Title: Wait Till Tomorrow
AUTHOR: Dan Chima Amadi
Publisher: Dulacs, Enugu
Reviewer: Henry Akubuiro
When love, politics and intrigues are meshed, a blinkered contraption gets everybody febrile. So does Thomson Echebiwe, the Nigerian minister; Rola Echebiwe, his wife; and Paul, the journalist, in Dan Amadi’s novel, Wait Till Tomorrow. Suspense: in a fiction replete with twists and turns, you can’t expect anything short. That is the very bait that gets attention riveted till the end of this narrative.
Wait Till Tomorrow is the stuff of a blockbuster. At one point, it reads like a sizzling love story with a noose; at another point, it comes across as a high wired political read bristling with betrayals and intrigues. Both threads, however, are wedded with lucid prose and racy plot.
Thematically, the author creates a candelabrum: when a couple is passing through difficult times having a child, be patient; if you wish to go far in life as a man, beware of the wild sisters who come like wolves in sheep’s clothing; getting to the top begets envy and enmity; trust nobody, even your closest friends; forgiveness is key to redemption.
If you haven’t been to a government house or a media house, in this part, before, Amadi’s novel takes you beyond the entrance door and further into the workings of statecraft. In the workaday life of Paul, you get many samples of life in the media, too. Echebiwe’s career as a political appointee –first as minister of interior, then as minister of oil, and later as OPEC President –takes you to the heart of decision making in government. We also have cameo appearances by the fictional Nigerian president concerning national and international issues.
The setting of this novel is contemporary. The locales are spread across the familial, corridors of power in Nigeria and abroad. It also glissades to Israel and the UK. Often times when the setting gets outside Nigeria, anxiety heightens, ruse broadens, and the reader gets tickled, nonetheless, by the gimmicks. No doubt, Wait Till Tomorrow has a plot that bombilates at intervals.
As the plot opens, we see Paul, together with the Chairman of People’s Congress, Doctor Babanti, with Echebiwe in his hotel. Paul the talebearer has come with a juicy story, which the party chairman is eager to share with Echebiwe –“The Minister for Petroleum Resources has sold this nation …according to our information, he gives notes to his friends to lift oil. The facts are here. Paul has them…..” It is the wish of the party chairman for Echebiwe to relieve “that idiot”.
We also get a hint of Echebiwe’s predicament in fathering a child during his visit to the noble Archbishop Garrick, who admonishes him: “Don’t try to replace the place of your wife with that of a child. Be patient. The Lord knows best.” Echebiwe, we are told, was a seminarian years ago before he met Rolake, fell in love, and jettisoned dreams cassock. Years after, the union hasn’t produced a fruit of the womb, and an otherwise exciting marriage is wobbling.
Meanwhile, Paul has scooped an award as Journalist of the Year, and he is over the moon as he becomes the most sought-after journalist in the country, with offers coming from the high and mighty to edit their papers. Through the Rosalyn Ribzak’s storyline and pilgrimage to the Holy Land by the Echebiwes, we get to learn of beautiful places in Israel, including the oasis called En Gedi and the hut of escape.
As fate would have it, Echebiwe is elevated to the Minister of Petroleum following a cabinet reshuffle. With that, he becomes the beautiful bride courted by oil magnates worldwide and governments of different countries. The Indonesian authorities are the first to woo and meet him.
Paul, on the other hand, applies to the Times of London, and is employed, and given an immediate assignment to cover the forthcoming OPEC meeting in Geneva. It coincides with the election of Echebiwe as the new OPEC President. At this moment, the plot begins to zigzag. Echebiwe begins to philander, and, at the heart of it all is the scheming Helen.
Like Samson fell to Delilah, so does the highflying Echebiwe to Helen. But there is a further skew to the illicit liaison: Helen claims to be pregnant for the OPEC Minister and threatens to ruin his career if he doesn’t marry her legally. She eventually has her way, and the legally married wife has to get used to playing a second fiddle. Heart wrenching!
As Echebiwe begins to capitulate at the top, Paul’s fortune is also floundering –he is roped into an espionage scam abroad, a charge he is ignorant of. The pull-him-down apostles are working overtime, indeed. In the meantime, the wheel of anticlimax is moving like a vortex round Echebiwe’s world. Doctor Babanti introduces him to a “powerful cult”, which, he claims, will protect him and ensure he remains a powerful man in the country. He is moved to join the cult group because of his tribulations, but his fortunes rather plummet like a park of cards: he is relieved of his ministerial position by the president of Nigeria. To make matters worse, Echebiwe falls sick, with little hope of survival.
As the narrative winds up, Paul is freed by his detractors, and is appointed the chief press secretary to the president. Rola realises, shockingly and belatedly, that she is pregnant for Echebiwe whom she has decided to dump for good. The happy ending is complete as the couple makes amends, and everything is hunky-dory. Amadi’s Wait Till Tomorrow, however, is a well written prose delivered with a pedestrian packaging. This is sticky.