Book: Tomorrow Died Yesterday
Author: Chimeka Garrick
There is always that one book sitting on the bookshelf and gathering dust and all sorts of disrespect by being passed over for all the trending and more seemingly glamorous books. And then, one day, out of curiosity, necessity or some touch of fate, you decide to pick it up and see what it’s about, then you realize you’ve been sleeping on a gem.
Chimeka Garrick’s debut novel was that book for me, or at least, the most recent one. His book, set in the early 2000s and deep smack in the middle of the crisis of the Niger Delta oil, militancy and politics. The storyline is set around four male protagonists: Tubo, Kaniye, Doye(Doughboy) and Amaibi, four childhood friends who grow up on an island village during its turbulent times of being exploited for its oil and by its chiefs and whose lives are forever changed and intertwined with a series of incidences that spring up in Port Harcourt, 1997.
The book starts off with us being introduced to Doughboy in the middle of an ambush by his crew on the staff of Imperial Oil with the intention of kidnapping their Caucasian executive. In steps Tubo, whose unscrupulous, lecherous, love to hate character is so familiar. Tubo is the PR officer of the oil company whose white staff has been abducted and his childhood connection to Doye makes him the ideal fixer. Tubo reaches out to Amaibi, renowned crusader against the oil exploitation by the big oil companies especially the one Tubo works for, an arrangement is made and Amaibi is to be the go-between the two parties.
After the hostage recovery situation goes awry, Amaibi is the one who gets caught up in its crossfire and is thrown into jail which is how we meet the charismatic Kaniye; trained as a lawyer and son of one of the most formidable legal minds in the country but would rather be chef. Kaniye runs a restaurant and that is where he is called upon to defend Amaibi in court, and here really, is where the story begins.
While Tomorrow Died Yesterday turns out to be a very engaging book, the first two chapters require patience; the plot starts out rather awkwardly and there is a stumble or two but soon, one settles in the story line with ease. The characters are relatable and well developed, the dialogues are amazing and many of them, memorable and one also encounters some rather beautiful sentences.
Another outstanding feature of Tomorrow Died Yesterday must be the courtroom scenes which were an absolute relish to read. From the articulate legal jargon and technicalities to the overall atmosphere of the courthouse, one does not need to be a lawyer to feel the heat and appreciate the fine attention made to detail that contributed to the overall rendering of the legal implications of the actions that transpired.
Tomorrow Died Yesterday was published in 2010, which has been a long while ago and as noted by the timeframe within which the story was written, the saga we witness enfold dates even further back into the past. Overall, this is a really fine book that succeeds about not being about just one thing or theme and the issues treated here will remain relevant and enjoyable for a long time to come.