Season of Crimson Blossoms: Religion, politics and sex in Nigeria

Season of Crimson Blossoms by Abubakar Adam Ibrahim
Season of Crimson Blossoms by Abubakar Adam Ibrahim

Book: Season of Crimson Blossoms

Author: Abubakar Adam Ibrahim

Publisher: Parresia Books

Year of publication: 2015

Number of pages: 345

Genre: Fiction

Abubakar Adam Ibrahim is a known name in the world of African literature. Some of his many accolades include being shortlisted for the Caine Prize for African writing, and winning both the BBC African Performance Prize and the Amatu Braide Prize. His first offering was The Whispering Trees, a short story collection, followed by Season of Crimson Blossoms, the first full novel by the Abuja resident. The latter follows the lives of two protagonists Hajiya Binta Zubairu and Hassan 'Reza' Babale. Hajiya is a highly respected widow in her 50s and is known for her adherence to the Islamic faith. She lives on the outskirts of Jos in Nigeria with her teenage niece Fa'iza and her young granddaughter Ummi. The minors are staying with her due to the dangerous mix of religion and politics at the Northern Nigeria region. Reza, on the other hand, is the lead thug at the San Siro, a local hideout for a bunch of non-outstanding members of the Nigerian society that specialise in mugging and selling drugs. They are also on the payroll of a local senator who uses them whenever he needs them, especially at political rallies. One day the two meet as Hajiya unknowingly walks in on Reza, who was robbing her home blind. On seeing her, he also steals more stuff from her and takes off into the late afternoon.
Eventually they meet again and have sex, which was a weird dynamic as it is sort of incestuous to them. She reminded him of the mother who abandoned him to engage in prostitution in Jeddah, and he reminded her of a son who who died in her arms; a child she was never able to call by his given name as the naming traditions.

The two characters are involved in mad drama as they navigate the weird behaviour of the family and the complications resulting from Reza's work. In between all this, they have to find a way to deal with their primal urges.
Because of the its pace, this book will not keep you up late at night, feverishly trying to get to its unlikely conclusion. While I found myself pausing and doing other tasks even as the book went to its climax, the extremely well-written prose kept me engaged along the way.

This book has been a huge revelation for me about the middle/northern Nigerian question as it has taken our perceptions, about a Nigeria that is always tearing itself apart because of sectarian violence, and brought them to life. It portrayed people who have been through hell but are still dealing with their issues like every other human beings. But it goes beyond this: it looks at the happenings in Nigeria before the elections of March 28, 2015.
So would I recommend that you read this book. Yes.

Star rating: 4