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Friday, October 2, 2009



(Abimbola Adunni Adelakun)


Even though the story mirrors Ibadan as a city with her peculiar characteristics, it is a tales of a family and how education or the lack of it can shape lives. Under The Brown Rusted Roofs is a prism of the dynamics of a polygamous family. It reflects the intrigues, politics, joy and pains of being a father; or mother in a polygamous set up. It is a story of collective living. It is an individual story. It is the biography of Alhaji Arigbabuwo. It is the itinerary of Rafiu. It is a map for the mass of brown and rusted roofs of the city of ‘Oba Odan’.


ü Alhaji Arigbabuwo

ü Afusa

ü Sikira

ü Baba n’sale

ü Alake


As his name denotes, he can never be a good custodian of a basket filled with goodies, as he will never hesitates in taking the share that pleases him- Arigbabuwo!

Arigbabuwo, A-ri-gbabuwo! He is a man who knows what the future holds for him, he knows what the capacity of his wit is. He never wants to go to school; he (Arigbabuwo) minces no words about it to his father (pg 7). Unlike some (Rafiu), his (Arigbabuwo) fame spreads across the ‘agbooles’ through the path he deems fit for himself. Alhaji Isaika Arigbabuwo is the first son of his mother (Ibilola Ajiun) whom she bears at the time when life is about putting paid on her (Ibilola) procreating ability. Alhaji Arigbabuwo hails from ‘Agboole’ Labeni in Ibadan. He is a prosperous merchant in ‘elubo’ transaction, alongside his brother, Alhaji Kareem Elelubo. Alhaji Isiaka Arigbabuwo and his brother inherit the business from their mother, as they maintain the feat of their mother in it, which sees them to prosperity.

Alhaji Arigbabuwo is an able-to-do polygamist, the father of legion. He tries as much to be impassive when hell is let loose and caution thrown to the wind between his wives (Afusa and Sikira), but he will not condone any dastardly attitude when he gets to his tether’s end (pg 17). He is never stingy to dashing out punches, especially when the occasion calls him to reinstate order and shore up hid image as the head over them (his wives, Afusa and Sikira) (pg 17&40). He is not less generous in satisfying his wives’ sexual desire, as their time table puts them on queue. He quenches their canal thirst at turns. He still instills his position on them when the lascivious sports is on, however, this is not unconnected to the story of once upon a time Alaafin of Oyo (pg 36-37))

He carries and maintains his sense of responsibility in the political scene. He is a political party member of an oppositional party during the regime of Bola Ige as the governor of Oyo state. He is once nominated by the party, but he is later knocks out by a well fortified favouritism that flanks the political terrain.

Alhaji Arigbabuwo discovers earlier than never that education is the inheritance parents can ever bequeath on their wards, he shares similarity with Afusa (his second wife) on this, and would rather refutes any contrary notion about education (pg 50-51). He has the makings of a good father and husband, in absentia of his polygamy attitude.


She is Alhaji Isaika Arigbabuwo’s second wife. She is ubiquitously refers to as ‘Iya Alate’ (Provisions seller), the immediate consumer’s needs. The one who has successfully and bravely been the keeper of three mouths’ food, she is the mother of three – Jimoh, Kazeem and Sikiru. She is second to Motara in hierarchical order in Aribabuwo’s house, but the one and only of the latter when it comes to passion. Little wonder she is always at the front burner of her contenders’ (Motara and Sikira) jealousy.

She must be a good cook with a delightful sense of culinary expertise, she does this with the treat she is always giving her own (Arigbabuwo) when it cones to her turn. This she does to the detriment of the other wives, especially Sikira without knowing it. Sikira, her keen competitor, will rather she kicks her delicious kitchen outcome (food) to the floor, than Alhaji Isiaka Arigbabuwo being swept by it (pg 28-29)

When it comes to education, give her a respected accolade for that, as she will never stop being up and doing about it. In spite of her academic shallowness, she tries her possible best to give her children (Kazeem and Jimoh) a befitting education (pg 48). She is an iconoclast in Arigbabuwo’s house, and a mother to be emulated.


She is a perfect ‘anatomasia’ of a typical African woman, who will never let the saviour pass her by, she is very sure of a grip of his (saviour’s) garment. She will surely do anything to get her desire, even if it means relaunching Adolf Hitler’s war.

She is the last skirt of Alhaji Arigbabuwo, the mother of his children. She is very ingenious in poking nose into people’s affairs, as she is always flanked by her friend (Alake), who is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. She is the bottleneck to Afusa and the bane of Alhaji Arigbabuwo. She is a peace maker in the house, but her name is never omitted in troublesomeness’ profile.


Like ‘Flash’ in the exaggerated movie, he will be there in an eye blink to asses the situation, even before it (pandemonium) starts. Like the trees whistle in the whirling wind, he will be there to give a verbal lashing to the erring faction. Baba n’sale will always be there to witness the event, judge and reprimand, especially a fight involving couples. He is always frequent to grace such occasion. When he speaks, his voice belies his age, he speaks with a well refined legato.

