7 September 2015

BOOK REVIEW: “The Girl Who Found Water” by Chibuzor Mirian Azubuike

Book Reviewed by: Ebenezar Wikina

The Girl Who Found Water is a memoir written by Chibuzor Mirian Azubuike on her time—and giant strides—as a youth corper in the dreaded North East of Nigeria. Chibuzor is from Nnewi in Anambra State, Nigeria, and she holds a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from the University of Benin, Nigeria. She is a recipient of the NYSC State Honours award, and numerous commendations from the Office of the Governor of Bauchi State, and the Bauchi State Ministry of Water Resources. In recognition of her effort during her youth service year she was named “Lady Haske” and crowned Sarkin Aiyuka by the community of Bigi Tudunwada in Bauchi State, Nigeria.

After graduating from the University, every young Nigerian’s dream is to have a fulfilling and prosperous youth-service year which will launch them into a successful career. This was Chibuzor’s dream too, as she narrated in the book, and that dream became a nightmare when she was posted to a region in Nigeria where youth corpers were previously killed during post-election violence. The National Youth Service scheme (NYSC) is a compulsory programme graduates have to pass through for one year before they start working. In course of the service-year, graduates go through military training and are posted to a place of primary assignment, most times schools or other Government ministries, where they volunteer for community development.

After much crying and lamenting, Chibuzor eventually agreed to make that journey—in between changing her mind back and forth—to Bauchi State where she was posted, and like we later get to discover, it was a journey that changed her life forever. Reading the book you will discover that Chibuzor debunks the Myth that there’s nothing good in North Eastern Nigeria. Despite serving at a time when the Boko Haram insurgents were at the peak of destruction, and in fact having an explosion very close to where she lived alongside fellow corpers, we can see dogged perseverance and determination gradually built-up in her, and that’s the same perseverance many inhabitants of states in North Eastern Nigeria have; going about their daily activities in the face of danger.

The author also, knowingly or unknowingly, highlights the collapse of the idea behind Nigeria’s Youth Service scheme. The NYSC was established by Decree No. 24 of 22nd May, 1973, under the Leadership of General Yakubu Gowon, with a view to encourage the development of common ties among youths of Nigeria and the promotion of National Unity. From this book, it is sad to note the corrupt practices of NYSC officials who collect some sort of bribe to post graduates to States of their choice thereby defeating the initial aim of the NYSC programme. However we cannot totally blame the graduates who try to change their postings especially when they are posted to regions deeply plagued by insurgency and insecurity.

Chibuzor also shines the spotlight on self-development and community development opportunities the Youth service scheme creates, and also a challenges graduates who embark on this compulsory programme to make the best use of it by touching as many lives as they can in course of their service-year—Chibuzor’s feat touched over 6000 lives.

The author chose to write the book in narrative which is understandable for a memoir, and I like the fact that she obeyed the Literature rule; “Show not tell”, by using dialogue from time to time to immerse the reader into the scene being narrated. The book is just over 100 pages, and it’s short and compact enough for a social-media-age where the average attention span is one-red-light-notification-away. However, I think the author should have prepared a glossary to explain some words and phrases—especially those in Hausa Language—which she didn’t translate in course of the book.

I recommend this book for teachers, fresh graduates, social entrepreneurs, and young people around the world who want to give back to their communities. 

The Girl who Found Water was published in October 2014 by Easy Voucher Limited, Lagos, Nigeria.

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