South African Abigail George is a Pushcart Prize ("Wash Away My Sins") and Best of the Net ("Secrets") nominated blogger, essayist, playwright, Northern Areas poet, chapbook, grant, novella, and short story writer, contributing editor at African Writer, and the writer of eight books. She was educated in Port Elizabeth, Swaziland, and Johannesburg. She has been published widely on online global platforms. She writes about women, issues of faith, spirituality, and the natural world. Her writing has appeared online in e-zines across Africa such as Cameroon, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, South Africa, Turkey, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Book Review of Sola Osofisan’s ‘Blood Will Call’
"And as imagination bodies forth the forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing; a local habitation and a name."
‘Blood Will Call’ is a beautiful book that promises the planting of the seasons faded out with the elegant winter, complex, and complicated summer, spring, and autumns, escapism, hurting, and wounded lives.
People who have to take stock of the exit route out. There’s abuse, there’s mediocrity, there’s average, there’s people living on the edge, addicted to the void of waiting, the darkness of existentialism, the apron strings of the kitchen, the reincarnation of ghost, illusion, and apparition. Don’t think of me as volcano, the woman seems to say, the girlchild, clouds wherever they fix their eyes. There is legacy.
But there are also proponents for change, grief-stricken hearts, impoverished, disadvantaged, and marginalized circumstances. There is forgiveness, tenderness, vertigo, karmic accounts, and debts that have to be paid, and the analysis of scandal, and love story. Rituals of innocence, and wisdom to keep them company. I always wonder about the writer’s routine. Just the thought of this writer hurt me.
I thought of the writer’s anguish, in much the same way I thought of all the characters in the book, their anguish. It played a major role for me. Then came their sadness in a supporting role. Is the writer a morning person, an afternoon person, or an evening person? Do they write into the lonely hours of early morning? What was the object of the writer’s affection, the subjects they framed so imaginatively?
For not the first time in my life, when it came to reviewing a book, I ran away. I danced away from the writer’s vision for his book. This book was a crazy love, and the people in this book didn’t often obey the laws of human nature, or the rules of the game, or know when to say please, or thank you. This book was a boat journey into fire, a river of fire, the flames licking at the canvas of my bare feet. Invoking me to stay. It was a crossing into the divide of sleeping and dreaming, thought and meditation, prayer and vision. You see the writer’s mind at work, a filmmaker’s vision, a poet’s meditation, a short story writer dreaming away. So, the book is acrobatic, intense, hectic, and there’s conflict, and drama that never leaves the page, but you get taken from point to principle, from one identity crisis to the next.
The women have an uninhibited desire for courage, savvy, sass, even when they are at their most vulnerable. They are armed with intuition, persuasion, greatness, supernatural memory, and desire. I paid critical attention to these women, these mothers with their large haunting eyes. They’re not party people, they’re not beach people. They’re people who go off to war every day of their lives.
Yet, there’s something beautiful about them. In their pain, their humiliation, the drudgery of their lives, they take you from the beginning of this book of short stories to the end, and you are wanting them to overcome their circumstances through any means necessary. And I think to myself, this is a Frantz Fanon, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Ben Okri writing here. What now of the valley we’re in.
We’re dreaming that our books, our pen, our sword if you will, will hit the mark, will hit the ground running, and there’s the belief that our books will fascinate audiences, and we dream as Africans from the east to the west in poetry. We write our novels, and short stories in poetry. We envision that now is the time for that. The plausible time for the possible, and impossible, the time for Africans not to be soft targets.
It is difficult for African novelists, and short story writers to publish their books. The world has gone gaga over Nigerian female writers, but where are the male writers. They’re there. It’s just that favor, and increase has yet to work for them in the same way that it has for someone like Chimamanda Adichie. Sola Osofisan, I don’t think that you really understand what you’ve done. You’ve changed everything. I see Africa on the screen of my mind. I see Nigeria on the screen of my mind.
