Winner, BookHouse Readers’ Choice Awards, 2020
Fiction (Epic Fantasy/ Historical/Thriller/ Adult)
For many generations, uncertainty and tension have pervaded both the people of Under The Sky and the wraiths of Kiriyanga, but they trudge on, while holding on to the little streaks of light at the end of this seemingly-never-ending tunnel – a prophecy that order would be restored on the Day of Scarlet. This imminent respite however, comes with stringent conditions: “ … until a woman drinks from the confluence of two rivers that do not mix, the Day of Scarlet will not come.”
Scarlet is an inquiry into the absurdity of possessing absolute power or its pursuit thereof. With strong allusions to the Grecian myth of Zeun and Hades, and Yoruba myths of love triangles among gods as told of Osun, Ogun, and Sango, or Yemoja, Obatala, and Ogun, woven into and set in tales from Kikuyu lore, Alexander Emmanuel Ochogwu lends his voice to the conversations around politics and power-grabbing in Nigeria, Africa, and beyond.
Saku, now ten, reflects on his previous life and the mysterious circumstances surrounding his birth: of how he became dumb, deaf and lame barely twenty hours after he was born. Though memory availed him remembrance of the latter part of his former life as Lord of Chivalries, the leader of a knight clique defending Kirinyaga against evil, the early part of this life he once lived as Seku, a renowned warrior in Virgin Land, remained hazy to him. While reading about Seku (his former-young-self) in a scroll, Saku develops a connection with the character Seku and sought to know more about him. Along his quest for knowledge, he was caught between his assignment to save mankind – an instruction from Ngai the Creator, and identity crisis.
Amidst this confusion, Saku would suffer the fate of hubris and would be killed by his own mother. His death would be part of Ngai’s plan to prepare him for a more significant role on the Day of Scarlet, the day for the revealing of the fate of good and evil and when according to the Prophecy, evil would be finally destroyed.
The confounding dynamics of this apocalyptic war will eventually test the loyalty of the wraiths in Kirinyaga to Ngai, while mankind on the other hand, would be waiting for the prophetic signs (“…until a woman drinks from the confluence of two rivers that do not mix, the Day of Scarlet will not come.”) of the auspicious Day of Scarlet to unfold and hoping that it’s occurrence will return justice, peace and balance to the ecosystem at Under The Sky, the plane of mortals.
The Armageddon war which would eventually be fought on the Day of Scarlet, even though there would be surprising twists in the roles of the seemingly major actors of the event, would usher in a new world order; a world without strife, wars, hatred, stereotyping, abuse of power, dictatorship, gender inequality, corruption, climate change, et al.