“There is no water in the City of Lies.”
Tutu has lived all of his short life in the City of Lies with his mother. Located in the Forever Desert, the City of Lies used to have water. . .but the inhabitants were vanquished by the fierce Ajungo Empire which required, in exchange for water, that every person aged thirteen and older have their tongue cut out. The cost is terrible and the Ajungo do provide water, but just enough to keep most people alive. There are still many who die of dehydration, the “blood drought.”
“There are no heroes in the City of Lies.”
When Tutu’s mother becomes ill, Tutu decides that he must go into the Forever Desert to locate water for her. He must find water for his city. He is not the first. Many children, as they approach the age of thirteen, decide to take their chances in the desert rather than have their tongues cut from their mouths. None of them has ever returned.
“There are no friends beyond the City of Lies.”
Alone, except for a camel provided for his quest, Tutu sets off into the Forever Desert in search of water. During his journey Tutu finds many things. One of them is the truth.
In The Lies of the Ajungo, Moses Ose Utomi tells a cautionary fable, infused with a hero’s journey, set in a world of extremes: the scorching heat of the Forever Desert and the cool water of an oasis; the solitude of searching alone and the joy and comfort of travelling with friends; the boy who left the City of Lies in search of water and the young man who returns to confront those who would do unspeakable things to ensure that their own lives are pleasant.
Utomi follows Tutu as he comes of age, and is forced to re-examine everything he has believed over the course of his young life, and challenges the status quo and those fighting to maintain it, in order to create a better life for the people across the Forever Desert.
There may be one hero in the City of Lies.
Read an interview with the author here.