It breaks the age old jinx that many African languages are unsuitable for conveying scientific thought and as such, awkward or improper as language of instruction in teaching science. Research projects embarked on to disprove this view have been discontinued or, like others of its category, gone to the archive of abandonment where the only purpose they serve is for reference. This approach by Bode Oje to familiarise the younger generation with scientific terms, issues and technological possibilities is an ingenious way that should be appreciated through readership.
The novel also familiarises the reader with Yorùbá worldviews especially concerning the cosmos, the pantheon and elements of scientific and logical thinking in traditional Yoruba thought system. This is a carry-on from the works of the legend and the giant of Yoruba literature, Pa D. O. Fágúnwà. In fact Ọ̀jẹ̀ follows his footsteps in giving characters of his writing names that will instantly reveal the behaviour or physical characteristics of such a person.
Dúródọgbọ́n, the name of the inquisitive boy who is the first narrator in the novel for example, hints of the ideal temperament one should have in pursuit of knowledge or wisdom. However, on the epistemological terrain, it challenges the prevailing view that ‘knowledge becomes understanding’ tangentially suggested by D.O. Fágúnwà in his wisdom personified character of Ìmọ́dòye, in his classic of Yoruba novels ÒGBÓJÚ ỌDẸ NÍNÚ IGBÓ IRÚNMỌLẸ̀.
Although Fágúnwà was not a trained epistemologist like Ọ̀jẹ̀, the name of this particular character from his book has become the banner of anything intellectual, academic, scientific and philosophical among the indigenous Yoruba. Thus Ọ̀jẹ̀ brings to life another character named Òyédìmọ̀ to project and accentuate his conviction that such view puts the cart before the horse and that it is understanding that becomes knowledge.
To summarize the novel, a group of scientists left on a mission to an Earth-like natural satellite of a giant planet discovered some light years away from the Earth. They were amazed the conditions of the new planet were close to mother Earth’s and can support life.
However, they did not expect and were not prepared for what they subsequently encountered. This turn of events will hurry them off the planet into the abyss of space where they will travel back in time unknowingly. By the time they reached Earth, civilization was yet to occur and they suddenly realized they are now saddled with the responsibility of kick-starting human civilization.
Meanwhile, a page had been torn off the book where this story is written. A page so vital to the whole story and also to the life of the person who stole it. Watch as a young boy and his uncle try to unravel the mystery of the stolen page: an investigation that will question your perspective about Yoruba artefacts and take the two investigators down a primordial Cave of Fossils.
Novel in Yorùbá literary world, this page-turner will hold you spell-bound to the last page as you can’t wait for the mystery to be unravelled.
This is a masterpiece! An ingenious blend of scientific facts with Yorùbá myths and worldview. It is available at www.afrobookstore.com
Buy one, buy all!