The Ibom Pilgrim: Walking the Holy Land with Jesus by Imelda Icheji Lawrence Udoh is a fine combination of narration of an eye-witness, a clouded and crowded mind full of expectation insufficiently captured in the words (or congealed) in the words “awesome” and “indeed”. The repetitious “indeed” gives the picture of one who is overwhelmingly short of words. One whose heart is full and close to expression, but lacks the words sufficient to bear the weight and wonders the eyes have beheld or the heart has conceived. Words not deliberately used, but such as depict very glaringly how impoverished man is in the presence of a magnificent, magnanimous and grandiose God. God Himself!
It is an exquisite subtle combination of gentle and soft sermonisation and creative art. Subtle, gentle, soft: that while her reader is warned against the consequences of a life lived out of pilgrimage “Israel”; she also draws attention to the beauty of “Israel” and Israel.
The travelogue is picturesque and tactile. The story-telling is progressive, one item after another in an accretive style, so to speak. See the River Jordan for example; or from Joshua down to John and the Baptism of Jesus, is a quick swipe from the Old to the New Testament. The kinetic imagery is well articulated in the word “movement”. It is so clear to see the pictures as the author uses the expression “I remember” a huge or long chain of flash backs that, though many, are not enough to bore the reader because they fall within the same mold as “and then” in folktale-telling and they are links in the chain and necessary prompter to constitute the audience/reader. In fact, the expression “I remember” creates conversational intimacy between narrator and audience/reader in the African communal way, thus establishing an inseparable rapport between reader/audience. Thus constituting a pilgrimage with the narrator as the guide and the reader/audience as the pilgrim.
The Ibom Pilgrim: Walking the Holy Land with Jesus is a book that makes believing simple. The narration at some point cuts the picture of cartoons, especially Elisha striking the Jordan and walking across on dry ground with 50 men watching from a distance; very picturesque, like cartoon, simple for the audience to see. Simple diction for even learners of the language to read with no difficulty. Though a professor of Linguistics, the author is very sensitive with words. Like her master and Lord, Imelda’s simplicity of diction, narration and colours are key to communication and story-telling.
If impact must be made, the paragraphs appear episodic and complete and capable of expansion by whosoever wills. For a good and captivating narrator, no word is wasted, not even the repetitions. They serve as interjections.
Professor Mrs. Uwemedimo Iwoketok
Department of English
University of Jos, Plateau State