Learning Practical Life Lessons
River People and Other Stories by Peter Ukwa (Words, Rhymes and Rhythm; 2015) raises some thought-provoking life issues that many take for granted. Ukwa uses a simple narrative style to deliver this short, creative prose. Every story is presented in a unique cultural background that gives the reader a nostalgic feeling and puts him or her on edge; readers are bound to ask for more.
Ukwa presents eight powerful stories and each deals on a particular societal vice or cultural practice. Though each story is short, he successfully delivers the messages in simple language.
These human interest stories relate to the happenings in a typical Nigerian society. The first story True Independence gives account of a happening in a village in Niger Delta where it is set. The Abacha administration executed nine men from the region. As if that was not enough, the community lost almost half of its inhabitants due to pipeline burst. But as the saying goes, ‘after the rain comes the sunshine;’ the community rejoices over the creation of a new state, which presents the community with greater opportunities.
The Flower Vase talks of a parent and child relationship. Here, a disciplinarian father forbids his son from going to watch the execution of his father’s friend who was condemned.
The Poor Rich Man is a complete tragedy that sees a rich man looses everything he had including his wife and three children. This serves as a lesson to those who only want to acquire wealth without making an impact in the society. “It is a common saying among the Igbo that one’s wealth is not measured by the property in his possession, but the number of youths he helped become somebody”.
Okolo’s refusal to help his village people further compounds his problems when he returns to the village after the loss. No one was willing to lend him help. He becomes ‘cursed,’ and this eventually leads him to committing suicide.
The Stepmother is another life lesson to stepmothers who would rather maltreat their stepchildren than be good to them. The stepmother’s evil thought toward her stepson propels her to the level of killing him. She intends to kill him by poisoning his food, but her two sons wind up consuming the food.
These are just a few of the eight stories from beautifully written River People and Other Stories.
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