Writer’s Note: This analysis will be misunderstood.

The book, Musdoki, is no longer the news and the “Aint too proud to beg” [1] e-mail has reached the stage where some people even wonder if it was ever written. For those not conversant to the JOSANA list serve, Ahmed Maiwada (the author) sent a mail with that then famous subject line. It was his introduction of the book and a plea for people to buy as many copies as possible in addition to airing their views on it. Let us not go into the style of the innovative almajiri (with all due respect) style of book offering, sorry, I mean marketing. There were so many responses to it that one expected that a lot of reviews would be coming out at the snap of a finger. I was disappointed but prepared for my own experience when I got such replies but not any critical insight. However, that, to pidginize the cliché, na another magana all together.

For those who haven’t read the book, here is a summary (you can jump this paragraph if you have gone through the ‘rigor’ of the two hundred odd pages). Set in Northern and Southern Nigeria (largely Zaria and Lagos). Musdoki borders on the life of a certain bespectacled Lawyer, Musa Maidoki who at the beginning of the book, we find as a struggling second-time examination writer after having failed at the first attempt and ‘ruining’ the family pride, as he thinks. He is met by a beautiful half caste midget girl, Rita, who speaks to him like they have known forever and reveals her love for him. She imposes herself on him and they go home together. She suggests that they run away. Events take place and he decides to take a decision, which the author cleverly doesn’t let us know. We move fast to the future where Maidoki is about to enter Law School. So many tales continue as Maidoki encounters Christine, a lady who wants him for hers at all cost. She turns out to be a Queen of the waters. He resists her several advances and pays dearly in several attacks, both natural and spiritual. He marries a near illiterate woman, time passes, then, we discover she is dead. In essence, the cruel author secretly murders the lady without our, the readers, consent. It is allowed. We find this out when Maidoki gives a beautiful lady a lift. On the way, she tries to harm again but he somehow triumphs. He discovers that the lady is Rita. She confesses her love for him and says she would have to die as she has failed to complete a simple task – killing him. She would become a normal human and there would be nothing to live for since he doesn’t love her. He convinces her not to die as he loves her…

This book might be said to be in the genre of magical realism with a major emphasis on the realism. There is a certain merger of the worlds viz. fantasy and reality, together that really seem to diminish the boundaries of both. Like previous critics and the author would put, we are not subjected to the scene by scene view of the underworld or the several powers of the dark world that we are used to seeing in fiction (okay, even some non-fiction!) Most of the events that are attributed to the so-called Queen of the Coast aren’t that concrete and one can even deny that some of them were caused by her. In essence, she is not given the larger than life image that most works would accord such a ‘person.’ For the few instances where we see weird creatures in the life of the hero, they are made to look like the normal occurrences of life. The others can simply be attributed to dreams. For instance, in the scene where he is attacked by some weird creatures in his parlor, he comes unscathed the next minute. The rains and other issues that affect him might have been caused by God, not Christine, as he thinks. The python on his toilet… okay, this one was eerie and like the work of a demon. The near beating to death of Maidoki after he is accused by a lady in a restaurant could have happened to anyone. That the three agents of the Queen could not disappear till they reached water was also interesting as other authors might have done so. It is also worthy of note that the usual short cut of people shouting “Jesus!” and all evil fleeing is also dumped in this work.

The only true place that the Queen’s power is shown is in the instance of the boat at sea. Though that particular area is confusing, I think the power was evident. Here too, there is a claim that she has twins with Maidoki but we don’t get to have a ‘view’ of them. The instance where Maidoki’s yahoo (manhood) is spiritually stolen is a place worthy of discussion pertaining this flow. There is a lot of comedy (humor played on, if you wish) in this part of the tale and Maiwada does not lose the chance to exploit it fully. From funny mother tongue interfering Police officers to the now popular Maidoki trying to reclaim his yahoo through several means, we are given some good laughs. The church is brought here with the introduction of a certain Pastor who has a strange accent that he switches to pidgin between moods. We are introduced to another of Maidoki’s girlfriends (Gift) here. She is mentioned before, but we see how they met here. We also discover that like the Police officers, she has an English speaking problem.

Perhaps in the Nigerian tradition of always showing a major historical event that happened in the country, Maiwada shows us the cruelty meted out on Northerners following the annulment of the 1993 General election of 1993. Big thanks to him for sparing us the Civil War tale that everyone seems to be writing. One appreciates his trying to explain the stance of the North and their troubles since Independence (I richly benefited from it!) However, the length and coverage he dedicated to this particular episode in his work is long – too long for the little he talks about. Thus, the book at that point, becomes tiresome and one has to drag one’s way through it. In essence, this part of the tale becomes like the tale of one of the old men through whom the author tells the story of the Northern struggle. The old man’s fellow travelers find his tale overtly repetitive, long, and boring! This is probably the same reaction of most readers to this part. The story of Maidoki’s girl friend, Shade, is also hollow as the whole narrative offered of it is not convincing. Come to think of it, none of Maidoki’s girlfriend tales are convincing except for those of Christine and Rita.

The book is written in the first person narrative with Maidoki (of course) as the narrator. This means that we can’t accuse the author of much error in any form since we are looking at the words of the narrator (not the author – smart!) whose errors can be looked at as his personal style or something of the like. The tense of narration used is a mixture of past perfect and present continuous. At several points at the beginning of the novel, I thought this was a mistake and had to draw some error lines plus make some comments. Some of the present continuous renderings came at odd points. I also thought I was going to add it to the basket of typos the book contains. I noticed the consistency with which they occurred and decided they were deliberate. Someone mentioned to me, that it is a form of experimentation. Oh well! Perhaps due to a certain poetic rendition, that is sometimes forced, Musdoki is written in Chapters and Verses. Maybe, something like the bible: Musdoki Chapter 1, verse 1, line … Quite innovative. It was published by Mazzariya Publishers and yes, it is not short of the usual typos that one notices in a lot of unfortunate to say, Nigerian published works. There are quite a number of them in the work and we do not have to go far into the book to see the first. The first indication comes on the side of the book where the title is written as ‘MUSDOK.’ You can imagineor check it if you have a copy! Let us not go into the individual ones within. But the saying goes, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Yes, the picture of the author at the inner back page of the book: Maybe it was my copy but the face I saw there wasn’t that of a human or anyone else. Is Maiwada a ghost or shadow? Since the picture is credited to the author himself, one might be forced to infer that the picture is a continuation of the book’s line of fantasy. Hm! So, do not judge a book by its cover or inner cover page! Or…

On the whole, the book is worth one’s time and yes, money. Which reminds me, did I mention that the book was imposed on me by my ANA Chairman, Sam Ogabidu? Okay, I had intentions of buying it but that particular moment wasn’t so pocketly favorable. All the same, it was as worth it as I think the writing experience was for Maidoki… Sorry! I meant Maiwada. Talking of which, did anyone else notice the seeming similarities of the hero of the book with the author? Of course, it is allowed but ehm… well, it is allowed.

To imitate the author’s plea, I encourage anyone, who can, to get a copy and form “your impression.” If you find things you don’t like, you would beware not to include them in your own work and of course, let us know!

Su’eddie Vershima AGEMA, an all rounded writer, reviewer and Development Enthusiast, lives in Abuja and Makurdi, Nigeria. Check his work here, at or join his fan page on Facebook.

[1] The message “Ain’t too proud to beg” can be found in the archives of the Josana list serve on January 17, 2010 1:19 AM.  (For anyone interested in viewing it an its responses) Non-members can either register to view it or look for a member to send them the mail.










Would love to have your thoughts, please...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s