Archive for November, 2009


Friday, November 20th, 2009

I’ve had my third pedicure in my life today (one in Hungary, one in Brazil, and one in Ghana). This was decidedly the least posh of the three, but the most fun. The beauty salon was a few pieces of wood holding up a corrugated tin roof next to a large, busy road. I sat on a wooden bench, cramped in next to 2 women getting their hair braided. Since we were up a slope from the road, I had the impression that all the cars below could look up my skirt (that wasn’t the fun part). Spare pieces of fake and real hair blew all over me, but it was fascinating to watch the intricate process of adding synthetic hair in layers to braided hair. If they were doing it to me, I would probably complain about the pain to my scalp.

I choose a light pink color out of about 30 choices, and the girl started applying the many layers to my toes. I wanted to tell her to let it dry between the layers, but she didn’t seem to speak English. So I walked home with soggy toes. But they are pretty, and the whole experience cost less than $2.

Fave Books on Africa

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

Here are some of the better books I have read that have helped me understand West Africa.  Most are by African authors, and most are worth the read whether you are particularly interested in Africa or not.

Une si longue letter (A Very Long Letter) is an incredible story about a Muslim woman faced with her husband’s decision to take a second wife after 30 years of marriage.

The Joys of Motherhood tackles the troubles of an illiterate woman who tries to live up to her culture’s expectation that she have many children.  It describes the poverty of her life with sympathy.
I consider Ake: The Years of Childhood the least accessible.  It is a beautifully written memoir of the author’s childhood, but it doesn’t have much of a plot.

  • Chinua Achebe         Things Fall Apart      (Nigeria)
  • Mariama Bâ       Une si longue lettre      (Senegal)
  • Buchi Emecheta       The Joys of Motherhood    (Nigeria)
  • Wole Soyinka           Ake: The Years of Childhood      (Nigeria)
  • Robert Sapolsky         A Primate’s Memoir  (Kenya )
  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie  Half a Yellow Sun  (Nigeria)
  • Adam Roberts       The Wonga Coup (Equatorial Guinea )
  • Ama Ata Aidoo       Changes (Ghana)
  • Christiane AKOUA EKUE le Crime de la rue des notables   (Togo)