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Hi!, I started this blog quite selfishly and yet not. I had just become a new mum and I needed a space to air out my thoughts. I’ve neve...

Nov 15, 2014

Americanah

Before baby, I could read a book in a week and be done with that.. Now given the hectic schedules of mummyhood I had to take my time with Americanah. Page by page, week by week, the chapters unfolded layers of emotional reactions which surprised me .

When I finally finished the book, I felt a strong urge to find someone to talk about it with.

So I did just that, through friends and online forums, I realized something , if felt like we all read different versions of the book based on our individual ethnic perspectives. I know that sounds odd, but there you go.. Chimamanda gave me a precious gift with this novel. I finally found a book in which I could relate 100 % with the main character.

I love books, I remember as a child my mum built us a bookcase as long as our room and filled with a variety of books. I grew up with Enid Blyton, sweet valley high , the famous five and progressed to Agatha Christie, Poirot, Steig Larsson, Dan brown.. and so on and so forth. I read anything I can find, biographies, fantasy, thrillers, history books, anything.

As I read, I often picture the world the author created which is probably why I love harry potter so much..the fantasy was brilliant.

I have read authors of afro carribean origin , books around slavery, racism, empowerment, gender,urban life. Books about African savannahs, or village life, african folk tales and royalties They all informed and motivated me, the made me develop my thoughts and my perspectives. But I never identified with any of it on a deep personal level as it was not really a lived experience.

What Americanah offers me , is a reflection of myself and my past experience. Every chapter was a world I once belong to. All the references in the book were realities in my mind. I understood Ife’s actions and reasonings as if they were my own. It was wonderful. I thought back to being a child in Lagos, with NEPA going off..I remembered not being consciously aware of bring black or thinking about ethnicities until I was almost a teenager abroad, my hair journey..something I am still struggling with today. Everything was so relevant, I just didn’t want to the book to end. I didn’t want my story to end.

I finally get it. When I was living in France a while back there as a big movement about how ethnic minorities are not reflected or represented in everyday life. For example you could sit on an entire metro journey and not see a person of African or Arabic decent represented on publicity posters . The same could generally be said for magazines, products in the hair counter etc etc.. the people of Paris as represented by popular culture were generally stripped of ethnic mélange. I felt strongly about this as an issue of equality and national identity but its only today that I realize how much it affects our self worth and emotional wellbeing.

I learnt so many valuable things in that book . Being multicultural I often feel like I’m neither in one nor the other entirely but this book showed me that there are millions of people out there who are culturally in between with similar life experiences as me, which makes me part of a rather large community. I was reminded of this when I chatted with someone and they said “it would be nice to meet over coffee or fish pepper soup, “ that made me smile long after the conversation was over.

That’s me right there, in my world crepes and fufu go perfectly together in the same afternoon ! lol,

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