Chimeka Garricks‘ debut novel, Tomorrow Died Yesterday, is a story set in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, during the height of oil worker kidnappings in the Niger Delta. It follows four friends whose lives intersect amidst the turmoil of the Niger Delta oil crisis.

Doye (Doughboy) is a militant leader who orchestrates the kidnapping of oil workers, His actions are fueled by deep-seated anger and frustration with the exploitation of his people and the environmental degradation of his homeland. 

Amaibi is a university professor and environmental activist whose staunch belief in justice and empathy for the oppressed leads him to take a stand against the powerful oil companies. He is drawn into the conflict unexpectedly when he is lured into a one-off role delivering a ransom, only to become the scapegoat when the hostage is found dead. This ordeal brings everything in his life to a standstill but unexpectedly salvages his relationship with his wife, Dise, who is Kaniye’s half-sister.

Kaniye is a lawyer-turned-restaurateur who defends Amaibi, his legal expertise and loyalty to his friends are tested to the limits as he fights for Amaibi’s freedom. He also grapples with his strained relationship with his estranged father, Sir James, a Senior Lawyer, and a budding romance with Deola, a youth corps member and medical doctor who cares for Amaibi during his imprisonment.

Tubo is an Imperial Oil Company executive whose loyalty is tested. His conflicted conscience and his growing awareness of the oil industry’s dark underbelly force him to confront difficult truths about his own complicity.

Through their experiences, Garricks explores the themes of corruption, injustice, and the devastating impact of oil exploitation on local communities.

The novel’s strength lies in its vivid portrayal of Port Harcourt and the complex relationships between its characters. Garricks’ writing is evocative, raw and real. The characters are well-developed, each with their own motivations and flaws. Their struggles are relatable and their stories are emotionally engaging.

However, the novel’s pacing can be occasionally uneven, with some sections feeling slower than others. Also, for readers who might find it difficult to follow multiple storylines at once, the plot can be complex, and you may need some patience to fully understand, but when you do, the payoff is worth it.

Nevertheless, Tomorrow Died Yesterday is an important novel that sheds light on an issue that Nigeria is to date, not totally free of. It is a must-read for anyone interested in Nigerian literature touching on social justice, especially the oil exploitation and the Niger Delta crisis. A 4/5 star rating.

You can also read our review of Chimeka Garricks’ A Broken People’s Playlist.

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