The Book Measuring Time is about the uncanny nature of fate. It tells a story of how life happens to us in ways that we do not know, how we can achieve our aim in different ways and how ambitions can lead to an undesired end. Its aim is to tell the African story from the daily life of Individuals rather than the random mention of political leaders, waters and dates, the book looked at the how the people came here, how life goes on for them with little knowledge of Independence and all the big things that “historians” celebrate as the history of the people. It looked at how the Colonial Masters upset the balance in African Culture and replaced it with a stealing political class. It noted that all that matters to people are their own individual desires, achievements, failure or success. And their love.
The author focused on the Keti people of Gombe State with a man named Lamang whom fate smiled upon by bestowing him with handsomeness but punished with poverty. To achieve wealth, he had to sacrifice his love for Saraya for the wealth of Tabitha’s father which will come to him if he marries Tabitha, the sickly girl – his daughter. In that way, Life gave Tabitha her most desired man, but he was in love with another woman. Lamang and Tabitha had twins, he loved neither the mother nor the kids even at the point of death, Lamang abandoned her, broken and cold. Just like ambition made Lamang to marry Tabitha, he later went to politics and there, fate avenged Tabitha
The Children grew to be ambitious like their father even though they despised him. They wanted to get out of the village, to see the world, to be famous. Just like their father whom life gives with one hand and takes with the other, of the three who had the ambition of been famous and travelling, only LaMamo was able to leave the village which is typical of life. Even brothers have different destinies. Mamo could not go because he was always sick due to his sickle Cell, Asabar (their cousin) returned after finding out that war was not his thing.
LaMamo found himself joining one rebel army fighting because he has always wanted to be a soldier in pursuit of fame but the pain that his brother was not there with him made him consider if the ambition was worth it. He fought from Chad to Libya and then to Liberia and just like all achieved desire, he began to ask, “what is the essence of this fight?” it dawned on him that all wars are political and if war remaining profitable, people will always fight. He realized that the freedom he sought for Africans can not be achieved through the barrel, he was tired of this ambition, it is not worth it, he wants the serenity of the village, he went home after surviving the war front for 10years. He was consumed the very next day by the crisis at home before he would see his child.
On the other hand, Mamo who was unable to “travel the world” with his brother has deemed himself a failure. He has retired to his bed to read, eat and wait for death but fate had other plans. He started as a primary school teacher, grew to become the secretary to the Mai, the Traditional leader of the Keti Village and was even scheduled to write the Biography of the Mai Lineage. Finally, he was connected, meeting with Governors and all the people that matters. He was finally famous just like he had always wanted with his brother. Now he had realized that the sickness which prevented him from joining the army had finally given him fame but fate again brought fame without the joy to enjoy it. He finally found out about the evil of the throne, how deceptive and of low value the people around power are. He did not want to be part of the people. He wanted to be at peace with his conscience. He gave up the fame, returned home to be with his love Zara. But by now, Zara was depressed and could not be talked to anyone.
The role of Zara in the story reflects how women are treated in the society. She had a child with a man she does not love, he brutalizes her but because he is connected to power, her mother wants her to remain in the marriage. She tried to run away from her reality, but home is where love is, home she went to be with Mamo.
The book measuring time is about how time cannot be measured. It is about the banality of desires and ambitions. We look at Lamang whom had money, but he wanted power, he died chasing it and then, there is Mamo who we thought was going to die, he lived long enough to write the personal biography of everyone. LaMamo thought joining the army would make him famous and popular, after many years, he could not pin point to what aim was he fighting. The book is about been contented and making impact from where you are because life will happen to us.
Reviewed By: Mary Ilo