Baba n'sale is a person thin on the ground in all the ‘agbooles’, his age is incomparable. He is a man, whose genitals has ‘tastes’ the clitoris of eight women. The numbers of his children can not even be ascertained ‘Birds of a feather flock together’ they say, he is also a polygamist like his bosom friend (Alhaji Isiaka Arigbabuwo). But contrary to the latter, he (Baba n’sale) sleeps with his wives on spikes of thorns, so far they are well positioned to satisfy his insatiable thirst for coitus (sexual intercourse) (pg 83)

He is such a miser, no wonder five of his wives left him for greener pasture, leaving with him Alake and Risi. His miser-attitude is not extended to his children (pg 77). Luck runs against him when he applies his stingy approach to himself when he was on the hospital bed (pg 197).


* Polygamy
* Political Violence
* Survival
* Superiority Complex

The four themes listed above will always ring bell in the ears of every African. It is a pain in the neck of the Africans. To say they are the catalysts that empower the Nation’s (Nigeria) gloomy state is like stating the obvious.


All characters in this novel, except those that are incapacitated financially, plummet in the ditch of this plague. They gratuitously gulp and slurp the drink of polygamy with brazen exictment, oblivious of its side effect. The general concept on which the tenet of this polygamy revolves on is simply the fact that; the numbers of woman a man possesses shows his financial ability.

Alhaji Arigbabuwo never falls short of expectation, as he is seen championing the amorous sport, owing to his financial strength. He is a father of legion and the lover of four (Motara, Afusa, Sikira and Moriyeba). He (Alhaji Isiaka Arigbabuwo) hesitantly marries Moriyeba to replace Sikira inorder to show the latter that he has enough resources to keep more wives and cater for them as well. This is because Sikira leaves him (Alhaji Isiaka Arigbabuwo) for a more wealthy man.

Contrary to the common factor of financial buoyancy, Baba n’sale is a quintessential figure of those diseased and intoxicated under this epidemic. He believes that a man’s physical strength makes way for him in the world of women. This is why he tells Alhaji Isiaka Arigbabuwo when he (Baba n’sale) is on the hospital bed that: ‘There’s no death in my eyes. “Gunugu” does not die young, I won’t die now. I’m as strong as iron. In fact, when I get home, I will marry a new wife and still have more children’. This he (Baba n’sale) says in spite the hordes of children wallowing in abject poverty under his brown rusted roof (pg 212)


Violence is never a-do-without instrument under military rule. They cast caution to the wind with pleasure, and subjecting their ‘subject’ to all manners of obnoxious treatments. Overtake the government with the feign aim of maintaining peace, order and revamping the economy from obscurity. They (military juntas) skillfully put these aims and objectives to act by beating the governed blue-black. This is seen in the book as ‘Iya-loja’ is lashed beyond recognition (pg 113). The economy they are trying to protect from cankerworm is chiefly housed by locust and worsened beyond resuscitation. People’s wares are given at prices that do not commensurate with the capital of the business.

Mulika, Rafiu’s wife, is never exempted from the hit meal; she is tortured into unconsciousness, beaten alongside women who have come to fetch water. The cause for beating them is nothing near justification of the hell mete to them. (pg 108-109)

Considering the naivety of these ‘khaki boys’, their political misdemeanor can still be forgiven. But not to the so called democrats, who are the claimant of democracy. Democracy government which is fundamentally meant to give respite after the pain inflicted by colonialisation is also featured in this political degeneracy. They use this ludicrous stratum to achieve their political aspirations. The case of Eru O b’odo and his political opponent, Chief Olatunbosun is a good example. The duel between them aids the journey of Chief Olatunbosun of his fatherland (pg 90-91)

Alhaji Kudeti believes in the ‘do or die’ tactic, he (Kudeti) believes that only violence and bloodbath can bring out a victor from any political contest. Little wonder he tells the National Chairman of his party that: ‘Do they think the other party will strip babies to their backs and watch us win just like that?’(pg 209).


‘Man must survive irrespective of all odds’ is the common mantra. Alhaji Isiaka Arigbabuwo plays a dominant role in the course to survive with hid family, despite the military made economy meltdown. He is shown as a hero, who in spite the frosty hospitality and inhumane attitude of the military juntas, still stands up to give his family a worthy shelter and welfare. He tries his best to give his family a befitting ‘Ileya’ festive treat during the military regime. Food never runs short in his house the Ramadan Period, as the whole house goes agog and excited when the faithful month commences (pg 125).

Kudos to Afusa, she never relapses in giving her children a good education. She sponsors Jimoh in his schooling days before he (Jimoh) suddenly answers the eternal call of creation. She does this in spite of the stern military dispensation that has taken the economy to the doldrums.

