SYNOPSIS OF OKOYE’S THE FOURTH WORLD

OKOYE’S THE FOURTH WORLD  is set in Enugu’s shanty slum of Kasanga Avenue. The Kasanga Avenue is a place of hardship and humiliation of living. A place of flooding, a place where there is no electricity (because residents are poor and cannot bribe electricity commission officials). In Kasanga Avenue, there are no hospitals, no pipe borne water, and accessible road. It is an impoverished urban shanty town. Chira is Okoye’s heroine. She is a beautiful, brilliant and ambitious eighteen years old of Federal Girls Secondary School (FGSS) Owerri. She is on holiday. Chira travelled to Enugu, her state of residence. Her father Akalaka is seriously ill; he is admitted at the main hospital. At the hospital, nurses, matrons and doctors treat rich patients differently, and are antagonistic to help poor people like Chira, Kodili and other Kasanga residents. The environment of the hospital is dirty. The drains are blocked and at night mosquitoes from the drain declared war on any person around including Chira. The hospital records many deaths on daily basis. Chira’s father also died. The government claims to spend billions of naira on provision of health services in the country yearly.

Akalaka, Chira’s only bread winner is buried at his ancestral town Umuoba. The ignoble role of Chira’s uncle, Amos, during and after the funeral is condemnable. For Chira and her poor mother, their suffering and hardship increased with Akalaka’s death. She cannot return to FGSS to complete her school because of lack of money. To feed daily they went into huge debts and taking to menial jobs like plaiting of women’s hair by Kodili and her daughter seems to be a temporal relief. Amidst the crises, the local government razed down the tree under which Kodili and other Kasanga avenue dwellers stayed to plait women’s hair and eked out a miserable living. Even mechanic shops, the stalls and the kiosks were not spared too. The demolition was carried out without notice.

Poor Kodili is showing symptoms of hypertension. Chira’s meager salary at the Prime Computers owned by Dr. Ajali, an amiable and hardworking university lecturer, cannot afford to pay for expensive hypertensive drugs for her ailing mother. Prime Computers gave her permission to travel with Ogom to the market town of Onitsha. Ogom is Chira’s best friend and a daughter of a rich man Chief Ayika who lived in Independent Layout, a wealthy area of Enugu. The trip to Onitsha is to purchase expensive dresses for Ogom’s traditional marriage to Chikeson who lived in the US. The deprived Kasanga Avenue is hit by a dreadful flood. The press was vocal about the incident. A little girl and an elderly woman perished in the deluge. Some teenage residents of the slum, without the knowledge of their parents, had staged a peaceful protest to other parts of Enugu. But hoodlums joined looted and manhandled those they came across during the protest.

The police was called and typically, gunned down four protesters. Two of them were poor residents of Kasanga. Tragedy again; Egodi and Donatus, two kids who lived at Kasanga and are greatly loved by Chira, are killed by a racing lorry as they tried to cross Obiagu Street. They were coming from hawking bananas. Their death shocked the entire Kasanga community. Maks arrived at Kasanga Avenue to visit Chira and the mother. He is a secondary school dropout who sells crude oil for some highly placed people in government. He also helps them take public money illegally out of the country and banks it for them. He helps them invest some of the money and he receives a huge compensation for working for them. Apia, Ogom and Kodili wanted Chira to marry Maks, so that their material needs can be taken care of. But Chira doesn’t like Maks. Chira is under pressure to make her hypertensive mother happy; Chira undertook a trip with Maks to the Governor’s house to attend the governor’s birthday. At the end Kodili dies leaving Chira alone to struggle but fate helped her to get a job from the university through Dr. Ajali. To the best of my knowledge this work appears to be the first stylistic analysis of Okoye’s The Fourth World. This research gives one the privilege to explore how context helps to provide a comprehensive interpretation of a text.

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