Literary

Uche Nwokedi’s Memoir, ‘A Shred of Fear’ on Spotlight at CORA Book Trek 

Nwokedi

Yinka Olatunbosun

The May edition of the monthly literary series CORA Book Trek held on Wednesday May 31st at Roving Heights Bookstore in Landmark Place, Water Corporation Drive, Oniru, Victoria Island featured Uche Nwokedi’s debut memoir, ‘A Shred of Fear.’ The book review session attracted the friends and associates of the author as well as prominent members of the literary community.

The CORA BookTrek is a fortnightly author-audience interface, featuring readings, reviews and discussions of select books of searching historical and contemporary insight into the African society. The objective is to deepen literary appreciation and audience engagement with the published text.

At the May Edition, the senior advocate and author, Nwokedi read copiously from his book, ‘A Shred of Fear’ alongside friends drawn from the culture community. The memoir is a childhood account of survival and hope through the trauma of war. Young Uche relives with humour some untold details of the war from the point of view of a child survivor.

Aged seven when the war began, he and his family would spend the next three years as refugees in their own country. A Shred of Fear brings dramatic events vividly to life as it tells a compelling tale of courage through a dark period.

The session itself was marked by banters and book signing. Anchored by Nigerian writer, journalist and publisher of Africa Oil and Gas Report Toyin Akinosho who allowed the author to read from his book and fielding questions from the audience. In his introductory remarks, the author admitted to being slightly nervous at the start of the book reading session.

My training and practice as a lawyer allows me to be calm,’’ he began. “I was invited by Wale Ojo to contribute a chapter to the compilation of stories that we were writing about children in the Biafran war. I did my 5000 words and read it to Wale. He said this should be a book. I was committed to the project. Two years later, they hadn’t done the book. The book was something I discussed with my family and my wife. She is also an avid reader. She would say ‘What can you remember? What smell can you remember?’ I started to think of the sound, smell and the memories came back. My challenge was to tell it in a way that people would grasp. Each chapter has an epigraph. That is another layer of storytelling. That epigraph is taken from something that speaks to the war.”

Nwokedi gave an insight to the socio-political context of the work and the layers of inferences embedded in it.

As some of you might know or may not know, Christopher Okigbo was part of the creative group that Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe were a part of at the University of Ibadan. One of the things that led me to start researching his poetry was a book I read. I read Ali Mazrui’s ‘The Trial of Christopher Okigbo’ in my A-levels. When I read the book, I disliked the man. He concluded in the book that Christopher Okigbo died for a needless cause. When I read the poem, ‘Elegy for Alto’ by Okigbo written shortly before he died, it was a prophetic poem where he talked about military rule.”

The author admitted that no one actually prepares for war. It is usually the climax of a series of conflicts in the polity. The conversation around the room revolved on the issues of memory, fidelity to the truth, trauma and healing. Nwokedi revealed that while writing the book, his older siblings remembered some of the war accounts that he had forgotten but decidedly chose not to include those in the book. For him, the idea was to tell his own side of the story that he still remembers.

With reference to the Egyptian pilots mentioned in the book and the role they played in the Nigerian Civil War, Akinosho remarked that much effort is needed in the understanding of sociology in Nigeria.

Nwokedi

The author who is a senior advocate of Nigeria is a Principal Counsel at Uche Nwokedi & Co. He cut his teeth at Ashland Oil Company Nigeria as a Legal Officer and later proceeded to Rotimi Williams Chambers as Senior Counsel.

With over 35 years of post-call legal experience, Uche has made his mark in International Commercial Arbitration and Commercial Law, with specialty in oil and gas industry transactions.  Before joining the Board of FirstBank, he was the Publisher & Editor-in-Chief of Nigerian Oil and Gas Cases, Chairman, Pound Road Media Limited, and Founder and Chairman, The Playhouse Initiative for Youth Development, a non -profit foundation exploring creativity for youth empowerment.

A graduate of University of Lagos, he is a member of Chartered Institute of Arbitration and Maritime Arbitrators Association of Nigeria, former member of the Executive Council of The Maritime Arbitrators Association of Nigeria.

Aside from being a reputable lawyer, Nwokedi is also a playwright and producer. His play, ‘Kakadu the Musical, is one of the earliest world-class styled musicals of the 2000s and the first Nigerian musical to be staged in South Africa’s largest theatre hall in Johannesburg. He is the creator and producer of EVE, a weekly legal soap opera which ran for three seasons and is now rested.

Earlier this year, CORA has featured the works of three authors at the BookTreks including Vincent Maduka’s REEL LIFE: My Years Managing Public Service Television; Simon Kolawole’s Fellow Nigerians: It’s All Politics and Musikilu Mojeed’s The Letterman: Inside the ‘Secret’ Letters of former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo.

 

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