My Thoughts on Bayan Layi by Elnathan John

*This is one of five posts on the Caine Prize for African Writing 2013 Shortlist. A group as organised byย Aaron Badyย will be blogging about the entries (one per week) for the next five weeks until the prize is announced on the 8th of July. Please see the links below for details and a schedule.

My Thoughts on Bayan Layi (A Short Story by Elnathan John)

By Veronica Nkwocha

Bayan Layi‘ boils down the effects of socio-political problems of a certain kind of abandonment, distills it and presents it to us as Dantala and his friends. Nature abhors a vacuum and we are cast into a tale of the repercussions. And one wonders how this [edit] ‘travesty’ became a reflection of us as a people, tied as we are to the author’s vivid description. It sets the tone where one feels a revulsion but can’t quite look away.

There is the niggling sensation as one reads this story; is it our failings as nurturers that spawn the ones who view killing as no more than a fly to be swatted? Empty spaces filled up with perverse watering holes feeding the plains where teenagers can strut their stuff boldly. Enabled by puppeteers who weave their hypnotic lies into the webs in which the Bandas and the Dantalas roam, stars in their eyes, believing they are free.ย They are there, barely mentioned in the story, a metaphor for real life; behind the scenes, unobtrusive but superlatively influential.

‘Bayan Layi’ peels all the layers of the onion and as we read, our eyes water at the hopelessness of the situation, babies bearing arms, the (more…)