Wednesday, January 13, 2010


I received an email from a good friend of mine, Fanta Solange Lopez. She wanted to know whether or not, I had featured "Say you are one of them" by Nigerian author and ordained Jesuist priest, Uwen Akpan. I hadn't yet..she suggested writing a book review..because the book left her breathless. Looking at the articles on Oprah's site I could see that she wasn't the only one.

Angelique Kidjo after reading the book was inspired to write a song called " Agbalagba"in which she encourages the youth to cherish its african traditions while call the world 2 fight against poverty.

Thank you Fanta for this touching and well-written book review!


Uwem Akpan’s much acclaimed collection of short stories entitled “Say You’re One of Them” is bound to leave you breathless. Not just because of its cultural richness, or its factual accuracy, or even its astoundingly raw pictorial prose; but rather because it is a universal masterpiece of humanity and truth.

All throughout the five short stories weaved in his book, Akpan speaks in the innocent and pure voice of children about some of the harshest realities plaguing our African continent. From poverty and child prostitution in “The Ex-Mas Feast” to child sex trafficking in “Fattening for Gabon”, to religious, social and national divisions in “What language is that?”, “Luxurious Hearses” and “My parents’s bedroom”, Akpan artfully spells out the beauty and humanity behind the dark curtains of these much publicized horrors.

We’ve all heard of the disasters of child prostitution on the streets of Lagos, or felt the shame of child sex trafficking as reported from the shores of Gabon, or shielded our faces from the disturbing images displayed on television screens around the world of the genocide in Rwanda. Yet few of us have managed to hear these stories from the mouths of those most affected by them: the children. That is exactly the simple, yet extraordinary feat that Uwem Akpan so successfully accomplishes in his work.

Through the voices of children such as Monique in Rwanda, Jubril in Niger, or Kotckikpa in Benin, Akpan cracks open a much needed window on the humanity behind these stories. These are children, African children, filled with hope, promise and future, who despite the shame of selling their bodies on poorly lit city streets to sustain their families, still know how to laugh when being tickled. These are children who do not understand what it means to be sold as sex slaves by their own families, yet still love the very perpetrators of these crimes with all their heart. These are children who cherish other children just because, despite religious and societal barriers imposed by childish adults who do not know any better. These are children who look at Death in the face, walking in the dark, their feet shuffling in pools of blood, instinctively, unknowingly pursuing Life. They embody the meaning of Humanity, Love, Endurance, and Friendship.

They do not condemn, neither do they judge the world that already condemned and sentenced them. They simply tell the truth of their stories to whomever wants to listen. And listen we should, because these stories are not just about some remote part of the world we get to peek at and return to our everyday havens. Because these are stories about us, about how we, as human beings, see ourselves, about the definitions we assign ourselves, and the denominations we assign others. About the shame and guilt we feel as a result of not knowing and upholding the truth of who we are. About the moral dispossession we fall prey to, for elusive want of material possessions. About the shattered innocence and broken dreams that is the bulk of the inheritance left by the heavy toll of previous generations, oblivious of the gift of Tomorrow. About Life, Death, and Redemption.

About you and I. I am one of Them.


You can find articles about the author and the book , here:

Djaa my Nigerian brothas sont trop dedans:)
Eyee Wayee:)


Amina said...

thank you Solange for the review!
I am looking forward to reading it

Fafa said...

Thanks for a nicely written review! I will check it out!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for featuring me on your amazing blog, Yaye!

Olivia said...

That was an excellent review, I will definitely read this book. Mum was telling me about the book for a while now. Thank you for sharing :-)

mrembo said...

I am in the process of reading this book. Infact I just did a post about it on my blog.

Anyone, everyone go out and read it. For the Kenyans you will be glad to know that story number 1 is about Kenya and I think he got the authenticity of Kenya on spot.

Definitely a book worth reading.
It breaks your heart, it revives your humanity, it reminds you we are all one and the same.. human beings.

pam said...

great review. must buy this book.