Thursday, May 8, 2008

Meet Me at Conakry

As a youth some of the books that really intrigued me were pacesetters. I remember seeing the my first one first when I was seven years old, it was Mark of The Cobra. The covers made me think of a dangerous, exciting adult world where people smoked, lived in a morally ambiguous world that I suspected existed, and I thought that the women were hot, as the kids say nowadays.

I think I read my first one when I was eleven and it was Director! later on I read others like Evbu My Love, Have Mercy and one that I really Like was The Instrument. Now that I am in my middle age I see the books of my childhood as the works of people who were starting out in their careers who were writing mainly for folks either in their own age or a five to ten years younger. I don't know how many of them have become literary giants in the continent but I do remember that they told good stories, I even liked the romantic ones.

However, one that I really enjoyed was called Meet Me In Conakry. The novel started like the Iliad from the end and showed us how narrator and his two friends got to where they were. I think that some of the reasons why it appealed to me is that it was about what I would have liked to do. Unlike the heroes I never visited Gambia, Senegal & if memory serves Sierra Leone & Liberia. I had a year left of secondary school and was terrified of JAMB. In 1989 the war in Liberia had begun to spill over to Sierra Leone and it made the novel very real to me. Along with that reading the African Child as well as serialized autobiographies from Senegal in the Guardian had created an attachment to the people's and cultures of what I will call the Wolof coast. I guess it also fed into my latent wanderlust that I have tried succesully suppressed for so many years due to my desire to "get ahead", whatever that fucking means. Adolescence

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