Agu is an eBook which contains a letter, poems and stories.
In Agu, Tochukwu Precious Eze writes about three generations of the Ugwu family. He writes on the meaning of their names; the origin of their stories and the awe of their faith — “who is this person that papa kneels for?” The author Tochukwu Precious Eze is the grandson of the late patriarch of the Ugwu family Agu (Chief) Emmanuel Onoja Ugwu. Chief Onoja Ugwu who was a traditional leader of the Amachalla people of Enugu state between 2004—2012 is the central figure in this quasi biography written in a letter, stories, and poems.
How are you? I know you are dead. How is the land of the dead?”
Before Reading Agu, I use to think that because I was not born when my grandfather was alive that I can neither write to him nor write about him. But after reading Agu , the author’s creativity challenges me to write to my late grandpa. Maybe I will start out this way “Dear Grandpa, guess who’s writing you? It’s one of your grandsons who was born after you had died.”
“When my grandma got married, she was still pretty naive. On getting to the city, she waited for my grandpa to leave. Then, she removed her clothes, hid them in her box, and went out to play with the other children. She said the clothes were new. She was saving them.”
Aside The Radio Transition which is a 337 words story, there are bits of stories like the one excerpted above. There are also excerpts from the speech of the central character during his coronation as the Eze Oha 1 of Amachalla.
There are eighteen poems in Agu. While some of the poems are beautiful imagistic and fluid poems, the language of poems such as “I fear him”, “When losses don’t win”, and “for history, for now, for later” are not any different from the language of prose.
Language and style
The title, names and other features in this book are mostly Igbo. The writer translates their meaning into English. Except for words whose meaning will be lost if translated. The book is rich in native proverbs, imagery and symbolism. The setting of the stories are rural and evokes memories of moonlight play. It fills the reader with nostalgia. The pattern of the poems are experimental in form.
Agu is Tochukwu Precious Eze’s second book after his poetry collection Tobé published by Poets in Nigeria, under its chapbook series.
Having begun an experimental generic mix in his first book, with prose as a prologue and poetry as the body, he goes ahead to bring letters into this one. It remains for each reader to judge how well the 22-year old author was fared in this experiment.
I recommend Agu to those who want to read a slice of a great family’s history. I also recommend it to those who want to commit memories to words. Tochukwu Eze Precious does just that in this quasi biography.
Ebubechukwu Bruno Nwagbo