*NECO LITERATURE IN ENGLISH*
Tally O is the dubious character who dupes Mama Orojo with the sale of fake gold. A man of duplicity of identities, he is fondly called I-Put-It-To-You. Until his death, no one knows he is the evasive and troublesome I-Put-It-To-You. Tally O is Joe’s intimate friend and partner in the illegal mining business, otherwise known as Dag Despite the enormous risks involved in the mining deal he puts pressure on Joe that they should go again. His account has been frozen by the new directives from the Central Bank. ‘My account has been frozen, what should I do? Sit down and dry up?’ This has frustrated his plan to travel or engage in any other meaningful venture, so he continues in the crime. Evidently, Tally O is a hardened criminal that has persistently featured in the wanted list of the police as he keeps changing identity from one crime to another. As the narrator puts it, he has ‘many selves and hopped out of one into the other within a breath a deft chameleon’. At a point, he sees criminality and his slippery nature with the police as a thing of fun. “The joy of digging for gold and dealing in imitation products’ form powerful impulse that propel him to go to the mine’ . It is at this point that it becomes glaring that he is the person that swindled Mama aboard her first flight to Ghana. On a very turbulent day in the jungle they call the mine, Tally is shot by security operatives. Considering the danger of allowing Tally O to continue to moan as a result of the gun wound, another member of Joe’s mining team raises an axe and split Tally O’s head. Should he be caught by the security operatives, they don’t want him to implicate them.
The death of Tally O confirms his earlier premonition that his end is near. It also serves as a warning to others that sooner or later the long arm of the law will catch up with them.The death must have also served as further encouragement to Joe to quit the criminal business. The death also illustrates the notion of poetic justice in the novel. Tally O had been involved in the killing of a guard in the past. Therefore, his death by a guard on this occasion is well deserved. The killing of Tally O by members of his own gang demonstrates the ruthlessness of criminals.
Ras the Exhorter, later known as Ras the Destroyer, is the mastermind behind the black group that is in strong opposition to the activities of the Brotherhood in the Harlem District. He, alongside his members, believes in the use of provocative speeches and violence. He is of West Indian extraction. He organizes rallies in the Harlem neighbourhood wherein he kicks against every form of unity with the whites. He goes as far as confronting members of the Brotherhood who speak against his beliefs, especially Brother Tod Clifton. To him, the Narrator is nothing but a whitewashed dummy who blindly obeys every instruction of his white masters. He considers the Narrator a traitor to the black race. Clifton who renounces his membership of the Brotherhood is, on the other hand, royalty. Clifton, from the perspective of Ras, is better than the Narrator because he has redeemed himself by leaving the Brotherhood. Events at the end of the novel reveal Ras to be as destructive as the proponents of other ideologies. He leads his fellow blacks to self-destruct so much so that some of them wonder why he is thirsty for blood when others are searching for loot.
Ras the Exhorter is used by the writer to represent the group of blacks who believe strongly that nothing good can come out of the unification of the black and white race. Based on their history and experiences of slavery, torture and pain from the whites, these people believe that blacks are to unite and fight their common enemy: the whites. To an extent, it can be said that this group of people are also blind in that by degrading the supposed superiority of the white man, they unconsciously project their superiority as blacks. By claiming that the white race represents everything evil, they portray the black race as being better. However, the carnage and destruction that occurs in Harlem, under Ras’ leadership show that he is also guilty of the very evil that he accuses whites of perpetrating.
Interestingly, Ras is the only character who quickly deciphers the oddities of the goals of the Brotherhood. He is obsessed with the black race and believes that blacks should fight against racial subjugation. Every time he gives a speech at Harlem, there is always a large crowd who converge to listen to him. The people love him. However, his ideas are violent in nature. He urges blacks to be confrontational in their dealings with whites. He is not a villain in the sense of the word. He only instigates the people to act. Towards the end of the novel, he is seen dressed a an African chief and riding on a horse. Because he is against the motives of the Brotherhood, be vilifies the Narrator and considers him a saboteur.