Chin Ce's third work of fiction and first full length novel, The Visitor
, is a work that combines rare spiritual and science fiction techniques to express a wholly refreshing paradigm of consciousness, memory and existence in African literary philosophy. It seems to be the author’s idea that the individual in a failed environment must find or reinterpret meaning beyond the decadence of society and the violence that drives and batters his soul from both outside and within. Thus after looking through the general social malaise and psychic disorders of Koloko and Gamji nations, Chin Ce becomes engaged with the quest for wholeness signified in Erie’s lost memory. This quest will span three dimensions of existence: past, present, and future.The story starts in the middle of the narrative viewpoint. Techniques of flashback and jumpstarts abound to create a complex and confusing network of events. The rendering is cinematographic and coincides with the unknown movie which the hero Deego is seen to have been watching at the end of the narrative which actually is the beginning of the story. This idea of a beginning in an ending or vice versa is indicative of the spiritual flux where both concepts merge in an infinite and indeterminate concept of movement and progress as Uzi remarks to the confused Erie/Mensa.Watching a movie in 2040 a scene had triggered a memory in the hero’s mind. The scene throws back to nearly five decades of past existence in an African city called Aja. Deego’s history in this lifetime as Mensa is that of criminal intrigues leading to a futile search for vengeance. Indices of this time are replicas of the modern Nigerian nation. There is corruption through the rank of file of the national police customs and federal leadership structures. In fact corruption permeates the entire fabric of this third-world nation state and youths such as Mensa, Sena, his girlfriend, and Omolo are bereft of any directional compass in their lives. Only Jaci, Sena’s room mate and friend, offers an indication of hope in the dignity of honest labour and achievement.
Chin Ce blends the material universe within the workings of a spiritual dimension of existence represented in Erin, the ancestral land of the dead Mensa. We are taken in an intriguing course of post–mortal consciousness where the dead victim Mensa metamorphoses in Erin land as Erie but with a dim or partial awareness. He must find a way to recall the events and mistakes of his past existence in order to find a bearing of his future/present life as Deego. Time and memory seem non existent in the ancestral land; it is completely incalculable by any modern standards of measurement. Thus the world of Erin land confronts us with the reality of an advanced line of kinsmen existing in a state of immortal and all knowing yet individually serving the communal order of creation that embraces the awareness of each person’s role in the universal scheme of life. Granddad, Uzi and Adaku live up to their roles as teachers and healers of the human race. They help Mensa called Erie in the land of his ancestors, and other earthly wanderers, to go back and retrieve his memory lost from the gun blast that took his life on earth.The modern novelist is not so much concerned with the follies and frailties of human conduct as he is attracted by the idea of inexorable growth that attends our actions, pushing the frontiers of awareness beyond the ken of the familiar and mundane. This seems to be the great point in Chin Ce’s third novel more than the obvious complexity of this narrative which may yet remain unmatched in future canons of modern African literature.