ISIDORE OKPEWHO: The Last Duty
In what ways does Toje contribute to Oshevire's tragedy?
Chief Toje is a rubber merchant in Urukpe who has made his mark in the business before the arrival of Oshevire. Oshevire is a younger businessman who uses better skills to produce a high quality latex preferred by the buyers. Thus, Oshevire's success in business makes Toje jealous of him. Toje considers himself as a very influential personality in the town around whom every issue or project must revolve. As such, Toje feels he cannot afford to watch his chances in business jeopardized by an up-and-coming person - Oshevire.
Thus, the war situation becomes the fertile ground on which Toje's evil seeds against Oshevire must grow. Knowing Oshevire's predicament as an Urukpe man who is married to a Simbian wife, Toje plots to implicate him as the leader of the rebel collaborators in Urukpe. Toje sends a memorandum to Major Bello accusing Oshevire of being a saboteur and enlists Rukeme to bear false witness against him before a military tribunal. This plot by Toje costs Oshevire three years in military detention but even so, Oshevire's troubles have just begun. By seizing the opportunity of Oshevire's detention to destabilize his family, Toje has brought untold tragedy in Oshevire's life.
Presenting himself as influential to the military leadership, Toje becomes the only person allowed to interact with Oshevire's family members -Aku and her son, Oghenovo. Toje takes advantage of Aku's economic vulnerability to exploit her sexually. His sexual advances to Aku are made with the hope of reviving his failing manhood. He underrates Odibo's sexual power and "uses him" as a go-between. His plan thus backfires. Toje sees Odibo's action as an insult too difficult to bear and gets into a near fatal fight with Odibo. This brings everything out into the open resulting in dishonour to Oshevire and his family.
This shameful situation compounds Oshevire's troubles and paves the way for his tragic end. Oshevire's release and subsequent home coming, pathetically turn into a curse rather than a blessing. Oshevire cannot his wife again or live in the same town that has brought so much ruin to him and his family. He opts to leave the'town with his family in the dead of the night after setting his house ablaze. Oshevire's tragic end s caused by the shame visited on his family by Toje.