Book Review: When Clerics Kill, by Shehu Sani


No time for exposition or buildups; Shehu Sanni delves right into the matter.


The play depicts a troubled and violent society stoked by a vicious and violent culture of intolerance and extremism. It is about restiveness, puritanism and the politics of religiosity. The play gives a glimpse of the views and frustrations of young people, the supercilious and hateful perceptions of some clerics and the brigandage of law enforcers in such a given situation. The play points to the role courageous individuals could play in speaking out for peace and standing up to violence and in defiance of fear and for preservation of freedom.

When Clerics Kill may take the form of a play, but I doubt any reader will find the comfort of entertainment here; for the book is more of enlightenment than a story. It is more of debunking common misconceptions than a play.

The book, therefore, doesn't have a solid structure and the plots do not align. Each act and scene contains stand-alone points and there are no transitions between them - even if there are, the signals are very weak. A reader could open a random page and won't feel as though he's missed anything from the previous unread pages. I believe the book would have come out better as a non-fictional prose.

The aim may be for readers to see things from the perspectives of different people, but the book is, for the most part, a crystallization of Shehu Sanni's religious standpoint against the backdrop of politics in Nigeria. There was a hint of partiality in the Act Three scene one, where he discusses the military activities of the USA in the Arab world. He isn't against Islam, but he may have pardoned the Americans for a crime he held the Nigeria Police Force accountable for. 

And, given the sensitivity and importance of the topic, the book ought not to be rushed.

Aside these weaknesses, When Clerics Kill reveals the harsh extent of the religious discrepancies in Nigeria and the activities fueling the rivalry. It is an agent of change, stressing the fact that majority of our problems in Nigeria need to be tackled at the level of ideology.

The muslim and christian masses are all victims of a very exploitative and manipulative political elite. If trouble comes, it's the poor muslims and the poor christians that will die.

 It also tackles different problems in different acts and scenes under the same goal. Act one, scenes one and two are my favourites: for Martha and Tani, the only way to save religion- and at the same time achieve a peaceful coexistence among adherents of different faiths- is to carry out inter-religious dialogue. This view is also at the centre of Bidmos' book. The only difference is that Bidmos offered a practical approach. 

Shehu Sanni's approach to the topic is, however, harmless and cautious. Religiouswise, he is unbiased. For every peace-loving individual, there is a lot to be learned here. 

For me, it is a 3 out of 5.


Author: Shehu Sanni

Language: English

Publisher: Kraft books

Genre: Drama

Pages: 104

Published: 29th December, 2013

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