When Chinua Achebe was writing “Things Fall Apart,” he may indeed have had Chaucer’s England in mind, which was in the infancy stage in his country. But he would not have thought that years later, a book would be written which would feature the after-effects featuring the grown-up version of his time. In his book, “God for Sale: A personal journey through Nigerian prosperity gospel,” Al Akhigbe writes a faithful account of the contemporary scenario as it has evolved to become.
Akhigbe chooses a title that boggles the mind of a reader and intrigues at the same time. It sends enough ideas to the readers of the kind of “religious dystopia” that is in the readers’ hands and the level to which it is going to blow their minds regarding their perceptions. However, the simplistic and specific cover only leads the readers to conjecture the metaphorical associations that the title carries with it and the in-depth exploration the author is set to do. As the author begins from the Prelude, it triggers the minds of the readers altogether in various directions in wonder about what the story would be, which has led to the situations the narrator finds himself in at present. Thus, they are hooked to the book even before the main narrative begins. In addition, the author creates the framework through the eyes of a narrator who wants the readers to know his story and understand what led to what. The honest manner of the narrator also brings the readers close to him as he shares the events of his life which shaped his personality altogether.
While unraveling the story and constructing the plot, Akhigbe also explores different subjects which are important from the sociological point of view. Apart from unveiling the reality which would remain within closed doors otherwise, the author explores the issues like education and the difference it makes, the divide that education creates in a society, the importance of family ties and friendship, and the difference these relationships cast in the development of the personality of a child, the manipulative nature of human beings, the importance of giving the youth the right direction to harness their inherent energy and passion and many more such serious issues which the readers can find when they read through “God for Sale.”
When Chaucer was writing “The Canterbury Tales,” he resorted to sarcasm to express the state of the religious institutions in his times. Akhigbe shows the influences of being a product of the postmodern era where he prefers to present the reality on the face of it without resorting to any literary devices at all. This makes “God for Sale” strike hard, and even if the readers are ignorant of the reality behind closed doors, their eyes are opened the very moment they read the book. Adding on to this, the author uses the narrative technique, which keeps the readers engaged and engrossed in the book from the Prelude itself. By the time they finish the prelude, they realize that it is just the beginning and what is to follow is far more than they can anticipate. In light of this, there would be no age bar as to what age group of readers can read this book. It can rather be suggested to all readers owing to the fact that it showcases reality in an unabashed and unadulterated form which is the need of literature; to be the thorough reflection of its time.
At the same time, along with the contemporaneity of the book, the readers familiar with Achebe would draw parallels and place Akhigbe’s “God for Sale” in a modern sequel version to it. As times would change and humans would enter a new era, they would come back to reading Akhigbe’s work to understand the manner in which religion operates and how it influences the lives of the present. It can also be assumed that religion as in influence may not cease in the future too and even then, readers may draw parallels with “God for Sale.” Therefore, all readers of the present-day, whether they read fiction or non-fiction, can try reading this book due to both the stark representation of reality and also the fascinating framework the author gives to the plot. Grown-up readers would easily trace the events of the book in their personal or public lives. They may find people around them having the same situation as portrayed in the book. Alongside, younger readers would find this work contributing to opening their minds to more expansive levels where they would develop an inquisitive and scientific attitude due to the vivid showcase of reality the way it is and see how religion puts “God for Sale” and what are the consequences of it after all.