The novel Yellow Yellow by Kaine Agary explores the social economic effects of oil exploration and exploitation on the ecology. It also examines the effects of coastal communities in contact with the sea in the Niger Delta. The novel also gave details of women caught up in the bizarre deprivations and humiliating conditions of the Niger Delta of Nigeria which the author branded as ‘born troway’, ‘ Ashawo pickin’ Zilayefa, the heroine in the novel is the product of one of such contacts. These contacts resulted in criminality in the Niger Delta in addition to poor leadership at all levels of governance. The novel deals with political ecology of Nigeria and examines the place of women within that ecology. Through the novel, we were able to deduce that environmental pollution breeds moral decadence. Because according to the novel, we were meant to understand that women in this region have sexually polluted themselves only to escape the poverty that pervaded their Ijaw village. The same thing is applicable to their men folk, because they weren’t able to put up with the poverty surrounding their village because their means of livelihood which is fishing and farming had been disrupted or terminated by the spillage and crude oil from the oil company. To make matter worse, no compensation for the damages.
This compelled them to resort to kidnapping the white oil ministers as an escape from poverty which claimed lots of their lives because the white oil ministers devised a means of wasting the village boys lives through the law enforcement agency (government agency).
Zilayeta the protagonist is a young girl born of a nigerian mother (Ijaw precisely) and a Greek father (sailor). She grew up without paternal care to discover that is a common thing in her area for the woman to be seduced and dumped by the lascivious white man who worked with the oil company. These ill-fated women become the ready prey of the white men due to adverse poverty in their village. These white men deceived the economically deprived women with money. Which definitely the women could not resist because they are not satisfied with the poverty surrounding them in their village. This is what happened to Bibi Zilayeta’s mother who fell in love with a Greek sailor in Port Harcourt. Having gotten her pregnant, he fled to his home country without informing her. She travel back to Ijaw her village where she battled with poverty and gave birth to her daughter Zilayeta.
The predicament she experienced made her to put in her best to make sure that her daughter became a success in life. She tried her best to see that Zilayeta obtain formal education so that life will be easier for her but she was shattered one day when the crude oil from the oil company spoiled her farmland that sustains her and her loving Zilayeta. After Zilayeta’s secondary school, she left her rustic existence and the protective grip of her mother and relatives in the village, in search of a better life in the city. With a recommendation from her church pastor to be received in Port Harcourt by a wealthy lady ‘Sisi’, she was taken and catered for by Sisi, an elderly woman, and her young friend Lolo. Sisi promised to send her to the university only if she could make her entrance grade and advised her to take up a job where she will be earning little money before her admission.
Zilayeta thrust into the bustling city of Port Harcourt unprepared for the pitfalls awaiting a young girl. So unsure of herself and the desperate need of direction. In Port Harcourt, Zilayeta is confronted by the prejudice against her racial identity. She struggles with accepting the void left by nit knowing her father and tries to fill that void with the attention of an older lover. Through the experiences of her budding sexuality, Zilayefa
grows to a higher level of knowledge and understanding and must define for herself what her life should be. Finally, she fell in love with an old retired Admiral who put her in a family way and gave her money to abort it which she did locally.
The novel was set in Niger Delta (Ijaw) when the country was at the peak of oil boom. When the country’s is being exploited by the whites. Period when the white extract Nigeria’s mineral resources and export to their home country and in return they sell to us in an exorbitant prices while Nigeria was a country blessed with oil and still lack petrol
Locations where the novel was set include; Lagos, Ijaw and Port Harcourt. It was set in the period when Nigeria as a country suffered from socioeconomic and political instability coupled with moral decadence that came through the external forces of the expatriate oil workers.
The writer made use of simple English to enhance the readers’ understanding of the work. She also made use of pidgin language to enable the average reader or uneducated person to understand the work. The use of pidgin was also a technique which the author employ to make his reader picture the ethnic group that is involved and also to advertise their Creole language (pidgin serving as a mother tongue), she also made use of Ijaw language for emphasis and also to ease tensions for the Ijaws who could not speak English language.
Point of view
The author employed first person point of view to convey his information. She hid under the umbrella of her character Zilayefa to tell the story. The whole actions, events, and incidents in the novel is seen only by the protagonist Zilayefa who narrated the story or the whole accounts of the novels.
The irony of the story is that the migrating girl (Zilayfa) leaving the village with a letter from her village church pastor indicated her level of religious training and indoctrination. Armed with this letter and the goodwill from villagers, which is expressed over some bottles of gin. Drinking gin to them becomes a kind of escapist world which they drink and forget their woes. Unfortunately for her, she got to the luring destructive embrace of city life that incidentally becomes a dead trap for her. She loosed her chaste and moral life and embraced promiscuity.
Zilayeta signify the Ijaw female indigenes that fought feebly to strike for a balance in an unreasonably harsh society where the life of a woman are regarded as toys without personality. A society where the life of a woman is so cheapen that she becomes a commodity to be bought and possessed with money.
Exploitation: The white men exploited the Ijaws tremendously ranging from extracting their mineral resources, exploiting their women sexually and spoiling their means of livelihood.
Poverty: Poverty is the major factor that affected the Niger Deltans in the novel. In order to run away from it, most people gave up their lives in either contacting sexually transmitted diseases or shot to death by the police.
Moral decadence: The Niger Deltans losts their moral standard at the contacts with the whites, that is when the ladies loss their chastity. The hallmark of the period was, lechery, promiscuity and avarice.
Feminism: Women are highly marginalised in the novel. They are treated like slaves by the white men.
Socio-cultural deprivation: The Niger Deltans as a result of the pervading poverty surrounding them, were deprived their cultural values especially the ladies that left the village and the activities like farming and fishing which they were known for and run to the city to make good living for themselves. The Niger Deltans were also deprived by the government.in spite of the harm which the government caused their farm lands and rivers, they refused to compensate them, the little that was brought was enjoyed by the privileged few like the king.
Zilayefa: she was the protagonist in the novel. For her to overcome the poverty that pervades her Ijaw village, she decided to move to Port Harcourt to become successful.
Bibi: she is Zilayefa’s mother who was impregnated by a Greek sailor and was abandoned. She raised Zilayefa as a single parent. She always wanted her daughter’s success. She doesn’t want Zilayefa to end up the way she did. Albeit, sometimes she could be controlling and domineering.
Sisi: she was the woman with mixed race like Zilayeta, whom the village pastor recommended for Zilayefa to stay with.
Lolo: she was a young a successful lady with self confidence, educated and independent.
Kamal: He was Lolo’s boyfriend who resides in Lagos.
Admiral: he was the returnee from army and currently a politician. He used to have young girls at his disposal. He was Zilaycfa’s seventy years old male friend who got her pregnant and gave her money to abort it.
The author made use of showing method of characterization because she present her character to the readers, but allow the readers discover the attributes of the character themselves.