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I ADORE this book I have never thought that a random book that I picked from a pile and for which I paid a few coins would affect me this much.Nigerian literature is a powerhouse of which Habila s ability is a token This book is not just a story, but it isof a saga a saga that narrates the passage of time and its effects on a group of people that share the acquaintance of the protagonist who seems to be the life of the village in which he lives.This book broaches many themes that permeate the African writing arena in general poverty, political chaos, corruption, civil wars,religious fanaticism, etc It is like Habila created a panorama of the dark side of Nigeria that is contrasted with its Archedian beauty that is manifested in its natural serenity.One feels the intensity that has a crescendo tempo transpiring through the pages, for Habila managed to create a well constructed plot that dealt mainly with all of its plotholes in a neat and straightforward manner.Literature is celebrated by this book in all of its African glory. Really a 4.5 For all of what seem on the surface like gimmicks, Nigerian twins, the structure of the bildungsroman, etc it adds up to a smart, elegant story Mamo and LaMamo grow up neglected by their father and raised by their aunt Mamo is physically weak from sickle cell anemia LaMamo is strong They run away and LaMamo becomes a soldier Mamo is forced to turn back and becomes a teacher and a historian The pathos and boredom of Mamo s life is punctuated by LaMamo s letters from Liberia and Guinea, where he is a mercenary soldier cum assistant to Medecins Sans Frontieres Mamo, by dint of his writing, is invited into the corridors of power, but at personal and moral cost LaMamo s reappearance at the novel s end brings the story s action full circle The storytelling is graceful and economical Concerned as the novel s protagonist is with writing, one is reminded that there are, in fact, good cliches. @FREE E-PUB ⚞ Measuring Time ⚜ In The Small Nigerian Village Of Keti Live Mamo And LaMamo, Twin Sons Of A Domineering Father When One Day The Boys Try And Escape The Village, Only LaMamo Succeeds And In Time Becomes A Soldier Well Versed In The Ways Of Life And Death Mamo, Too Sickly To Leave, Remains In Keti Finding Solace In The Arms Of Zara While Watching Impotently As His Detested Father Grows Powerful And Corrupt Unable To Wield A Weapon, Mamo Instead Reaches For A Pen And Soon Begins To Write The True History Of Keti And Its People All The Time Awaiting The Return Of His Beloved Brother, LaMamo A long demanding novel, it s also a slow starter, I kept being tempted to bail out until, at midpoint, I figured out what it was about, that was two of my favorite topics History national identity A true history, the main character reflects, is one that looks at the lives of individuals, ordinary people who toil and dream and suffer, who bear the brunt of whatever vicissitudes time inflicts on the nation If a historian could capture these ordinary lives, including their recollections of their own family s past, then he might come close to writing a true biographical history of a nation for when we refer to a nation, are we not really referring to the people that inhabit that nation, and so isn t the story of a nation then really the story of the people who make up the nation And in a sense that s what this author does in telling the story of this amateur Nigerian historian of a sort But it s a different Nigeria than one sees in Half of a Yellow Sun, though there are some similarities, too, in a story that covers some of the same years, but in a different part of Nigeria But why do fictional missionaries to Africa always come from Iowa A remarkable piece of work by Habila His prose is lyrically attractive, poetic, a canvas of colours playing with some trompe l oeil techniques and intertextual references from various authors It s stories within a story The twin fighter vs the academic twin, two sides of the same coin really, although the academic twin occupies much of the narrative there is always an implicit reference to the risk taker and fighter Set in the Nigeria of the 60s to the 90 s we witness through the characters an array of political events played out by local government representatives The ending was the only part that let me down a little but all in all an excellent book I waffled back and forth over if this book was a four star or a three starso it is getting a 3 from me I liked the book and found it very interesting But the reason for the three stars and not four is because the most interesting part for me was experiencing life in an African village and how civil wars any war affect the life of people living in the conflict areas The author does an excellent job of painting the picture of African village life and giving depth to Mamo, the main character But the storyline didn t really capture my attention I enjoyed reading it but mainly because the background and setting kept me capturednot the story so much.Overall, glad I read the book and it was better than I expected it to be, but the journey I went on through the book was not via the storyline, just the story setting and background. reading this book was listening to my father talk about his life before immigration i could easily see him and his mates living out their lives in this novel it was realistic fiction, becuase it bought the nigerian of my father s youth and the nigerian during the present elections to life in a very sublte way helon habila writes in a plain fashion he puts me in the mind of chinua achebe what you see is what the characters see what you experience is what the characters experience what you take from it is what you take from it. If I were still teaching, I would teach this book, not only for the questions it raises to which I do not know the answers Nigerian history primary among them , but also because it is beautifully told, deceptively simple, and filled with love and wisdom, anger and illness, dishonesty and naive, hopeful belief Mamo and LaMamo are twins who as children seek adventure and fame, and as adults realize the dark side of both ambitions. Measuring Time by Helon Habila skillfully weaves the political and cultural environment of Nigeria