What better way can one make a memorable entrance in the publishing world than unveiling the salacious activities of the rich and famous, who happens to be his patrons and friends?
This is what newcomer author, tailor and restauranteur, Shehu Usman Yakubu did in his debut novel Maitama Linen: The Scandalous Lives of Abuja Elites.
Set in the city of Maitama, Abuja, the lives of several characters: a female mechanic, Kemi, a trophy wife, Salma Danlami, her husband Tanko etc. collides when Kemi discovers the nearly lifeless body of Aisha Bashir in her workshop, as she recounts the multiple, tangled and scandalous events that led to critical situation.
In his book, Yakubu writes about the ‘unspeakable’ issues often ignored but currently pervading the modern Nigerian society – from present divorce culture in the north to homosexualism, drug abuse, body enhancements as a means to get ahead in life to rape culture, and the penchant of the average Nigerian man feelings of entitlement to a woman’s body.
With his elite friends as his primary source of information, Yakubu writes not just to entertain, but to highlight the current state moral deterioration in the Nigerian society, and as a caution and lesson to families and loved ones to be more observant of their environment, in order to prevent such happenings.
Penned during the COVID Lockdown, Yakubu said the story is inspired by the uncertainties of the period, deaths and the urgency of addressing societal issues at hand.
“With the world coming to an end, all bets were off. I had so many things I wanted to talk about, and I wanted to talk about them through a book. I wanted to talk about men who weren’t living up to what men are supposed to be. I wanted to talk about homosexuality and how it starts from schools. I wanted to talk about sexual deviances, body enhancements, corruption and abuse of power. Things I felt were wrong with our society.”
Although written in the shock-stirring format of reality TV shows like Housewives of Lagos and The Kardashians which focuses more on glorifying the flaws and vices of the central characters, so as to attract and sustain readers interest, Maitama Linen, the author said offers so much more.
“My generation does not like to read so much. I want to make them interesting and juicy. If I had written a book about society titled ‘Changes’ or ‘Becoming A Better Version of Ourselves’ or ‘We Are Not Enough’, they will think I did a thesis paper and not read it.
“I use peoples’ vices to talk about how life could go if we continue down a certain path. You will see that there are several lessons to be learnt. I have some people call and abuse me for killing off a character. My wife and others have questioned why a character they liked had to have the unfortunate things happen to them.”
Speaking of his first publishing experience, Yakubu said he took the self-publishing route with Tekkie when traditional publishing houses rejected his manuscript.
“I am not angry because I am a novice in this. However, I don’t just believe in my work but in the messages, I am transmitting. This debut is my prove to publishers that I can do this. That way, when I submit my second manuscript, they will listen to me; and eventually adapt my book into a movie or series.”
The author who was tutored for a while in writing and storytelling by his American Journalist friend is working on his second and third book A Night In Lagos, and Unveiled.
What was there left to write that couldn’t be addressed in one book? You’d be surprised.
“I didn’t talk about many things like bleaching, the bias against northern divorcees, among others.”
I want to be a soldier of the unspoken. Things that are uncomfortable to talk about, I want to talk about them. Like the subject of homosexuality, one of my main character was raped in secondary school, and he was incentivized and so he became a homosexual. I wanted to write about that because most of the gays I met, that is how they started. These are things people are uncomfortable talking about but it is in our society. Let’s talk about it so that if you are sending your child to school, you pay attention,” concluded Yakubu.