Bite-size Review: Foreign Gods, Inc. | Okey Ndibe

AFRIKULT.’S OVERALL RATING:

Foreign Gods, Inc. | Okey Ndibe

Okey Ndibe explores the relationships between traditional Igbo religious systems and fervent Christian worshipers within contemporary contexts. Creatively subtle Ndibe’s exploration takes place with Ike’s story, a Nigerian middle-aged man, educated to degree level and a cab-driver in New York city. The measly earnings Ike makes from the cab service hardly keep him afloat the mounting bills and outstanding debts, the financial demands of his family in Nigeria, the recovery of his recent divorce, to cover his addiction to gambling and alcohol. Ike is an infuriating and pitiful character who is embittered by the recurring set-backs he faces in America, self-conscious of his Nigerian accent which is culpable for his failings, and is a huge risk-taker though he hardly has the stomach for it. Ike is a battered man and desperate for a financial change he seeks to steal Ngene, the war god of the Utonki village, and sell Ngene to a Manhattan ‘foreign gods’ art dealer. Concocting this stealthy idea Ike impromptu quits his job and borrows money to fly back to Utonki, Nigeria hoping that his steal of Ngene will prove to be a lucrative deal. However his hope is misplaced and his plan is inchoate. Rather he is confronted with the volatile dispute between Ngene and Christian worshipers, the pervasive political corruption, and constant disappointment he has caused his family. Under the pretext of stealing Ngene, Ndibe craftily delves into the social tensions and corruptions within Nigeria and similarly the cultural tokenism within the American context.

(Recommend 2014 Soho Press publication)

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