Summary and Analysis of Waiting for an Angel by Helon Habila

by Warlord
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SUMMARY

The author tells his story through one of his character Lomba. He exposes the societal ills. Lomba was jailed as political detainee, he is a Lagos journalist. Lomba got access to pencil and paper, and he started a diary, he had to write in secret, mostly in the early mornings, when the night warders, tried of peeping through the door bars, waited impatiently for the morning shift. Still in prison, Lomba’s life interacts with the superintendent and then begins to write poems. On the third day in prison door to Lomba, he is glad to see the rays of light and hopes for good fortune. Contrary to Lomba’s hopes, the superintendent has come with a piece of news.

“These are your papers. I read all, I read your file again, and also you are a journalist. This is your second year here, awaiting trial for organizing violence. Demonstration against anti-government demonstration against the military legal government.

SETTING

The novel is set at Lagos in 1998 during the reign of General Sani Abacha and the era was the era of military system of Government

PLOT

The writer of the novel “Waiting For an Angel” told the story with flashback and the novel is episodic that is to say that the writer wrote it from an omniscient point of view. The episode that bears the name of the novel is “THE ANGEL” and the character the writer used in this episode is an unnamed character and the character seems to be tired with life, his friend Lomba gave him a suggestion that they should go and meet a fortune teller. When they got there, Lomba entered first and when he came out his face was bemused, the marabout had told him that prison was ahead of him. Then his friends entered, all he could ask the marabout was when he was going to die. The marabout told him that he will know when the time comes. From that day he started waiting for the Angel of death. He was in a bar resting and was looking around when two soldiers banged into the bar. Everybody ran away even the bar man, but he was the only one remaining. As one of the soldiers confronted him, he shoves the table and the edge catches him on the stomach knocking the gun out of his hands. He made a rush to the door, but the other soldier shouted “Stop or I Shoot!” as he turned back, it wasn’t a soldier but an Angel. The angel opens its enormous wings and closes them again in a clapping motion. He flew with the angel out of the bar and ascending with the sound of a thousand wings.

The other episodes of the novel went in the same story line. It was all about the military system of government, where the government was so harsh to the masses and treats them like slaves. Lomba is the protagonist in the novel and it was during their school days that He met Alice, two of them got to fall in love with each other and Lomba told Alice that after school that he will be a writer and his first poem will be dedicated to her “Alice the Love of my Life” but Alice disappointed Lomba by marrying Ngai her boyfriend because he was the one who sponsored her mother’s bills while she was sick..

Bola the tight friend of Lomba had a terrible dream where fire was burning but he couldn’t fish out who exactly it was burning. He was eager to go home. When he got home he met only Uncle bode. Uncle Bode told him about his parents death through accident and the accident was as a result of Bad road. Bola ran mad and went out in the street and was speaking against the Government. He was caught by the security beaten up by them, later they noticed he was mad and he was taken to psychiatrics.

Then Kela told the story about the morgan street which is known with poverty street, nothing good comes out of the street, it’s a court road and people suffers in the street, a demonstration was ganged up by Mao and Joshua. Lomba was called as a journalist. When they got there the security agents attacked them. Mao was nowhere to be found. Joshua ran out of the country. Heager, Joshua’s girlfriend died in the riot and Lomba was arrested.

Lomba was in jail for 2yrs, but in the process, he couldn’t control his emotions as a writer. He found pen and paper and started writing poems. The prison superintendent fell in love with Lomba and that made him to write more poems for the superintendent to give his girlfriend, Janice. Janice thought her boyfriend the superintendent would have  help Lomba get out of the prison, but it wasn’t possible as all this was happening under reign of General Sani Abacha. A coup was attempted against the military leader, General Sani Abacha and there was a crackdown by all pro-democratic activist, when the military dictator died, his successor, General Abdusalam Abubakar dared to open the gate to democracy and liberty for the political detainees and Lomba was in the ranks of those released that was how Lomba got out from the prison. As Lomba got out from the prison, he went looking for another job. Fortunately for him, he obtained a job in a ideal newspaper company owned by James. All the writers had a get-together where everybody introduced himself, and as one of the writers introduced himself as Helon Habila. As the meeting was going on some soldiers came to the meeting arena. .

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE EPISODES

LOMBA

Lomba is a journalist during the reign of General Sani Abacha. He is on the forefront of saying the truth about the Government. General Sani Abacha was not leading in an upright way so Lomba being the Journalist had to speak up and was saying all the bad things about General Sani Abacha. Lomba was detained in the prison by General Sani Abacha and his purpose of detaining him was for him to stay there forever so as to not to continue with his work as a journalist. There in prison, Lomba couldn’t control himself as a writer and as well a journalist. He began to write in the prison aiming to reduce the weight of the prison walls on his shoulder. Another thing about Lomba was that he is also a poet. One day, the prison superintendent caught him writing a poem in the prison and asked him where he brought the pen and paper with which he was writing with but unfortunately Lomba couldn’t remember and he was punished because of that. It was later that the superintendent started falling in love with Lomba because of his poem. From then, Lomba started writing poems for the prison superintendent for him to give his girlfriend Janice. Janice later found out that all the poems that given to her by her boyfriend were written by a prisoner. Janice asked her boyfriend MaFau i.e. the superintendent to help Lomba but he did not help the matter.

A coup was attempted against the military leader General Sani Abacha by some officers close to him and there was a crackdown on all pro-democracy activists when the military dictator died, and his successor General Abdulsalam Abubakar dared to open the gate to democracy and to liberty for the political detainees. Lomba was in the ranks of those released. Lomba was so happy to leave the cell and then liberty said softly “come it is time to go and they left, arm in arm.”

