Expert Book Review – Dreams from Yesterday

Akingbogun’s stories do not finish on the pages where they are written, they continue in their readers—little wonder he leaves them with the largess of developing their conclusion. 

Utibe Hanson

Akingbogun and the Questions of Justice


Let us begin with how any natural thing opens—the petals and human eyes at sunrise, the palm of a child—any natural thing: smoothly, and to wonder, even how the heart opens to love.

Akingbogun’s writings open smoothly to wonder, with beauty, anger, questions and power. Power, in the way that his writings invite the readers to be co-writers with him to determine their resolution.

Akingbogun’s stories follow the typical satiric paradigm of, ‘And satire is not magnifying faults/But to probe events to stir people’s thoughts’ (“Tragoidia”, Utibe Hanson, 2016), without being satiric, or being satiric when necessity calls for it. Elsewhere, he’s been adjudged the best thriller writer in the country because his works are racy, with piquant plots, intense actions, fluent linguistics, relatable settings, and replete with suspense.

Yet, intelligent social interrogations punctuate his narratives, surfacing so without forced appearance. Hence, the form and the content interweaving in inseparable union of symbiosm, nay, monism.

This is his second set of work I am happy to read and review, and can contend that Akingbogun’s originality cannot be debated. The man allows his craft to lead where it pleases with no attempt to pander to the west by exploring poverty porn as most African writers are accustomed to doing to gain plaudits and patronage from the west.

I daresay, his characters are often crafted with charisma and sapience and his reflections of the Nigerian landscape are often always positive lending a good public image to the nation that almost everyone would rather see bastardised.

It is only in cases where the author seeks to interrogate social issues that need urgent attention which he hopes to enlighten his readers about and engender an almost immediate plausible reaction that he pans his point of view to the appalling significations bedevilling the nation in stark relations.

The man’s craft succeeds in fulfilling the grand double-entendre mandate of literature which is edutainment—the entertainment coming first, and the education being by osmosis. Still, as necessity demands, he provides postscripts to hammer the scientific, medical or cultural motif that drives the story.

For instance, in You Can’t Kill a Dead Man, we learn about the condition called Cotard’s Syndrome ‘(or walking corpse syndrome) in which a patient thinks he or she is dead…counterintuitively…these patients also think they are immortal’(27).

 The Stories as They Go

 Old Town Road

Old Town Road is the opening story in this collection. The denouement of the story effectively mirrors the preternatural signification of the overarching title of the collection.

In this story, a man, Garba, is on his way to the hospital to visit his daughter, Halima, with his wife, Aisha, and he walks into a terrifying bomb blast that results in innumerable casualties. Thankfully, he only suffers a scratch in this realisation when the brouhaha recedes, or so.

All the procurement he gets for the visit to the hospital is lost in the turmoil. But he’s bent on getting to the hospital because hitherto, he’s been a terrible husband and has only just repented, and is eager to be responsible.

He rises from the ruins, and all around him are disheartening sights of the outcome of the blast. He makes it to the hospital and finds the personnel busy with the influx of emergency cases; no one notices his entrance. He happens on his wife watching the news of the blast and weeping inconsolably because it is reported that he is among the dead.

 You Can’t Kill a Dead Man

The second story in the collection, with a spooky narrative, is overlaid with instructions for a medical condition.

Mr Flo in his old age is desirous of his youthful indulgence. Living alone with only a maid who comes to clean his home, he’s suffering from erectile dysfunction and curses the reality that he can’t take advantage of the maid’s supple body even though she dares him with it.

Mr Flo one day sleeps the sleep of death and wakes up a whole man with an erect penis and legs strong enough to ferry him to the maid’s house who lived across from him. By all means, he desires to ulfil the taunts. Hence, in ghost mode, he glides to her home and finds her a ready prey for the hunt—then, she wipes him a pestle and he dies. We ponder the possibility of a ghost dying twice before the resolution of the Cotard’s Syndrome.

Miss Gullible

This is the story of an underaged girl who is deceived by an impersonator and impregnated, and given pills to poorly terminate the pregnancy. It lands her in shame and in the hospital.

Fortunately, she is supported through the recovery, and against all attempt to reach the impersonator, she takes it upon herself to trail him to his new hideout and raise the alarm to her guardian.

She hurries, combative, to locate the man, but they find out he’s a mere help of the man he impersonates, and are effectively disappointed.

 What Have You Done?

Here, Akin narrates the tale of a man who is suspicious of his wife’s tryst with a neighbour and believes the child of their union is another man’s. Supposedly, a DNA test confirms it. He is wroth with his wife—the loving husband turns monster and beats her into losing a pregnancy, and takes his life.

 Cute Little Devil

Here is a story of a little girl who accuses her mother’s lover of rape in a large gathering, and he’s defenceless in the face of such grave accusation. He’s battered, beaten and arrested.

It turns out the girl did what she did because she didn’t want his union with her mother. And more so, because she hated the gifts he got her.

Baby Daddies

The story of a man, a woman, and another man. Stanley and Adora are intensely in love, in a relationship that is fraught with numerous fights and abortions. Eventually, they settle with getting a surrogate mother to carry their child with the promise from the man that he’d marry her with the materialisation.

