Title: A Person of Heft
Author: Bolaji Olatunde
Year of Publication: 2021
Publisher: LaTunes Publishers
Number of Pages: 527
A lot of Nigerians have a negative attitude towards insurance in the country. As it stands, majority of Nigerians generally do not trust insurance companies. This is because some insurance companies are well known for their problematic settlements which has negatively affected the general perception of insurance industry in Nigeria. Bolaji Olatunde’s fiction, A Person of Heft illustrates more examples of the lingering issues of the Nigerian insurance industry and more.
In A Person of Heft, Olatunde writes about the unethical practices in the insurance sector and the unfair treatment of workers, particularly the sales agents. The book focuses on a fictional insurance company with an office in Abuja. Employees’ job description is simple: move from one office for clients who have funds so that employees can meet targets. Those who fail to meet their target may lose their jobs. But there is more.
Olatunde’s writing style brings unnecessary evil out in characters who only want better sales commission. Despite the uninviting book cover hiding the fantastic story, and maybe because of the cover art, we can really get a sense of the depressed status of some of the characters in the book and the need to throw their colleagues under the bus.
Never-ending office politics gets the female protagonist of the story, Tomi weary of her job. Each character has a distinctive trait they brought to the book: Raymond’s leadership, Supo’s loyalty, Tosin’s disloyalty and Femi’s wisdom. This is an exciting element of the novel.
Torn from insurance and taken to a place called love. Tomi and top-level expatriate Wayne meet in her office and immediately fall in love. However, their tale of love takes on a different tone because it is on a treacherous path. It raises the question of whether women can escape unfaithfulness, even if the union is across races.
The other lead character, Demola, has a federal government ministry job, where his colleagues corruptly enrich themselves. He notices he is in a toxic environment and is worried that it would worsen with time.
The reader is thrown into Demola’s complicated love life. One moment it’s the happy scene of a picnic date, then at another, the reader is greeted with the news of an unplanned pregnancy. It is hard to put into words what Demola’s casual lover says to him, however; the excitement felt when reading this book is as good as embarking on an adventure.
The book addresses a number of different themes including bribery, corruption, sexism, sexual harassment, spiritualism and love.
The other characters in the book are Demola’s family members who had a knowledge of his dating life before Tomi. They speak in a manner that suggests worry, experienced in a series of questions —that at once resembles an interview and a threat. One of the relatives told Demola: “In fact, at a stage, I said I will stop collecting money from you, until you marry”
We see desperate Demola trying to add fiancé to his resume as how his desire to give the ring overtakes his mind and makes him desperate, later Tomi goes after Wayne for the same reason.
Without a single warning the novel ends leaving the reader shocked for minutes.
The author urges readers to “be cautious about expecting things to pan out each time we plan”.
About the reviewer
Titilade Oyemade is a business executive in a leading organisation and holds a degree in Russian Language. She’s the convener of the Hangoutwithtee Ladies Event and the publisher of Hangoutwithtee magazine. She spends her weekends attending women conferences, events and book readings. She loves to have fun and to help other women have the same in their lives. Email: [email protected] Social: @tiipree