Book: I do not come to you by chance
Author: Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani
Publisher: Phoenix Publishers
Year of publication: 2009
Number of pages: 343
Have you ever gotten an email from a person you have never heard of who is promising you that they need your help to access a huge amount of money? Many of these emails usually go along the line of how they were once a member of a family of someone in a regime that has since been deposed. They are looking for a bank account to leave their ill-gotten wealth and they are hoping that you would be willing to help them.
I have received this type of email for years now but I have always deleted the messages and dared not send them my bank account details as I was convinced that if they got it they would hack my bank account and clean it out. Then I encountered I Do Not Come To You By Chance by Nigerian writer Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani. The Phoenix Publishers 2009 novel tells the story of Kingsley a university graduate who has finished his engineering degree and is expecting to work for an oil company. It doesn’t work out and it’s not ideal as he comes from a family that is not very well off. With little finances he suffers as he loses his childhood sweetheart then his father gets ill and he must seek help where he can. He opts to seek the help of his wealthy Uncle Boniface who is universally known as Cash Daddy.
Cash Daddy’s business is the email scammer business the Naija peeps call 419 scams. His business is to send the emails that you receive in your inbox every day and he has been able to get very rich. It is this business that Kings eventually joins.
This is a brilliant book and I’m not surprised that it won so many awards proving my assertion that they don’t mean anything couldn’t be further from the truth at times. Its easy to see why this book won the Wole Soyinka Prize in 2010, Commonwealth Writers Prize best first book Africa region and a Betty Trask Award from the society of authors in 2010. The writer describes a Nigeria I have never been to in such detail that if I were to land in the country I would probably understand what is happening around me.
It is a teaching book that one. We learn that the scammers online don’t clean out your bank account magically like some of us might have thought. They do it with your help asking you to send money to clear some legal hurdle before you can get your monies (which you never do). The money will be used to cover the Certificate of Clearance then a legal document then this or that. We learn of the people who Kings and his ilk of the freeborn nwadiala will never touch as they were Osu or Ohu which is descendants of the people who were sold as slaves. You’d think that this kind of thing is dead but it is clearly still a thing in Naija if this book is to be believed.
It is a very character driven book with some guys who will be remembered by me for many years to come. Kings is supported by a cast if his family and his colleagues at the 419 headquarters including a gentleman who goes by the name Protocol Officer throughout the book until very late in the book. The shining star of the characters is, however, Cash Daddy his uncle Boniface who is the centre of the operation. This is a guy who pulls amazing hilarious stunts as part of his normal everyday living. He is the guy who will be as uncouth as can be giving orders to his minions from the bathroom or the toilet.
The book was richer with him it and wouldn’t have worked half as much without him.
This is a very good debut from the Nigerian author. More please?