‘Man go maintain now’ is the slogan Rafiu (Alhaji’s first born) joyfully sings. He (Rafiu) fights for survival, although his own style of getting one is totally unconventional and detrimental to the society. He goes seeking one from Kudeti, an Oyo political godfather. This he does when he ‘markets’ himself as one who is dexterous in political fratricide, having killed and maimed under the authority of his former master (Eru o b’odu) (pg 203-204)


This is the feeling of egoism, the fact of being better than others. While male chauvinism is the egoistic of the male which makes them to think that they are to be more valued to their counterpart (female). This theme caught across this fictional book (Under the Brow Rusted Roofs), the male characters in the literary piece share this similarly in the way they deal with their female characters (wives).

Alake (Baba nsale’s eight wives)severely suffered the pain of the epidemic which pandemic among the male characters. She is recipient of this (Superiority Complex / Male Chauvinism) when she is newly married to Baba n’sale, she shoulders all the responsibility of the household and get no reward, other than being pounded upon by Baba n’sale, who does this with extreme enthusiasm. Thanks to the recourse she takes to by getting pregnant incessantly and feigning sickness always.(pg 38-40).

Superiority complex / Male Chauvinism exhibit itself boastfully in the way Alhaji Isiaka Arigbabuwo sleeps with his wives at designated turn. He does not go all naked when the canal sport is on. Contrary to the women (his wives) who get totally nude before being slide into, he (Alhaji) only brings out his erogenous zone. This attitude is based on the story he hears from his father about a once a time king of Oyo (Alaafin of Oyo), He (Alaafin of Oyo) is ridiculed by one of his wives loosed tongue due his act of total nakedness during love bath. (pg. 36-37)

When the honey, is sweet in his (Rafiu) month, he (Rafiu) didn’t know it is gotten from the bees now-sting him (Rafiu) that he begins to cause the day the bees is created. Rafiu’s door is always flung open when he getting good return, but when the result (Pregnant) comes out, he never wants to have anything to do with her (Mulika). Through, she possesses a disfigured leg, she (Mulika) is seen as an angel from the Cupid‘s world. Now that her flower has withered away, she is like a rag that is not suitable keeping in the house. (pg. 31, 68 and 75).



Style can be seen as a language habit of a writer, which is peculiar too a text or any work of art. It is the derivation from the norms and rules that guide English.







This artistic work is written in a simple language which could be easily understood by its reader, without being overwhelmed in the ocean / sea of grandiose words.

The psychological and moral impact of language-simplicity relates to our most highly developed awareness, knowledge and insight unto our domestic ways of life! (pg.27and 70).


This is the power a literary work possesses to succinctly belittle and denounce its male character in such a way that it will stir pathos in the mind of its readers.

For Baba N’sale, a wife’s protest or threat of leaving him will never pull a strand of hair from his flesh, because he firmly believes that women can be substituted / replaced at any time just like any other available goods in the market. He is a staunch supporter of the objectification of women. This is why he advises his right-hand friend (Alhaji Isaika Arigbagowo) to take another wife in place of Sikira. He says: “If I were you, I will take another wife! Do you hear what I said? Take another wife!.......” (pg. 83)

It is the most irresponsibility of Rafiu (Alhaji’s first son) that spells doom for him (Rafiu). He (Rafiu) can’t put in control the flesh in his middle, and as a result of this, he is shouldered with the responsibility (Mulika) he is not capable and ready to take up. Rafiu is seen as a dangerous animal lving among human hood, he unreservedly churns punches to Mulika, the woman who goes through rigour to bear his ‘female‘child each time she (Mulika) irritates him (Rafiu). He almost beat her to death on a fateful day as she lost consciousness. (pg.101).


This is the artistic combination of two languages in a sentence in any literary piece. The premise of diarchism in a work of art is to accentuate the setting or the background of the particular work. One of its main functions is to make capacious the trait of each character in a literary work.

A good instance in Abimbola Adunni Adelakun’s work (Under The Brown Rusted Roof) is on page 120…. “Our father were right, they say there’s a rush of feet in Anjefe’s house; now that Anjafe’s dead, we see no one any more”.

It (Diarchism) is used for proverb or anecdotes which cannot be interpreted in other languages, except from its originated language. Such proverb loses the meaning it carries if it is shifted to other languages.


A proverb is a popular word among particular ethnic groups which expresses the belief they hold about a particular norm or convention.

Adunni (Author) freely used this to spice and beautify conversations among the characters. A vivid example of this is on page 25: “it is only on ‘Omo Ole’ that uses the left hand to point the way to his father’s house”

The author does not only spice and beautify conversations with her proverbs alone, she also bolsters conversation with it. “Yes! The rain can beat you into the same house twice”. (pg23).

Compiled by :Joseph Omotayo, Badmus Kabeer and Adebiyi Rasheed A.

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