The writer taught me that God will put entities in your path either to obstruct you, destroy you, sabotage you, or uplift, empower you, and make you selfless, giving, gifted visionary. The book is a journey. The book is a spiritual journey. Sola Osofisan has a destiny, a kingdom, and in these pages, I took a knowledge from, lessons from my father, stories from my mother. There’s personal fulfillment here on these pages.
There were chapters from my childhood. Things I didn’t want to remember, but I remembered the lesson. Don’t waste the pain. Kill your enemies with kindness. Things happen in life. Things happen in Africa. Mostly negative things happen to women, and girl children in Africa. But they wake up in the morning, the country is still there. There’s a truly wonderful feeling in the air for me right now. Sola Osofisan is Herculean, an Aristotle-in-the-making.
Anybody who writes is creative, but few writers, creatives are historians, researchers, perfect illustrators at interpreting the past injustices of their country. I don’t need the world to love me after eight books. I have the same message for Sola Osofisan. Go on, comrade. Don’t quit, compatriot. Write as if you are living on the edge of the world, as if it’s the end times. Don’t give up your passion.
I’ve discovered the African Renaissance in Sola Osofisan, his brave world, his artistry, his flawless writing, profound technique, and style, and there’s chaos, hysteria, spiritual sensitivity that he brings to his writing. It is dazzling, and sure, hectic and pure, as he describes the landscape of life. Of what matters, mapping it all out for the reader, and it seems as if I have waited forever to read a book like this. There’s conditioned thinking, church, indoctrinated religion, theologians that are still there.
From the first page the characters hover in plain sight like the music of the night. They are anointed, and enigmatic (nurturers, caretakers, products of neo-colonialism that awaken others to insight, loneliness, curbing their enthusiasm for the disgruntled, the downtrodden, miserable pain of their lives). There is something frightening about the reality and non-reality of these stories.
How these people are blessed by their enemies even. The stories are filled with movement like dance, moving rhetoric that represents the unseen system, and a country that is as captivating as a symphony orchestra. I think of the aspects of almost prophetic vision that the people in these stories have. Forgive them. Forgive Sola Osofisan for taking you there. When you’re exhausted, take a break, inhale the aromas of the food cooking on the fire, exhale the happy days that these people will never have.
You just know that you are in the hands of a master-storyteller. More than imprint burned on brain, more like a ghost. I miss you more than most on some days, just thinking of the very thought of you. The book came to me in blooming flowers, in energetic silhouettes, in evolving waves, in vibrations, marking its intelligence in rotation in fulltime observation, great expectations of greatness in study.
Yes, the awareness of something evil is also out there asking for the taking. We live our lives in denial. That denial has become a pastime whenever we are figuring out the hurting in our lives, who was involved with the hurt, why’d it has to impact us so, hit us so hard. I love this writer who displays in one heart the fugitive spirit of humanity, in one soul survival and endurance, and fear and anxiety in the rural wilderness of the countryside in Africa. This is not an African book by far. It is a Nigerian book.
Nigerian creatives are using every story that they’ve heard from childhood, that has doors that lead to intimacy and frustration, that navigate you towards health, and homesickness, a basket case, and the decay found in the wild. Camp out in ‘Blood Will Call’ but don’t get too comfortable. Soon a forcefield will hit you. The man you don’t want to marry, risk, adventure, and radiance. You can never predict the direction in which this writer goes. It is not the weather.
This writer eats the crumbs from our masters’ table, the dust of the colonial masters’ until it feels like home, with his angel tongue. I am a writer who understands the anatomy of loneliness, and the explicit, controversial, seed-language of blood. The book will grant you a revolutionary kiss on the lips, it is intellectual-magic, on so many levels political, breaking and un-breaking diplomacy, negotiation, and reconciliation.
Now a few words about Sola Osofisan, the writer of ‘Blood Will Call’. In Africa, in tales of folklore, in the tradition, culture, background, heritage of oral storytelling, passing stories from one generation to the next, there is always a woman involved. Now we have a man. Not just any man. We have a maverick-extraordinaire who knows when to make a gracious exit in-and-out of these relationships. He’s conscientizing an entire generation.