Excerpt from Chika Unigwe's story, The Invention of Football and Other Truths...
As the oldest of the four and the most widely traveled, Titi is believed to have the most encyclopedic knowledge of all of them. It is from her that they learnt that in a certain part of China, the mirror signifies re-union. It is also from her that they heard that former president Sani Abacha died on top of an Indian prostitute and that in Cuba, cigars are rolled on firm virginal thighs. She is aware of the latest fashions, not just in Lagos, but also in New York and Paris. It does not matter that none of them, not even she, has ever been to the places that she names. It is enough that she knows. She commands their attention. Her voice rises above the clashing and the goat smell of the kitchen, and the occasional groans and yelps from the sitting room.
“You know, football was invented by a woman.”
~ * ~Back to Saturday's Review section of the Guardian, and Uzodinma Iweala reviews A Long Way Home by Ishmael Beah. Cited bits of the book recalled Iweala's Beasts of No Nation in which a child soldier, Agu, comes under the control of a rebel leader known only as Commandant. So in Beah's memoirs...
He was told by a charismatic lieutenant with a fondness for Julius Ceasar: "If you do not want to fight or help, that is fine. But you will not have rations and will not stay in this village ... This is your time to revenge the deaths of your families and make sure more children do not lose their families." Beah's life became a series of violent spells where killing was "as easy as drinking water". As he takes us through a life of battles, promotions and unfathomable acts of cruelty, we almost forget he is only a boy. It is only when he writes that "we all wanted to be like Rambo; we couldn't wait to implement his techniques", that the horror and despair of his situation, the mix of innocence and maturity that is a child soldier, hits home.
What is it about child soldiers and Rambo fixations? Agu's lot also wanted to be like Rambo. Unlike Stallone however, they don't have the benefit of illegal growth hormone. Nuff said.
Interestingly, Iweala (son of Nigeria's former Finance Minister & recently chosen as one of Granta's 'Best Young American Novelists') - writes from a decidedly 'Western' viewpoint. Hear him...
In telling his story of how war erodes consideration and thoughtfulness for others, Beah challenges us in the west to question our glorification of it. We assume that the struggles we fight are ideological compared to the savage civil conflict that destroyed Beah's childhood. We assume that killing with laser-guided missiles is somehow more humane than slitting a man's throat. But in addition to its emphasis on the beauty of human resilience and hope, a central message of A Long Way Gone is that war, hatred and violence consume everything in a society, especially children. Even more important, it admonishes us to think of young people affected by war who should occupy far more of our news pages and television screens.
--Read the review in full