Title: Yellow- Yellow
Author: Kaine Agary
Number of Pages: 186
Year of Publication: 2006
‘“Yellow-Yellow.” That is what most people in my village called me because of my complexion, the product of a Greek father and an Ijaw mother’.
‘Yellow-Yellow’ is a fictional expository work about the oil boom of the 1970s and its socioeconomic ramifications in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region, among other things, as told through the eyes of a young girl.
Yellow-Yellow, as Zilayefa is affectionately known by all and sundry, a name derived from her complexion, which is the product of being sired by a Greek father and a Nigerian mother; has to contend with the stigma of being neither here nor there, of being mixed, and, more importantly, of not having grown up knowing her father.
The book follows Zilayefa’s journey from her oil-ravaged village in Bayelsa to the city and, more importantly, into womanhood, using the first person narrative technique. She travels from the village to Port Harcourt, Nigeria’s capital city, from poverty to luxury, from a state of near hopelessness and a grim future to a world of possibilities.
The book examines racial prejudices, social strata, power struggles, economic inequality, tyranny, adultery, single parenting, ethnic tensions, rural/urban migration, and youth restlessness in the Niger Delta, among other topics. The one hundred and seventy-nine (179) page book is divided into thirteen chapters and explores the insecurities that children of mixed parentage face.
When you look closer, you’ll see that Zilayefa isn’t just a made-up character created by the author’s imagination; she’s every girl at the crossroads of womanhood, unsure which way to go; every innocent child born into complicated adult relationships, desperately trying to piece together scraps of her past while unsure what to make of her present and future; she’s every.
As humans, we frequently yearn for a higher position and a better life, continuously contemplating the great and powerful things we could accomplish if our wishes were granted. The truth is that many people, including Zilayefa, would be perplexed and distracted if they were given the much-desired opportunity.
Furthermore, the book sheds light on the Niger Delta struggle, which began as a demand for relief from the sufferings inflicted on the region and its people by oil firms’ activities, the most egregious of which is oil leakage, before morphing into a machine for extortion and violence.
It’s also worth noting that, unlike the typical scenario in which the hero or heroine flees the village for the city in search of greener pastures with the primary goal of obtaining a formal education, Yellow is unconcerned about obtaining a formal education and takes a laid-back attitude toward school in general. Even her guardians’ and elder lover’s open support for her cause means little to her, and by the time she realizes her mistake, it’s almost too late.
The book gives the Niger Delta story a human (female) face and voice. The plot’s comprehensive fluidity reveals thorough research, and the narrator’s unpretentious simplicity in tone and diction is just what one would expect of a girl of Zilayefa’s class and place. It features rich descriptions and a well-knit narrative. To say the least, it’s a well-crafted piece of fiction.