Houseboy and No Longer at Ease

Houseboy and No Longer at Ease

I remember enjoying Oyono’s Houseboy (published in 1956) which I found to be an honest but humorous work. For instance, I could not, for the life of me, picture Toundi, an African man, working as a “houseboy” and washing his Madame’s soiled undergarments. This was just too appalling in the African context. I must confess that back then, I might not have fully understood that as the storyline progressed and Toundi struggled to find his identity, having moved from his rural village, it was also a time when Africa, in the wider context, was trying to maintain its unique identity and shake off colonial rule and some of its atrocious consequences.

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My African hair

My African hair

A part of my Africanness that I have battled with all my life is my hair. In its natural state, an afro is not always an easy hair-do to wear. If you lean back in your chair, for example, it gets messed up.

The dilemma is compounded when Afros are not considered a ‘professional’ look in most circles. So now I find myself travelling the middle road of braids and weaves – wearing my hair natural only when ‘occasions’ permit….

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What Africans have to say about themselves and their continent…

What Africans have to say about themselves and their continent…

My ethnicity is my identity. There is more to my skin tone and my “foreign accent.” It is the privilege I have to live in two different worlds. I am able to enjoy the benefits of globalisation from the western world and at the same time enjoy the simplicity of my culture. Being African to me is a mind-set. I have a list of rules and beliefs engraved in my mind. A set of rules and beliefs that cannot be altered by external influences. My mother’s voice is my conscious and my family are my examples. Her word goes and going against them is my sin. My family is my identity.

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African tales

African tales

Africa would just not be the same without the age-old tradition of storytelling.  Unfortunately for me, I never had the experience of sitting under the stars beside a fire in the evening, listening spellbound to folklores narrated by village elders. The closest I ever came to experiencing something similar was when we had electricity power cuts and used candles for light.  Once in a while our parents would then tell us a story or two.

 

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