Aluko’s One Man, One Wife (1959), a satirical novel about the conflict of Christian and Yoruba ethics, relates the disillusionment of a village community with the tenets of missionary Christianity. A second novel, One Man, One Matchet (1964), humorously presents the clash of an inexperienced district officer with an unscrupulous politician. Kinsman and Foreman (1966)
One Man, One Wife (1959), was equally shrewd in its depiction of village politics, pitting Christians against the authority of traditional chiefs. Other novels include Kinsman and Foreman (1966), about a civil servant’s struggles to resist the demands of his relations; Chief the Honourable Minister (1970), which deals with the problems of government at the top.
His Worshipped Majesty (1972), which focuses on the loss of political power by traditional chiefs; and Wrong Ones in the Dock (1982), which denounces certain aspects of the Nigerian legal system. Despite his exposure of political chicanery, Aluko, unlike many other prominent African novelists, such as Chinua Achebe and Ngugi wa Thiong’o, appears to be a champion of the post-independence élites in government and civil service.
T. M. Aluko, Nigerian novelist, is significantly undervalued in comparison to many of his contemporaries in the so-called ‘first generation’ of Nigerian writers. Although he is concerned with such commonly treated themes as the impact of Western modernity on traditional Nigerian culture and the social and political failings of the postcolonial era, Aluko has approached his subjects with a comic detachment that is largely at odds with the more serious mood of most West African fiction. As a result he has been neglected and even dismissed by many critics.
Timothy Mofolorunso Aluko, a member of the Yoruba tribe, was born on 14 June 1918 in Ilesha, western Nigeria. He received a colonial education, attending primary school in Ilesha, at Government College Ibadan and Yaba Higher College near Lagos. From 1942 to 1946 Aluko worked as a junior engineer in the Public Works departments of Lagos and Ilorin.
During this period he also began to earn recognition for his short stories, the first of which, ‘The New Engineer’, appeared in the anthology African New Writing (1947), edited by T. Cullen Young. Travelling to England in 1946, he resumed his studies at King’s College, London, where he graduated in civil engineering and town planning in 1950.
Alongside his academic work, Aluko also became a regular contributor to the Liverpool-based West African Review. It was in that journal that he published his prescient essay, ‘Case for Fiction’, in which he argues the need for literature that is written by Africans, about African subjects, and for an African readership; in it he also outlines the various dilemmas and impediments faced by African writers of that time.
In 1950 Aluko returned to Nigeria to become a senior public-works engineer, working in various different cities. Also that year he married Janet Adebisi Fajemisin, with whom he had six children.