from the 1960s to the 1990s with the lives of twin boys, Mamo and LaMamo, in the Nigerian village of Keti.Mamo, the older twin, suffers from sickle cell anemia, is physically weak, reserved, introspective, and intellectual LaMamo is athletic, boisterous, outgoing, and glib The brothers dream of escaping from their domineering father to lead adventurous lives Their paths diverge after they run away together to become soldiers Mamo is forced to return home because of a health emergency LaMamo continues his journey and becomes a mercenary, fighting alongside various rebel groups in Liberia and Guinea, and eventually working with M decins Sans Fronti res Doctors Without Borders before returning home.Although Mamo s disease prevents him from leaving the village, he escapes intellectually and emotionally from his father He succeeds academically, becoming a history teacher in the local school He embarks on a project to write a history of the village through interviewing its people His project attracts the attention of village leaders who invite him to write a biography of the village chief Close interaction with village leaders exposes Mamo to the corruption, bribery, and moral turpitude of those in power.Meanwhile LaMamo travels to neighboring countries as a mercenary, joining factions fighting for African liberation He keeps his brother apprised of his travels and activities by periodically sending him letters These reveal LaMamo s increasing disenchantment with wars, with the exploitation of children coerced into fighting, and with senseless killing and suffering of innocent civilians Through the lives of these twin brothers and the people they interact with, Habila shows a society riddled with corruption A school that provides educational opportunities for village children is tossed around as a pawn between political factions and is eventually forced to close The money raised for drilling new wells in draught ridden areas is whittled away in the hands of corrupt politicians The police crush riots through brutality, violence, and intimidation Rebel leaders and their followers, ostensibly fighting for African liberation from the yoke of colonialism, rape and pillage at will As a result of their separate experiences, the brothers become increasingly discouraged about the possibility of a better future.Habila s characters are realistically portrayed, especially his protagonist Mamo who emerges as a sensitive, conscientious individual determined to record the dignity and resilience of ordinary people in his village The description of village life, inhabitants, traditions, and customs is rich in detail Habila has woven an intricate tapestry that threads the recent history of Nigeria with the lives of twin boys, thereby expanding his vision to illustrate both the personal and political challenges facing a people A powerful story, told in clear, succinct prose, with sensitivity and compassion.Highly recommended.My book reviews are also available at www.tamaraaghajaffar.com Measuring Time is the story of twin brothers, their family and the people that shaped them Living in rural Nigeria, village life and the natural environment add atmosphere and context Habila s story telling talents are evident in numerous ways His own narrative of people and events is interwoven with those of his protagonist Mamo, who in later years writes about the people around him and thereby becomes a recorder of the local history Giving Mamo the dual voice of the growing boy young adult of the story time line and the retrospective commentary of the future biographer, the author creates an even richer portrayal of the main characters and the times they live in.Mamo, the first born of the twins, inherited sickle cell anemia from his mother, who died in child birth From an early age Mamo, fragile and prone to health crises, does not expect to grow into adulthood This makes him reflective and withdrawn, always waiting for something to happen first death, later on fame, fortune or something else Expectations and dreams change over time The younger twin, LaMamo, on the other hand, is a rambunctious youth who acts before he thinks Together they make a complete person, one balancing the other s character.Among the many things uniting them, hatred for their father stands above all else They are convinced that he made their mother s life so miserable that she died at a young age Fortunately, they are taken to their uncle Ilya for the first few years of their lives Then auntie Marina, their father s sister, comes to live with them, dedicating her life to the well being of the boys Eventually, the young men plan their escape there are wars being fought in neighbouring countries and they believe that they can make their fortuneThings don t work out as planned but Uncle Iliya takes Mamo under his intellectual and emotional wing eventually, Mamo joins his uncle s community school as a history teacher There he crosses paths with his childhood friend, Zara His life takes a new turn as a result, inways than one Meanwhile, LaMamo s progress or lack thereof in fighting other people s wars is conveyed through long letters to his brother that arrive sporadically Will they ever meet again This is not just the story of one family, although the individuals stand in the centre of events Uncle Ilija, who fought in several wars, has turned all his energy into maintaining the village school and to bring understanding and wisdom to those around him The twin s father, a wealthy businessman, attempts a political career with mixed results, allowing the author to expose the many problems of the political system in the recently turned independent state of Nigeria Habila has not only created vivid characters that stay in the reader s mind, he has skilfully broadened and deepened the narrative to include a rich account of Nigerian tradition and customs as they have evolved in this part of the country Keeping his story personal and centred on a group of distinct characters, he finds a sensitive balance between the intimate and the historical context His evocative power of description, whether of landscapes or human beings, is complemented by his skill as a story teller in the rich African tradition As a human interest story it reaches audiences beyond those interested in Africa.