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Published On: Tue, Oct 24th, 2017

Characterization and Language in Night of a Red Moon

Adebayo Obajemu
Ojay Aito a young author has swelled the ranks of Nigerian writers exploring contemporary themes of alienation, social dysfunction, anomie, violence, cultism, and the interplay between the society and
its substratum—the academic community which it houses.
As a débutante writer, Aito’s characterization and skillful use of language have marked him out as a writer to watch, one loaded with immense promise, which has come through in a sensitive language very rare in a budding writer.
He realizes the importance of characterization as an illumination and a filter through which the thematic thrust of a work is driven, has skillfully woven together characters that will address the major theme
of violence and breakdown of societal bulwarks against the intrusion of threats to social order and normative standards as part of structural functionalism of society, one that keeps it going, from
such social flare ups as witnessed in the novel.
The setting is the town of Ago Iwoye, which plays host to Ogun State University, now Olabisi Onabanjo University. The serene town’s facile innocence is maintained until tested by an act of murder committed by the Odua People Congress members. The victim is a student. Aito is able to explode the myth of the town’s innocence when instead of fatherly handling of the crisis, the king of the town gives vent to
the baser side that rules man, as explored in say Emile Zola’s The Beast in Man—by failing to stop the heightening of the tension, when the students converge in his palace to protest the murder of one of
their own.
The subsequent violence, the merciless hunting down of students by the dreaded Odua People’s Congress and the indigenes, the burning down of the palace and other acts of violence helped to shape the novel’s thematic thrust.
Aito’s characters are not types; they race through the novel, speak to our soul, mock our weaknesses and celebrate our strength. In them, as in Mully and Tunji’s gangs, we see drama of human character in all its shades and colour , as they live day to day in fears and joy, their conversations , idioms and the liveliness that characterize their relationship mark Aitoo out as a significant writer. His skillful use
of language reminds one of the brutal salaciousness of Dambudzo Marechera , the lucid imagery and word painting of an Ayi Kwei Armah.
As a work of fictionalized history, the novel succeeds as a fictionalized document on the crisis of 2005 which engulfed the town of Ago Iwoye, it is part history, part fiction and part work of psychology, the three-fold pattern realized in a language solely Aito.

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