Helon Habila: Measuring Time



Of the same years but in a different part of Nigeria But why do fictional missionaries to Africa always come from Iowa Measuring Time is the story of twin brothers their family and the people that shaped them Living in rural Nigeria village life and the natural nvironment add atmosphere and context Habila s story telling talents are A Fairly Honourable Defeat evident in numerous ways His own narrative of people andvents is interwoven with those of his protagonist Mamo who in later years writes about the people around him and thereby becomes a recorder of the local history Giving Mamo the dual voice of th I could live in this book and survive on these wordsthis is what I call a literary memory A remarkable piece of work by Habila His prose is lyrically attractive poetic a canvas of colours playing with some trompe l oeil techniues and intertextual references from various authors It s stories within a story The twin fighter vs the academic twin two sides of the same coin really although the academic twin occupies much of the narrative there is always an implicit reference to the risk taker and fighter Set in the Nigeria of the 60s to the 90 s we witness through the characters an array of political vents played out by local government representatives The nding was the only part that let me down a little but all in all an Elisabeth Shue 135 Success Facts - Everything You Need to Know about Elisabeth Shue excellent book Really a 45 For all of what seem on the surface like gimmicks Nigerian twins the structure of the bildungsromantc it adds up to a smart The Man Without a Face elegant story Mamo and LaMamo grow up neglected by their father and raised by their aunt Mamo is physically weak from sickle cell anemia LaMamo is strong They run away and LaMamo becomes a soldier Mamo is forced to turn back and becomes a teacher and a historian The pathos and boredom of Mamo s life is punctuated by LaMamo s letters from Liberia and Guinea where he is a mercenary soldier cum assistant to Medecins Sans Frontieres Mamo by dint of his writing is invited into the corridors of power but at personal and moral cost LaMamo s reappearance at the novel snd brings the story s action full circle The storytelling is graceful and Happy Easter, Mouse! (If You Give...) economical Concerned as the novel s protagonist is with writing one is reminded that there are in fact good cliches Measuring Time by Helon Habila skillfully weaves the political and culturalnvironment of Nigeria from the 1960s to the 1990s with the lives of twin boys Mamo and LaMamo in the Nigerian village of KetiMamo the older twin suffers from sickle cell anemia is physically weak reserved introspective and intellectual LaMamo is athletic boisterous outgoing and glib The brothers dream of scaping from their domineering father to lead adventurous lives Their paths diverge after they run away together to become soldiers Mamo is forced to return home because of a health. Er well versed in the ways of life and death Mamo too sickly to leave remains in Keti finding solace in the arms of Zara while watching impotently as his detested father grows powerful and

If I were still teaching I would teach this book not only for the uestions it raises to which I do not know the answers Nigerian history primary among them but also because it is beautifully told deceptively simple and filled with love and wisdom anger and illness dishonesty and naive hopeful belief Mamo and LaMamo are twins who as children seek adventure and fame and as adults realize the dark side of both ambitions reading this book was listening to my father talk about his life before immigration i could asily see him and his mates living out their lives in this novel it was realistic fiction becuase it bought the nigerian of my father s youth and the nigerian during the present Threads Of The Shroud elections to life in a very sublte way helon habila writes in a plain fashion he puts me in the mind of chinua achebe what you see is what the characters see what youxperience is what the characters All Seated on the Ground experience what you take from it is what you take from it I waffled back and forth over if this book was a four star or a three starso it is getting a 3 from me I liked the book and found it very interesting But the reason for the three stars and not four is because the most interesting part for me wasxperiencing life in an African village and how civil warsany war affect the life of people living in the conflict areas The author does an Untitled. excellent job of painting the picture of African village life and giving depth to Mamo the main character But the storyline didn t really capture my attention Injoyed reading it but mainly because the background and setting kept me capturednot the story so muchOverall glad I read the book and it was better than I Wiring expected it to be but the journey I went on through the book was not via the storyline just the story setting and background A long demanding novel it s also a slow starter I kept being tempted to bail out until at midpoint I figured out what it was about that was two of my favorite topics History national identity A true history the main character reflects is one that looks at the lives of individuals ordinary people who toil and dream and suffer who bear the brunt of whatever vicissitudes time inflicts on the nation If a historian could capture these ordinary lives including their recollections of their own family s past then he might come close to writing a true biographical history of a nation for when we refer to a nation are we not really referring to the people that inhabit that nation and so isn t the story of a nation then really the story of the people who make up the nation And in a sense that s what this author does in telling the story of this amateur Nigerian historian of a sort But it s a different Nigeria than one sees in Half of a Yellow Sun though there are some similarities too in a story that covers some. In the small Nigerian village of Keti live Mamo and LaMamo twin sons of a domineering father When one day the boys try andscape the village only LaMamo succeeds and in time becomes a soldi.

Emergency LaMamo continues his journey and becomes a mercenary fighting alongside various rebel groups in Liberia and Guinea and ventually working with M decins Sans Fronti res Doctors Without Borders before returning homeAlthough Mamo s disease prevents him from leaving the village he scapes intellectually and Jingling Daddys Bells BDSM Menage emotionally from his father He succeeds academically becoming a history teacher in the local school Hembarks on a project to write a history of the village through interviewing its people His project attracts the attention of village leaders who invite him to write a biography of the village chief Close interaction with village leaders The DOS exposes Mamo to the corruption bribery and moral turpitude of those in powerMeanwhile LaMamo travels to neighboring countries as a mercenary joining factions fighting for African liberation He keeps his brother apprised of his travels and activities by periodically sending him letters These reveal LaMamo s increasing disenchantment with wars with thexploitation of children coerced into fighting and with senseless killing and suffering of innocent civilians Through the lives of these twin brothers and the people they interact with Habila shows a society riddled with corruption A school that provides Against All Odds educational opportunities for village children is tossed around as a pawn between political factions and isventually forced to close The money raised for drilling new wells in draught ridden areas is whittled away in the hands of corrupt politicians The police crush riots through brutality violence and intimidation Rebel leaders and their followers ostensibly fighting for African liberation from the yoke of colonialism rape and pillage at will As a result of their separate Sleep, Circadian Rhythms, and Metabolism experiences the brothers become increasingly discouraged about the possibility of a better futureHabila s characters are realistically portrayedspecially his protagonist Mamo who Treasons, Stratagems, And Spoils emerges as a sensitive conscientious individual determined to record the dignity and resilience of ordinary people in his village The description of village life inhabitants traditions and customs is rich in detail Habila has woven an intricate tapestry that threads the recent history of Nigeria with the lives of twin boys therebyxpanding his vision to illustrate both the personal and political challenges facing a people A powerful story told in clear succinct prose with sensitivity and compassionHighly recommendedMy book reviews are also available at wwwtamaraaghajaffarcom i wish i could have made a shelf called books in which two twins set off to become soldiers together only one has second thoughts and turns back and then they are separated and then i could put this and Gob s Grief on it however that is too long a shelf name to have APPARENTLYcome to my blo. Orrupt Unable to wield a weapon Mamo instead reaches for a pen and soon begins to write the true history of Keti and its people all the time awaiting the return of his beloved brother LaMamo.

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Helon Habila was born in Nigeria in 1967 He studied literature at the University of Jos and taught at the Federal Polytechnic Bauchi before moving to Lagos to work as a journalist In Lagos he wrote his first novel Waiting for an Angel which won the Caine Prize in 2001 Waiting for an Angel has been translated into many languages including Dutch Italian Swedish and FrenchIn 2002 he moved