Peter E. Omoko
Farewell to Eldorado, F.F. Ifowodo, F. Parker Publishing Co., Oleh, pp.204
The urge to create a world devoid of human decadence has, in recent years, become a recurring motif of much of modern African literature. F.F. Ifowodo’s novel, Farewell to Eldorado, revolves around the crisis of refugees and the quest by world leaders to address it. It suggests that the hope of a peaceful coexistence among human beings is only in the realm of wishful dreams. This is because every human society consists of the good, the bad and the ugly.
In the novel, the UN has organised other wealthy countries in the world to create a new settlement in an island where these refugees, running from various injustices in their home countries, can start a new life. The new land is expected to be a model of human society. All the basic human amenities such as housing, good water supply, electricity, as well as good roads are well provided. There is free food and free transportation system in this new country – a fantastic world found only in the imagined world of Disney! These orientations sum up the ideal on which the theme of Farewell to Eldorado is built.
The author reveals that, from among the refugees, Casca Games, a political refugee, is selected as a representative of the UN envoy to oversee the activities of this dream world pending when an election will be conducted under his supervision to usher in a formal government that will control the affairs of Eldorado. His choice, however, does not augur well with other characters in the novel, especially the duo of Don Mascara, an ex-warlord who is interested in Casca Games’ fiancée, Marie Barbers, and Madam Susan, a human trafficker who has lost one of her precious girls, the same Marie Barbers to Casca Games.
Conflict arises when Don Mascara teams up with Madam Susan to contest for the governorship and deputy governorship positions in the new state. The duo, having lost their influential status the moment they entered Eldorado, seek various uncivilised means to grab power. Don Masacara, a rebel leader, has plunged his former country into a senseless war.
Madam Susan, on the other hand, is a highly connected and ruthless human trafficker. She lures innocent girls from her country with the promise of giving them jobs in Europe into prostitution. Madam Susan serves as the girls’ “mentor, their manager and their professional guide. The girls did the business of sleeping with men and Madam Susan collected the money” (60). Through this act, she becomes influential. In no time, she has gone beyond an individual prostitute to an international provider of sex pleasure to loose men in foreign countries.
In their bid to grab power by all means necessary, Don and Susan resort to blackmail and threat. The police chief of Eldorado becomes their willing tool. Other contestant in the election are threatened to drop their ambition, the few who can’t be cowed protest to the headquarters of the UN building where the body in charge of the elections in the Island resides. Don is disqualified from taking part in the election and becomes enraged. He reaches out to his rebel associates outside the Island to supply him men and ammunitions to burn down the new state in the case that he is not allowed to grab power by force.
Casca Games, on the other hand, becomes threatened when his well-fortified residence is invaded by Don and his men in a bid to kidnap his fiancée, Marie Barber. Casca Games thinks the only way to stop Don and Susan from destroying the new state is to disqualify them from contesting the elections. But the UN chiefs believe otherwise.
This idea does not go down well with Casca Games who believes that people with depraved humanity like Don and Susan should not be allowed to get near to power. Therefore, Casca Games losses interest in the entire idea of Eldorado the moment it is agreed that Don should be allowed to contest the elections.
Having contested and lost, despite the violence and rigging involved, Don and his men keep to their promise of destroying Eldorado in the instance that he lost. The accompanying post-elections’ razzmatazz that follow only justifies the title of the novel, a “Farewell to Eldorado”.
The novel is not only a satirical depiction of the lack of will by world leaders to purge themselves of selfish individuals like Don and Susan; it proposes a salient treaty that codifies the ingredients that make for a peaceful human society. What is inherent in the book, therefore, is that, until the rotten eggs are removed from human society, society will continue to be plagued by the depravity of its own creations.