THE ANGEL

This is all about a fellow who is tired of life as all he talks about mostly is Death. They are three friends. One day they decided to go and see a fortune teller. When they got there, Lomba entered first and there was a determined look on his face but when he came out there was a bemused look on his face, the fortune teller told him that prison was ahead of him. But when his friend entered, all he could ask the fortune teller was that he wants to know when he will die. The marabout simply told him that he is going to know when the time comes. However, he has been waiting for the Angel of Death.

A day came when he was in a bar resting and looking around, two soldiers banged into the bar, everybody ran away including the bar man, but he was the only one remaining in the bar. One of the soldiers confronted him; he shove the table at the soldier, the edges catches him in the stomach, knocking the gun out of his hands. He made a desperate rush for the door, but before he could reach it, he heard a warning bark “Stop or I Shoot!” it was the other soldier, but when he turn he realized that it was not a soldier but an Angel. It opens its enormous wings and closes them again in a clapping motion. He flew with the angel out of the bar and ascending with the sound of a thousand wings.

BOLA

Bola is a tight friend of Lomba and they lived in the hostel together. On a cool night, Bola had a dream. He saw where fire was burning some people. The next morning, he had an impression that something was wrong with his parents and siblings. He prepared and went home, when he got home, he met Uncle Bode and asked him of his parents. Uncle Bode now told him the sad news about them; that his parents were engaged in an accident and they died. Bola was so shocked and surprise of the news, because of that he ran mad. He went out in the street and was shouting and speaking against the Government. When Lomba and one of his friend noticed what was happening, they realized that he has ran mad  so they took him to the psychiatric Hospital.

ALICE

Alice is a girlfriend to Lomba. They met during their school days in University. Lomba was in Dr Kareeem’s office when Alice and a girl came in for registration. Dr. Kareeem introduced them to Lomba and since then, they became friends. The first time Alice invited Lomba to her house, she treated him as a commoner because it was so hard for her to come out from the room and greet Lomba that visited her. Even when she later came out, she made a little introduction and then went out with her boyfriend. Alice later realized her mistake and came to apologize to Lomba in his room in the hostel..

Alice asked Lomba what he was going to become after school, he told her he was going to become a writer, and his first poem and novel will be dedicated “To Alice, the Love of My Life” after their university. He met Alice in the hospital. they were so surprised and shocked to meet each other. Alice mother had breast cancer, They went in together to see her mother. When they got there, Alice mother told both of them never to play with their love for each other, but the sad part of the story is that Alice later married Ngai her boyfriend because he has money and because he was the one who sustained her mother in the hospital before she died.

KELA

Kela lived with his auntie Richael in Morgan Street. she has a restaurant called Good Will. Nancy manages it for her, Kela misbehaved and he was sent to Lagos, and he started a lesson in Joshua’s center. Joshua is in love with a girl, Hegar. Morgan Street is known as Poverty Street because it’s a court road and people are suffering in the street. One day, Mao Joshua ganged up for demonstration, so they now called Lomba as a journalist. When they got there, the security agents started to fight the masses, it then escalated into riot. Hegar died in the process of crossing the main road and Lomba was arrested.

TECHNIQUE DEVICES

LANGUAGE

The language of the novels is simple as the writer wrote it in a way the reader would understand. He used a straight forward language.

FLASHBACK

Thye writer used flashback in telling the story, he started with when Lomba was arrested by General Sani Abacha; the first episode of the novel was supposed to be the 6th episode but Helon Habila used flashback in the beginning of the novel.

POINT OF VIEW

The novel is an episodic novel and was written from an omniscient point of view

THEMES

Theme of violence: the theme of violence can be seen in the novel when lomba was imprisoned for covering a protest and it can be seen in many parts of the work.

Theme of imprisonment: this theme can be seen in the novel when people are being arrested and imprisoned if they say things concerning the government. Lomba can be seen as one of the detainees and they are been detained without trial.

Theme of death: it can be seen in the novel when many people lose their lives in demonstrations and how Bola’s family died in auto crash.

Theme of corruption: this theme can be seen in the novel when the prison supridentant separated lomba from his cell and gave him pencil and paper to write love poems for himand it can be seen in the novel in the acts of the government officials.

Theme of divination: Lomba, Bola and one of their friends went to do diviner to know their fate and their friend asked the diviner when he is going to do die, and was told he will see Iseralfed the queen of death

CHARACTER AND CHARACTERIZATION

LOMBA – is the protagonist in the novel as he faced the challenges of life in the novel. He was arrested by General Sani Abacha after his school because being a journalist, he had to speak the truth against the Government. When he came out of the prison, he got another Job in an Ideal Newspaper Company.

ALICE- Alice was Lomba’s girlfriend when they were in school, and Lomba promised to dedicate his first write up to Alice his Love. But Alice later disappointed him and got married to another man.

BOLA- Bola is a very tight friend to Lomba, when they were still in school, but he ran mad because he couldn’t resist the shock of his parent’s death through accident caused by bad road which the government left unconstructed.

KELA- Kela is also a character who told the story about a street called Morgan Street, but the name that was given to Morgan Street was Poverty Street.

JOSHUA: He was the leader of the group meant to protest about the ills in poverty street.

JAMES: James is the man that owns the Ideal newspaper company, where Lomba obtained his work after he came out of the prison.

MAU: The Superintendent to the prison where Lomba was.

JANICE: The superintendent girlfriend.

Thomas: he is an inmate with Lomba.

Uncle Bode: Bola’s uncle. He lives in Lagos with his wife and children.

Bola: Lomba’s friend, who was depressed after the parent’s death and was carried away in a military van.

Peju: Bola’s elder sister.

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