Sozaboy is an illustration of Mene’s naivety andcluelessness about the Nigerian civil battle. The writer employs Meneas the lead character is narrating the period prior to the war,during and after. As a sozaboy, Mene supposes that becoming a soldierand taking part in the war will alter society’s outlook towardshim. He naively believes that taking part in the war is accompaniedby a higher social status is society. Thus, is driven by his ownselfish desires to becoming a soldier unaware of the intolerable lifein war. This paper details Mene’s change from a naïve characterand his view on becoming a soldier as the novel develops. Inaddition, is a discussion of what causes the change and the war’seffect on Mene.
As the novel begins, Mene is naïve because he believes everythingtold to him without questioning. This is apparent during his meetingwith Zaza, who misleads the character on the mighty role of a soza.Zaza notes that by merely becoming a soza, it will be possible forhim to fight his enemies even without a gun. Zaza’s bluster createsdisillusions on his capability of becoming invincible. Meneindirectly feels the pressure to become a soza. Zaza makes Menebelieve that to dress well, make a village proud of you and even geta wife one must become a soza. Thus, Mene further desires to becomethe person “wearing long trouser and coat and hand passing roundthe neck of a beautiful white woman….” (Saro-Wiwa 33). Menenaively believes that becoming a soza is such a rewarding and easything.
It is apparent that the character does not question the aftermaths ofhis actions, hence is also selfish. This is apparent in the manner hetreats Agnes. He thinks that she will only marry him once he becomesa soza. “She will like to be my wife but will marry me only if I amsoza” (Saro-Wiwa 59). It is obvious that Mene is unaware of whypeople enroll as soldiers in the war, because he thinks thatindividuals want to become soldiers for their own motives. Accordingto Mene, becoming a soldier is equivalent to becoming a man. Hischildish hatred towards girls that make simple defences on road toPitakwa encourages Mene to become a soldier and demonstrate hismanhood. Contrary to fighting in the war as a soldier, he also joinssoza to wed Agnes, as well as “get fine fine uniform with badgewhich young sozas were wearing in the army camp” (Saro-Wiwa 59).His perception is that he will benefit after becoming a soza, totallynaïve of the eventualities of war.
The narrative progresses to Mene enrolling as a soldier. As soon asMene wears the uniform, he is filled with pleasure, completelyignorant of what war entails. However, the pleasure does not lastlong and is interrupted by a flying airplane. Mene’s transformationfrom naivety begins. As they look up to see the plane circling thecamp, he sees it slump an object, “E dey me like say the plane deyshit and I begin to laugh” (Saro-Wiwa 110). He does not laugh forlong due to the explosion that follows throwing him off the groundand people shouting “bomb! Bomb! (Saro-Wiwa 111).” Meneprogresses to narrate how body parts belonging to fellow sozas aredispersed in the pits. It is at this point that he starts to realizewhat it means to become a soza as he laments “oh, foolish man, nawho send me make I go join soza?” (Saro-Wiwa 111). The bombincident clears his fantasies and he faces the real world in a war.
His naivety begins to fade away and he is filled with sympathy forthe loss of his ally. Mene comprehends death and its unpredictabilitywhen in war. As the airplane flies above the camp, it symbolizesMene’s naivety about war. Finally, when the bomb is dropped on thecamp and explodes, it symbolizes an awakening. Mene recalls how hehas been mislead into enrolling as a soldier by Zaza. Their gloriousreferences of a soza begin to daunt him as he further realizes hisfoolishness in believing what he was told without question. Menebegins to question his identity. In the first pages of the novel, weare aware that he is uneducated, which probably explains hisinability to make wise decisions. It as well demonstrates that he inunknowledgeable about war and its impacts. The direct contact withthe effects of war, which is the death of fellow sozas enlightensMene.
It is apparent that the war has an enlightening effect on Mene. Itawakens him from the unrealistic fantasies that he will become a manafter becoming a soldier. In addition, it causes him grief followingthe loss of his family, specifically wife, considering that he wantedto become a soldier to marry. Generally, Sozaboy, through thecharacter Mene effectively depicts the reality of war and its impactof individual identity.
Saro-Wiwa, Ken. Sozaboy. Port Harcourt, Nigeria: SarosInternational, 1985. Print.