By Chido Onumah
On behalf of the African Centre for Media & Information Literacy and the friends of Dr. Todd Moss, author of The Shadow List, I warmly welcome us all to what promises to be an evening of enthralling discussion about Nigeria, corruption, diplomatic intrigues, organized crime, advance fee fraud (a.k.a. 419) and fiction. The Shadow List has been described as “a cutting-edge novel of international crime and its consequences.” I think it goes beyond that. I shall return to this.
Dr. Moss had two exciting readings in Abuja over the weekend at Abuja Literary Society and Abuja Writers Forum. We would like to thank both organisations for providing the terrific opportunity and platform for him to share his work with the literary community. We are happy that today, The Shadow List is being presented to a larger audience, the Nigerian public, that was the inspiration for this fascinating novel.
During his reading at Abuja Writers Forum, Dr. Moss noted that it was his contact with Nigeria that inspired his journey to fiction writing. That journey which started more than a decade ago has produced four best-selling novels, The Golden Hour, Minute Zero, Ghosts of Havana, and The Shadow List which was set mainly in Nigeria.
Last December, I got a copy of The Shadow List as a present for one of my daughters. And since the young woman had a long reading list, I decided to borrow the book. I was intrigued by the “gripping style and engaging prose,” to use the words of Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, whose work and that of his colleagues at the EFCC in the mid 2000 provided the stimulus for The Shadow List.
I know the role of fiction writers is to make up things. But The Shadow List was so spell-binding that I kept asking myself: “How do you make up these things?” Last Friday at the reading at Abuja Literary Society, I had the opportunity to ask the author how much of the book was his personal experience and how much was his imagination. I will allow him to answer that question. All I can say is that the author has a very fertile imagination.
As I noted earlier, The Shadow List goes beyond a work of fiction. It is, indeed, a testament to the courage and determination of the gallant men and women, at the EFCC under Nuhu Ribadu, some of whom are here today, to confront corruption. There are a few books about what happened then. Dr. Moss has added his voice to the narrative of anti-corruption in Nigeria. We hope others will take up the challenge.
Beyond this validation, however, there is a salient point that needs repeating: the need for collaboration. Without that, the success recorded in the war on corruption during that period would not have been feasible. And we would like to thank Dr. Moss and the US State Department for their support. That collaboration is needed today more than ever.
We are grateful to the chairman of today’s occasion, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Dr. Mathew Hassan Kukah, for honouring us and the book reviewer, the writer, journalist and literary critic, my former boss, Kunle Ajibade, for agreeing to share his perspective, by way of a review, at very short notice.
Finally, let me note that The Shadow List and other books in Dr. Moss’s interesting thriller series are available in hardcover and Ebook on Amazon and other online stores. Thank you all for your presence and I hope we all enjoy the rest of the programme.
Chido Onumah, Coordinator, African Centre for Media & Info Literacy, delivered this welcome address at the public presentation of The Shadow List on Tuesday, January 30, 2018, at International Conference Centre, Abuja, Nigeria.