Round the World Book Group Edinburgh (Reading World Literature and classics)
The Round the World book group meets in the Roxburghe Hotel in Edinburgh (World City of Literature). We read world literature, all books being written by a native of the country. Our first trip ended after ten years, early in 2013. We are now well into our second trip (November 2016). To contact us email Alec McInnes at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our next meeting is on Thursday 2nd March 2017, discussing The Spider King's Daughter by Chibundu Onuzo from Nigeria.
18 January 2017
27 December 2016
06 November 2016
07 October 2016
28 September 2016
This book made me feel ashamed. You will find out why as you review my comments made after I read the book “Zenzele – a letter for my daughter.
Amai Zenzele, the mother of the eponymous Zenzele and the author of this long letter, has made a point of keeping her children aware of the stories of their people as well as what they are going to learn about the rest of the world.
However, the younger generation are losing knowledge of their background, and even of the terms of respect traditionally used when speaking to older people. It is clear from the text that they have absorbed the worst from the West rather than the best.
We get a good impression of what village life was, and of the differences when the young go off to live in the towns – just as happens here when they leave home.
Zenzele complains to her mother about women changing their names to those of their husband when they marry, and what is known in the West as “bride price” but in their culture has a completely different meaning and intention from that. I think we have here another example of western colonialists being lazy and not taking the step of trying to understand the culture of those whose lands they have taken.
On page 64 the author makes a powerful plea for those who go to Europe to be educated and trained in whatever subjects, to return to their own country and apply their talents to help in improving things for those, both poor and better off, who have not had the same opportunities.
This book, written as a letter, is really a wonderful essay which opened my eyes to things I had not even thought of. My knowledge of Black Africa’s past was of the ruins of Zimbabwe, the Benin bronzes, the resistance movement led by Chaka, and the “Scramble for Africa”. It made me feel ashamed. But then, outside maybe Japan, I know equally little of any continent other than Europe.
The episode with the dress at the dress shops was so shocking.
Chapter 11 is wonderful. Six year old Zenzele went with her mother to drop off her fourteen year old cousin at his boarding school. After leaving him they went to visit the little historic chapel nearby, and were astounded at the magnificent murals which decorate it. There were golden winged angels and cherubs, all with black bodies, black saints awaiting the arrival of Christ at his Second Coming, black John the Baptist, a black Christ, and a black God sheltering and blessing everything. There reactions are astounding. Zenzele even thought that Christ looked like her father when he smiled.
Amai Zenzele could now understand the biblical statement that we are all made in God’s image. She left the local Methodist church and joined the Orthodox Ethiopian Church where all the images are “of their likeness”, and the customs are rooted in her culture.
I scored this short book at 9.0.
02 July 2016
17 April 2016