SANYA: THE PROMISE OF A GOOD STORYTELLER
Title of Novel: SANYA
Name of Author: OYIN OLUBILE
Date of Publication:2022
No. of Pages: 395 (Inclusive of Author’s note and Acknowledgement)
Book Cover: Paperback
Reviewer: SALAMATU SULE
The promise of a good storyteller is to keep the listener engaged and wanting for the story to never end. When such a story is been put down into a novel form, it then becomes a compelling page turner that traverse the reader into a timeless universe plunging to its vivid imagination and of unforgettable characters.
Oyin Olubile is one of such fine and gifted storyteller and writer in whose palm is the craft and art for ordinary tales told in an extra ordinary manner especially, when we least imagined it to be daring, epic and speculative…
What strikes me about Oyin’s book start up even with the cover design; a fascinating image of a half dreadlocks and a cornrowed lad and lady or better put; a young boy and a girl poised with a daring look as if tempting you into their world to be or not to be a judge of whatever it is that is about to unfold. Do I also add that the scar on the face of the image also brings about our curiosity to dive into the book that is SANYA!
The novel, which is set in Banire, Aromire, Oluji and the supernatural realm controlled by the Orisa and the dark magic world of the Esu postulates one thing and the author puts it succinctly:
In the beginning , the gods and the Sorcerers ruled the West.
The gods were called Orisas. They were also called the good ones.
For every good thing that happened was brought about by their benevolence.
Orisas dwelt amongst men and sometimes saw fit to bear seed with them.
Any household that births the offspring of te Orisas was greatly revered .
Esu was the first and most powerful Orisa created by Eledumare. He was trusted
and cherished by Eledumare and endowed with the privilege of carrying important tasks
one of which is to see to the needs of humans at the request of the supreme being.
After several errands, Esu became ambitious and craved human relations much more than his own kind… (SANYA- excerpt Prologue Pg-9).
Aganju Obayan is the great fearless warrior and a self successful farmer of Banire.He is known for his skills for hunting and farming. He marries one of the most beautiful maiden of Aromire making him the envy of all of Banire. When the gods dealt him a deathly blow, Aganju with all his skills for fighting could not wrestle with the gods…
When Ajoke marries one of the most talked about hunters of Banire, she knew she has found the happiness she so seek. She promised herself to birth many children that will help keep the lineage of the Obayan after the birth of a sickly child and many that had led to stillbirth, Ajoke knew exactly what to do.
Dada Awuru is birthed a special child and has the gift that even he is not aware of. More often, Dada falls sick and accuses the gods for his predicament. Dada does not like been called a weakling as he is very much aware of his social status and will like to be addressed as a real man. In his quest to achieve this, he must get Sanya out of his way because, she’s seen as a hero to be celebrated all the time. So ambitous he gets that he begins to do the unthinkable…
She wasn’t called Bade the king warror for nothing. She conqured kingdoms and she’s brute with enemies and powerful. Sanya is the one who comes to the aid of the helpless and often cleansed the miseries that is fast engulfing the kingdom of Oluji and Banire. While she is revered and known by the people of Oluji, as Bade, her true identity must be kept seal and remained secret- can this secret be kept?
The Author conceived a female character in a society that is highly concentrated with the fumes of patriarchy, Sanya can be likened to Sango, the god of thunder and lightning while Dada can symbolically be liken to Esu or Satan who is ousted from the kingdom of God for his act of disobedience.
Oyin Olubile explores quiet an array of themes in the novel SANYA:
First, the theme of love versus hate is a dominant theme throughout the novel. Consider the character of Princess Obatooni and Princess Osuntoke.Also with Sanya and Dada. While Osuntoke begins to hate her sister due to the love she was receiving from their father and the from King Bade, it became really clear that, she would do what she can do get what is truly hers to take.
Secondly and unfortunately, sibling rivalry is one strong theme that we have to pay attention to. While parents are neglectful about how to strike balance on issues of love among siblings, they unconsciously instigate it by showing favouritism and Oyin warns, things can get out of control.
Thirdly, Bullying is a deadly disease that has seeped into the pores of some people especially young adults and kids. They are often cornered and mocked and beaten. It gets a child depressed and even cause suicide in some cases. The author shows us that bullying is one topical issues that we need to talk about and ensure the society is free from… Ropo and Oko are characters in the novel that demonstrate the causative effect of bullying.
Trust and betrayal is a predominant theme in the novel and shows us how flawed we are as human beings to keeping the trust we are bestowed with.
The authors use of characterization is flawless as both major and minor characters comes alive and unforgettable. I reckon characters like Osoosi, Sundu the wolf, Oya, Ropo and Oko, Gbonju gives us a reason to read SANYA.
Finally I will say I enjoyed the read and it’s a page turner and unputdownable. Oyin has won herself a space in the league of the Nnedi Okorafor and Tomi Adeyemi on Fantasy prose genre of literature. I look forward to her maintaining her vibe in the art of storytelling.
On the scale of seven, I will rate the author five stars; this is not to say, the novel is not deserving of the highest rate but it is a way to encourage the author to keep aiming higher in her literary sojourn to even do better.
I strongly recommend SANYA by Oyin Olubile to every avid reader especially the young adult who do not see a superhero in the African narrative to begin to do so as we have more than enough to explore and portray in our discourses.