“In the evening, Ali was amazed to see lights coming on everywhere at the click of small buttons on the walls! The illumination itself was different from that of the oil lamps used in the village. He marvelled for a long time while his uncle simply smiled. He figured out every house in the environment had such lights. With all the lights turned on, he wondered what the world would look like outside their dwelling. He rushed out to catch a glimpse.”
Ali is an honest hardworking twelve-year old boy who lives in a small Nigerian village. When his uncle Ladi takes him to the city, Ali’s system of values is turned upside down by the ways of the people there. Struggling to fit in, Ali gradually discovers that he is actually trying to change himself.
In this novella, Adewuyi Adeniyi not only explores two different ways of acting in and looking at the world, but also draws a critical portrait of present-day Nigeria : indeed, the contrast between the two worlds, the city and the village, can be seen as a symbol of the gap between a modern society and a more traditional one.
In a clear, simple language, the writer manages to create a story in which the moral and social challenge and the struggle for a better life are part of our daily existence. You may therefore read it as a modern fable where the expression (and the reality behind it) “halcyon days”, or “happy days”, is qualified many a time.
Adewuyi Adeniyi is also known for his short stories reunited in the collection The World is Too Serious With Us.
Halcyon Days by Adewuyi Adeniyi
978-978-57374-7-9 / Acorn Books (first published in 2020)
Ioana Danaila was born in Romania. She has a PhD in Nigerian postcolonial literature and a First degree in French for Non-Francophone people. She is also the author of a collection of short stories and translated books from French to Romanian. Trilingual in Romanian, French and English, she teaches English language and literature to highschool students in France.