Killing Them Softly, by Martins Agbonlahor, a Nigerian – born United Kingdom – based lawyer and journalist, is not just only a seminar book on the struggle for women’s rights in Nigeria but also an expose on the oppression and injustice visited on the women based on cultural beliefs and practices and a revolt against age-long maltreatment.
Call it an x–ray of realities in Nigeria, where bad governance has given root to endemic problems of injustice, the book is an expose on bribery and corruption, religious bigotry and other social vices that had egged on numerous economic woes.
The writer showed that regardless of where he lives, he is abreast of developments in the country, as he draws essentially from his background and experience to lay bare the endemic problems plaguing Nigeria.
The 318-paged novel succeeded in sustaining interest by choosing to adopt the story telling technique rather than use mere polemics and socio-jingoism employed by some promoters of feminism.
In the piece, the story revolves around a fictional lead character, Martha Clifford. The entire 28 chapters are devoted to how Martha Clifford challenged the status quo, attemptingto break the glass ceiling and act not only as a conscience of the society but a voice for the oppressed women.
Martha Clifford is raised in a polygamous home, where the father calls the shot and turns his wives and children to mere furniture or appendages to his person as none of them had no say in the running of the home or dare go against the autocratic decree of his father, who is seen as ‘The Lord of the Manor.’
Growing up, she agonises over these accepted ways of life and whenever she raises questions, she is silenced by her father and mother as well as others around her, who have acquiesce with the oppressive and degrading cultural practices, to simply do as she is told and not to go against the societal code as the consequences are grievous.
With a lot of intrigues and twists to the plot, the author has written the novel in a lucid language, with symmetric flow and diction spiced with anecdotes.