Wednesday, March 23, 2016


As one would expect, this book has been controversial since it was
first published decades ago. The author, Areoye Oyebola, is a
formidable long-standing Nigerian journalist, editor and intellectual.
He is generally perceived as a man of candour; a quality adumbrated in
this work as he earnestly, passionately and intellectually inveigles
the black race to avoid complacency, face some (painful) home truths,
and learn from the course of history, and hopefully somewhat forge
ahead. He goes down world history to argue that the black man has
always been backward, retrogressive, and there is no point in denying
this, or living in a fool's paradise. Yes (as he points out) some
scholars and historians wrote about some sort of greatness in old
African cities, but where are the (physical) vestiges of the same? Why
was Africa prey to such disastrous things like the trans-atlantic
slavery, colonisation, and under-development? Is it a fact that many
of our cultural practices further pull us backwards, and exacerbate
things like complacency and corruption? This is a well researched
book, almost gets the impression that the author has
made up his mind that the black (African) race can hardly move
forward, despite the hypothetical dilemma. The author marshals his
facts (including history, sociology, antecedents et al) well, and
despondency might well creep in for the reader. Now, considering the
passage of time over the decades, can the author be perceived to be
right or wrong? For example, who would have imagined a man with
African origins like Barack Obama holding sway over the most powerful
nation in the world? Do we not have tens of thousands of outstanding
Black professionals, scientists, intellectuals dotted around the
world? But the bottom line, the author might well state even now, is
that Africa still remains relatively generally under-developed, poor,
rudderless, with tawdry, suspect leadership across the board. And
quality of life for most individuals is plummeting. So do we ever
learn? New generations will certainly glean lots of knowledge and
truth from this work...

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

KOSSOH TOWN BOY. By Robert Wellesley Cole

It is always heartening when distinguished Africans put pen to paper, and as in this case, reminisce on their childhood, their lives in general. Es'kia Mphahlele (South Africa) did the same in his classic, Down Second Avenue. Cole (Sierra Leone) also obliges here. More of the same please! Yes, in this narrative the somewhat sickly youth brilliantly looks back on his childhood, his early close shaves with death, his relatively privileged background. Education is very important in this family, with the author's father having undertaken important studies in England - a time his stoic mother had to hold the fort back at home in Kossoh Town, and sometimes emotionally administer terrific beatings on poor Cole! (the author). Not that his father held back the rod too whilst at home, especially anytime he thought the boy was slacking in his studies. The boy tries to live a fairly normal life in his society, attending some social occasions, and partaking in sports generally. There is a particular account of a football match interspersed with facetious comments uttered in the flexible "Krio" patois. A privileged childhood in an upper middle class family...nowadays it might seem farcical what constituted "middle class/privileged" some decades ago, at a time when there was no television, no telephone (never mind mobile ones), no computers, no internet etc. But such are the vagaries and nuances of shifting life. The author recalls a serenity of sorts, with plenty of discipline, shades of bustling culture, growing up et al. His early life in school, his relentless studies; reading, reading...knowing he was destined for much better and bigger things (he would later on travel overseas too, en route to becoming the first African surgeon). Yes, that would be later on; here in this book he just looks back creatively and perhaps even nostalgically on his youth. And after all, this is the story - a very fine story - of a boy... Kossoh Town Boy...