Title: Roses in the Mines
Author: Gabriel S. Makeri
Genre: Prose Faction
Number of Pages: 202
Publishers: Words Rhymes & Rhythm
Year of Publication: 2017
Reviewer: EUGENE YAKUBU
Reviewer: Eugene Yakubu
Ever since the publication of Kaine Agary’s ‘Yellow- Yellow’, Nigerian writers have been making popular the form of literary criticism known as Ecocriticism and ecocritical writings. Gabriel Makeri’s ‘Roses in the Mines’ has also added to the body of Ecocritical writings from Africa.
These sorts of literatures are known for their discussions on matters rallying around ecology, nature and physical topography. Joseph Meeker uses the “literary ecology” to designate “the study of biological themes and relationships which appear in literary works”. Notably it is referred to as “Ecocriticism” to reference the application of ecological concepts to the study of literature; and this, Makeri does in his ‘Roses in the Mines’ by providing a geologically monumental canvas for an ecocritical appraisal of his text.
With a promising title and a bewitching theme, Makeri strives to excavate issues that have been buried around Geo-mining, excavation of natural resources, environmental degradation and illegal mining activities carried out by Nigerians in the solid mineral sector. This book seems to have an enduring thematic preoccupation of geological mining and mineral resources that the author succeeded in capturing every single piece of information about the mining and solid mineral sector in Nigeria.
Even though ‘Roses in the Mines’ cannot neatly fit in a traditional novelistic trend because of the absence of a narrative voice and a synchronize plot, it will as well initiate a totally fresh trend of writing that is totally obsessed with thematic content over form and, constantly informative and educative over style.
The characters seem to be eternally dialoguing, but the author still craftily uses his many characters to inform readers about the theme of the text. Hence, Makeri has done what none other Nigerian novelist has done before, shrewdly removing himself from the scene of the story, despite it being almost an autobiography and relenting the plot and thematic issues to the characters who perfectly contribute in exhausting the story-line and schooling the reader.
There is a special kind of realness in the narrative. The diction, actions and personalities are befitting of the different characters according to their diverse social status. Thus, Makeri’s ‘Roses in the Mines’ is a perfect project in verisimilitude. It has also been able to discus crucial issues in a humorous way; it would have been awfully tiring for a lay reader in geological mining and Nigerian solid minerals and mining acts to follow the rhythm and theme of this text, but the author skillfully accommodated all school of readers with his plain diction laced with local flavors and pidgin English.
This text is a portable handbook on virtually everything that will offer useful information on the mining sector in Nigeria. The author did a commendable research and creatively related his findings to make it an interesting read through literature and storytelling.
For a stranger into the terrain of Geo-mining and solid minerals resources seeking a first-hand knowledge of mining activities in Nigeria, ‘Roses in the Mines’ is sure to quench any sort of insatiable hunger for information and even proffer different geographical routes to the different mining sites in Nigeria as well as the different minerals that are found in Nigeria.
It isn’t any surprising that the author is a veteran in the mining industry, for his approach to his text reveals a first- hand knowledge of the theme. Even his language and diction, has unconsciously been influenced by his occupation and experiences as a miner. This is an example of ‘realistic’ literature, whereby the author makes his work so natural that the reader ends up not sure whether he is not a character in the text or experiencing the story himself.
For example, Makeri artistically described the illegal mining site as
“a depression that edged with a lovely to behold stretch of plain land to the West with dotted settlements typical of village setting. The content of the eastern edge of the depression is a stretch of land that gently slopes towards the road leading to Kankara” (163).
This literary feat is also a basis for appraising literature through ecology and nature— thus a perfect ecocritical literary piece. Consequently, Makeri’s grandness and mastery of his theme resurfaces in his words too. He described Engr. Sluice angry face as “… the fold ups in his face deformed it like a landscape deformed with folds and fault lines by seismic forces” (162); the author’s language is charged with geological and ecological symbols; a perfect literary fusion which he masterfully maintained through the narrative.
‘Roses in the Mines’ didn’t just stop at issues on ecology and mining; it also offers a handful of issues about effects of environmental degradation by illegal mining companies.
The author was honest enough to cover the daily rubble and health challenges that inhabitants of mining villages pass through due to mining activities. For example, a character, Adamu in the text complained that:
“… this company has spoiled our environment! Many of our animals have died in these holes they dug! Some children have fallen into some of the holes! We don’t want them anymore here! They must live our land” (156)
This text, despite the muddled and complex plot still manages to offer valuable information about mining and solid mineral exploration in Nigeria. It is a celebratory story of a government official who successfully served his nation diligently and made positive impacts in his sector.
The author is handy with characterization and manages to relate the different characters and scenes to the theme of the text. This is a laudable effort and it deserves patronage by all readers and Nigerians deserving to know the laws, rights and acts of mining activities in Nigeria.
This text is also recommended for literature students with an interest in ecocritical literature and ecocriticism, as well as lovers of refined rhetoric and humorous fiction.