The murder of an unknown prostitute rings in the 21st year of dictator Gen. Isa Palat Bello’s reign in Ndibe's (Foreign Gods, Inc., 2014) fictional Republic of Madia.
Bello and his rule are stand-ins for various real-life dictators and their 21st-century atrocities in post-colonial Africa. When the police detain Bukuru, the sole witness to the prostitute's drowning, and accuse him of her murder, long-simmering tensions within Madian culture come to a head. Representing himself in court, Bukuru steadfastly maintains his innocence, claiming the prostitute's death is the latest in a series of covered-up rapes and murders by Bello and his task force. This, of course, is heresy, and the presiding judge orders all reporters to strike Bukuru’s words from their trial coverage. But one journalist does not: Femi Adero, the first-person narrator whose charming self-deprecation and earnest doubt have seduced us into trusting his narrative reliability. Bukuru believes he now has a champion and arranges a secret meeting in his jail cell to enlist Adero to tell his story, saying he used to be a reporter “just like” Adero. If he had any sense of self-preservation, Adero would take this warning for what it is and flee Bukuru’s jail cell, returning to a life of conforming to the political status quo. But Adero does not. And giving voice to Bukuru’s story creates a larger narrative of whose life matters and whose truth matters—if truth even matters at all. What do you do, Ndibe asks, when you are faced with injustice and total corruption? When to speak will very likely mean your end?
A Kafkaesque, imaginative novel of great necessity and power.