The Quest for Meaning

by Uzor Maxim Uzoatu
Pursuit of Purpose Storified

The Journey: Pursuit of Purpose Storified by Stanley Ohanugo; BrandZilla Technologies Limited, Nigeria; 2021; 188pp

The best way a man can arrest the world is through the story he tells. I was arrested by Stanley Ohanugo when I read his first novel, Disciples of the Inverted Cross, an astonishing masterpiece on cultism.

I stand as the only happy prisoner because I do not want to gain any freedom whatsoever from Ohanugo’s imprisonment!

Like the Austrian physician Franz Anton Mesmer, after whom the word “Mesmerism” is in the dictionary, Ohanugo has mesmerized me because I can’t just understand how a man who took a degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Nigeria (UNN) Nsukka can be so good and spellbinding at storytelling.

Poor me, it’s whilst still in his mesmeric captivity that Ohanugo released yet another book, The Journey: Pursuit of Purpose Storified, and I cannot but get hooked up on it like a delirious prison-yard junkie.

The twist in the tail, that is, the good end of the matter is that the story of The Journey: Pursuit of Purpose Storified will clear the head of any hardened junkie and lend meaning to his life.

It is against the background of this book clearing my head and making me understand the necessity of the pursuit of purpose in life that I am now embarking on this review of The Journey by asking the relevant questions: “Who am I? Why am I here? Where did I come from? What was I born to do? What can I do? Why am I different? What is my potential? Where am I going? Why did I come to this planet?”

Chinua Achebe established the primacy of the story in his novel Anthills of the Savannah where he wrote: “It is the story that outlives the sound of war-drums and the exploits of brave fighters. It is the story, not the others, that saves our progeny from blundering like blind beggars into the spikes of the cactus fence. The story is our escort; without it, we are blind.”

Ohanugo is in the great company of Achebe in his rendition of the richly didactic story of Ebuka Ogene, a first-class graduate of Accountancy, who suddenly loses his eminent father before the graduation ceremony but in the end sets forth on the journey to discover the purpose of life through interactions with his three friends, namely, Sadiq, Onome and Bunmi upon the promptings of the somewhat psychic sympathizing angel, Mr. Joshua.

In Ohanugo’s Preface to The Journey, the author reveals that the book owes its birth to the question thrown at him after a group meeting on a Tuesday evening, to wit: “How can one find and discover one’s purpose?”

The Journey begins on an elegiac note with the death of Ebuka’s father, Desmond Ogene, the owner of the accounting firm Ogene & Co Limited just a week to his graduation from the university. Ebuka’s mother had died five years ago.

As a firstborn son and orphan, Ebuka is thus saddled with so much responsibility especially as he is not on the same pedestal with his late father on the religious doctrinal front.

Ohanugo writes: “Before he started going to Church when his mum died, Ebuka’s father Desmond Ogene had joined and renounced or left five different religions and each time he would cite not finding the truth as an excuse to switch faith. When he proclaimed he was a Christian and wanted every member of the family to join him in the local Church he attended, Ebuka dissented and became agnostic.”

In the frame of the complications are Ebuka’s friends – Sadiq, Onome and Bunmi – that Ohanugo portrays thusly: “Up to this moment, these four friends have never raised any conversation related to religion when they are together. Sadiq being a devout Muslim occasionally engages Bunmi in private discussions to get her view as a Christian on some issues and though they disagree sometimes it has never affected their friendship. Onome is practically a skeptic, although she claims adherence to the traditional faith of her parents. She occasionally follows Sadiq and Bunmi to their worship centers when she is invited.”

The mysterious “sturdy and light-skinned” Mr. Joshua then steps in and arrests the attention and company of Ebuka and his friends with his enlightening ideations.

The 14 chapters of The Journey remind me of the 14-step Stations of the Cross of my Catholic upbringing and elaborate messages akin to the religious allegory of John Bunyan in The Pilgrim’s Progress.

The chapters are titled thus: Salt of the Earth, Character of Purpose, Consequences of Lack of Purpose, The Meaning of Purpose, Specificity of Purpose, Personality of the Purpose-driven, Seasons of Purpose, Purposeful Relationships, Purity in Purpose, Paths to Discovery of Purpose, The Making of Change Agents, Walking the Path of Purpose, Finding God’s Will, and Alignment and Precision.

The Preface and Prologue at the beginning, and the Epilogue at the end, round up The Journey.

It is indeed a worthwhile journey as Ohanugo tells: “Ebuka and his friends have an unwritten pact to stand by one another in any circumstance. Their friendship had been so inseparable that their schoolmates thought they would end up getting married to each other, even at that no one could tell what the pairing would be: Ebuka & Bunmi, Sadiq & Onome or Sadiq & Bunmi and Ebuka & Onome. Their platonic relationship was a perfect model of friendship.”

Mr. Joshua sees the young friends as the “salt of the earth” that must not lose its taste, and he makes them to understand that even as cocaine may look exactly like salt and even has a finer feel, the hard drug is not salt.

Mr. Joshua teaches that in the pursuit of purpose there must be a plan and passion, stressing that the Creator has given four seasons to humanity, namely, the Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer seasons.

As Dr. Myles Munroe said on the matter, “if the purpose of a thing is not known, abuse is inevitable.”

There are conflicts along the line in The Journey, like Sadiq fighting off the aggressive lover-boy Fregene from Onome who is being shielded by Bunmi until Mr. Joshua suddenly appears and gives Fregene a bloody whacking slap on the cheek.

For Mr. Joshua, the four terms – purpose, calling, vision, and destiny – do not mean the same thing and ought not to be interchanged as he insists that purpose is the foundation of the other elements.

Ohanugo classifies his characters into the three categories of the majority who are completely ignorant, people of intuition who may not be aligned to God’s ultimate plan, and people who find purpose by inspiration that requires precision and alignment with the mind of God.

The “seven culture-shaping influences where your calling is served” are itemized in this order: Business, Government, Media, Entertainment, Family, Education, and Religion.

The mysteries of Mr. Joshua, Mr. & Mrs. Durojaiye Mailafia, the missing envelop in the drawer, the unfathomable tribute in the funeral brochure from the Good Heart Children’s Home orphanage etc. are wonders that make The Journey: Pursuit of Purpose Storified a treasure-trove.

The Journey: Pursuit of Purpose Storified is a book lifted with the cherished happy ending motif as Ebuka is handed over his fatherly inheritance because he has become a purpose-driven man of faith, and he ends up marrying Bunmi while “Mr. & Mrs. Durojaiye accepted Ebuka’s request to stand in as his parents at the wedding as an honor accorded his father.”

Stanley Ohanugo deserves golden celebration for gifting us with The Journey: Pursuit of Purpose Storified, a creative miracle that deserves a place in every shelf all over the world.

  • Review presented at the Golden Jubilee Birthday Book Launch of Stanley Ohanugo on Sunday, July 25, 2021 at Women Development Centre, Abuja, Nigeria.   

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