‘Ebulue’ follows the story of a couple from birth through present day. The book is divided into six parts and thirteen chapters, the first two parts of the book were devoted to narrating the early days of Ozoekwe and Veronica Udeze’s lives before they met. The third and fourth parts focused on their marriage which marriage which was solemnised in 1967, the year that the Biafra War started. In a way, this part is the story of a young couple navigating the many challenges that the war brought. It focused on the redemptive power of love in the face of the destructive power of war. Just as it was fifty years post-Biafra War in 2017, the couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, and this book reads more like their child’s gift to them. In the fifth and sixth parts of the book, we get a glimpse into the kinds of parents and grandparents that they are. It also celebrates their love for culture and God.
Through the eyes of his parents, Udeze takes us on a journey into Igbo land in the 1930s, to a time when, Igbo culture was struggling to stand despite the heavy winds of colonialism. While his father Ozoekwe was able to get an education up until Standard 6, his wife did not start her education on time. However, as fate would have it, the late starter ended up as a nurse; Ozoekwe on the other hand went into business, selling petroleum products. Their paths would cross; their stars would align; they would get married and start a family together. While it is the couple’s story, the reader also goes on a journey through different stages of Nigeria’s history: the colonial times, independence, the Biafra war, the SAP years and more. And Udeze shows how these changing tides of a nation affects the couple and their children
‘Ebulue’ soaks the reader into Igbo culture, of kolanuts, of igbu ichi, of ichi, of ozo, of festivals, of age grade systems, and more. It is the way Udeze “unweaves” these cultural values from his parent’s lives and weaves it into this narrative that is endearing. Their love for Igbo language, their support for local traditions, and for one another, stand out in the narrative. Udeze peppers his sentences with native wisdom here and there. He soaks the yam of his words with the oil of indigenous stories. These are some of the things that keep one turning the pages, the promise that there is something new to learn on the next page.
Like the typical Nigerian biography, ‘Ebulue’ is not free from the entrapments of tributes, however, in an untypical way, it makes one question: While writing a story quite personal, how do you decide on what is important? How do you even choose a narrative voice especially when you, as the writer, is part of that narration? How does one writing about one’s parent’s while they are still alive? How do you pay homage to them through words? That was what Chiedozie Udeze did with ‘Ebulue.’
While the book might have been the writer’s gift to his parents upon the the golden jubilee of their wedding, it is a befitting gift to future generations to learn of their history. It is also a gift to anyone interested in knowing more about another culture. At a time when indigenous traditions are getting swallowed by globalisation, ‘Ebulue’ tells an exemplary story of love, of culture and a couple’s love for their culture.
Review by Isabella Akinseye.
You are invited for the launch of ‘Ebulue.‘
Date: August 25, 2018.
Venue: SV Chrome Hotels, 101A Ebitu Ukiwe Street, Jabi Abuja.
Time: 3 pm
Kindly RSVP by sending a mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Read an excerpt of ‘Ebulue‘ here.