[BOOK READING] The Girl Who Found Water: Memoirs of a Corps Member

“The Girl Who Found Water”, By Chibuzor Mirian Azubuike
As reviewed By Chijioke Azuawusiefe, SJ
Is Nigeria still worth dying for? Is she worth risking one’s life for
today? In this riveting personal account, The Girl Who Found Water:
Memoirs of a Corps Member, Chibuzor Mirian Azubuike confronts her
fears and insecurities as she embarks on the mandatory post-college
national service in a part of Nigeria that is not only alien to her
but is also immersed in violence.

Chibuzor had dreamed of serving in her choice southern states. But
then she receives a rude awakening after finding out that she was
posted instead to the northeastern state of Bauchi, where eleven of
her predecessors had been gruesomely murdered just three month earlier
following post-election violence. Crestfallen, devastated, and
despondent, she vows to manipulate herself out of her bleak situation.
At last, she reluctantly embarks on a twelve-hour night bus ride to
Bauchi, with the determination to seek redeployment upon arrival.
Instead, she encounters a different “North” that questioned and
altered her worldview, transforming her into a change agent in the

At the root of Chibuzor’s apprehension is the senseless bloodletting
that has characterized northeastern Nigeria. Her bus ride reads like
the reverse of Uwem Akpan’s short story, Luxury Hearses, in his Say
You’re One of Them collection. Jubril, the protagonist in Luxury
Hearses escapes, by bus, religious violence that threatens his life in
the North. Just like Jubril, Chibuzor too plans to flee similar
violence. But first, she has to risk a bus ride to the same North with
the hope of getting her redeployment letter.

The Girl Who Found Water stirs to the fore the unfortunate cycle of
politically motivated religious violence that continues to impede
Nigeria’s unity. The National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) scheme—under
whose aegis Chibuzor engaged her national service—was created in 1973,
following the Nigerian civil war, to develop common ties among
Nigerian youth towards the promotion of national unity. But the
internecine fractions and frictions that led to that mindless
fratricide still fester more than ever four decades later.  No doubt,
the book also takes a subtle swipe at factors, like corruption,
nepotism, and lawlessness, that undermine the Nigerian project. But it
is religious violence, especially in its new face of Boko Haram, with
its reign of terror, that carries the day as the biggest threat to
Nigeria’s cohesion.

Chibuzor Mirian Azubuike Nevertheless, in spite of all her challenges,
Chibuzor insists that Nigeria is still worth dying for. She recalls an
overwhelming emotion on the parade ground that made her feel “like a
patriot, ready to give up my life for country.” Thank goodness she has
role models. For one, the former DG of National Agency for Food and
Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), late Prof. Dora Akunyili,
once said in an interview that she “sacrificed everything” for Nigeria
in the course of her job. But then she added: “Nigeria is worth dying
for any day, anytime, provided you are dying for the right cause.”
Many Nigerian youth would risk their lives for Nigeria—for the right
cause, of course. The Girl Who Found Water delightfully demonstrates
that there is a lot the youth can do if given the opportunity and
encouragement. It makes a bold statement that the noble purpose of
NYSC is worth preserving because it still works. It affirms that
beyond ethnic, religious and language divides, Nigerians are still a
people united by a shared humanity. Our human needs can be recognized
and met by any one of us with enough conscience, compassion, and
commitment. Our shared humanity transcends whatever we think divides

Chibuzor also speaks glowingly throughout the book of her warm
relationship with her friends and family, especially her father. Their
love and support enabled her to confront her fears and to prevail.
Hers becomes a tale of human growth that attests to the benefits of
transcending self in the service of others, of choosing a broad
perspective over parochialism.
The book’s title speaks of water, of life, and of newness. But beyond
that, its reminiscences of Moses finding water by striking a rock in
the Bible speak to an inversion of power and gendered authority.
Agency is exercised here not only by a female figure but by a “girl,”
whose public actions, both in Moses’s and Chibuzor’s service contexts,
are restricted by certain socio-religious norms and patriarchal
privileges. Chibuzor holds up a “girl” who is both a visionary and a
leader. She initiated, fundraised for, and coordinated the
construction of the first borehole in Bigi Tudunwada village, and then
went ahead to donate uniforms and writing materials to pupils as well
as to renovate and equip a carpentry skill acquisition center in other

As an amazing storyteller, Chibuzor nuances these contemporary
Nigerian questions of unity, power, gender, service and sacrifice
without losing her grip on her reader. She arrests her reader’s
attention and engages their emotions with the sheer intensity and
vividness of her narrative. That The Girl Who Found Water reads like
fiction is a testament to her brilliance in telling a human story of
heartbreaks with such beauty and verve that spotlight instead hope,
heart, and humor.

The Girl Who Found Water: Memoirs of a Corps Member
By Chibuzor Mirian Azubuike

Join us at the book reading @
Venue: ( TERRAKULTURE ) Plot 1376, Tiamiyu Savage Street, Victoria Island
Date: Saturday 31st, January 2015.
Time: 5pm Prompt
More Details Contact: 08147885603

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