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A brief review of One Good Turn... by Chinelo Ifezulike

  • Title: One Good Turn…

    Author: Chinelo Ifezulike

    Publisher: Lantern Books

    Country: Nigeria

    Language: English

    Genre: Children’s Fiction (Lantern Adventure)

    Category: Pre-teen

    Publication Year: 2002, revised/reprinted: 2004/05

    Pages: 73

    ISBN: 978-978-100-127-7

    One Good Turn… chronicles the experience of a widow, Mrs. Nkiru Ogbuka and her children as they pass through the ordeals of life.

    The story starts on a note of premonition: Mezie Ogbuka, the first son of Mr. and Mrs. Ogbuka, has a nightmare wherein he is chased and flogged by masquerades. His mother interrupts the horrible dream when she knocks on his door to wake him up for school.

    It’s the prize-winning day at Eziama Primary School; Mezie’s school. Amidst anxiety and nervousness, Mezie Ogbuka emerges the best in primary five. His parents reward him with a sumptuous meal of chicken.

    Unfortunately, Mezie’s father dies in an automobile accident during the holiday.  Mr. Ogbuka’s death signals the beginning of suffering in the family as his brothers seize all his property, leaving nothing for Mrs. Ogbuka and her children.

    All efforts to get help by Mrs. Ogbuka prove unsuccessful. Disheartened and financially incapacitated, Mezie’s mother resolves to enroll Mezie in apprenticeship as she cannot cope with the children’s tuition fees.

    After necessary arrangements, Mezie follows Mr. Ifeanyi Obiakor, a dealer in the provision, soft drinks, and beer, to Awka where he will finish his primary education and starts apprenticeship fully. Sadly, Mr. Obiakor’s wife doesn’t allow Mezie to go to school.

    Mrs. Obiakor treats Mezie with sheer wickedness until one day Mr. Paul Onyeka, a customer Mezie has helped recover his lost money before, takes pity on him and decides to help him—particularly on his education.

    Not only does Mr. Paul help Mezie with his education, he also helps Chika (Mezie’s sister) get a housekeeping job with his sister.

    At the end, Mezie becomes a renowned accountant working with Nilon Merchant Bank. His sister, Chika, becomes a pharmacist, marries an architect and relocates to London with her husband.

    In a show of appreciation, Mezie buys a car for Mr. and Mrs. Onyeka and hires a driver for them. He also hires a steward and a gardener for them. Not leaving his mother out, he buys her a car too and helps with his sisters’ (Ifeanyi and Udoka) education.

    One Good Turn… teaches moralities; through the character of Mezie, it depicts the virtues of being hardworking and honest—no matter the condition. It motivates and encourages children to be hard working and honest.

    Besides, the story also educates parents on the importance of rewarding children when they do well. Mezie’s parents always encourage him to study hard and when he emerges the best in his class, they reward him handsomely. This encourages him to be more serious with his studies.

    Apart from the copious moral lessons entrenched in the storybook, the language and the narrative styles adopted by the writer are appealing. Here are a few examples of the figurative/literary devices employed by the writer:

    Proverbs:

     

    • The toad does not run in the daytime for nothing. (Page 29)
    • What the hen chases under the rain is important to it. (Page 30)
    • When a man has an itch he looks for a fellow man to scratch it for him. (Page 30)
    • You don’t put more than you can chew in your mouth. (Page 34)
    • The partridge told her children to eat both the yam tuber and the roots to prepare them for difficult times ahead. (Page 37)
    • One good turn deserves another. (Page 64)
    • A child cannot pay for its mother’s milk. (Page 71)

    The use of Humour: The author introduces humour with the character of Dr. Cure All, a drug seller in the bus taking Mezie to Awka who claims to ‘learn all about medicine from Israel and India'. (Page 40)

    Biblical Allusion: ‘My brother, he is very unlucky indeed to be living with such a Jezebel’.

    Mrs. Obiakor, the wife of Mr. Obiakor, who treats Mezie badly and advises her husband not to send him to school, is compared to Jezebel, the biblical evil character who turns her husband away from God.

    One Good Turn… is indeed not only a moralistic story but also an exciting title that stimulates the mind of children, improves their use of English and expands their knowledge of indigenous (African) proverbs.

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