Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I have just finished reading that book. To be frank, it wasn't 'the book of my life' (!)
I often get this feeling when I read best sellers. There must be something wrong with me,or the critics.. Simply... I didn't like it and hardly finished it..
BUT...... Of course,I will let you read some different reviews from Amazon..


Before I bought Say You're One of Them, I had heard the hype about the book. It was supposed to the work of an original voice from Nigeria, a Catholic priest, who weaved stories of the continent's ills and grace, with the dexterity of a traditional basket maker. After reading the book, I am left wondering what all the hype was about.

To be sure, there are some good stories. I liked the eponymous short story, Say You're One of Them. It is told from the perspective of a ten-year old middle-class Rwandan girl, whose father is Hutu and mother Tutsi. The little girl notices her mother dressing up for an evening out--without her father. After mother disappears into the night, her paternal Hutu relatives storm the house looking for her mother. One of the assailants almost rapes the girl. In time, they discover that mother had dressed up only to hide in the ceiling. In the presence of the little girl, Hutu father is forced to kill his Tutsi wife--with one blow of a machete. The scene is thoroughly macabre. Finally, the little girl's life is spared. She is let out onto the streets with the admonition from her father, "if they [resumably the Hutu] ask who you are, say you are one of them".

However, I was disappointed with the longest story in the book, Luxurious Hearses (a play on the word, Luxurious Bus, which, in Nigeria, connotes buses used to ferry passengers on long intercity trips). The story is about Jubril, a Muslim boy with an identity crisis. His mother is from the Muslim north of Nigeria and his father from the Christian South. Jubril, along with other passengers on the bus, is fleeing religious riots in northern Nigeria. On the bus, Jubril's parochial conception of the world is challenged by his experience of the kindness of southern Christian Nigerian strangers (mostly women, to Jubril's alarm). His trip is cut short when he reveals his religion: the passengers kill him by slitting his throat.

The author introduces various passengers into the bus to give multiple perspectives on Nigeria's toxic religious milieu: an animist chief, an atheist army captain, and a Roman Catholic market woman. This device is so transparent that I almost choked with disbelief. The characters are hopelessly one-dimensional; thoroughly unbelievable.

Jubril's village companions (almajiris) are the most unbelievable of them all. They are supposed to be barely literate, fundamentalist Muslims, yet they have a commanding grasp of regional politics and even articulate their grievances with Jubril in English and the local patois. As a Nigerian, who lived in northern Nigeria for six years, I think that Uwen Akpan stretches the English vocabulary of the almajiris. While they seethe with riotous religious zeal against the infidel, I find it difficult to see how they can be as articulate as Uwen Akpan portrays.

Say You're One of Them makes for interesting reading, but don't go away thinking that he has captured the 'compelling reality of Africa's children', as one reviewer put it. Such hyperbole is unjustified. I would recommend that you read and enjoy it for what it is: entertainment.

By Ms. Hilary Truscott "sista-h" (london)

This book is a collection of stories all written from the point of view of a child-whatever happens in these stories is seen ,witnessed experienced from total innocence and it is shocking emotional and yet hopefull too.It made me think how children experience all kinds of situations from a purely innocent perspective and it is the adults in the world who inflict such horrendous experiences on them -for what?- greed- power-self gratification-.Just because the events in these stories take place in Africa does not mean that we in the west are somehow exempt from this or that this only happens 'over there'--we have similar horrendous things that the youth here go through too i.e sexual physical and emotional abuse glue sniffing drug taking alchoholism etc.etc. The writing is honest and this book will open your heart and hopefully enable us all to see that we all need to treat each other with more love and respect and we must care for all the children in our lives with respect, honour and dignity and LOVE .Read this book -it will change you!!!!!!!

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