One of the things most fascinating about life as we live it is the phenomenon of how people pass through each other’s lives like buses through a bus stop. Someone who meant the entire world to you yesterday might be nothing but a footnote in your life’s story today, but the impact/input said person has on your life would most likely echo till the day you die.
Tomorrow Died Yesterday is a story of action and consequence, lies and love, greed and lust, the power of the truth and most poignantly, redemption. It is the story of four friends; Doughboy, Amaibi, Kaniye & Tubo who grow up together in the Niger-Delta area of Nigeria where they witness firsthand; among other things the coming of the white man to plunder their land, the devastating effects of greed on humanity and how fragile the ties that bind really are.
Doughboy is the militant who kidnaps a white man, and then asks for Amaibi to bring the ransom to him. Somehow, Amaibi gets more involved than he intended and is arrested for conspiracy to kidnap, manslaughter and possession of a firearm. He asks that Kaniye, who retired from law to own a restaurant (I’m sure Chimeka likes cooking) defend him. Meanwhile Tubo, an ambitious man who works for the oil company at the centre of the entire story, hangs in the background hoping that the scales fall on his side.
In a John Grisham-esque storytelling style, Chimeka Garricks carries the reader from the present to the past and back again in a seamless blend of storytelling, from the swamps of the Niger Delta to its courtrooms with some action, humour, suspense and just the right amount of romance thrown in.
It is easy to see that Chimeka has his favorite characters despite his attempts at being fair with every one of them, spending more time on giving some depth and personality and making some others look and sound like background noise. But that adds rather than distracts from the allure of the story.
Chimeka also masterful approaches the characters and their motivations with expertise that shows a deep understanding of the human nature. Doye (Doughboy) who becomes a militant to get back what the mythical and ever-evil ‘white man’ is taking from his people and land, Tubo who is not above lies and manipulation to get his way, Amaibi, the pious and ignorantly self-righteous son of the village father who thinks freedom of speech is the same as freedom of life/living, and Kaniye, the brilliant and unserious joker of the pack who does step in to save his friend despite his misgivings.
Perhaps comparing Chimeka to Grisham is doing him (Chimeka) an injustice, but that is in reference to the law theme that is the basis of most of the latter’s works. Chimeka remains ever true to his roots, as Tomorrow Died Yesterday is a novel by a Nigerian about Nigeria for the entire world. Not even some slight punctuation errors could dim the rush of this story.
It is most definitely a worthy read – I went through it twice; and the first time I read it it the book just did not want to let go. I finished the entire book in less than three hours
All in all, it is an impressive debut for a writer.