But he reneges on his promise and maintains a randy life, leaving Adora with tending the child alone.

Adora resolves in a trickster move to dump the baby with Stanley’s friend. George takes the child to his father, and it sparks a fight between both men. The police intervenes and Stanley is judged to take custody of his child.

Like Adora, Stanley adopts a trickster move by dumping the baby with George’s mother and absconding.

 Dreams from Yesterday

A woman, Harriet, sure of her infertility and the reasons for it, marries a young man who loves her and would love to have children with her, discovers late that she’s the reason for their not having a child.

She enacts her having a child in the dream and names him Hayden. Concurrently, her husband impregnates her best friend, Chioma, she delivers of a baby and reveals to her that the child is her husband’s—thus, theirs. Chioma dies, leaving the child to Harriet. She names him Hayden.

 Peeping Tom

A peeping Tom is disgraced by a creature he dreads—a rat, and it brings an end to his escapades. And he’s duly arrested and arraigned, and rather than pine for the loss of freedom, he only all the while nurtures the thoughts of what chances he’d have to nurse his addiction in prison. Creep.

 Poisoned Darts

The story spins through many plots and arrives at a satisfactory resolve—starts as the story of Sandra and Pat, to becoming the story of Alphonsus, and Agnes’ story again to unifying all three major characters.

Agnes is the mother of two loose girls who deride her hardwork by indulging adolescent escapades in exchange for life’s luxury.

 Too Impaired to Deal

Chronicles the story of teetotaller who was forced-fed several glasses of beer, resulting in an instant death. It turns out that at age 4, he had drunken himself in childish recklessness that impaired his kidneys and liver, and drinking alcohol was a taboo if he was ever to remain alive.

When he drops dead, the guys scamper away.

Two-way Street from Depression

This story chronicles the life of an intelligent, diligent, and excellent young man, Peter, who is falsely accused by a supplier because he wouldn’t budge on his standard of quality, he’s mobbed and thankfully he’s rescued by the police, within the same time, he loses his father, his image, and mental health. He slips into depression and nothing remains the same again.

He goes through numerous torture and unorthodox treatment, before being given the right treatment. He’s lucky enough to have a turnaround later.

 Cheating Men

Intriguing narrative about a fellowship of debauchery and every evil work among four friends while their lovers wasted in wait for them at home.  

 Against Her Will

A man, his wife and her friend are caught in a quagmire that leads to the friend being shot, the wife retaliate for her friend by killing her husband.

 Two Days’ Notice

A man is told by an errant boy priest that he has two days to live. It turns out the boy is a prankster and has been doing that to a lot of people. But the man he prophesied he’d die in two days, dies in less. Begging the question: what killed him? A coward dies many times before their death. A fearful person suffers before the actual suffering.

Riddled Significations

The participatory intervention between writer and reader makes Akingbogun’s works saturated with wonder and boundless ability to sustain attention; every so often provoking the readers to reason what answers to supply to the questions his works ask.

For instance, the first story in the collection terminates with Garba realising that he’s separated from the human plane of existence, and the questions ensues: what happens immediately a person dies, especially suddenly? This opening story seemed to portend that the collection with its title, Dreams from Yesterday, is a fantastical collection because the adjoining story bent in similar direction before the author gave us a jar with a precisely immaculate twist. And, we learn that the author has various secrets folded into his sleeves.

In What Have You Done? We are immediately faced with answering where to send pity and where to send justice.

More so, in Too Impaired to Deal, about the death of Tokunbo—hardly can anyone know what happened because his friends wouldn’t confess what they did to him. Now, onlookers who would come see him having died at the beer stall wouldn’t desist from calling him a useless chap who got what he deserved.

Then, we, who know the full story of what transpired would be screaming our lungs out: He’s not supposed to have died. But clearly, we can’t get our narrative across—leaving us with the burden of wondering how they could be justice for Tokunbo.

Akingbogun’s stories do not finish on the pages where they are written, they continue in their readers—little wonder he leaves them with the largess of developing their conclusion.

Yet, his writings and all the questions he provokes are targeted at our consciences—so that we may weigh our advantages and disadvantages and judge ourselves thereby. For only so can we be considerate and mild with passing judgements on others because not everyone has enjoyed the advantages we each have enjoyed across various facets of life.

Conclusion and Recommendation

Dreams from Yesterday possesses great aestheticism with new historicistic underpinning. The stories in the collection enjoy unique stylistic vehicle of conveyance as dictated by the various thematic preoccupations that form the subjects of the stories. Akingbogun is versatile with his thematic explorations, as the stories in the collection cover almost every known tenable social issue.

I very highly recommend this work of art for various kinds of engagements, from leisure to critical reflexions.

Utibe Hanson is a writer as well as literary and cultural theorist. He is the author of the poetry collection, Unnoticed Presence of Things, and the study, Football as Literature: A Semiotic Reading.

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6 thoughts on “Expert Book Review – Dreams from Yesterday”

  1. Dissociative Identity Disorder(DID) from Waste of Sin too!!
    It’s the ‘….and the education being by osmosis’ for me…
    like , no truer words… give it up for my boss!

  2. Very insightful , Showing deep understanding and intelligent application of knowledge; You’re a Sterling ✍ writer sir .

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