By Anote Ajeluorou
ALTHOUGH it was one of the most traumatic experiences in world history, the dispersal of blacks all over the world through the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade ought to have placed Africans on an evangelising mission of sorts, with African values firmly planted wherever they reside. But the reverse is, however, the case, as the stigma of second-class citizen, engendered by slave mentality, still taints the world-view of Diaspora Africans.
But a much-travelled Nigerian author, Mr. Chux Onyenyeonwu, his debut novel, The Sixth Finger, has taken the daunting task of chronicling the slave trade experience in the lives of some individuals in an epic narrative that spans all the continents Africans are now dispersed as a result of the infamous trade. Clearly, Onyenyeonwu’s book is first of its kind in its wide-ranging setting and narrative in knitting together disparate peoples albeit from the same continent who experienced a common trauma.
According to Onyenyeonwu, The Sixth Finger is a historical fiction he started back in 1996 and which only just came out. The length of time, he stated at an unveiling at Umutu Coffee, MM2 Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, was so he could balance the facts and fiction of the story together, as it required a lot of research. In fact, when he started writing the book, the Internet was still some years away in Nigeria. So, he patronized libraries, but the space widened when Internet arrived and facilitated his research work on the book.
He noted, “I did a lot of research; I needed to ensure whatever I’m putting down has to be proven. I spent so much time in libraries; Internet also helped. I was concerned with doing a watertight narrative. I was fascinated by Alex Haley’s Roots’ main character, Kunta Kinte, who defied all the suffering just to cling tight to his African name.”
Also, Onyenyeonwu said Haley’s film which he saw when he was young inspired him to write the book. He stated that the title for the book “is one those uncanny things that knitted the tale together.
“Although the slave trade is over, the aftermath is still there. Blacks have not been fully integrated into their respective Diaspora societies in the U.S., Cuba, Brazil and elsewhere. Blacks over there still have the mental attitude of slaves; they need to free themselves mentally. The Sixth Finger covers the history of the lands blacks are domiciled”.
Although not necessarily a spiritual book, Onyenyeonwu, who is also a pastor, said, “God was aware of the enslavement of blacks, just as He is involved in all the affairs of man. It’s by God’s hand that blacks are in Cuba, Brazil, America”.
Onyenyeonwu is not happy with the state of affairs of the black man, even though he has contributed immensely to the development of world civilizations. He laments that blacks in the Diaspora are not accorded their rightful place as they are still put down in their host societies. Without black labour in the plantations, Onyenyeonwu said, America would not be the great country it is today. He decried modern-day slavery disguised as America visa Lottery through which blacks enslave themselves anew by working menial jobs considered too demeaning for whites.