prudence determines that Honesty may be Indiscreet, Joseph simply glosses over the event. The prose, though, is always effective and hard hitting. This is not a book where the author seeks to whitewash his life and present himself as a saint. Joseph reveals himself to us ‘naked and afraid’. We are drawn into his world, his fears, anxieties and insecurities. We relive his successes and his triumphs. We see his energy and his listlessness. For me, the book could easily be divided into two parts. The first part is full of humour self-deprecating humour. The latter part of the book where he recounts his woes is stark and humourless; his bitterness here is unmistakable and disturbing. There is no laughter here – there is only pain.
He says this book was written to enable him to pay his children’s school fees and while this may be true, after reading this book, I daresay, Edgar J needed to write this book as a form of catharsis. He needed to expurgate the ‘demons’ which, it is clear, have bedeviled his psyche since he left paid employment. Joseph’s book reveals a lot about his psyche and his personal philosophy and these revelations are neither pedestrian nor pedagogical. Insights into his fundamental make up are not exposed by the several exciting events in his life but instead by his reactions to these events. A couple of examples are –
(a) his complicated relationship with Christianity;
(b) his need to re-conquer Betrayed Love as symbolised by his foray into Theatre production;
There are many more.
Edgar’s disdain for organised religion is quickly apparent. The long hours of mandatory prayer during his childhood inoculated him against future religious fervour. Even in his retelling of his years in the wilderness, he does not seem (as many do) to seek the face of the Lord. He recounts with scorn and sadness his father’s years of Prayer to regain employment in the financial industry.
“For my father, getting another banking job was a herculean task and he resorted to long hours of prayer and supplication to the God of Abraham and Absalom, the one who saved the children of Israel from the terrible hand of the Egyptians. This solution took seven years.”
When it is Joseph’s turn to be unemployed he declines to follow this paternal example. Despite this difference in approach to matters spiritual, it is clear that Joseph had a great and abiding love for his father who, at great personal sacrifice, sent him and his four siblings to the University of Ibadan. Joseph grew up in an atmosphere of love and community. The microcosm of the Okuyiga community, the close familial relations with the Umoh-Etuks and even the Church. All this love gave him a great sense of community and a desire to help the downtrodden and unfortunate.
Aaaarrrghh!!!! is written in language that is unmistakably Nigerian; an amalgam of pidgin, colloquialisms and good grammar. We recognize this language and through it, we identify with Joseph and his trials and triumphs. Although he will disagree vehemently, Joseph’s prose, is very much like the music of this present crop of Nigerian artistes; it resonates deeply within us as Nigerians because it is profoundly personal. As a result, it is powerful and deeply influential.
My criticisms, and they are minor centre around a wish for more information on Edgar J’s various theatre productions, but maybe this is the work of another day. It is hoped also that any future work of the author benefits from tighter editing – so that the few errors I spotted in this book are not repeated.
Joseph Edgar reached out to me, and I was able to order for the hard copy of the book. Very interesting and exciting book, even though I believe more discretion should have been deployed in some areas. I was able to relate well with the book because I personally know most of the names mentioned therein. From BGL (account that I managed in STB for years), to Investment One, (their MD, Nicholas. and I resumed at GTB same day), to his days at CSL I was with FCMB for seven years). That must have accounted for my being able to finish the book in less than two days. With benefits of hindsight, he must have realised some of the mistakes he made during those years just like most of us, but can we turn back the hand of the clock?
. Omotoye is the Chief Executive Officer of Anchor Petroleum Limited.