Nigerian corruption has become high tech, mechanized, and institutionalized. The henchmen for the generals in power now have military rank themselves and have been trained in Latin America. Their techniques have been refined: the dreaded Ossai is able to extract confessions by torture done with office staplers, making his predecessors in A Man of the People (1966), Dogo and Boniface, look incompetent and inefficient. At the very opening of the book, there is a public execution of so-called criminals which has drawn huge crowds, children among them; the narrator of that section, Ikem, notes that the
‘‘criminals’’ have just been imitating the behavior of the leaders of the country, who ‘‘openly loot’’ the treasury.
Such looting has also been expanded and refined. The illicitly funded Presidential Retreat, led up to by a road shaped like a spiral (recollective of the Tower of Babel?), and bordered by a huge artificial lake, is Chief Nanga's seven bedroom house. While it is beautiful, Beatrice recalls Ikem's objections, with his reminder that the people do not have clean water to drink. In startling contrast to the Retreat and what it represents is the myth of Idemili told later in the Beatrice section. She, a water/huntress deity and daughter of the sun, has descended in a pillar of water and ‘‘has wrapped around Power's rude waist a loin cloth of peace and modesty,’’ making the River Niger wind through the country to provide the people with water. The Idemili myth is part of the larger theme of the redemptive power of women.
Scams of personal aggrandizement at the expense of the common good are rife even among lesser government workers. Civil servants get their steady checks, doing as little as possible, and insisting on being driven in Mercedes rather than Peugeot.
Radio stations and newspapers, of course, are...
(The entire section is 770 words.)