This is the marking of a memoir I’m yet to begin work on. It details my one year travel experience in the States starting from the summer of 2012 to the summer of 2013. My reason behind the travel was simple: I had written a full-length novel several years ago that I wanted to see it become published. Of course, such is never an easy to do feat, and besides, the manuscript had being sitting neglected in a folder in my laptop. If it were a desk drawer, it probably would have gathered as much dust than it ought to. Needless to say, I wasn’t successful in my quest, not as a result of not trying, but rather actions that were far beyond my control. But another thing I’d like to point out is this: One doesn’t attain success in a day. I make no excuses for what happened, even though a lot of what happened to me were on the wrong side, I still am grateful I made the journey, and somehow I know the journey is far from over.
The novel in question is titled THE RABBIT’S MAN. It’s an espionage thriller that is more in the style of Graham Green and John LeCarre, two of my favorite English authors, and it is based on the militant terrorism that still plagues the southern part of my country, Nigeria, and has deep undertones that reach into its political and socio-economic background.
I will be posting excerpts of the work here on my blog, but before I get to that part, allow me to first narrate my early life of how the novel came into being, and of my former work here in my country.
I was born in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Pretty much a city I’ve learned to hate and love as I got older. Two years after graduating from the university, I was met a German writer who’s now based in the U.S., called Peter Brendt.
He’d read one of my online manuscripts and he persuaded me to write something bigger, something that speaks more on the goe-political background of my country. In other words, he wanted me to write a novel. I’ve prior to that time attempted once at writing something bigger, but my computer crashed on me and I lost everything I had. I tried talking him out of it, but he kept on with a thorough persuasion until I was forced to do it.
Such was how I began work on ‘The Rabbit’s Man’. However months later, I got a job working as a security operator in the security division of a multinational French company that specializes in oil and gas production called TOTAL/ELF. This was in late 2007. I did a training program and began working with ex-Nigerian Navy personnel. At the time, the southern part of the country was rift with militant rebels and pirates who’d morphed into vigilante gangs who kidnapped and pillaged oil structures within and around the south-south region. Years ago, such gangs had taken up this task as a means of fighting the Nigerian government against mis-leading the multinational oil companies into destroying the riverine homestead of the indigenous tribes, stealing their oil-infested lands and polluting their waters. But over the years, the gangs had turned their maleficent glare upon the civilian population. Even till this day, the communities are yet to recover from this tragedy.
Our mission was to secure traffic of the vessels from their land base to their offshore locations and back without any auspicious threats from the militants, most of whom roamed the creeks and various waterways from sight of the Nigerian Navy patrol vessels. It wasn’t always easy. The militants had far superior fire-power, and the work got too dangerous, myself along with my colleagues were transferred to desk offices.
In the mean time, I had plenty of hours fermenting ideas that would lead to the fictional heart of the novel I was working on.