Writings of the general word's body

Monday, June 23, 2008

New Reads

Emmanuel Sigauke has a story in the SNReview. Mopane Whips looks at the side-effects of war on the damaged psyche of young men in the community. One such man, Mukoma, has a rather disturbing fondness for beating and chasing his younger 'brother' all over town.
Instead of fetching a Mopane whip, I went to a Mubondo tree. I thought Mubondo whips were more painful—they looked so—than the Mopane. But boy was I wrong when I returned to Mukoma with the fairly long and fat whip, which I knew was ready to greet my bottom. Mukoma didn’t have to say anything in response. One look on his face told me to go back to the usual Mopane. Mopane whips were just killers, so painful you often wondered whether they had just been created to be weapons of pain. And indeed, Chari, whose father, another man who had not joined the war but told everyone he was a comrade, beat him often as well, had confirmed that Mopane was just for the purpose of straightening bad boys like me. He told me he was not bad; his father whipped him to put Mopane trees to use. But I did not agree with him. We also used Mopani for other things, especially firewood. I liked Mopane wood fire, but hated the burn of the whip on my bottom.

I returned, whip in hand, approaching Mukoma slowly. He was waiting, smoking some tobacco wrapped in a piece of newspaper. The cigarette packs he had brought from South Africa were gone by now, and he had taken to smoking this tobacco that made him twist his body with each pull, then bulged his lips excessively. I walked, slower, but determined to hand him the whip; soon this—the beating itself—would be over, and I would put salted water on my wound and then go to collect the goats and enclose them in their pen. But something in me told me not to keep walking, so I stopped.
Things Fall Apart Reloaded
In the year of the fiftieth anniversary of Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has a new short story, The Headstrong Historian, which reimagines the arrival of white colonialists' in Igbo society from a woman-centred perspective.
The day the white men visited her clan, Nwamgba left the pot she was about to put in her oven, took Anikwenwa and her girl apprentices, and hurried to the square. She was at first disappointed by the ordinariness of the two white men; they were harmless-looking, the color of albinos, with frail and slender limbs. Their companions were normal men, but there was something foreign about them, too: only one spoke Igbo, and with a strange accent. He said that he was from Elele, the other normal men were from Sierra Leone, and the white men from France, far across the sea. They were all of the Holy Ghost Congregation, had arrived in Onicha in 1885, and were building their school and church there. Nwamgba was the first to ask a question: Had they brought their guns, by any chance, the ones used to destroy the people of Agueke, and could she see one? The man said unhappily that it was the soldiers of the British government and the merchants of the Royal Niger Company who destroyed villages; they, instead, brought good news. He spoke about their god, who had come to the world to die, and who had a son but no wife, and who was three but also one. Many of the people around Nwamgba laughed loudly. Some walked away, because they had imagined that the white man was full of wisdom. Others stayed and offered cool bowls of water.

Weeks later, Ayaju brought another story: the white men had set up a courthouse in Onicha where they judged disputes. They had indeed come to stay. For the first time, Nwamgba doubted her friend. Surely the people of Onicha had their own courts. The clan next to Nwamgba’s, for example, held its courts only during the new yam festival, so that people’s rancor grew while they awaited justice. A stupid system, Nwamgba thought, but surely everyone had one. Ayaju laughed and told Nwamgba again that people ruled others when they had better guns. Her son was already learning about these foreign ways, and perhaps Anikwenwa should, too. Nwamgba refused. It was unthinkable that her only son, her single eye, should be given to the white men, never mind the superiority of their guns.


Favoured Girl said...

I enjoyed reading Chimamanda's story, it's very touching. I like how the main female characters portrayed are different from the normal "weak" stereotypes. I'm a big fan of Chimamanda's work, I hope she goes on to do better and better.

BTW, I would like to make your acquaintance if you don't mind.

Wordsbody said...

Just been over to your blog, Favoured Girl. A writer! Good. We'll run into each other soon I expect. Coming to the Caine readings at the South Bank early next month? If you do, we might see there.

ababoypart2 said...

Thanks for the excerpt. Very nice

favoured girl said...

Yes I'll be at the readings! Thanks, I'll look out for you :-)