Book of the Month: The Tower of Mammon by Femi Olawole

Hello *she screams excitedly* and welcome to another book of the month. I can't believe ( I actually can) that this is only the second thing posted on this blog this month. Why does it feel like I have been posting stuff?  Weird. Anywayyyy, welcome to another book of the month. I am absolutely okay with only talking about books at this point LOL. That's how much bandwidth I have right now. Let's get right to it, shall we?

The book of this month is *drumrolls* The Tower of Mammon  by Femi Olawole (if you know, you know!). If you don't, let's keep it moving haha. Let me just say before going on that yes I may be a little biased. But no, that has not skewed my objectivity at all (I promise) and that should certainly not keep you from enjoying this book :). Okay, for real now, let's get right to it.

The book is a memoir that details the personal experience of the author in the Nigerian financial sector years ago. More specifically, it deals with his experience as an ex-staff of NAL Merchant Bank also known as NAL, a behemoth of Nigeria's financial sector in the 80s before its gradual decline in the 90s. I love memoirs as I have mentioned over and over and over  on this blog. Not because of the potential of juicy gossip but because first, I like people's personal stories but also, memoirs in some sense are part of history. This book is a combination of both. 

On the one hand, you get the author's personal experience and perception as an integral part of the financial sector. But more than that, this book gives a firsthand look into the financial sector, reforms and rules, and even some macro economic policy of a developing (I hear this word is now politically incorrect?) nation like Nigeria.  It was quite fascinating to see how a how series of abrupt and random changes the government implemented changed the landscape in a lot of ways.  And normally (just my opinion), the path dependency of such a  phenomenon can explain a LOT about current happenings in Nigeria's economy today. Beyond the monetary aspect (and putting my researcher hat on), we can also see lines, traces, contours of some of the ethnic division and polarization that continues to plague Nigeria today and continues to dominate our political and social spheres. I found it especially curious that that north/south divide permeates everywhere, even at work...well, I guess especially at work. 

But no it's not a wonky or esoteric book in that sense; it's just me trying to be deep. The book weaves personal tales with office happenings that will keep you flipping page after page, not wanting it to end. There were some really interesting and maybe even outrightly weird stories in the book that will have you laughing, bewildered, and/or extremely curious.  My favorite parts of the book are extensive. But one is  the painstaking detail and the recollection of things that happened decades ago! And yes, there were some juicy bits too! I am talking memories of theft at both large and small scales, deception among "friends", and the most absurd of all: one of the bank's drivers attempt to use diabolical means to obtain cash from the author. More importantly, I like the careful balance between telling us the truth of what happened without being malicious especially given his front row access to highly sensitive and confidential information. I saw names of some [currently] powerful people who still continue to wield demonstrable power in Nigeria; names familiar to you and to me. 

We also get some glimpse into the author's personal life as well, showing us how he navigated the often difficult terrain of his job with his personal life even in periods when the former bled in the latter. This was most apparent in the assassination attempt on the author's life and the bout of food poisoning he experienced. When I say the book is packed, NO KIDDING haha. 

I learned a lot too as I'm sure you will: about grit, excellence, dedication, hard work, and standing up/advocating/speaking up for yourself. That last one is major key.

As I am sure anyone who has written a book would attest to, writing a book is HARD but writing a memoir must be even harder because of all the introspection you have to do; which made reading this book all the more a pleasure as I digested word after word. It was interesting and insightful in so many ways.

All of this to say, I truly truly enjoyed reading this book and I'm sure you will too.

So let me know what you think when you read the book.



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